Stuff That Makes Life Easier

A bonus post. Crivens! On a Thursday too!

In my quest for the easy-life, I have come across a number of bits of stuff, that, well, just make everything easier.

Regular readers (hello both of you) will be aware of my almost evangelical zeal for the joy of blu-tack. Those of you who are new a quick precis: blu-tack is a really good way of holding figures/sticking them to the cutting mat when doing stuff that will almost certainly result in loss of blood when you get it wrong. Drilling out hands, drilling heads, major conversions that involve sharp stabby, pointy things basically. For an example see here.

Tongue depressors/waxing sticks are cheaply and easily available on fleabay, and make the painting of large numbers of figures a lot easier to manage, less messy, and a heck of a lot quicker.

But what of those figures that are really awkward, or need extra bling? 

Enter the painting handle. There are some really fancy wooden ones, with celtic designs etched on to them. Blingtastic, but probably more suited for 28mm and above sized miniatures. For 15mm I chose a Redgrass handle, as it seemed to best fit my needs. A number of interchangeable heads, with figures attached to it with orange putty (blu-tack type stuff). The top can rotate whilst attached to the handle, and the magnetised base sits firmly on my painting/cutting mat thanks to the supplied self adhesive ferrous circle. In practice? Fantastic. I'm a convert. It's not going to change how I paint the majority of figures, they'll continue to be stuck to wooden waxing sticks; but, personality figures, and 'awkward to get at the detail' figures (such as drummers) will now be painted using the handle.

But what of cavalry figures? I'm pretty clumsy and often struggle to get my brush into paint detail in cramped spaces, they always ends up looking like a proper dog's dinner. Which is why I am firmly an advocate of two part cavalry (separate horse and rider). Means I can splosh paint around fairly accurately, and quickly on horses. So much so I actually quite like painting horses - a known bugbear for many.

But what of the riders I hear you say? In the past I block painted the main colours, then added the detail on the front of the figure, glued them onto the horses, then finished everything up. Fiddly, slightly messy, a bit long winded, but worked for me. 

Then I discovered the Green Stuff World airbrush alligator clip set (apparently they incorrectly call crocodile clips 'alligator clips' in the new world). 

I attach a rider by one foot to a crocodile/alligator clip and can happily paint away. The base holds the clips when I swap between figures. Riders are now completed, bar one foot, quicker and with ease. They are removed from the clips, have their remaining foot painted, glued in position, then a simple job of painting stirrups and spurs (still easier once in situ).

A Regiment of Horse looking,  just plain wrong. Nuln Oil will fix this, don't worry.

Anyone who has ever visited a figure manufacturer's forum or FB page will be very aware of the moulded/open hand pike debate. Often these very polarised discussions are accompanied by tales of woe involving glue, separate pikes, and trips to A&E. Your toys, your choice. Must say that I'm impressed by manufacturers that offer both variants. Some argue that having both is unfeasible.

Here's my mess free, quick, simple way of glueing separate pikes in place. Pikes have had a base coat applied, finished figures have been glued to their bases (bases haven't been textured). I use a spare base or 2p coin as a palette, squeezing a dollop of superglue on to it. A cocktail stick is used as a 'brush' to apply glue to the hand surfaces. Bottom of the pike is dipped into the glue then it is placed into position. Once dry I finish the pike, touch up any visible glue patches then varnish. Once that is dry I apply texture to the base. 

Brush choice is important. Good painters will drone on and on about it being the point of a brush that is important, not the size of the brush that matters. I however, am not a good painter, so need every advantage going. Which is why in the past, I used to buy Army Painter psycho brushes. Which are tiny. Problem with them is there is no brush to hold any paint. Great for very short thin lines, but after that their use is limited.

So my current brush selection is from Army Painter and Artis Opus. I buy the cheap Army Painter 'hobby' brushes (red handle, basecoating designation) and use those to splash paint around with abandon. Great for priming, for basecoating horses, slapping the main coat colour on, and for applying washes. After that it is Artis Opus M series OO for pretty much everything else. Straps, tartan lines, collars then I will use an OOO size brush.

Whilst on the subject of paint brushes, I need to bookmark this video, as despite my 'of course I'm going to look after these really nice Gucci expensive paint brushes' we all know that that will go out of the window faster than a New Year Resolution to go to the gym. I don't use their cleaning solutions (I've got some big bottles of Vallejo brush cleaner, and brush restorer), but I do use those brushes and have some of their brush soap.

Inspired by the magnetic base of the painting handle I have purchased ferrous self adhesive thin plates for car phone holder, which is a bit of a mouthful. Very thin self adhesive metal  discs that I have stuck on my painting mat. On the underside of my water pot, the corners of the crocodile clip holder, and my anti paint pot spill holder I have stuck wafer thin magnetic sheet. So now even I can't knock stuff over when painting. Give it time, I'm sure I will find away.

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