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How To Paint Federation Commander Miniatures

 
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terryoc
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Joined: 07 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:54 am    Post subject: How To Paint Federation Commander Miniatures Reply with quote

How to Paint a Starship

In this article, I’ll show you how to paint your Federation Commander starships to a tabletop standard. I’ll be using a Federation heavy cruiser as an example. The basic process is the same for all miniatures, but in later articles I’ll show you specific techniques for painting ships of other empires.

Part 1: Preparation

The Preparation phase includes cleaning the parts of the miniature, assembly, and undercoating.

Tools
For the Preparation phase, you will need the following tools:
Needle files
Cyanoacrylate “super” glue or 5-minute epoxy glue
Plastic glue for the base
Primer, either brush-on or spray primer

I also recommend disposable latex gloves, a stable workbench with plenty of light and good ventilation (next to a window is good), Kneadatite epoxy putty (also known as “green stuff”) for filling gaps, pin vice (small drill) or Dremel for drilling pinholes, and fuse wire or paperclips.

These tools are all available from good hobby shops, and may be available from the store where you bought your miniatures.

Step 1: Examining the mini
The first thing to do when you begin is to make sure that you have all of the pieces. A Federation heavy cruiser should have 4 pieces: The saucer, the rear hull, and two warp engines. You should also have a two-piece plastic base.

Also look for bubbles, broken off pieces, or other significant deformities. Small problems are expected and can be worked around. For big ones, contact the store for an exchange. If you don’t have all of these pieces, contact the store where you bought it or Sales at starfleetgames dot com if you bought it from ADB.

Step 2: Cleaning
Miniatures are cast in rubber moulds. Where the two halves of the mould meet, some molten metal seeps out, creating mould lines or “flash” on the miniature. Before the mini can be painted, this excess metal must be filed off. If these imperfections are left on the miniature, they become very obvious after the mini is painted. Proper preparation prevents poor painting!

Take the needle files and carefully file away any excess metal on the miniature. Thin “flash” can often be cut away with a hobby knife. When doing this, ensure that the miniature is held firmly. Always cut away from yourself when using a knife.

Sometimes, mould lines can be hard to spot. To make them more obvious, you can give the mini a thin “wash” of very diluted black paint.

Once that’s done, wash the mini in dishwashing liquid and warm water, scrubbing it with an old toothbrush. This will remove any mould release agent or oils from your skin, ensuring that there is a clean surface for the paint to stick to. After washing, rinse and dry completely before continuing. Your needle files can be cleaned with a wire brush.

Step 3: Assembly
Don’t touch that glue! Before we start gluing anything, we need to “dry fit” the pieces together to ensure that the pieces fit together properly. The rubber moulds used to make the miniatures tend to change with wear, so the pieces usually won’t fit together perfectly and may need to filed down or filled up to fit properly.

When “dry-fitting”, gently try to put the piece into the slot it should go into. Don’t force it, we don’t want to break or bend the pieces. Ideally, it should fit snugly. If it won’t fit, try to see what is preventing the fit. File that piece down a little, then try again. Repeat until the piece fits snugly. If it is too loose, see the section on filling gaps (below).


Pinning
This is optional. To add strength to joints, it can be useful to pin the pieces together. To do this, drill a small hole in one piece using your pin vice. Insert a short length of fuse wire or paperclip wire into the hole, and glue it into place. After the glue has set, put a dot of paint on the end of the wire and “dry fit” the piece into place. This will leave a dot of paint on the other piece. Drill another hole where the dot is. When you glue the two pieces together, the wire will fit into the other hole and strengthen the joint. This isn’t so important for display miniatures, but miniatures that get used in play may need the extra strength. The Federation heavy cruiser doesn’t need pinning, but remember to pick it up by the base or rear hull, not the warp engines.

Filling Gaps
The Federation heavy cruiser miniature shouldn’t have any significant gaps, but you might find tiny gaps where the neck of the saucer meets the rear hull, and where the engine struts go into the slots on the rear hull. These can be ignored, and just painted over. If you want to fill these gaps, green stuff can be used.

Take equal portions of blue and yellow putty, and twist them together. (You will only need a tiny amount.) Fold together until it is a uniform pale green colour. Roll a very thin snake of green stuff and poke it into the gap with a pin. Wait 12 to 24 hours for the green stuff to cure, then file away any excess.

I also found that the hole in the bottom of the rear hull for the flying stand was too large for the stem of the stand. To fix this, fill the hole with green stuff. Once it has cured, take your drill, and drill a hole large enough for the pin on top of the stem to fit. Glue the stand into the hole with superglue.

Gluing
Superglue bonds on contact with skin, so when gluing, it’s a good idea to wear disposable latex gloves. If the surfaces to be glued together are wide and flat, cut “scores” in the surfaces to be glued, as this gives a larger surface area for the glue to “grip”. Use the minimum amount of glue. More glue doesn’t make a stronger bond, it just makes a mess.

Some miniature painters like to paint the pieces of the mini and then glue it, because this makes it easier to get the brush into awkward spots. It’s up to you how you do it.


Priming
The primer, or undercoat, sticks to the metal of the miniature and gives the basecoat a good surface to adhere to. If the mini will be primarily painted white, or light colours, use a white primer. For dark colours use black. Grey primer can be used for either. If the mini is to be painted red, then red automotive primer is a good choice.

There are two kinds of primers: brush-on and spray. To apply a brush-on primer, simply apply it to the miniature with a stiff brush.

There are a number of different kinds of spray primer. I use Games Workshop Skull White or Chaos Black spray acrylic, but only because I have some around the house. It’s quite expensive, and I don’t recommend it.

Testor’s and Armoury are popular, and automotive primers like Krylon can also be used. When using spray primers, ALWAYS use them in a very well ventilated area, preferably outdoors. The fumes are bad for your lungs. Put the minis in a spray booth (a cardboard box is good) to catch any overspray. Shake the can thoroughly for a couple of minutes. Spray in a smooth motion from side to side, “dusting” the miniature with the primer. If you spray it on too thickly, it will drown out the details on the miniature.

As you spray, you will find that the can starts to get cold. Stop spraying, shake the can a bit, then you can begin again. When finished, turn the can upside down and spray until no paint comes out. That will clear the nozzle and ensure that the paint stays usable.

Next
Well, we’ve done a lot of work so far, but we’re only halfway through! All this preparation work will pay off when the job is finished, however. In Part 2, I’ll show you the fun part, painting!
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Scoutdad
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Joined: 09 Oct 2006
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Location: Middle Tennessee

PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry, that's quite a detailed description of processthat is over-looked (or not given much thought to) by many miniature painters. I have found that the proper preperation does more for the final quality of the miniature than almost any other single factor. You seem to have quite a good grasp of the necessities required for an excellent paint job. Have you posted any pictures of your stuff online yet?

I'd like to take a look at them (I'm always looking for fresh ideas to steal... errrr, borrow... ummm, I mean... use! (after asking proper permission, of course Wink )
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Vanessa
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry~

I think that would be a good article for the online newletter. Wink I think I may just use it in February's...if it's OK with you.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanessa, I'd be very proud to have this in the newsletter. I will follow up the initial article with more on the painting process. If you want to use any of this stuff in the newsletter, you have carte blanche to do so. Once I've finished this series of "basic" articles, I intend to do a few on specific techniques, using SFU ships as examples: painting metallics (Tholians), painting red (Kzintis), tiger stripes (stealing Tony's Lyran technique).

Tony, thanks very much. I haven't posted any of my work online yet. This is for two reasons. Firstly, I've only just started painting SFU minis, although I've been painting minis on and off since high school. Secondly, I don't have a digital camera with a decent zoom yet. I will in a few months, I hope.

As for stealing techniques, feel free. You have blanket permission, and I'm going to "steal" the Lyran painting technique you showed me. When I get a digital camera, we should collaborate on an article showing the techniques.
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry: email me parts 1 and 2 (and 3 if there is one) and I'll print them in Captain's Log.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry: I would be glad to collaborate on any part of the article that you'd like. email me offlist if you want and we can discuss it to our hearts content.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve, I'll email you parts 1 and 2 when part 2 is ready; maybe a week. Part 3 will come in another few weeks; I need to get some decals before I can write that part.
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wrongway klingon
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:08 pm    Post subject: superglue Reply with quote

Did you also know that you can gap fill with superglue? simply sprinkle bicarb of soda (sodium bicarbonate) usually found in the kitchen over super glue and it sets instantly filling any gaps. When cured this can be sanded or filed. I use this for attaching figures to slottabases and fixing large anomallies in large 2 piece castings. It is also useful if you suffer a tube rupture over your hand as application instantly sets the glue preventing further contamination. flexing your fingures breaks the glue up and time and sweat allows the solid glue to be peeled off.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked I had no idea! Thanks for that Wrongway Klingon, that's very helpful. Cool
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wrongway klingon
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:39 pm    Post subject: Priming Reply with quote

Two thin coats are more effective than one thick one. remember to allow the paint to dry thoroughly or it will come off with the next coat. The main skill of painting is patience.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've edited the article and added part 2, and sent them to SVC. Hopefully we'll see them in Captain's Log soon Very Happy
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Vanessa
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

terryoc wrote:
I've edited the article and added part 2, and sent them to SVC. Hopefully we'll see them in Captain's Log soon Very Happy
Terry~ would you please email me part 2 as well...the first part was used in the FC Hailing Frequencies April Newsletter...right now I'm working on Mays...and I'd like to continue the story. Laughing This way, if someone doesn't see it in one place (CL) they will see it in the other. Wink
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanessa, unfortunately I no longer have a copy of part 2. I tried to upgrade my Windows recently, but my hard drive self-destructed to avoid capture. Laughing

I did email a copy to SVC: it's probably buried somewhere in his mailbox. If it can't be recovered, I can probably re-write it.
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