Friday, October 31, 2014

Build an Army Display Tray - Part 3: Painting

Welcome back to the Build an Army Display Tray series. In Part 1 of this series I discussed the basic assembly of a solid display board. In Part 2 I showed you how I built up the scenic portion of the display board to give it a convincing and thematic effect. In this part, I discuss how I painted the board with some basic quick techniques to give a simple yet convincing look which will frame my army nicely.

And the painting has begun! All the paints used for painting, unless otherwise noted, were craft paints that you can buy at your local discount or art store.

I first primed the whole board using a generous coat of black craft paint. I forgot to take a picture of the black primer coat... But here's a picture with the starting base coat of brown. This was applied while the primer coat was still damp, to help mottle and blend it. I used a 2" stiff bristled paint brush, also from the discount store. The bristles are the cheap plastic kind, but work just fine for this sort of application.

Notice the stone on the fist emblem is tinted reddish... I used a scab red colour to tint the chapter symbol.

After the base coat of brown mixed with black was dry, I gave everything a dry brush with brown. Then lightened it up a bit with a tan colour mixed equally with brown. Then again with a pure tan. I kept the stone work darker and the earth lighter, to give it a nice contrast and not to have the stone work appear chalky.

Next I painted all the stone work a blue-grey colour, leaving the brown showing in the recesses to give it depth and shadow. This also gives the stone more weight and makes it feel more natural, as stone generally has many colours within it. Notice you can see the Crimson Fist logo tint is actually showing through, even though I did this early stage and dry brushed over with the blue-grey.

I added the same tan colour to the grey to lighten it, and gave all the stone another highlight. I hit spot areas on the craters and the rubble on the earth as well. At this point I reinforced the tint of the Crimson Fists badge using light washes. I also applied liberal amounts of black and brown wash to reinforce scorches and depth and shadow, and to tone down areas that I thought were coming up too bright. This is a display board, so I don't want it to be too bright, or it will detract from the army.

Finally, I gave everything a very light highlight by dry brushing egg-shell over everything. This unifies the hues of the board and anchors the stone into the earth by making it all have a similar dusty highlight.

I decided not to add static grass for now as I wanted to keep it a bit darker, and keep the display look less busy. My army does have tufts of static grass on it here and there, but it should look just fine as the rest of the colours are matching.

I finished off by painting the doors in a dark bronze from Vallejo paints, highlighted with brass, then gave it a wash of GW's new technical Oxide paint. I then gave it another hit of the bronze and brass, and finally stippled it and the wall behind it with black char effects, to look like it had been blown off from the inside out.

With everything dry, the last thing to do was clean up the wooden edge with black paint, then mount the frame, and call it finished!

I'm very happy with how it turned out and glad I decided to do this, instead of my usual artwork under glass that I'm known for. I think everybody was surprised to see me ditch that in favour of this custom display carrying tray! It was well worth the effort, and surprisingly only took a couple of evenings to complete.


Build an Army Display - Part 1: Assembly
Build an Army Display - Part 2: Terrain Construction

Games Workshop

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Build an Army Display Tray - Part 2: Terrain Construction

In Part 1: Assembly, I discussed my need for a new army display tray for my Crimson Fists army, and began walking through how I built the foundation for the tray using a simple frame, and wood painting board for the base.

In Part 2: Terrain Construction, I detail how I built up the scenic terrain for the board, to tell a mini story about my army of choice, The Crimson Fists.

First, I put together a concept design. This helps give you a feeling of spacing, as well as to decide on thematic elements. I chose a strong thematic vignette, based on the background of the Crimson Fists, as first introduced in the Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader book, detailing the destruction of their citadel during a massive greenskin attack. To portray that story element, I designed a simple board depicting some sort of ruined shrine or Imperial structure. The focal point of this was the Crimson Fists logo, inlaid into the heavy stone walk way, in front of the destroyed entry, with craters, and ruined walls depicting the destruction. This could represent a detachment of the Crimson Fists finding an outpost, in search of lost STCs, or returning to the Citadel in order to defend and reclaim it, etc.

Once I had the basics of the design concept fleshed out, and the narrative set, it was time to lay it out on the actual display board. I outlined the feature locations on the board. I took some plastic Games Workshop craters and located them roughly where I wanted them to be, based on the concept sketch, then traced around them with a marker.

Then I drew up the details on some 1/2" thick pink Styrofoam insulation board. I cut the details into the board with a sharp hobby knife, textured it by pressing on it with a rough stone, and laid out how the crater and ruined walls will be located. I then removed the stone blocks where the crater will sit, so I can give it a 3D effect. These would be textured and glued back down around the craters, and throughout the ruins and ground to give the appearance that the explosion blew the pieces upward and outward.

Next, I glued the foam insulation board and single crater down. I built up the level of the double crater to give it support, using a "stone clay" product I got from Michael's. This stuff is awesome to use. It's super soft, and easy to work with. It seems to dry quickly, and can be carved after it's dry. It can also be tinted or painted.

I then built up the flat board where the dirt/grass will be and gave it undulating form, then textured that with a rough stone, and a crinkly plastic bag. I pressed these items into the clay to give it a rough dirt like appearance. I also built up more clay around the single crater, to hide the lip. Then glued in the double crater, which I had to do last so that I could give it support, since it was partly on a raised surface.

When that was dry, I added more clay around it to hide the lip and blend it in better.

I then glued on the large stones around the craters and scattered around to give it a ruined appearance.

Next, I glued on some plastic ruined wall sections from the Games Workshop Cities of Death terrain, as well as some of the older gothic ruins that Games Workshop used to sell back in the years of 3rd and 4th edition 40K. Note that I decided to change the position of the walls as I wanted it to appear they were breached with shelling, as well as to give more variety in where I could place miniatures for dramatic effect.

Finally, I textured the ruins with mixed course ballast and sand, which was glued on with PVA glue.

After the ruins were completely dry, I added a sand and rubble texture to the display base. This was a mix of the course sand and plastic sprue rubble. I then gave it several light misting sprays of a PVA water mixture to encourage everything to stick together, and brushed on pure PVA onto the foam to give it a more durable surface for painting.

This was then left to cure overnight.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Painting!

Build an Army Display Tray - Part 1: Assembly
Build an Army Display Tray - Part 3: Painting

Games Workshop

Friday, October 24, 2014

Build an Army Display Tray - Part 1: Assembly

Back in June, I was working on my Minotaurs Space Marines army in the hopes I could complete and play with it at the Astronomi-Con Toronto 2014 tournament. Unfortunately, life has a way of interfering with plans, and I quickly ran out of time to paint the army to the level I want. At the beginning of July, with only a few short weeks to go, and an army only about 20% complete, I shifted gears and decided to bring one of my existing armies, The Crimson Fists. I'd recently added a couple of new units to the collection, and wanted to field them. I also wanted to do a nice new presentation tray for the army so they stood out and would look fantastic on display.

Over the years I've made many display trays, and find the ones I like best are usually made from large picture frames for 18" x 24" portraits. I then stick some army related artwork, or the army list, or other some such inside the tray, and replace the backer board with a black foam core and a light piece of plywood.

This lends itself well to a simple yet highly professional looking tray, on the cheap, and quickly. However, I didn't want to take my old tray and repurpose it, because I still use it a lot for another army and wanted to preserve that, so I decided to make a brand new tray.

I also decided to take my original design, and improve upon it.

One thing about my older tray design is that, because it was a very simple re-purpose of the picture frame, I had to be careful not to overload it, for several reasons. The first being the glazing points on the back of the frame used to hold the bottom on are not meant to be load bearing, so when moving the tray around I found I was always worried about the bottom dropping out. But also because the tray has a glass surface, there is a risk of shattered glass flying everywhere if it does fall out, not to mention a fallen army every where.

So for this new design I decided the bottom would be anchored to the frame, and I would actually be doing a scenic display tray.

So off to the local art store I went to find a suitable frame. There were a couple, but this is the one I liked best.

I also picked up a wooden painting board. This is like a canvas, except it uses a light plywood for the painting. It has the distinct advantage of being in standard sizes that fit in the opening of standard picture frames, being very solidly built, square and true, and relatively inexpensive. Always check the fit before you take it home. Though the sizes are standard, it could be a little tight and you'll have to do some modification to the wooden canvass.

Finally, I picked up some angle brackets and #8 x 1/2" wood screws from the local DIY store.

Before assembly, you first need to take the frame backer board, glass, wall hangars, and glazing points out of the frame. Save them for later as they are very handy, and if you don't texture the board, you can use them to act as a protective cover for any insert material you put inside, like army list, photos, ribbons/award certificates, artwork, etc. This frame had a nice thin sheet of plexi-glass, so it won't shatter in case it gets dropped. So I'm keeping it handy in my construction materials, and will likely use it to replace the glass of my original framed display tray, along with the improvements in design I've made to make it more sturdy.

Now that you've removed everything from the frame, insert the wooden canvas board into the opening. Centre it so as to ensure maximum strength, and avoid gaps in the display.

Then locate the angle brackets spaced evenly around the frame so as to avoid any excess unsupported base, and to ensure a nice snug fit. Screw them in with the hardware, careful to not over tighten as these woods are usually softer and strip easily.

When you are done, you should have a very sturdy carrying tray, upon which you can support your army confidently.

This tray is now ready for the next step.

As I mentioned earlier, at this point you could just put the original black backer and plexi-glass face back on, and insert some artwork relevant to the army. However, I've already got a display tray like that, so this time I'm going to build up some terrain on the board that is thematic to my army!

Build an Army Display Tray - Part 2: Terrain Construction
Build an Army Display Tray - Part 3: Painting

Deserres Art Supply Store
Games Workshop