Monday, June 20, 2011

How to: Make round huts

During the wait in saving money for a lighted magnifier and another set of miniatures, I decided to design and create an Irish ring-fort and buildings out of free stuff. Following is how I went about creating wattle & dob huts with thatch roof out of mostly free stuff.

Step 1 : I obtained a couple 8x11 sheets of card stock for making the roof. I bought a sheet of plastic canvas at the hobby & craft store in brown for .56 cents and a 36 inch piece of balsa wood for .29 cents. Went to the Dollar Store and bought a broom (use the bristles for thatch). Out of the trash I salvaged a hot chocolate and orange juice can, both made of paper/cardboard (just washed them out). Looked at various kitchen ware for something circular that I could draw a circle with in the size desired. Make sure roof extends beyond walls.

Step 2 : Using a cereal bowl to draw around to make a circle on the card stock. Cut the card stock circle out with scissors, using two sheets (to make the roof more stable). Drew a radius line from edge to middle of circle and cut the line. Then bent card stock into a cone and glue, when dried, paint a dark color (black, brown gray). Cut a hole in the tip of cone. Small can used as a small storage hut, thus didn't have hole in top.

Step 3 : Taking a miniature figure (28mm) to measure height of hut and doorway, and drew lines. Taking a Dremel circular tool (or xacto knife, scissor), cut the height of the can, and having done so cut the doorway. I used the half of the can with the metal bottom which I shall brush diluted glue on and dump sand/dirt for flooring, then spray diluted glue on dirt to help it stick.

Step 4 : Paint the cut can the color desired. For a more plaster look, use a mixture of flour, glue, salt, & water (google web for correct recipe). Taking an xacto knife cut a couple of holes in which to glue a piece of plastic canvas over hole from inside the can. This makes the hole look like it needs repair and has a wattle & dob look (to me). Depending on color of paint for hut, the canvas may need to be painted a different color.

Step 5 : Cut balsa wood to length as the door posts and length of wall posts for height around the can (about 3 or 4). Glue them on the quarter areas of circle on outside of can (if re-moveable roof, have inside posts also). Paint the posts.

Step 6 : Placing the card stock roof on the can top, cut the bristles from the broom head, and then cut them to length needed for the roof. Glue small sections and placed down bristles. Layer them to look more like thatch roofs in England (sort of). Use a lot of white glue which dries clear. Using a washing technique in brown, paint the roof. Don't forget to paint the hole and thatch around the hole a black color, for smoke damage. If roof isn't to be removed, glue down.

 Step 7 : The various photos viewed on the web of Irish huts didn't show any doors so I used a cut piece of cloth to hang down. I then used blue paint and drew a few Celtic symbols on hut outside wall.

Step 8 : To make A-frame hut, take two round sticks and create an X on one end and glue. Using popcycle sticks, cut the round ends off, and laid them against the X posts, the X posts being one on each end. After gluing planking up stick sides, painted desired color. Then cut bristles to size desired and glue them down and wash with paint.      

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to: Step 3 - Painting

After priming the 28mm miniature, letting it thoroughly dry, the next step is painting. Don't buy cheap brushes. Some folks use nylon but it appears for most people the nylon bristles are to stiff. Try to get red sable hair brushes. Use only the tips for painting & don't let the paint get more then halfway up the bristles. Clean the brush in water often while painting. When finished rinse the brush in luke-warm water with soap. Remold the brushes bristles in your finger tips.

Use small red sable hair brush
 Base coat

There are several ways to do the base coat:
1)  Paint the entire figure in black/dark brown. Then layer the chosen color from dark to light.
2)  After painting entire figure wash each area with darkest color.
3)  Base paint in dark color chosen, then layer the highlight areas with a shade lighter, then lighter a second time.

If one only has the base color of paints, use white and black paint to get the shade of color desired. Problem with this is making sure one has mixed enough paint for the project.

In hind sight I should have painted the small inner areas first & the little details. It is okay to splash paint beyond your target area. Later when painting that area it will be corrected. If one needs to remove extra paint use a cotton swab. Don't apply the paint in streaming amounts, over painting will clog up the fine details. As for painting highlights, chose the areas where the sun light would hit if shining straight down. To help in this place a light overhead and see where light strikes the figure.

I was going to paint a hem pattern on the bottom of the figure holding the sword, and on the sword scabbard, but with out a magnifier, forget it.

Figure brushed in black wet wash
 Wet Wash

The step after base painting and painting highlights is a technique called wet washing. Take the dark base color and dilute it down with water 2 parts water to 1 part paint (this is trial & error, perhaps more dilution is wanted, experiment). Another way of wet washing is dipping the tip in black paint then dip it into water, then run the brush over the figure with the wash. Either way chosen, layer the washes.

Theory is that the dark wash with run into the lines and crevasses and make them dark giving better shading to the figure. I tried the black wash style and did not like the results. To me all it did was mute the colors and make the flesh area grey looking. I went back and touched up the flesh colored areas (notice figure at left has no eyes) My understanding is this takes practice by doing it and modifying to one's own style. I have a lot of practice!

  Dry brushing/washing

Dry brushing, didn't work to well
The second to last step is called dry brushing/washing. This is taking a dry brush dipping in lighter paint or just white, then wiping most of the paint off the bristles, then quickly flick the brush over the highlight areas. Again this is to help in shading. It appears to me that I need to practice this a lot too!

My first figure painted isn't to bad considering I did this without a magnifier, which I highly recommend! In my old age the eye Doc gave me bi-focal eye glasses, which I hate to wear, and usually don't. My vision is still 20/25 without them. I also wish the colors were brighter, and the washing both wet & dry need a lot of work. Oh yes. The eyes, mine suck because I needed a magnifier, and a hand hold one won't do! Also finish the base off. I haven't done this cause I'm still trying to figure out bases, which shall be my next post.

The final step is using a sealer, most folks use a spray matte finish. The sealer protects the paint job. Matte is preferred cause it looks natural, where gloss does not.

Thanks to Ray and Paul for their help. I'll keep posting my learning how to paint and we shall all see if I improve.