Thursday, June 19, 2008

yellow dogs...

The fourth 24 figure unit has been completed. Notwithstanding that all my other units are generic, for some reason I think I'll label this unit as Talbot's regiment. The yellow coats would be appropriate but I'm not sure about the color of the pants. Nor am I sure about the correct flag to use for Talbot's regiment. While the few sources I've consulted all agree on the 'talbot hound' device, the flag itself may have been either yellow or white. I'll probably go with yellow.

I've been experimenting with painting techniques. One of my goals with this project is to avoid using aerosol sprays which require a trip to the garage and limits my figure prepping to nice, temperate weather. So, I've been using water-based Aleene's Tacky Glue as both an undercoating to help the acrylic paints stick to the plastic figures, and finishing up with a coat of Aleene's as a top sealant. There are a few 'gotchas' with this technique. The first is that the finished figure displays a high gloss finish. A bit too glossy for my tastes. The second is that, since Aleene's is water based, using a wet brush or a watered down wash tends to dissolve the base coat and washes the paint right off the figure.

My solution was to apply a water based polyurethane varnish (available in the art supply section of craft stores) over the finished figure to impart a satin finish. However, if the varnish is put on too thickly, it too reacts with the Aleene's. But, since the Aleene's is protected by one or more coats of acrylic paint (one is never enough), instead of washing the base coat off the figure it causes it to swell and cracks the paint thus giving the figure a 'crazed' finish. This too is unacceptable.

My next step was to apply the varnish over the base coat before painting. This seems to be an acceptable solution. The Aleene's adheres to the figure while the polyurethane protects the Aleene's from the water in the acrylic paints. This water barrier enables me to use watered down washes and wet brushes to blend colors on the figure while painting.

The only detriment to this work-flow is that it is easy to apply the varnish too thickly, thus obscuring some of the details of the figure. This is not much of a problem with 54mm figures, but I'm not sure I'd attempt it on 1/72 scale. But with some care I think this can be avoided.

The point to this longish description is to point out that most of the 'yellow dogs' were painted using a black wash to enhance the shadows. But I'm not particularly happy with the results. I traditionally find yellow  a difficult color to work with but I'm not entirely convinced that my unhappiness doesn't come from the glue-varnish-paint-varnish technique. I'll continue to play around.

Nevertheless, as a whole the unit looks good. I occasionally scowl at individual figures, but the yellow dogs make me happy.

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