Monday, August 28, 2017

JUG·GER·NAUT (noun): a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution*

I loved the little Juggernaut model, and I loved the idea of actually putting him on the table in a game. But he needed a suitable base. Eventually I hit upon the idea of using a wreck marker to show that he might be small, but he's not to be underestimated! After ah-ing and uhm-ing about which faction to throw under the bus, I settled on good ol' Cryx. It helped that the sculpt had a suitable surface for the little guy to stand on.

Here's a shot with the old metal Juggernaut for scale:

I tried to paint the Cryx jack in slightly darker and more neutral colours while using bright shades for the little guy to help him stand out; I probably could have thrown on another wash or two on the base, or used darker highlights, but overall the bright red does the job. I wanted the wreck to look like it was lying in an expanding pool of oil that was soaking through the snow, like a fresh corpse in a pool of blood. You know, really sell the scene.

I used watered-down Anthonian Camoshade for the oil, which I let seep through the snow flock, then applied less diluted layers closer to the body to try to get a gradient. I applied extra at the mouth of the pipe, to show it leaking out. After it was dry I drybrushed a little bit of white on top, applying it more heavily farther from the body, to try to make it look like the oil was seeping along the ground and soaking up from under the snow.

The mini-Juggernaut model is quite nice, but the truth is it lacks detail compared to the full-sized model - totally understandable of course. Painting that detail on was difficult, but well worth it. Pretty much all the details on the upper body - the bolts, Khador logo, handle, and panel lines, as well as some other details such as the screws on the arms and bolts on the leg armour - are all just painted onto a smooth surface. To give them a bit of extra depth I tried to add a bit of darker red underneath each detail to suggest subtle shadows. The work is actually quite rough (as I discovered from looking at the photos - I can't see this well in real life) as this is pretty much past the limit of how finely I can paint, but I think it looks pretty good in person (unless you have AMAZING eyesight).
The bolts, logo, handle, and panel lines are just painted on.
The screw is painted on. The axe glow is rough, but then it's a very small axe...
Another painted screw. Shading and highlighting is tough at this scale.
I wanted the eyes to look dead, but still have a bit of a glassy lens look.
Oil seeping through the snow.
Oil leaking out of the cut pipe.
I named him Joe Green, after a real-life strongman who performed under the name The Mighty Atom. Interesting guy, I recommend looking him up. Anyway, this was the first time I tried to paint such a small scale model, and I'm very happy with how it turned out. Especially seeing as this is the first model I've finished in many, many months. And hey, in MkIII you can never have enough Juggernauts, amirite?

"Who's next?"
*From Google.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Dusty Boot For A 4030 CNC

I've been trying to figure out the hang of CNC machining for a while now. I quickly decided that I would need a dust boot to contain all the wooden particulates of various sizes that the machine kicks up. However, the few models that looked like they would work with my Chinese 4030 CNC machine did not impress me. So I decided to make my own.

My first design used a two-piece boot that would be magnetised. A plate would be attached to the gantry using an existing hole and some screws to clamp to the outside (so no new holes would need to be cut). A wooden beam would connect the two. A screw would press a tensioning piece against the beam to tighten it up. The design looked like this:

I ordered some strips of nylon bristles and cut two pieces of the appropriate length, trimming the bristles to the desired height.

I then glued and screwed the two strips to the outsides of the two halves of the boot.

Once it was dried the magnets held them together well enough.

Finally it all went together.

Meanwhile I was sorting out a dust collector. I bought a vortex dust separator and screwed it onto the top of a bucket, after cutting a hole out of course.

Unfortunately that didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. It turned out the bucket wasn't strong enough; it compressed somewhat under the pressure, eventually cracking.

So off I went to buy a stronger bucket. Fortunately this one stood up to the force of suction just fine.

I soon found out that wasn't the only problem; it turned out the dust boot wasn't rigid enough. As the gantry moved the hose started to apply pressure in different directions, torquing the whole assembly and causing the boot to simply fall apart.

Clearly the magnets weren't strong enough and the assembly wasn't rigid enough. So it was back to the drawing board. After stumbling across an interesting design from someone called "Pointy", I started working on a new design that would be simpler, smaller, and more rigid.

You've heard the old adage "measure twice, cut once"? Well, let's just say I had to carve the boot several times as I kept making mistakes with my measurements or numbers. And in the middle of that, my Y-axis suddenly stopped working.

I was very dispirited at this point and had to distance myself from the whole endeavor. Eventually though I came back and tracked the problem down to the actual cable connecting the controller to the stepper motor. Fortunately I was able to fashion a crude replacement.

At last I was able to cut the design and start to assemble it. The plan was to use a plastic pipe to connect the boot to the plate; this would mean a smaller boot with less force being applied directly to it. The tube would be clamped in place, and the clamps would be bulked up with additional layers of wood for rigidity. The boot itself would be one piece, with a channel along one side that would allow it to pivot with the bit in place.

In it's brief trial run the large size of the first boot prototype caused me some issues, so one of my goals with this new one was to reduce the size of the boot itself. To that end I decided to cut a groove in the underside of boot for the bristles, rather than gluing them to the outside. While working on this, I ended up putting together a jig that would help me cut the bristles to even lengths.

Fortunately that did the job, and I was able to get a fairly even skirt of bristles. When finally assembled and put to the test, I'm happy to say that the new boot worked quite well. It's not perfect, but it does do the job.

It took a lot more time and effort than I would have liked, but it does make the machine much easier to use. I wrote the gcode using a custom python script. All the parameters such as the connecting tube size and screw diameters are variables that are easily changed, so I can cut new boots to fit different parts should anything need to be replaced. If anyone would like to get the gcode so they can cut a boot for their own 4030 CNC machine, you can leave a comment and I'll contact you.

I'm thinking about trying to cut a clear acrylic boot to replace the wooden one someday, but I reckon it will be a good long while before I can be bothered. My next plans include an improved spoil board, a sort of bed extension/clamp, and a new controller box to house the upgraded components I'm using. I really hope they don't take as long to make, or give me as much trouble, as this dust boot did.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Vanished Point

I recently picked up a Pilot Capless Decimo - the Japanese-market version of the Vanishing Point Decimo. I'd heard that Japanese nib sized were smaller than Western nibs, so I picked up a medium assuming it would be about a fine. Unfortunately what I found was that the nib put down a much thicker line than I had been expecting. Plus it was insanely wet; I was getting a LOT of feathering, and I used up the ink cartridge in a single week of mild note-taking - in contrast, the Parker Vector fine nib I had been using previously has lasted over a month so far on the original cartridge, and it's still going.

Part of the problem might have been my fault; I'm unused to soft nibs (despite this being the steel nibbed version it's still quite soft) and I think I damaged the nib a little when I was first trying it out. Nothing that couldn't be repaired by someone who knew what they were doing, but, well...

... well that's what the Internet is for, right? Basically, I decided to try to "improve" the nib myself. Yes, I would probably screw it up, but I figured if I didn't like the pen as it was then what did I have to loose? It would be a learning experience, right?

First I tried to force the tines closer together to reduce the ink flow; I ended up crossing them over then aligning them as best I could. Then I sanded down the sides with 1500 grit sandpaper, then the top, then I tried to knock off the corners and round the edges before smoothing everything with the micromesh.

I actually had to sand then smooth several times. After all that the nib now runs much finer and much dryer (perhaps a little too dry), so technically I achieved my goals. However it is also VERY scratchy now, especially on the upstroke; a far cry from the original silky-smooth performance. Despite the scratchiness, I actually like it more now than before. Perhaps that's just because I'm more attached to it now after having worked on it myself? Hard to say, but the finer, dryer line is much more practical for the pen's intended use, so there is that. Perhaps I'll try to smooth it out a bit more another time, but I'll do a little writing with it first to see how it does in real life.

Ultimately if I can't get it to a use-able state I might spring for a new one; I'm hoping to avoid having to do that, but I do like the pen enough that I would consider it if necessary.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Coloured Metals

I painted this model as a gift for a friend, but it did give me an opportunity to experiment with painting coloured metals. After some experimentation I managed to pull off a couple of useful new techniques; techniques that happily work very well together.

Basically, I painted the entire model gold: Citadel Doombull Brown, Citadel Auric Armour Gold, washed with Citadel Devlan Mud, drybrushed Auric Armour Gold, and finally Devlan Mud was applied heavily into the recesses. I then edge-highlighted in Scale 75's Speedmetal, which is a super-bright white metal colour, for a model with a fair amount of contrast and very bright highlights.

I then simply glazed the red areas with Badger Minitaire Ghost Tint Fresh Blood, and the yellow areas with Badger Minitaire Ghost Tint Yellow. Finally the blue glows were applied using drybrushes of Citadel Temple Guard Blue, Citadel Baharroth Blue, and Citadel Blue horror, with Skull White highlights and Badger Minitaire Ghost Tint Plasma Glow as a sort of wash/glaze.

The base was just Citadel Doombull Brown drybrushed Citadel Blazing Orange and washed with Citadel Devlan Mud (it probably would have looked better with a cooler colour like plain grey considering Iron Man's warm colour palette, but I wanted the base to fit with the previous model I painted for my friend). I used Mr Super Clear UV-Cut Gloss varnish, and matted down the base with Vallejo's brush-on matt varnish.

The results are pretty good. Using the Ghost Tints over a metallic base was the best way I found to get coloured metals, and the yellow over Speed Metal gives a fantastically bright gold; I think it's a much better way to highlight gold than my old way of just using Mithril Silver highlights.

I'm not totally happy with the glows: they are a pretty clumsy, and the blue wash around the eyes ended up going over the yellow base to create a greenish tint. But they don't look too bad overall, and I didn't have time to try to do any better (I'm far from certain that I even could do any better to be honest).

This was a fairly fun model to paint since it was just two simple colours but was still something new to experiment with. The amount of edge highlighting needed was a bit of a drag, but it wasn't too bad and the results are worth it. I did have to try to do a bit of repair work on the model thanks to Knight Model's usual casting issues, but it was far less problematic than some of their other models that I've had to deal with - plus I was a bit lazy and didn't put as much effort into repair work as I should have, but most of the problem areas were ultimately mostly hidden by the paint so it wasn't too bad overall.

Overall I'm happy with him. Fortunately I have another piece waiting for when I put together my own Avengers models, but the way things are going that day is a long way off.

On a related note, I've been a bit demotivated when it comes to painting. One reason is that my last model, Cyclops, drew a measly two comments on the forums even though I thought he came out quite nicely. Couple that with a lack of games or people to talk to (in person at least) about miniatures, and, well, it's hard to find time for it when there's so many other things for me to deal with. So yeah, I'm probably not going to be getting too many models done for the foreseeable future. This makes me sad, but there's not much I can do about it. Oh well.