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2 - Cleaning and Priming za Russkies

Soviet Character Set 1
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22 June 2002page first published

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Friar Barb writes:

Friar Barb's Painting Monastery was contacted by Bill Armintrout of The Miniatures Page about a week ago to see if I would be interested in writing a Workbench article for Bill’s website. We decided that Black Tree Design’s Soviet Character Set would be of interest to me, and so, a few days later I had the figures in hand (well, actually the figures were taken out of the box first and then were in my hands...well, actually the figures were taken out of the box first, removed from the plastic bag they came in, and THEN were in my hands! Geesh...writing a process-oriented article can be laborious!!!! *).

To start off, I took a picture of part of my workbench showing some paints, tools, etc. that I use in preparing and painting figures.

Friar Barb's workbench

I use a mixture of Polly S acrylics and "Old Lady" craft paints (Folk Art, Delta, Americana). I only use oils on larger figures (40mm, 54mm, 120mm, etc.) and rarely use enamels. I have used Vallejo and Andrea brand acrylics, too.

Primer is either flat black enamel or black primer. Topcoat is Krylon Matt Finish. Also, various files, xacto knives, and a pin vise drill and Dremel tool. Most are available at your local craft store or hobby shop (Michaels, A.C. Moore, Crappy Crafts for Crappy Kids [just kidding about the last one]).

One Note: I use a flow aid/drying inhibitor with acrylics to prevent them from drying too quickly. Some brand names are Liquitex Slow Dry and Golden Retarder.

Golden Retarder - er, no, that's a Golden Retriever

(No! No! No! I said Golden Retarder, not Golden Retriever!)

Inspecting the figures came next and any cleaning of flash, mold lines, etc (the usual routine). This group of figures required little clean up and were virtually flash free. Two figures are attached to sprues and these were removed with a straight edge cutter/nipper. The remaining sprue was filed off, along with any excess on the other figures, using that ubiquitous of all hobbyist essentials...a doughnut!!!! No, No,...I meant a Dremel tool (Urg! Urg! Urg! More power!!!! Variable Speeds, Flexible Shaft, Various attachments!!! Orh, Orh, Orh, Orh, Orh).

Figures before cleaning

Once cleaned up, it was time for Prime Time!!! The Monastery likes to prime the figures black using either flat black enamel or black primer. Priming black has several advantages over white or gray (and several disadvantages). On the plus side:

  1. Black allows for instant shading and outlining
  2. If you miss something, or cannot reach the area with a brush, that particular area ends up as a deep shadow
  3. Black gives the figures more of a "campaign, in the field, need a bath" look. (Kinda of like a lot of wargamers late Saturday night at Historicon)

On the minus side:

  1. Some colors do not cover well over black, namely reds, yellows, and some browns
  2. Colors will not end up as bright, so at times you will have to adjust the color you use. For example, take your favorite, certified-to-be-correct, tried-and-tested French Napoleonic Blue. Paint it over white or gray and then black. Big difference. The difference is caused by the refractory light augmented by the prismatic ozone layer diffused at the atomic level...snore, snore, snore …zzzzzzzzzzzz. The difference is the difference between black and white (hmmm...that was deep, I cannot even understand it!!!)
  3. Errrr…ummmm…well, I cannot think of a third item, but I was trying for balance with the plus side.
Figures after cleaning

So, with the above in mind it was off to the El Chambero d’Primerio - some type of box, 3-6 inches deep, that allows the primer to flow around the figures. The figures were primed on one side, flipped over and primed on the other, and then stood up and primed "top down" trying to ensure complete coverage.

After priming, the figures received a black wash (watered down paint) on any areas that the primer did not cover. Once any wash was dry, it was time to start with Da Painting a da Figures.

primed figures