I'm selling some decals

If you look above this page to the navigation area you'll notice that I've added what I refer to as a "store". It's more like a yard-sale, though. At least at the moment.

What I'm selling are some decal sets that I used to produce several years ago. Most of them are Alps-printed decals that I was able to do at home in the store. A few were actually professionally screen-printed by Microscale Industries.

I really miss having the ability to do decals. When I first started it was, like so many other businesses that I've gotten in to, something that I wanted for myself. The Alps printers were still pretty new and people were talking about making decals with them and so I invested a couple of hundred dollars to pick one up. Shortly thereafter I was printing and selling decals for models and miniatures.

My most popular decals were always the ones that I did for Space Marines. At the time GW was rather stingy with their own decal offerings so when I started printing up similar markings people began to snap them up. That went on for a number of years before I got the dreaded "nastygram" from GWs lawyers. To be fair to them they were pretty reasonable about the whole thing. I stopped selling all of the markings that were clearly based on their IP but I kept doing the ones that they had taken from heraldry or other publicly available symbology.

Sadly, Alps stopped producing the printers and as time went on they got harder and harder to replace. These days it is possible to find a printer that you could use to do this but they cost more than 10 times the price of the Alps and it's hard to imagine being able to recoup that investment.

In any case, the decals I'm selling are in mostly limited quantities. Snap them up when you can.

A few new eBay auctions

Every now and then I decide that it's time to go through my miniature collection and part with the things I'm not using. At the moment, that means Warmachine an Dropzone Commander minis.

So, for Warmachine, I have a number of Retribution minis. All painted, of course. For DZC, it's the starter UCM force - also painted.

You can see the auctions here.

Using a Silhouette Portrait to make Palm Trees

I'm sort of rescuing these images from the oblivion of Tumblr. I posted these there about a year ago and I periodically fine myself needing to dig them up again to share with somebody. I thought that they might be easier to find here.

What you're seeing below is the process I used to create some palm leaves using a Silhouette Portrait. It's a kind of craft cutter/plotter that some folks have been using for model-making projects. Think of it like a poor-man's laser cutter. This project just used heavy paper but it can do card stock, vinyl, and even thin styrene plastic. There are a lot of guys out there doing interesting things with it.

I had meant to do a full video on the process of making these things, but like so many of my other video ideas it never actually happened. Still... some day...

Painting Halo Fleet Battles minis

My last two painting videos covered the techniques I'm using to paint my Halo Fleet Battles ships. You can check out the videos themselves by scrolling down.

I have to say that I think that Spartan Games did a stellar job (get it? stellar?) on these ships. The detail is great, assembly isn't a problem, and the final product can be amazing with a minimum of work.

The nice thing about painting the 2 player starter is that the two sides are so different in pretty much every way. The UNSC ships are blocky, militaristic, and their colors should reflect that. The Covenant ships on the other hand are smooth, elegant and colorful. Of the two I find these the more satisfying to paint. It's not often that I love a paint job that I've done but I will frequently find myself just staring at the beauty of my Covenant ships.

How's the game? We're still getting used to it, but by our second game we were really starting to figure out strategies. The first game took hours, the second game took about half the time and we were using pretty much everything in the box, so you can see that it probably is a reasonably fast-playing game once you know the rules.

The rulebook could have been better... but that's for another post (or video... who knows).

I had a day off today...

So, I had a day off. Of course, a day off means something different when you work for yourself. My day off started with going off to get shipping supplies, then packing up a couple of orders, then doing some quotes, then going to the post office to ship orders, then taking some pictures and back to packing orders. Then I took a break. That's what a day off for me is usually like.

The funny thing is after all that I decided I wanted to clean the shop. When I'm in the middle of a project it gets pretty messy. I'm one of those people that seems to thrive on chaos and the shop tends to reflect that no matter how much I try to keep in tidy. Anyway, about half way through that I sat down and started painting minis. Specifically, the Covenant minis for my Halo Fleet Battles game. I had done a test of the colors for the UNSC ships last week, but I had an idea about how I wanted to approach the Covenant ships while I was cleaning and found myself drawn back over to the work table. A couple of hours later I realized that I was painting on my "day off". 

So, here was my takeaway from this.

The fact that even when I was trying to take a break from work that I was doing the thing that I do for work was a good indicator that I'm doing the thing that I should be doing. Not a lot of people can say that.

Minis in the wild

Every now and then I get a photo of miniatures that I've painted in their new home. This is one of those photos...

This is Roy's ever-growing collection of Dust models. I think that Dust vehicles may be some of the most fun things to paint. They're a little bit historical, a little sci-fi, and you can have a lot of fun weathering them. I can't think of anything better.

Review: Warcolours Paints - Show Notes

Below you'll find my video review of Warcolour paints.

It's long. Longer than I expected it to be. The thing is, I really wanted to cover the paint fully. At least, as fully as I could after using it for a day on two minis. So, anyway, sorry about that.

The TLDW version would go something like this:

The paints are inexpensive. For us US Americans it works out to $1.80ea with price breaks for buying 5 or 10 bottles. Shipping is a reasonable flat rate considering they are coming from an island in the Mediterranean.

The paint is smooth - lacking chunks or grit. It takes quite a while to dry. This could make it good for wet-blending.

The paints come in 4 translucency levels from opaque to transparent. The bottles should indicate this level (they do not - unless it's transparent).

Definitely worth picking up... which you can do here.

Testing out a new online store

If you've been one of my painting customers recently then you know that I've been trying to move all of my payments from PayPal to Square. I started using Square when it first appeared - mostly for taking payments for the store at conventions and such, but when I started doing the painting thing full time I realized that I didn't want to be depending on PayPal.

I should say that I've actually never had a problem with PayPal. I have heard all of the horror stories though and I knew that it was possible for everything to go wrong and for my money to be tied up indefinitely. With Square they never actually hold your money. It goes straight into your bank account so that fear doesn't exist.

Another nice thing about Square is that when they first started it was a fairly simple offering of "hey, you can take credit card payments!" and that was pretty much it. Over time they've been quietly adding more and more features to the point where you could use it as a simple POS system for a business and, more importantly for me, they've added online sales.

So, I'm going to give it a try. For now all I have is a set of practically brand-new 40K rulebooks that I'm selling from my own collection. They're going for $60 with free shipping in the US. Just click the link if you want to pick them up. You get a nice set of books at a great price and I get to see how well the online store function works. Everybody wins!

Is it June already?

May was a pretty crazy month, painting wise. It was actually going to be a somewhat light month. I would have worked a normal 5 day work week and begun getting things into a regular routine. That's not how it ended up, though.

The first week went well enough. I painted the Tantive IV and managed to create three videos following its progression. Because of the videos the project took a little more time than it needed to (as is normal when I do videos) but since the next two projects weren't overly large this wasn't a problem.

The second week is when the month took a turn. As I was looking over the miniatures for the Myth project I noticed that the box had a lot more minis than were on the original quote. It turns out both myself and the client hadn't been a observant as we should have been in the initial quoting phases so there were some discrepancies about what I thought I was painting and what he thought I was painting. Once sorted I decided that I was going to fit the whole project into the same time-frame rather than giving him the second batch two months later. This meant that my light month turned into my crazy-busy month.

Over the past 5 months I've realized that I can paint until about 7pm and then I'm done. It doesn't seem to make a difference when I start. This means that I generally get out in the shop at about 9 or 10pm and paint for 8-10 hours. When the project ballooned I started getting into the shop at about 6-7am and working 10-12 hours. Although I didn't find the hours a problem in terms of my painting, it did cut into some of the things that I would generally do in the morning (chores, e-mails, web surfing). I found it to be manageable but not desirable. In the end I put so many hours in that I managed to have a few days off at the end of the month. It felt like a vacation and I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do with my time. Surprisingly enough, I spent some of it painting minis for myself!

June should be a pretty normal month. Which means that I should be responding to e-mails in a timely fashion again as well as getting in that much needed web-surfing.

Myth Minis on the Weekender

I will admit that positive reinforcement like a drug to me. Hearing somebody ooh and ah over my work is one of the many reasons I love doing what I do. I don't kid myself that I'm the most talented or skilled painter out there, but I recognize that my work is a fair bit above average. It's not uncommon for people to say nice things about my work - and I never tire of hearing those comments.

Every now and then I get recognized in a more public forum. For example, today the guys at Beasts of War decided to devote almost 15 minutes of their latest Weekender show talking about the Myth Miniatures project that I completed this month. Needless to say I'm a bit overwhelmed.

Review: Liquitex Professional Matte Spray Varnish

Like most miniature painters, I have a love/hate relationship with matte spray varnishes. They are temperamental, inconsistent, and can sometimes ruin a perfectly good project. It is for this reason that I pretty much stopped using canned matte varnishes altogether. I've switched to airbrushing Vallejo's line of varnishes. In fact, if you use an airbrush, I highly recommend them. 

This month  was different, though. This month I ended up painting more than 140 miniatures for the boardgame "Myth". If I had used the airbrushing method it would have added a lot of time and effort to doing that final step. The problem is that the soft plastic boardgame pieces tend to fare poorly with most spray varnishes. The chemicals in the varnish will react to the plastic underneath causing the varnish to never fully cure. This will leave the minis tacky - which is not a desirable end result. It is because of this that I decided to order a can of Liquitex's Professional Matte Spray Varnish.

Like pretty much everything from Liquitex, this is a water-based acrylic product. This is why I wanted it for this project. No problems with tacky minis. My first quick test on one of the pieces confirmed this fact. Some other things I noticed right away about the varnish were:

  • It really is matte! This is one of those hit and miss things about matte varnishes. One man's matte is another man's semi-gloss. In this case, you get true matte or flat. 
  • It dries pretty quickly. Honestly, it's about the same as other matte sprays I've used so at least there's no extra wait time. 20 minutes to a half hour after painting (on a somewhat humid day) and I could handle the minis.
  • It smells like house paint. Liquitex calls it "low odor" but to that I have to ask, "compared to what?" It's not the odor one expects from a varnish. Instead, it reeks of fresh latex house paint. You won't be using this in the house.

I went ahead and coated the entire run of minis with this and I couldn't have been happier with the results. Well, I suppose I could have. With this style of mini I don't mind just a bit of gloss, but that's neither here nor there. The truth is that the varnish performed as well as I could have hoped and better than I expected. In the past my favorite spray varnishes have been Floquil's (now extinct) "Figure Flat" and Testors Dullcote (and sadly Dullcote hasn't been the same in recent years). I think that there's a good chance that this varnish is going to end up on the top of the list. Now I just need to try out the gloss and semi-gloss versions.

July Now Full

I never even had a chance to let people know that July was available for commissions before it was no longer available for commissions.

I've tried to schedule July a little light as I will be attending Gencon that month. I'll be doing demonstrations of Iwata Airbrushes at the Black Knight Games booth who are officially representing Iwata at the show.

I did this last year and it was a ton of fun. Gencon has really grown over the past 10 years. Demonstrations were pretty much non-stop through the entirety of the show.

I don't usually like to schedule things more than two months out so if you are thinking about having me paint for you be sure to contact me in June.

May Update

As May begins I'm still finishing up the last April project.  I expect that to be completed today - tomorrow at the latest.

I only have two projects for May. First up - the Tantive IV. This will be a repaint where the ship will be going from its White beginnings to a fully red finish - including some custom markings. Yes, I'm planning to do videos. Probably several.

The second project is a big one. I'll be painting the entire contents of the boardgame Myth. Lots and lots and lots of fantasy minis. This will be like painting a Warhammer army.

June projects are all set and I'm starting to think about July. If you contact me about work right now I'll be looking to fit you into that month.

Now - back to that final April project...

Now accepting June commissions.

Since we are now in April I am scheduling work for June. The months are getting booked up faster and faster every month so if you've been wanting me to paint something for you now is the time to let me know. The earliest of you might see your work done in late May.

Full Time Commission Painting - The first 4 months

Although I've been commission painting pretty consistently since 2010, it's only been 4 months since I started doing it exclusively and I thought it might be a good time to reflect on what I've learned so far.

Certainly my biggest mistake going in was scheduling myself to go to two conventions in February. This set me back almost two weeks even though I was able to get some work done on the large Malifaux project while at Templecon. I really shouldn't have done this as I'm only just now completely caught up from that misstep. Aside from being a little  behind for a month, this has left me in the dark in terms of learning what my capabilities really are in terms of scheduling work. I have a feeling that I can schedule myself a little more work per month than I've been doing. The fact that I was able to so quickly catch up on the work I had fallen behind on was encouraging. Still, I don't know if that was because I was pushing myself with long hours and no days off until it was done or because I just had more time available than I thought. Perhaps I should time myself better in the future.

Something else I've learned is that there's a lot more time involved in logistics than I thought. The e-mails, packing and shipping, supply runs... this all takes time and when you are responsible for everything all of those tasks take time away from painting. These are the things that I just didn't think about previously.

You never know where you work is going to come from. I've gotten huge projects by posting short comments on Reddit and Boardgamegeek. Not pitches, mind you - just short responses to people looking for painters with a link to my site. At some point I'm going to do some specific marketing related blog posts for those looking to do this kind of work, because I find it really interesting, but also because I see a lot of people who want to do this kind of work but clearly have no idea about how to market themselves. 

Probably the most important thing that I've learned (or maybe "confirmed" is a better word) is that I LOVE building and painting minis. It would be nearly impossible to do this if I didn't and it just makes me happy to know that, at least for now, I can make ends meet doing the thing that I love. I haven't been this happy in a long time.

Going to Templecon

So, it turns out that I'll be at , February 5-8 in Warwick, RI. I had originally intended to attend for a single day, but my son ended up having a spare bed in his hotel room so I'm going to be there for the entire show.

My plan is mostly to just take thing show in, shoot a lot of video, and maybe play a game or two. Thing thing is, I also need to be painting while I'm there (or possibly just assembling... all of those Malifaux minis aren't going to assemble themselves). My February schedule is packed full of projects and I can't afford to just be away from them for the whole time.

Anyway, if you're planning to be there and you see me, don't be shy. I'm hoping to meet lots of new people while I'm out.