Sunday, 17 October 2021

For Fellow Hobbyists on a Shoestring Budget who are in need of Digital Creative Tools

 In a departure from my usual posts, I would like to bring to your attention a website that sells digital content such as ebooks, audiobooks, software, etc. at attractive prices in aid of charity. Some of you may already be aware of this website but for those of you who are not, then you would be remiss not to check out Humble Bundle. I myself first found out about it via Warhammer Community which was selling a bundle of its ebooks and audiobooks via this site.



 How attractive a bundle can be is largely subjective because it all depends on how much you need or want the items included in a particular selection. So far, excluding the bundle that I will talk about later, I have only purchased two bundles. Both were from Black Library i.e. one an eBook bundle and the other an audiobook one. I am, if you didn't know already, a huge fan of the Warhammer universe. 



 But this particular deal I am highlighting in this post is more relevant to the scale model/miniature hobby. What I am talking about is of course digital tools to edit and compile hobby-related content for consumption via photos or videos. To my delight, a software bundle currently being made available in Humble Bundle (expected end date is about 18 days from the date of this blog post) includes software such as Corel Painter 2021, VideoStudio Pro 2021, PaintShop Pro 2021, AfterShot Pro 3, Particle Shop, and Multicam Capure. It also includes a significant amount of brush packs, paper packs, video overlays, scripts for use in the list of COREL software.



 In case you were wondering ... no, I am not getting any commission for recommending the above website. It's a site that I have found a few good deals on, and I just thought I would share it with any of you whoare still unaware of the site. If you know of similar sites like Humble Bundle, please do not hesitate to let me know in the comments below as I am always on the lookout for a good deal. With the weekend already upon us, I can only hope you are having a good one. Cheers! 


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Sunday, 3 October 2021

Girl's Rider - Hasegawa 1/12 scale figurine [Assembly]

 Painting sessions are likely to resume again, sooner than later, thanks to my new folding hobby table. But first I plan to prep and prime one last figurine before I set about putting paint on miniatures. This project is that of Girl's Rider, a 1/12 scale resin figurine from the Hasegawa Real Figure Collection. Previously I had done a quick unboxing and dry fit of the figurine. In fact, I had made some videos of that process but I guess now I'll now only upload them as a "looking back video" at a later date.  


Hasegawa 1/12 scale resin figurine Girl's Rider [work-in-progress: assembly; front view]

Hasegawa 1/12 scale resin figurine Girl's Rider [work-in-progress: assembly; back view]

 During the assembly process, there were only two things of note. Firstly, there were some visible gaps between certain joints after assembly. And because this is a resin model, the glue used (which in this case was a low viscosity cyanoacrylate (aka super glue). Unlike the application of plastic glue on plastic parts which will melt the parts together and in most cases seal the gap at the same time. This does not happen with the super glue. As such, any gaps were filled with putty. Secondly, brass support rods were inserted into the main body and both arms (see below) to allow the figurine to be held without obscuring surfaces that are going to be painted later. 


Girl's Rider figurine: after holes filled with putty and brass support rods inserted (front view)

Girl's Rider figurine: after holes filled with putty and brass support rods inserted (back view)

 Below is a series of photos taken at staggered intervals when the figurine was spun 360 degrees. This view of the main body sans arms clearly shows up the figurine's sensual s-curves, from both the front and back as well as her sides. This is brought about by the figurine's pose i.e. her stance which accentuates the natural arch of her back and the curve back inwards via her rear to her legs.


Main assembled body of the Girl's Rider resin figurine (front view

Just from the main body of the figurine itself, it's fairly visible that ...

... her pose is dynamic with sensual s-curves highlighted by ... 

... stance of one foot forward and the hips tilted slightly to the side

Main assembled body of the Girl's Rider resin figurine (back view)

Sensual s-curves on the figurine are also augmented by ...


... before flowing back towards her thighs and legs

Girl's Rider figurine assembled sans her arms/hands, which will be primed separately

 While there are other ongoing non-figurine projects yet to be prepared-for-paint such as vehicular scale model kits like the Neon Genesis Evangelion EVA 01 unit and the Sturmgeschütz III, these will require a multitude of parts and/or sub-assemblies to be painted before being fully put together. As such, the assembly/prep/priming steps tends to alternate with the painting process. Unlike figurines, vehicular kits rarely get fully assembled and primed prior to the painting process starting.


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 So the hobby-wagon is slowly juddering back to a start after a long inertial loop of assembling, prepping and priming. No actual painting yet per se, I admit, but more importantly a significant mental hurdle has been overcome by the creation of a temporary work space via the folding table. My mind is now awash with painting possibilities again. And that's always a good thing. Cheers!


Monday, 20 September 2021

Getting back on track with a folding hobby table

 It's past mid-September and I've yet to do any significant paint work in 2021. So far I've been entangled in an endless loop of assembly, prep, and priming work. Any painting I've done has been trifling busy work comprising color tests and simple base coats. So what went wrong? One word, three syllables ... pandemic. Apart from devastating 'normal' life as we know it and taking away what little free time I had for the hobby, it also resulted in my usual hobby table for one becoming a work-from-home table for two. Having the missus beside me during the work day is the one silver lining in this pandemic, but space for painting via hand-brush/wet palette was compromised, until now ...


All folded up, a folding table for use as a temporary hobby work area

Once opened up, the table has two-tiers: a narrow one stacked above the main area

Each tile on the floor roughly measures 1x1 feet, so the work area is less than 3x2 feet 

 As you would've gathered by now from the photos above, the solution came in the form of a fairly compact folding table. Costing slightly more than RM100 (roughly USD25), this was the cheapest option I could find online to solve my workspace problem. I got it via Shopee, a local online shopping portal. Incidentally it was the first furniture I had bought online which was non-Ikea. For the price, the compact and stable folding table is definitely value for money. But more than that, I hope it pays back above and beyond what it cost by enabling me to resume detailed paint/weathering work.


Here the folding hobby table is stacked up against my dedicated airbrushing space

 While I do retain a small dedicated workspace for airbrushing (see above) that is set apart from my normal hobby work table (now a work-from-home table) due to the issue of toxic chemicals and fumes; that very reason makes it unsuitable for prolonged periods of slow hand brush painting of miniatures. With the acquisition of this folding hobby table, I now no longer have any valid excuse to procrastinate anymore when it comes to finally painting a miniature or scale model kit.


Above is the exact dimensions provided by the online furniture supplier

 This folding hobby table is spacious enough to place the required materials e.g. wet palette, reference images, elbow room for steadying the painting hand, a work-lamp, magnifying lamp (rarely used now), brush cleaning material, water container, etc. etc. And it's also close to the same height as my current work-table which helps. Speaking of the pandemic, there is a bit of a good news for my family in that my son has finally been able to get vaccinated. Thankfully he qualified to receive the Pfizer Biontech jab. The missus and I could only get the Sinovac jabs ourselves. Regardless, please get vaccinated if you haven't done so already. Until next time, stay safe always. 


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Saturday, 4 September 2021

Loki Variant [WIP - Primed for Painting]

 If there is one thing this pandemic has cast over my hobby activities, it's a pall of inertia that has put me on a mind-numbingly looped path comprising just prep and priming work. This is partly due to my hobby worktable being turned into a work-from-home-table to be shared by the missus and I. That impediment should be resolved eventually with a mini folding-worktable that I plan to get online. For now though, all I can effectively do is to prep and prime to my heart's content. So dear reader, please forgive me for yet another boring primed-figurine blog post; this one for Marvel's Loki Variant.


Knight Models Marvel Universe - Loki Variant [work-in-progress: primed]

 As per the norm, a light grey primer coating was applied on the Loki Variant figurine. In most cases I've found that light grey works best for the majority of my projects. Other primer colors I occasionally use are black (for metal paint) and white (for anime figurine skin tones). Prior to the application of the primer coat, the details on the Loki Variant figurine weren't very visible due to the metal's shiny texture. However, with the primer coat on, the figurine's inherent details began to show up.  


Loki Variant (front view) after applying the light gray Tamiya Fine Surface Primer

Loki Variant (back view) after applying the light gray Tamiya Fine Surface Primer

With the application of a light gray primer coat ...

... the inherent details on the Loki Variant metal figurine ...

... becomes much more visible to the naked eye compared with ...

... when the figurine was at its plain metal (i.e. non-primed) stage

 Even from a cursory glance you can already tell that the inherent details of this Marvel Universe Loki figurine is simply excellent. While Loki's clothing texture was brilliantly done, the crowning glory for me is the figurine's facial features. While not exactly Tom Hiddleston, the facial features are very much Loki personified. It's evil, its cocky, its confident, its maniacal, in other words it's so Loki.


Loki Variant (top-down view) after the light gray Tamiya Fine Surface Primer was applied

Nice details on the fur-like clothing texture on the Loki Variant's upper back 

A length of sprue from a different kit was glued onto the throne to help stabilize the base

 Similar to a previous Knight Models figurine I had completed (i.e. Spider-Man), the back of the base had to be propped up with a piece of spare sprue from a different kit. Without this simple piece of sprue, the whole vignette (i.e. figurine plus base) would simply topple over. With it, the vignette's center of gravity stabilizes, and the figurine seated on the throne will not topple over.


As these closeup photos show, the inherent details of the Loki Variant figurine ...

... are simply excellent, everything looks good especially the facial features ...

... which should bode well for the coming painting process to follow

 So with the Loki Variant ready for paint, is my prep-prime-loop destined to be finally broken. Alas dear reader, the answer is not yet. It will take a while for my folding-worktable to arrive so there might be another one or two prep/priming posts of other projects before the painting can begin. Meanwhile on the pandemic front, the situation is as dire as it ever was. My country even ranked dead last in the Bloomberg Covid Resilience Score. Worse still, in recent weeks more covidiots are starting to surface with numerous people refusing to be vaccinated. Sigh. When will this nightmare ever end.


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Sunday, 15 August 2021

Loki Variant [WIP - Assembly of the Knight Models Marvel Universe Figurine]

 Of all the miniature figurine materials I have worked on so far, metal is by far my least favourite. My dislike for the material stems mainly from the imprecision of connecting metal parts. There is a certain leeway to be had when gluing two metal parts together that the vehicular-scale-modeler in me abhors. Personally I prefer two parts to come together in only one way sans any margin of flex. But I can see how someone who likes to customize their miniatures may delight in this pseudo-flexibility. Perhaps this will be made clearer when you read about my experience with metal Loki below.       


Knight Models Marvel Universe - Loki [work-in-progress: assembled]

 For this particular Knight Models metal figurine, the somewhat imprecise way two connecting parts came together required me to make use of additional materials/tools during the assembly process. These extra materials/tools include a 'baking soda-cyanoacrylate' mixture, a hobby drill, and modelling putty. All were needed to resolve issues resulting from my experience with this figurine.   


Individual metal and resin parts of the Loki figurine model kit

Baking soda plus super glue equals an extremely strong bond and heat!

Modelling Putty, specifically the Games Workshop Green Stuff

 In certain instances, there was a need for me to drill deeper holes into existing shallow ones, especially those found on Loki's helmet and staff pole. Doing so allowed the separate parts to not only fit better, but also gain better purchase with each other. Fortunately, the white metal was soft enough to yield to my mini hobby drill. End result were a better fit for Loki's horns and ponytail to his head as well as the staff's pole to its tri-bladed tip/head (see below). 


Loki's horns attaches to his helmet; the drill deepens the holes on his helmet for added purchase

To deepen the hole where the ponytail connects to the head (via the helmet) as well as ...

... the hole where the staff head/tip connects to the pole, the same mini-drill was used

 Because metal parts are relatively heavier than their resin or plastic equivalents, I wanted to create a bonding that was stronger than your average super glue. As such, I decided to use a 'baking soda-cyanoacrylate (super glue)' mixture when gluing metal parts together. Long story short, the bond strength resulting from this mixture is much stronger than just using super glue alone. WARNING: this mixture results in an exothermic reaction i.e. it releases heat which may damage your skin! So please be careful. This mixture was also used on a sprue propping up the base because I felt it needed the extra strength in order to support the base plus figurine.


A plastic sprue from a different model kit was used to prop up and stabilize the base ...

... with a 'super glue-baking soda' combo used to ensure a strong bond between plastic and resin

 Another issue arising from the imprecision was unsightly gaps that frequently formed between parts being joined together. To resolve this, I used modelling putty to fill in the gaps. Additionally, I had to sculpt the putty so that its texture resembled the parts around it. For example, the putty used to fill in the gaps between the lower and upper arm was sculpted to look like the 'glove-like wrappings' on the lower arm. Other than filling gaps, the modelling putty was also required to prevent Loki's left foot from resting on thin air. To this end, I sculpted an extension to Loki's stony throne so that his foot now rested on what I hope looks like just another natural outcrop. 


Gaps arising from an imprecise connection on upper/lower arms were filled up with modelling putty

Patterns resembling the bandage on the forearm was sculpted on the modelling putty ...

... in order to enable the modelling putty to blend in with the rest of the figurine's details

An extension to the stone base was also sculpted ...

... to prevent Loki's left foot from appearing to rest on thin air

 Despite the difficulties inherent in the Loki Variant's assembly process, I was delighted with the final results. While I don't have much experience working with putty aside from filling small gaps, the simple textures involved meant I could still pull off the required sculpting work without major ramifications. However, the real visual test will come after the priming process. Only after that will I know for sure if the sculpted texture blends in well with the rest of the figurine and its base. 


A larger image of Loki after assembly and some prep work

 So assembly of the Loki Variant is now done. As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the priming process is next for this miniature figurine. That will be something to look forward to. Anything to take my mind off this awful pandemic the country is mired in. As always, stay safe and be well.


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