Saturday, March 28, 2015

White or Black Underwear?

In the comments to yesterdays post, Paul mentioned that he uses a white undercoat when painting figures to avoid overly darkening the topcoat of paint. As I had a few spare figures laying around I thought I'd paint one in exactly the same way as yesterday but with a white undercoat.

On the left is the figure from yesterday while the one on the right started with a white undercoat. I think the difference is most obvious on the faces of the figures with the white undercoat giving a lighter skin tone. One thing I did find was that I had to use more paint for the topcoat as the white showed through a lot more than the black did, and any spots I missed were very obvious.

At the end of the day I don't think there is much to choose between the two approaches but I think I'll probably stick with the black undercoat as I found it ever so slightly easier.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Figure Painting

As I've mentioned before I prefer painting things that are simple block colours, although I am now happy with my approach to painting weathered wood. Painting figures to look realistic is something I'm still not entirely happy with though.

Over the years I've actually painted quite a lot of figures, but these have been the slightly larger Warhammer miniatures from Games Workshop and I focused on painting Orcs and Goblins. While I learnt a number of useful techniques they don't necessarily help with painting human figures. Fortunately there are a myriad of tutorials on the web which I've now read through to come up with an approach that is fairly easy and seems to work reasonably well.

The main point many of the tutorials stress is that you are aiming for something that looks right from a sensible viewing distance, rather than something that looks good in a close up photo. This means that you can often leave out details such as eyes and lips etc. as they would be so small as to be invisible. This is very different from when I painted orcs and goblins where I deliberately painted large eyes to add that slightly demented look I was after. So as you can see the close up photo does make the painting look rather crude but when viewed from even just a foot or so away the effect seems to work. The main idea is to use block colours and then a brown wash (not black interestingly) to add shadows and some dry brushing for highlights.

For this specific model I went with a blue overalls effect and used Model Color acrylics throughout, except for his shoes which were painted with RailMatch weathered black (#2412). I started by painting the whole figure black (#70.950) I then painted the overalls with flat blue (#70.962), the shirt ivory (#70.918) and the exposed skin was painted with dark flesh (#70.927). I then made a thin wash of burnt umber (#70.941) and ran this over the entire model to help add shadows. I then tried lightly dry brushing with dark sand (#70.847), which is a creamy colour, to add some highlights but I felt this looked a bit unnatural so touched some bits back in with their original colours and then applied another wash of burnt umber. Once dry a light wafting of matt varnish sealed everything nicely.

As I said before the close up photo is very unflattering but when viewed from a sensible distance I think he looks quite good. Now I just have to paint a locomotive for him to drive around in.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chassis MkIII

So after a little bit of teething problems I've managed to assemble the third version of the 3D printed chassis for the 24HP Hudson-Hunslet diesel locomotive I've been building. The first stage was to assemble the mechanical (rather than electrical parts of the chassis) to see if the design changes had made it easier to build. You may remember that the main problem with the second prototype (the first to be printed in brass) was that fixing the worms and gears in place was a bit of a lottery and the more likely outcome was that you would end up gluing the whole thing solid.

Well I can report that the changes to the chassis design have made assembly a lot easier. You can now fit the layshaft and worms without any risk of locking anything solid, and the etched spacers mean that getting clearances right it also nice and easy. The axles are still a little awkward to fit and it is possible to lock everything solid, but as long as you are careful the chassis now goes together fairly easily. Adding the electrical components is still quite tricky though.

The main problem is that because of the lack of space I'm forced into using a surface mount resistor to protect the motor and these are tiny. They need soldering to a piece of copper clad board (with a gap cut in it to separate the two ends) and then pickups soldering to one end and the motor wire to the other. The piece of board that came with the resistor is essentially the same size as the resistor and is very fiddly to use. I did try though, but at some point I managed to form a solder bridge across the resistor, which meant the motor got the full 12v and was damaged. The extra power caused the motor to get so hot I burnt myself and had to wait a few minutes before I could safely handle it. The heat must have melted something internally as the metal case was now live to the positive terminal, and even a small amount of power caused it to get dangerously hot.

Fortunately I had a replacement motor and resistor so could replace the electrical side of things. While doing so I changed how the resistor is mounted and used a 9mm offcut of the copper clad sleepers I used to hand build track recently. This gives me a lot more room to play with, was much easier to fit, and is still hidden once the body is put in place. The final step was to add the etched brake shoes which fold and then glue to the support arms included in the chassis. Anyway the end result of all that is this...

I'm hoping that with a little more running in and maybe a slight tweak to the pressure of the pickups and it will run nice and slowly, but I'm really happy with how this chassis built up (my ham fisted electronics aside). I've updated the artwork for the etched components so hopefully it won't be long until I've completed the design of this locomotive and can think about making it available as a kit.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Some Assembly Required

As I expected I couldn't just leave the etched parts alone and so by the end of yesterday I'd got as far as being able to waft some primer over the first complete test build of the body (I haven't looked at assembling the new chassis yet, but I'm off work for the next week so I should get to it fairly soon).

If you just take an brief glance then I hope you agree this looks pretty good and I'm certainly happy with it, but there are a number of issues I need to sort. I've already mentioned needing to alter the name plates as the current ones basically disintegrated during etching, but I've now discovered two other "mistakes" on the etched parts.

The most obvious mistake in the photos is the curved cutout on the bottom of the front grill. The cutout should line up with the centre line of the locomotive, but I managed to draw it in the centre of the grill so it's out by a millimetre or two. Not quite sure how I missed that but it's easy to fix on the etch artwork.

The second, and slightly less obvious, issue is that the folded part, which if you remember I had issues drawing, is ever so slightly wrong. I seem to have ended up with the fold lines slightly too close together which means that it forces the panel to slope out too sharply on the side in the photo as it drops from the top of the engine cover. I think this has happened as the etched lines allow the metal to fold much better than my scored lines on brass which has slightly shrunk the part. Again it should be fairly easy to update the artwork now I can see how the current version fits against the model.

Even with these issues I think it looks pretty good when viewed from a sensible distance (the photos are very cruel). So next up will be tweaking the etch artwork and testing the MkIII chassis print.

A.G.W.I. Oil Refinery Wagons: Now Available to Buy!

I've now had the chance to paint up one of the prototype prints of the A.G.W.I. Oil Refinery flat wagons (see here and here for previous posts) along with painting the Peco oil drums to hide the rather garish plastic colours.

I'm really happy with how these have turned out. Having worked from just four photographs I think the end result looks pretty much spot on. If you want some of your own they are now on sale in sets of four (they seem to have always been used in sets of four and this also made most sense given Shapeways pricing formula) from Penistone Railway Works.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Etched Parts Have Arrived

The first set of test etches for the Hudson-Hunslet arrived today from Narrow Planet and there is good news and bad news:

From an initial glance I'm really happy with how the front grill has turned out. Unfortunately the plates with the makers name on aren't as much of a success as I've etched away so much material that they have essentially disintegrated. Still, for my first complex test etch I'm really happy with how it looks, now I just need to see if it all fits. More later, although probably not much later as I won't be able to stop myself from having a play with these.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

X-Raying a Lead-Acid Battery

I'm still waiting on the etched parts for the Hudson-Hunslet to arrive but in the interim I've started to prepare the rest of the body. Specifically I've been adding extra weight to the 3D print which will hopefully improve performance of the locomotive from the previous prototype.

The obvious area to hollow out so that I could add more weight was the space above the motor and in to the back of the control panel, but I've also added an area under the seat where more weight can be added. The final area I hollowed out was a new addition to this version of the body; the starter battery. While the location of the starter battery seems to be fairly standard given the drawings and prototype photos I've found the actual battery, or batteries, used seems to vary widely although they all look like car batteries of one form or another. On the scale drawings I've been using it was difficult to figure out the exact size of the battery (other parts obscure some of the dimensions in all the views) so I've based the model on a 030 car battery using dimensions from this useful resource. You can't get much weight into the battery but I couldn't resist the opportunity to stuff a representation of a lead-acid battery with lead (okay so the Liquid Gravity I'm using possibly doesn't contain lead but you all know what I mean).

With all that weight added the model is significantly heavier than the previous prototype although it still doesn't really register on my kitchen scales so I'm not sure exactly how much it weighs. Hopefully it will be heavy enough to provide enough traction to pull a few wagons as well as give nice slow running.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Barrels of Fun

Today saw another delivery from Shapeways so you can expect to shortly be reading a few posts on the evolution of the Hudson-Hunslet body and chassis. Those post will be next week though as my modelling stuff has been packed away again as we have family coming to stay this weekend. In the interim I thought I'd show you one of the other things that was in the order.

Yes, these are the A.G.W.I. Oil Refinery wagons I blogged about a few weeks ago. Having worked through all the prototype photos either Jam or I could find (i.e. the four in the Frederick W. Cooper book) and got the 3D model to the point where I was happy the only thing left was to order some prototype prints.

Unfortunately the print orientation hasn't been kind to some of the plank detailing on the main wagon surface, although once loaded with barrels this is completely invisible so probably isn't an issue. I'm going to post one to Jam so he can have a quick look before we arrange to get enough printed for his layout, but so far so good.