Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Win a Free Fujifilm Digital Camera to photograph your miniatures! Get up close and personal!

Greetings fellow wargamers!

In the spirit of sharing the wealth, we are giving away a free digital camera!  

When we first decided to throw out lot in with the rink of other miniature painting studios, the first thing we knew we needed was a digital camera.  We had a budget of less than $100 bucks, so it took some hunting but we eventually settled on the Fujifilm Finepix 2800, which had the best macro lens we could find for our budget.

We've used this camera for the past few years and had some great times together.  Here are some pictures from our most recent outings!  And more can be found right here! 

But as life happens, we grew apart.  We wanted different things.  Namely, we wanted a newer sleeker camera with a longer lens . . . and the Fujifilm just didn't want to change with us.

We quite literally traded up for the newer, younger version, much like Hugh Hefner.  But unlike Hef, we can only manage one camera at a time. 

The details of the contest can be found on our Youtube channel, here.  But the details are simple:

- Subscribe to us on youtube

-In the comments section, list a good reason you think you deserve the camera

We reserve the right to disqualify you based on your reason (IE, if you want to add it to you collection of cameras, or you want to make a quick buck on ebay).  We want this camera to go to someone with an interest in photography, preferably with an interest in miniatures, and tht NEEDS a camera.  

 On or after July 27th, the winner will be announced on our channel!  You have until then to enter the contest!

One lucky winner (randomly drawn from the applicants) will get the camera and all the fixin's for FREE, shipped anywhere in the world, also for free!

And once you do win this camera, you will have no excuse not to . . .  you guessed it . . .


My name is Caleb and I am the owner of White Metal Games, a miniature painting and assembly studio operating out of Raleigh, NC.  Be sure to check us out here! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Always Buy American! Or . . a better way to clean mould lines from your models

So I'm a power tool kinda guy.  I like anything that saves me time.  Most power tools that I use run less then $150 bucks and for the time they save me I feel that purchase price is generally well worth the time saved.   Time is money, after all, or so they say.

And if time = money, then mold lines = money wasted.  Seriously, how much time does the average wargamer spend cleaning mold lines from models?  The honest truth is not much.  But when you adverstise yourself as a professional miniature service, you're held to a higher standard.  As I think we should be.

To that extent, cleaning mold lines can be a time burner and finding a way to remove them fast has been a priority of mine for some time.  When it comes to mold lines you have a few options:

  • You can scrape them with a hobby knife:  This method is time tested, but can be time consuming, dangerous (if you knick yourself) and can tear chunks out of a model if done with a dull blade (which to prevent cuts, is often the case)
  • You can file them with a hobby file:  A better way, but much slower than the scraping method. 
  • You can sand them away with a dremmel tool
Most people never consider the dremel tool for a variety of reasons (namely lack of a dremel, or no desire to swap out bits on a continual basis, although a speed chuck can help with that).  To be fair it's a bit like using a sledgehammer to nail up a picture.

But there are a wide variety of rotary tools out there on the market and accessories for each.  Dog Grooming tools are one option.  Another advantage to having multiple cheaper rotary tools is instead of needing to swap drill/sanding bits each time you use the dremel, by having a few rotary tools you can leave commonly used bits in the chuck so you can use them quickly when you pick them up.  For example, I tend to keep a 1/16 drill bit in my drill, a 1/32 drill bit in my rotary tool, and I even have a smaller electric pen/rotary tool now (see below!).  

 The later case is the purpose of this article.  In an attempt to speed up my process of removing mold lines from models, I recently purchased a Nail Salon rotary tool out of Hong Kong.  My idea was to use it for flash/model line removal on smaller, plastic models.  It's light weight, small, and perfect for 25mm work. 

Here's a link to the tool.

Over 450 sold for just over $10 bucks!  Sounds awesome!   But did you notice anything weird about the picture?  Look closely now . . . '

Check out the AC adapter.  Look a little strange?  That's cause it's  made for Asian outlets, like in Hong Kong, where it was shipped from.

My stupid American brain never thought about the fact that a Hong Kong based tool might be made to use in native outlets.  They sell adapters online, but I just wasn't 100% sure they would work.  So in the end I dumped another 12 bucks to get one of these, it's American counterpart:

And here's a link to that tool.  As you can see in the description, it has a perfectly normal (to me, at least) AC Adapter.  I suppose on the upside of things, now I'll have 2 rotary tools on hand.  Maybe I'll use one for coarse grinding and one for thin sanding.

As for how the tool performs?  I wish I could tell you, but I'm waiting on the new tool to come in!  Be sure to check back then! 

My name is Caleb and I am the owner of White Metal Games.  Be sure to check us out!  And until you do . . .


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Magnetizing the Eldar Wraithknight, a tutorial by White Metal Games

Greetings fellow wargamers!  My buddy Spence recently acquired a Wraithknight model for his Dark Eldar/allied Eldar army.  I mean, how could he resist?  At nearly 9" tall, this model could punt a carnifex like a football. 

In a rare shift for GW, the kit contains 4 different arms to explore all the different options for the Wraithknight.  Fortunately the model only has a few different builds, which include:

Ghost Glaive/Shield
2 Wraithcannons
Suncannon and Wraithcannon

As well as the smaller weapons (scatter laser, bright lance, starcannon)

 For this tutorial, you will need the following magnets:

1/4"x 1/16":  Six of these
1/8" x 1/16":  Six of these
3/16" x 1/16":  One or Three of these, depending on preference

Let's start with the shoulder weapons.  Now it's important to note that these weapons could be mounted on the arms as well, but for sake of ease, we liked the shoulder as host points so that's what this tutorial covers. 

To start, go ahead and make a few guide marks where you want the magnets to be.  Aim for the center of the mounting point, or the apex or convex of the part depending on what it is you're mounting.  Drill out a 1/16" hole on the bottom of both of the sponson weapons (the scatter lasers, in this example).  DON'T GLUE THE WEAPON BARREL INTO THE HOUSING.  By leaving it loose you'll be able to swap out the weapons later. 

Now grab a 1/8" bit and drill out the hole a little bit wider.  It's important to go up one stop at a time between drill bits, and rushing or skipping a bit could leader to blowing out the hole for the magnet.  Generally, the 1/8" magnet won't fit into the hole bored out by the 1/8" drill bit of the same size.  That would be too easy.  You'll probably have to wiggle the drill bit around a little bit to widen the hole, or even in some extreme cases go up an entire extra drill bit size.  Go slowly, as too much wiggling could break your bit off in the freshly bored hole and then you'll have to get that out of the way before you can press on. 

 Once the hole is widen enough, try dry fitting the magnet into the hole.  It the magnet ends up stuck in the hole, THAT'S OKAY.  Since a snug fit is what you want.  Don't worry about gluing it in place if this happen.  If it falls out later, you can always glue it back in.

Drill out matching holes on the eldar wraithknight 'shoulders' on the corresponding points.  Use the same process as above.  Again, go slowly, don't rush it.  If you go too fast you might fracture the bits, and with the bits market about to take a major hit in a few weeks, it's no guarantee you'll be able to get ahold of them easily.

Once you've got all your holes drilled out, now it's times to glue, finally.  Polarity won't be much of an issue on this figure, for a few reason.  Firstly, it doesn't have a lot of options you'll want to later add on, like new wargear or the like.  Secondly, the host points are so far apart that the other magnets will likely never pose a polarity risk to your other bits.  What I mean by this is that there is ZERO chance that the magnets on one shoulder will be close enough to the other shoulder to rip them out magnetically.  The model is just so big that it's not an issue, unlike, say, a carnifex, where all the dual arm sockets on either side of it's body are always going to be a problem unless you make sure you match the polarity, so they aren't fighting each other.

Glue the host magnets down first (by this I mean the shoulder magnets).  Don't use more than you need.  Once dry (with the help of a little zipkicker to speed this along) you'll be able to check the polarity of the attachments.  If you do this before the host point is dry, you might get a little glue onto your attachment magnet and then it might just stay glued down.  Glue+Magnetization= a really strong bond if you rush things.

Again, the only that thing really matters here is matching the polarity for each point.  It doesn't particuraly matter if the guns are either shoulder match each others polarity.  The only real reason I can see this being a problem would be in the case of storage.  If you store these bits close together then there is a chance they will attract to each other and eventually that could be a problem.  The simply solution here is to separate your  magnetized bits the same way you would painted figures . . . in individualized foam cells to protect them. 

Next up, the suncannon arm.  This is a right arm, and it allows for either a suncannon or wraithcannon to be mounted.  So instead of drilling out this arm, we simply glued a 3/16" x 1/16" magnet into place.  Again, the polarity wasn't a bit deal here, since it is so far away from any other bit on the model.  Once painted up, this magnet will be invisible to the eye.

On the corresponding bits (the wraithcannon and suncannon barrels) we sanding down the square peg so that we could sink our magnets.  It's important to note that while a 3/16" magnet will fit on this space, it is entirely too big to drill out a hole for this magnet on this bit.  So, you have two options:  Firstly, you can simply glue the 3/16" magnet into place.  Check the polarity, obviously.  This has the advantage of being fast and easy, but since it has no support around it, there is a risk over time of the magnet being pulled off.

The second option, and the one we choose, was to drill out 1/8" holes for the 1/8" magnets to be inserted into these bits, much like the scatter lasers above.  This gives you extra durability, however, we did find that the wraithcannon barrel (being so long) could use a slightly larger magnet (the 3/16") to support it.  The 1/8" will work fine, don't get us wrong, but when you move the model there is a little 'wiggle' to it.  The solution is a stronger or larger magnet.  Or in our case, just being okay with a bit of give when the model moves.  Now you know why we suggested having a few extra 3/16" magnets on hand for this tutorial. Those larger magnets will create a stronger pull, but they'll just be glued into space.  They'll paint up fine, but they may (over time) come lose.

When attaching or detaching magnets, always break the yoke to the side rather than pulling away directly.  Think of it like if the Great Unlean One fell down.  With the GUO being so fat, wouldn't it be easier for the GUO to roll onto it's side and stand up that way, rather than just trying stand straight up.  See force (in this case gravity, in the case of the magnets, magnetic force) is being exerted  on the subject (the magnets).  That force is always exerting pull on those magnets.  When you pull the magnetized bit away, it's a bit like the GUO trying to stand up.  It's easier to roll to the side (breaking the yoke).  It also exerts less force on the magnet, and thus your magnets will last longer (at least stay attached)

The limbs and the torso were the trickiest parts.  This par required 1/4" magnets, which are very large for magnets used on miniatures.  For the arms we simply glued these into the sockets, being sure to check polarity as we went.  We didn't green stuff them down or anything, since you'd never see them and if they came out a little glue will solve all our problems.

For the torso, however, the problem was three fold.  Firstly, those shoulders are hollow.  So drilling is fine, but there's nothing for the magnet to be supported on.

Secondly, those shoulders are in 2 parts.  So while drilling the halves might come apart, and make it harder to get a smooth hole.  Like trying to drill a hole between two coffee tables that match up end to end perfectly. 

Finally, the magnet had to be big enough to support the weight of the arms, BUT the magnets we used are almost flush with the shoulder itself.  So we couldn't drill out too fast, or too hard.  For all the above reasons. Mostly, we were trying to avoid a blow out.  That's when you drill the hole too quicklly and you shred the bit you're working on.  In this case, the shoulder halves. 

So, starting with a 1/16" bit, we drilled out the center of each shoulder.  Then working up a bit at a time (5/64, 3/16, etc) we eventaully got up to 1/4"  Even then we had to use an exacto knife to help whittle out the inside of the shoulder socket until it was a clean fit. 

Once we had our hole, we glued the magnet into place, between the two halves.  It still wasn't perfectly flush, SO we simply twisting it so that the seam was facing the top of the model (facing the shoulder pad lining).  This way it would never be seen and thus never become an eyesore. 

Finally, we mixed up a little grey stuff and applied it to the inside of the socket, using it like a ballast to support the magnet.  By pressing it firmly up against the magnet and filling the inside of the shoulder socket, we created an artificial back for the magnet, so that it would have added support.  Once glued down you'd never notice it anyway! 

All told this project took about 2 hours, so don't rush things.  Take your time, be patience, and pretty soon you'll have every option for your Wraithknight there is! 

For a video fully detailing this processing, check it out here! 

My name is Caleb and I am the Owner of White Metal Games!  Be sure to check us out for any painting, assembly or magnetization project you have!  Until next time, PUT YOUR MINIS WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS! 

Happy Wargaming

Caleb Dillon

Feathering Vs. Blending Vs. Wet Blending, understanding the differences

Greetings everyone:


I was going to post an article today about the differences between blending and the more common wet blending.  I wanted to talk about this because although wet blending is a very common technique, no one out there (on the forums, etc) seemed to be talking about just basic BLENDING.

To be clear, when I say blending, I mean the gradient disolve between colors used to create a soft transition. Think of a sunset, and the way the light changes from dark red to orange to yellow, then to pink, etc.  That's blending, I guess on the biggest pallete there is.

Blending is seen as an advanced technique by most painters, since it's such a time consuming endeavor (and we are NOT a patient world).  I hear people talk about Wet Blending all the time (which is actually less like blending and more like speed layering or muddling colors), I think because it achieves a 'similar' effect in much less time.  Which I'm all for, btw!  Anything to save time.

That being said I think it's important to remember WHAT blending actually is and how it is done, at least for posterity if nothing else.  In effect, feathering and blending get confused all the time.  Feathering is, in essence, thinnly drawing out the edge of a highlight color so that it blends against the underlying surface, in effect creating a thin, transparent surface layer.  So in a way, it's partially layering, but really, because the color is so thin and the edge is so soft, it actually becomes more of a gradient color transition.

To be clear, Feathering is Blending.  The two terms are virtually identical and can be used interchangeably.  Even though Feathering is how you blend, it's a little like saying driving is how you drive.   Their two paths to the same destination and riding in the same damn car.  Who cares who's driving? 

I had to go all the way back to my trust "How to Paint Citadel Miniatures" Guide to find out more about this, (the old version, not the shiny new version with  the spiral bound center).  Page 32, 2nd Paragraph down for those interested.  This is the one written by Rick Priestly. 

On the next page, (page 33, just under the "Metallics" sidebar) Rick makes several notes of interest:

Firstly, he points out that in order to blend effectively you need two brushes:  One to apply paint and one to smooth the paint.  The 2nd brush should always be a little wet (with water).  This is to prevent it from soaking up the paint.  It's meant to drag the paint around, not soak it up.  Both brushes should be small and well pointed (firm bristles will help to draw out the paint thinly across the surface of the model).  You want to work in small areas at a time, so that the paint doesn't dry up on you.  Of course on a bigger model, use a bigger brush.  Thinning the paint properly (a feat of it's own and deserving another article) will help in this regard.  It should be about glaze consistency. 

Secondly, he points out that the more common practices of washing and layering achieve, in effect, the same result in much less time.  Hence why they are favored so much.  So he honors the old technique while recognizing the value of the new.  

He also makes a comment, and I'll quote here, that "The appearance of an army depends much more on the artist's sense of style  and colour than upon time consuming technique.  The ability to blend does not in itself make an expert painter!"  Page 33, How to Paint Citadel Minaitures.  (PS, check out Rick's tip about blending out extreme/line highlights on page 42. 

Rather than post a few pics of me holding a brush over a mini demonstrating the technique, I thought I'd show you a few of my favorite examples of the technique in action from the REAL pros out there.  These are the guys that inspire me.

Studio McVey should be familiar to most painters.  He was one of the founding painters for Eavy Metal back in the day and hasn't slacked off since.  He doesn't have a very active youtube channel BUT he posted what I consider to be the absolute 100% best videos on blending I have every seen.

Here is a link to the first video in the series. 

Another guy whose work I really like is Andrew with Schnauzer Face Minis.  His website is still a WIP, mostly because of his hectic life, but he's really an inspiration in terms of blending with an airbrush.  The beauty of an airbrush, other than the chrome body (hubba hubba) is that it effectively blends with every blast.  Because the paint is atomized, it is very thin (like paint used to blend).  Additionally, because of the way the paint is dispersed when it comes out of the airbrush, it can't help but thin out towards the edges of the cone.


This means, among other things, that wherever you spray will have a softer edge than the concentrated center.  This is exactly what you want when you blend, and you get this just by hitting the easy button with an airbrush!

Check out Andrew's amazing Trollblood Mountain King Tutorial for a great example of this in action.  Andrew makes it look so easy.   Jealous?  Yes, yes, I am. 

Thumbnail For a good example of Wet Blending in action, check out this tutorial by Lester Burley of Awesome Paint Job.  There area about a million tutorials on how to wet blend out there, but I like how Les goes into great deal of detail about it and you can really see it in up close detail in this video.

Just so we're on the same page, layering is something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT than blending.  I'll get more into layering in a future video, but if you want a good example of Layering in action, check out Goatboy's extensive gallery.    From a distance (like standing up at a gaming table) layering looks just as nice as blended miniatures and its MUCH faster, so it's no wonder why layering is such a popular technique.

Goatboy's layering is pretty much an extension of the way he does graphic art.  His colors are very distinct and easy to separate with the naked eye, but from a few feet away, the colors appear to blend perfectly.  That's what good layering should do.  All the beauty of feathering in half the time. 

Check out the art he did for our podcast, War Council.    If you want to give them a listen you'll be able to here soon. 

To round things out, I found an amazing forum chat (very brief, thankfully) that I will summarize below, as well as provide a link to.  I have credited the authors beneath each section, at least as much as I could based on their handle.


Just so everyone is clear, feathering is the technique used to do blending (whether that is default blending or wet-blending) - the Americans and CMONMM seem to be on a mission to rename conventional techniques and it gets very confusing.

Blending is not hard and there's no real secret, it's just time consuming and you've got to practise to find a way that works for you. I only use one brush and tend to suck the paint off, only occasionally dipping it in water. Sometimes I use very thinned paint, sometimes I don't. It's a matter of what suits that particular colour / paint.

A few tips are:

Thin your paint, it definitely helps. If a paint is translucent it makes the boundary easier to feather.

Make sure the second coat of paint is a natural shade/highlight of the basecoat. There's no universal rule as to what works (although adding black/white is invariably a natural tone if not the most aesthetically pleasing one), but it does help a lot to make the colour transition more "forgiving".

Experiment with what colours are translucent and may blend easier.

Experiment with different ways of feathering the boundary to find what works for you. A non-tiny brush can help with this.

I suspect ignorance is the reason for renaming existing techniques.
Maybe a dash of arrogance.
They think they're inventing them.

One thing to consider before you even start is what your aim is.
You can spend many hours on a figure carefully blending everything or half an hour not...
And it looks pretty much the same on the table.

There are a number of techniques to get a graded transition.
Some are better suited to large flat surfaces than others.
Then there are also different types of paints.

If you use multiple thin layers ( arguably trading time for skill ) then you want fast drying paints that handle being thinned really well. P3. Or translucent paints like colour party.

Wet in wet. You wet the area with a thin film and then apply paint to one side of the wetted area. It then blends itself by the paint levelling since the further away from your stroke, the less colour will percolate. Getting the balance of water on the figure to on the brush is critical.

Softening. You paint the paint on and then remove it with a wet brush whilst wet. This is quite similar to feathering but you're working parallel to the original stroke rather than flicking across it.
Quicker but again skill is required to get the loading on the brush right.

For feathering you want slow drying and adding slow drying medium also means the paint is more translucent but with more bulk for your feathering brush to catch.
I use a second coarse brush to feather because it's faster. Coarse because that adds texture and I rarely want a very smooth finish. They're harder because any imperfection stands out and largely unnatural anyhow.
Andy O'Neill,

Try a wet palette with your base color and your highlight color next to each other (or 3 or 4 colors if you need). Then mix them at the edges and you can create the entire range of color between them. Then just work your way from one to the other on the model.

I am not sure what this technique would be called (layering?) but if you make a mistake, you just go back to your palette and can easily correct it because the color is right there. You can make the transition as smooth or stark as you want depending on how much time and effort you put in.

I find that this works for me because even with extenders my paint dries on my model immediately ( I must be doing it wrong) so any of the wet techniques on the model I just can't get to work.

Mixing intermediates on the palette is a technique that artists use routinely.

If paint drying is a particular problem then you could consider using atelier interactive.
They have a long open time without any extender and work rather like oils even though they're acrylic.
For a while after they're touch dry you can whack some water on, mix and they re-open.
There's a special extender for them which can mkeep them workable for up to 24 hours or so.
There's also some stuff that re-opens them even when they're completely dry.
Because of all these weird properties there are odd things you can do like mix on the figure.

You can also mix with regular acrylics and they still remain open somewhat longer.
Andy O'Neill,


My name is Caleb and I am the owner of White Metal Games., a miniature painting, conversion service, and more!  Be sure to check us out for all your wargaming needs! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Shading your Bases the Quickshade Way

Greetings fellow wargamers! 

We all know the value of sand as a basing solution for our miniatures.  Most veteran painters will tell you to glue sand to your base before painting so that you paint the sand too.  A common technique is to glue sand down, glop on some black and spread it around, then drybrush with successive layers of grey or brown to naturally pick up the raised areas. 

I myself use that method often, but I've run into a few problems with it over the years.  Firstly, unless you use something really strong (like superglue) then the sand will tend to flake off during painting.  PVA glue and scenic cement aren't always strong enough to hold the sand in place for the purpose of painting.  That brush is pulling on that sand like a two year old on daddy's chest hair and some of it is bound to be ripped off.  Ouch. 

Because of this, I started experimenting with staining the sand a few years ago.  I'd use washes or inks, or dirty water even. And on small bases this was alright, but on the larger bases (and terrain) it didn't quite cut the mustard.  The results were inconsistent and the mix didn't quite spread around the way I'd like it to.   So I started experimenting with other mediums and discovered what I think might be the best use for Quickshade (dip) never invented.  And that is shading your bases! 

 Here's what you'll need for this tutorial:
  • An old base
  • An old brush, wide, soft bristles
  • PVA (white) glue
  • Some wood stain (or Quickshade)
  • An empty bottle (not required, but recommended)
  • Sand
  • Flock
 First, apply some glue to the base.  Doesn't need to be a ton, but don't be squeamish.  Glue is cheap, and if you use too little and the sand won't stick. 
 Use that old brush to spread the glue around until it's consistent from edge to edge. 
(note, if you paint the base brown first, before gluing on the sand, then it will lighten the appearance of the base considerably.  You'll see this in the final example, below)

 Now either pour the sand on top of the fresh glue or dip the base in the glue.  Don't rub it in the glue, just let the sand naturally adhere to the surface.  It there is some on the edges, wipe it off with your finger or a tissue. 

For this next step (which is optional) you'll need a bottle.  I use these bottles.  You can find them at your favorite local craft shop such as Michael's or even four wall stores like Target and Walmart, etc.  They are CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP, so buy a bunch for making your own custom mixes, inks, washes/glazes, etc. 
 I find the 'dip' method to be frustrating and wasteful.  It also goes against a core concept in painting which is color application, not oversaturation.  Dip is, effectively, a high gloss varnish/brown wash.  And while I feel like does have it's place on my workbench, it is used sparingly.    I also hate the old fashioned metal paint can, which doesn't nothing to help change the image that Quickshade is effective a stain/varnish mix that you can get at any local DIY store for half the price. 
 So what I do is I put it in a bottle.  The bottle helps with application and it also keeps me from having to bust out the paint key every time I want to use a little bit of quickshade. 

Next, apply some of the shade to the base.  Be generous.  Use that old brush from before to spread it around (Note: if you don't soak your brush in mineral spirits after this session, your brush is gone for good.  I normally keep a pack of cheap dollar store brushes around for this purpose, and then just check the used brush after this session.  I find no reason to waste time cleaning a .20 cent brush). 

Now just flock as desired, paint the edges of the bases, and presto!  Instant shaded sand! 
What's even better is that the quickshade acts like superglue and bonds that sand to the base like it were cement!  That sand isn't going anywhere.  The sand itself will absorb most of the dip and the rest will help to act as a grout between them grains of sand. 

Here you can find an example of a figure we used this method on (it's base).  As you can see, it creatures a rich, interesting base with next to no effort.  Voila! 

My name is Caleb and I am the owner of White Metal Games, a  miniature painting and assembly service.  Be sure to check us out on facebook too!  And until next time . . .