It's been close to 2 months since I had an update here. Although I normally post hobby related pictures and tidbits, the last 2 months have been more of life getting in the way.
My biggest "in the way" was some remodeling that I thought was going to happen closer to Christmas happened a few weeks ago. It all started with Prime Day. I had planned this year on Black Friday to get myself a "I turned 50 and paid off the house this year" present of a big honking TV. I contacted a guy about adding on a theater room for a big honking TV, and the estimate for that was about what I paid for the house. My fallback was to have the (non-functioning) gas insert fireplace ripped out, which would gain me some floor space and give a good spot to mount a TV. I had planned for an 85" TV, but it seems that wouldn't fit. Fine. 75".
From last year's Black Friday browsing, I had a range for what a 75"-ish TV should cost come this Black Friday. Prime Day gave me a gauge for this, and my estimates were about spot on. Then Costco jumped in, and offered the brand and size I wanted for $300 below the low price I was expecting. Never one to pass up a good deal, at worse I could buy it and just keep the TV in the garage until I got around to remodeling. So that became my plan. My only point of worry was when I saw Costco was using CEVA to ship the TV. CEVA was responsible for eventually getting me a bed 10 years ago. I waited a week past the "call us to schedule delivery" date that I had to hunt down, and when I did CEVA said they were handing off to a 3rd party for final delivery which they would deliver today and get tomorrow, then the 3rd party would call me to schedule a time. An hour later the 3rd party called me, evidently shipment in hand, to set up delivery the next morning. CEVA Logistics. Somehow in business 10 years later.
While doing all this, I contacted Contractor Craig about some extra stuff that I'd like to have done while he was ripping out the fireplace. Some fresh paint. Replace my broken back storm door. Little things a house needs after 10 years since the last concerted upkeep effort. Craig found some other things that needed some love - some cracks where the ceiling meets the wall from the foundation settling some. He read my mind a time or two: What about the living room ceiling fan, do you want to replace that? Yes, I do. I've been hoping that fan would die and it's why I've had it run constantly for 20 years.
The one big change I wanted to make with all of this was to cover the wall that the TV had always been against with shelves. The wall has a high (vaulted?) ceiling and I've always wanted to use the wasted space above the 5 ft or so that had cabinets with DVDs and a TV. I've been looking at Ikea shelves, the kind with cubes, and envisioned stacking them to cover as much wall as I could, which would give me more storage space. I always like more storage space. Over the course of a couple of weeks I put together an online Ikea order. It took 2 orders to get everything I wanted - the Ikea website isn't that great, but 2 orders with $180 shipping is a lot cheaper than a trip to Atlanta/Memphis and then figure out how to haul 1000 lbs of shelves back.
Over a week and a half, Craig ripped out the fireplace and patched in the wall and ceiling. Walls were painted. Floors patched/installed. Ceiling fans (I couldn't decide between 2 for the living room, so I opted to have 1 replace the bedroom fan) replaced. New TV mounted. Once he was finished I moved things back in to the living room and computer room and decided what to change. 4 days later my Ikea delivery showed up, which took up about 1/3 a car space in the garage. Then I spent a Saturday and put shelves together. Ikea shelves are heavy! The shelves got built, moved in, and stacked. I've got doors to add to the shelves, but there's 89 doors for me to install and I'm in no hurry. This is just my way of saying there'll be more updates about this later.
My last/latest hobby project has been taking a whole lot longer than I imagined, even without all of the life interruptions. At last report, I had 3 Walking Dead houses that I had added colored walls to thanks to Behr paint sample cards. Since then, I added some carpet to a house.
I'm not sure why/when/where I got the idea to try and use felt as carpet. I couldn't remember seeing it anywhere, and yet every rental house I grew up in had beige carpet. So I gave it a shot on 1 of the houses. I started by attempting to make a template of the floor plan with all the walls in place - having the felt run through doorways would be the most durable. The floorplan template took a couple of tries to get flush with the walls like I needed, but using it as the template to cut the felt worked perfectly. The only other tweak I made was to install the doors upside down, as the top hinge is a little longer than the bottom and that would allow for a little more clearance for the felt.
I got a little carried away adding textures (thank my mediocre 3D graphics background for that - fine, playing with Poser!). All the doors got actual door textures added. Window blinds in windows. Shutters on the outside of windows. I was sitting in front of the computer pondering "what does every room have" trying to figure little tweaks I could add. I looked at the light switch. Aha! And an electrical outlet. Aha! Then I leaned back and looked up and the air conditioning vent. Aha! I normally print out various wall decorations of framed whatnot to add onto walls. I would add these things too.
Once I got the felt and printed wall decor added to the 1st house, I didn't want to keep futzing with it all. I went old school and printed out some hardwood floor textures and added it to the other 2 houses. I left off there, unsure how far I'll go with putting stuff on the walls.
That last thing I have to do for 2 of these houses is make a roof. The roof that came with them is flattened on the top and makes them look like convenience stores. I'm going to try to make a traditional, steeped roof. I made a little template/pattern, but no idea how well it'll work out. It's next on the list, though.
And lots of other things happened. I had a batch of doctor visits: what looks to be the start of annual bloodwork, eye exam (new glasses, just because I'm tired of wearing what I've got after 4 years), colonoscopy (short version - I followed directions and wasn't cleaned out enough so I'm supposed to reschedule another one with a 2-day prep). I had an annoying sinus cold after the colonoscopy.
Right after this, Pawpaw was in the hospital for some upper GI bleeding which just didn't get any better, then he passed away after a week. He was 98 ½ While sad, it wasn't a surprise. Even though I was worried about my grandmother, they'd been married for 74 years, she held up better then I did. Which is what she does.
There's an old story from when I was little (6 or 7?) and Pawpaw stealing one of my Hot Wheels for his children's sermon. I'm leaving that just vague enough for anyone to ask me to tell them the story next time we're talking, because it's an in-person & talking story :)
I finally got a paint shaker for my paints. I was supposed to make one with a reciprocating saw, some clamps, and unsure safety measures. Instead I got a tattoo ink shaker/vibrator that does a spiffy job. Overpriced for $80 just to shake paint, but I've accumulated a lot of paint over the years. A lot of it on sale, to where I probably saved more than $80 on paint.
Life is also beating me up more. I bruise easier, evidently a side effect of my attempt to take my blood pressure medicine on a Regular Basis VS When I Think I Need It. I'm going to convert back to When I Think I Need It to see if a couple weird physical issues clear up. When putting the Ikea shelves together I manged to get a good knot on my shin (that hasn't happened in a couple of decades), not to mention some impressive bruising on my upper arm from just lifting a damn shelf. Granted, it was a 125 lbs of shelf. And awkward. And I may have been wrestling with it more than lifting.
Paint shaker in action:
Things are starting to settle back into normal now. There's still some wrapping of of the remodeling I have to do. I've picked up a side-website to work on (more about that later). Keith needs some 3D printing printed. And I have to finish those blasted houses....
Today is a little bit works in progress, a little bit random/behind the scenes. This is what happens when projects get a little carried away and look to take longer than intended.
The hobby project that's turning into a big hobby project has been a trio of MDF houses. There's a 4-house set for Walking Dead of which I picked up 3 during a sale at some point or another. As my theater project got delayed (more on that some other time) I thought I'd just whip out these 3 houses. My method of whipping takes a while.
I've long been hesitant to paint MDF as stories of it drinking up paint are legendary. I've not really experienced it myself, but I've really been limited what I paint. The kits as they come are fairly plain. I went my favored route for home and instead of trying to paint interior walls, I went by Home Depot and picked up paint sample cards for Behr paint. These specific cards are really good for what I need. They're sized to cover most walls. There's a variety of colors. Nobody in Home Depot seems to notice or mind when I grab 4 samples of 10 colors and merrily walk out without buying anything.
I've learned the method that works best for me is to glue the card to the wall and then cut and trim the excess. Before this, I dry-fit everything together (this will come in important on that theater project story for some other time) to make sure I get rooms with the same color. Once the glue dries, excess is trimmed so the walls will fit flush, or as flush as I can make them, with each other and the floor. I tend to get a little overboard with the color choices. My house has tan (Gourmet Mushroom) walls throughout, but here I pick a different color for every room. It's colorful, if nothing else.
Interior window openings have been tricky in the past, with lots of mistakes learned. Just a square opening, thank you square hole punch, doesn't look right. Windows have trim. I tried a couple of craft-stick, fine - square toothpick - frames with 45 ° corners, but my Chopper wasn't making consistent, flush cuts. Being lazy, I opted for and old fashioned square frame with longer top and bottom, and the sides are trimmed to fit between. With transparency film cut to fit the window and glued in before the paint card, it all makes for a decent window.
With the walls dry-fit into the base, I went ahead and glued all the walls together with some wood glue and let it all set for a day. Now it's ready for the next step. Ah, the next step. What is the next step? Notice the lack of doors? Part of not gluing walls to the base is so the doors can still be added - and this time I took extra care to make sure the holes for the door hing/axis are on the correct sides. I learn from my mistakes! Sometimes. The outer doors have openings for windows, so I'll likely go the transparency film + toothpick frame route for those. The interior doors are very plain. I'm currently planning on printing out some door textures and gluing them on. Door textures may not be the proper term. There's some nice pics of interior doors on the Home Depot website that I'll likely be cropping and printing. I use Home Depot a lot for this stuff. Maybe I can get a sponsorship?
There's some other little details I'm going to print out and see how they look, but I'll save further explanation until we see if it's worth it. The one part I will mention is how the floors of these 3 houses work horribly for house floors. While I'm tempted to just print out floors, which is Plan B, I'm going to see how 1mm felt works as a carpet replacement. That's crazy, you say. Home Depot doesn't have 1mm felt! That's true. Hobby Lobby has felt!
Seeing as it took the better part of 2 weeks to get walls covered in color and glued, I'm not really sure how long to expect this next phase to take.
Segueing from Home Depot, it's clearance time of year. While I always drop in for coupon usage on Tamiya Primer I'll also wander the aisles looking for anything with a red sticker that I might one day use. This year that included some Brier Patch flock and a couple of water effects. I've yet to do much with water effects but if I keep watching Luke Towan I'm going to try something or other before long. I picked up some random odds and ends while roaming the aisles, too. I was starting to run out of the Sand & Mud pigment that I use, so instead of using my coupon on primer I picked up pigment. I also picked up a couple of random packs of wood pieces, because sometimes I just need random wood pieces.
After watching way too many videos on the pros and cons of contrast paints I decided to pick some up. Most people talk about how these paints work well for painting lots of minis quickly, although the colors tend to come out flat and in pastels. The thing I noticed is that these paints seem to work well with skin tones and fabric. I paint a lot of skin tones and fabric! Contrast paints are described as a thick wash. I like to paint with a wash!
I made a list of the colors I would be most likely to use and headed out to The Deep to get what I could. They had 7 colors in stock. 5 of them were colors I wanted, so I picked them up. From there I went to the Warhammer Store, and discovered they were closed on Tuesdays. Luckily, Adam at work mentioned a Warhammer sale of some type at JCs House of Cards. I thought they were mainly a Magic The Gathering & card games of that ilk shop. Facebook listed Warhammer in their stock, so I took advantage of social media and asked if they carried/had in stock any contrast paint. They replied "yes, we have them all". That afternoon, I saw they did indeed have them all. And then I may have left with too many. But they had them all!
I'm going to practice with these on some Zombicide minis that will never see the light of day, just to get a feel for how they work.
With all the Walking Dead minis I've gotten over the past couple of years, I've been racking up Mantic Points/Proof of Purchase. The Mantic web store had some more things in stock, so I finally got my points together and placed an order. I needed 40 pts, which I managed to get together - I had to raid a couple of not-yet-opened boosters. I'm not sure I've ever mailed anything to England, but I visited my local USPS to ensure I had everything packed, addressed, and properly paid. Sometime in the next 3 weeks they should receive my points. Hopefully in the ensuing 3 weeks I'll get my point paid booty.
Another batch of Walking Dead minis. This time, 3-mini boosters opened up were:
There was nothing exceptional about this batch one way or the other. After painting Riot Gear Michonne in the last batch, I thought I'd go ahead and wrap up the other minis that were in riot gear as they are 95% Dark Grey with a Blue Wash. The only "can I do better" attempts were to use grey (t-shirts and a cap) and, finally, a pair of white-ish sneakers. Flesh tones turned out ok. Bleed over of colors thanks to errant brush stokes was about average. Overall, everything was ok. And that's... ok.
Since the last post, the delivery from the last Miniature Market sale came in. 9 minis got painted, 7 new ones were in the order. Net gain of +2 painted. I need to go double check the math in the spreadsheet. There were no new Walking Dead minis in the order, yet paining 9 Walking Dead minis only reduced the Walking Dead To Paint entry by 6. For something I do for fun, this spreadsheet keeps popping up to be a pain in my tuckus.
There will be a painting break for a little while. I'm going to concentrate on (A) putting together the new and improved map tiles, and (B) at least START on the movie theater that I'm overly ambitious about adding a 2nd floor/balcony. The theater is more of a long term project as it involves my first attempt at creating 3D models to print. They're simple 3D models, but who knows how first attempts will turn out?
This batch of minis came from the Fear the Hunters and Michonne Prison expansions from the Walking Dead game, plus a puppy.
I'll start out with the puppy. Reaper, for one of their fantasy lines, has a giant dog called a War Dog. As part of my "I need to work on my animal painting skills" unknown effort, I picked up said puppy because bigger dogs are easier to paint than smaller dogs. Granted, I likely won't have a lot of use for a giant medieval fantasy dog in the midst of the zombie apocalypse I keep painting toward, but when have I ever let that hinder me?
Tom, from the Michonne booster, started out as my focused, make this look better than the rest mini. The reference pic I was using made him look real similar to The Rock. That sounded fun! The first thing I did was lay down a dark flesh basecoat that would have made for a perfect American Indian. Normally this would leave Tom as an Indian. Instead I persevered to get back to Rock flesh. He ended up a little more brown than I intended, but as a fix for what I started out with I was proud of myself.
This batch had a #2 Pretty Good mini in David, who sports a fairly nice automatic machine gun of some type. Instead of trying to use whatever color was on my brush on all the figures applicable, I focused more on painting from the "inside" of the mini out (skin, shirt on top of the skin, skin of hand on top of the shirt). There was less primer and splotchy painting this way (finally!). Yellow and Red, my bane colors, worked better by mixing with Vallejo Glaze Medium. Thing for me to remember - glaze bright colors! See if it works next time, too.
+2% progress on the Realistic list!
The "To Do" side of the sheet will grow in the next week thanks to a Miniature Market sale.
Since the last batch of Walking Dead turned out pretty well, I decided to try the same route on another batch. 9 more primed, mainly 5 from the Made To Suffer expansion which WAS NOT ON MY PROGRESS SPREADSHEET. For someone who prides himself on organizational skills, that spreadsheet has been my bane.
I strayed from keeping to reference pics this time. This is obvious when looking at Bruce, who I neglected to make black. Besides not noticing, I still have a problem with those brown skin tones so I don't feel too guilty. In trying to up my painting game after becoming a little more confident with my "eyes looking close to the same direction" technique, I tried to give everyone eyebrows. Face detail, that's what I'm working on. Mixed results on that front.
Martinez, with the headband, was my hero to focus on this time and he turned out well. There was an errant dab of paint on his elbow when I was touching up something - I have no idea what. Instead of trying to get the skin tone to match back up, that dab turned into a recent wound with some extra blood laced scratches around it. I'm all about covering up mistakes with grime and gore, after all.
Dr Stevens was the one that turned out better than I expected. I tried to keep his coat Primer White, and mostly did, although one of the final steps on him was to apply an off-white drycoat to cover up some bleeding from other colors. Plus, the stark whiteness of the primer was a little too much.
It's never until I take pictures and look at the details that I see just how much better most people's painted minis look. If nothing else it shows that I'm looking at the right people to learn from.
A while back I posted a few pics of the 4Ground Tobacconists Shop that I wasn't very happy with. Nothing wrong with the kit, I just did a horrible job on it. This bothered my subconscious enough to ponder what to do, and after nigh on 2 months I have an improvement I'm not as disappointed in. The shop is now a semi-derelict building for lease. It even has graffiti (applied via clear mailing stickers). It's still not something I'm proud of, but now I'm not ashamed of it.
Over on the progress spreadsheet, taking into account that 5 of the minis from the expansion weren't present previously, there was another gain of 1% on the Realistic list. 251 painted minis, and 345 total. Mostly for the fun of painting. Why let games get in the way?
Next up - continuing progress on the Walking Dead minis, the Fear The Hunters expansion is up for priming. There's 5 minis in the expansion, so that leaves some room to see what else catches my eye to reach the target of 9 things to prime.
As always, correct spelling is optional in any blog entry. Keep in mind that any links more than a year old may not be active, especially the ones pointing back to Russellmania (I like to move things around!).
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