Warlord Project – Where to Start?

It is typically said to take it from the top, but in this case I decided to start at the bottom.  As I mentioned, I wanted something that was more than just toes connecting to the lower leg, so this meant creating a foot and ankle.

In this case, I started with a 1.5″ to 3″ PVC adapter and cut it to be about 1.25″ tall. This would serve as my foot. The basis of the toes would come from 0.5″ expanded PVC cut and beveled in layers. I would later add some detail parts to make them more interesting.

I wanted the model to be able to pose the model. This meant I needed to create joints. I had already decided to build the lower skeleton from PVC tubes. This approach allowed me to prototype quickly and make changes easily. Because I wanted movable joints I needed to develop a good joint design that worked with the PVC and one that was easy to build. My choice was to use PVC t-connectors as the basis for the joints.

I made the joints by cutting a t-connector and inserting the next size smaller in the larger t-connector and gluing the end portion of the larger t-connector back to hold the smaller t-connector in place. These joints are used for both the ankles and knees.

Along with hips made from 90 degree elbows, this gave me a lower body that could be posed into basically any position. Ultimately, I may be forced to pick a pose and glue the joints once the model is complete to provide the stability I need, but at least I will be able to create a natural pose and then lock it down.

So at this point I am ready to start working on the armour and torso.


My Warlord Project Begins

I started by finding a basic look I wanted to use as inspiration to build from. After spending a lot of time looking at old Epic models and sites like Dakka. I found these guys: The-TitanManufactorum.

Their designs are nice, big and not too difficult to build, but without being too boxy.

They have lots of nice detail and don’t look like a typical scratch build titan.

After looking at these titans a lot I decided I wanted to model from the same basic profile, but with some key differences.

  • I like the angles, but I think  some curves will add a lot to the feel. Particularly for the lower and upper leg locations as well as the corners of the rear engine compartments.
  • Some of the gears in these designs appear to not actually be able to produce the motion the are responsible for. I wanted to use some of the traditional hydraulic actuators for movement because I think they will better reflect what they are supposed to do.
  • The feet and toes on these models, are nice, but they don’t have the look and feel of stability and ruggedness that I want. To me, it appears that there is no actual foot, but the toes just connect to a point at the bottom of the leg.  To improve on this, I want to make actual foot elements with fewer toes made from thicker material and with several layers.
  • Many of the panel lines appear to be there just for the sake of detail and would not actually be there in practice. I will try to put panel lines in natural locations.
  • These models appear to be built of foam. I like this from a weight perspective, but I wanted something more sturdy and with cleaner edges. To accomplish this I am using expanded PVC for the outer armor plates. This material is reasonably light, quite strong, glues extremely well and in relatively cheap.
Stay tuned for more updates as I start posting the progress of the project.




Thinning Paint

I get asked about thinning paints a lot. Things like:

  • Should I thin paint?
  • If so, then how much?
  • What should I use to thin my paint?
  • How do I get my paint to work in an airbrush?

I can easily give a straight answer to the first question. Yes, you should always thin your paint before you use it. If you are using a brush and you do not thin the paint then you risk loosing a lot of detail on your model from built up paint and you will be unable to get a nice smooth coat. If you are using an airbrush and don’t thin you paint, it will probably not even spray.

Unfortunately, the remaining questions are not as straight forward to answer, so I have to say, “It depends,” and dive into an explanation. I will try to deal with some of these issues here. For this post, I am going to focus on brush painting. I will do a similar post discussing airbrushing later.

How much should I thin my paint?

When your mini is dry you want it to look like the surface of the miniature is the color of the paint, not like there is a layer of color on top of the miniature. This will preserve all of the details of the miniature and give the most realistic appearance. Additionally, you do not want any brush strokes in you finished work. To get these effects, you will need your paint to be quite thin and you will need to apply several coats to get an even color.

So the question becomes, how much thinner do you add? The answer depends on the specific paint you are using and the effect you are trying to accomplish. Typically, when base coating and layering you want the paint this enough to cover the surface and to flow flat with the surface of the miniature. If you get puddling of the paint or you can see brush strokes, then it is too thick. If your paint does not stick to the surface and tends to run, then it is too thin. A good starting point for Games Workshop, Vallejo Model Color and Vallejo Game Color is to start with a 2 : 1 ratio of paint to thinner and add thinner until the paint goes on smooth and flat. If you are glazing or highlighting you will want an even thinner mix.

At first, it may seem difficult to paint with the thinned paint, just stick with it and remember it will take a few more coats to get good coverage, but your miniature will look a lot better when you are done. Once you get used to working with thinned paint you will find it impossible to work with paint out of the bottle.

What should I use to thin my paint?

This answer depends on the type paint you are using.

  • Acrylics – I generally tell beginners to use distilled water if you happen to have some or tap water if you don’t. For more advanced painters, I suggest you try what I use, distilled water and Liqutex Flow Aid at a 10:1 ratio of distilled water to Flow Aid. The Flow Aid reduces the surface tension of the paint a little and allows it to better flow onto the surface of the miniature. I keep my thinner in a dropper bottle to make it easy to add to my paint and get a consistent result. Some people will tell you to only use the manufacturers acrylic thinner. They will explain that it will keep the pigment more evenly distributed longer and will have better adhesion. This may be true, but for painting miniatures, I have never had a problem with distilled water and Flow Aid. So, I stick with what I know and save money in the mean time. Another option favored by a lot of modelers is to use Windex. This is particularly popular when thinning for use in an airbrush. I have tried this and it works well. The Windex gives about the same effect as the Flow Aid / water mixture, but I prefer the smell of water to Windex
  • Oils – Currently, the only oils I use are the Winsor – Newton Artisan water mixable oils. They have the benefit of the long drying time of traditional oils and the benefit of being thinned and cleaned with water. If you are going to use traditional oils, then I recommend a odorless thinner like Maimeri Odorless Thinner. It does the job and does not stink the place up as bad as other thinners.
  • Enamels – I typically recommend using of the same brand of thinner when using enamels, i.e. if you are using Testors enamel paint then stick with the Testors thinner. I know a lot of modelers that use lighter fluid to thin their enamels with no problem, so you are probably OK. Be careful of lacquer thinner. It can damage plastic, so you should avoid it.

I hope this answers a few questions about thinning paints for modeling. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments.




Edge Highlight with Watercolor Pencil

I was struggling with doing edge highlights using a brush. I would literally dread this part of painting. It was not hard, but it sure was tedious. Then I saw a demonstration by Justin from Secret Weapons Miniatures. Justin showed how to use a watercolor pencil to do edge highlighting and it looked great.

The process is simple:

  • Be sure your miniature is completely dry
  • Select a color as you would with paint
  • Run the side of the pencil point along the edge of you miniature
  • Blend it with you dry finger until you like the look
  • If you do not like the look, remove the highlighting with water and start again
  • Done

For me this process gives me far better control than the brush, so the result looks better, and it is much faster.

Be sure to check out his site: He has several very cool products. His pigments are among the best you can get and about half the price of the competition.