Thursday, March 3, 2011

OSL example and pinning fragile joints

I managed to sneak a game in this past weekend at my FLGS with the other Old Timers. We're in the middle of a fairly large campaign and I'm not doing much good for the Imperial side I must confess.

In fact, they might do better if I kept my guys on board their ships and let the real soldiers fight it out on the surface. I keep going back to "let's bomb this place into oblivion" as my first option and it doesn't impress the other Commanders. One day, they'll see my infinite wisdom and get in line with my thinking. I think I'd make a good Inquisitor.

Pinning weak joints so you can use your models
While we were playing, one of the guys broke the sword from his Nurgle Daemon Blob Prince smelly thing. I offered to pin it for him since I knew I could get it back in working shape in a few minutes. I'll add that this is not the first model I've fixed for him either. He has a tendency to buy models with lots of little, fragile pieces and then break them repeatedly.

Some models are great in terms of handling and others aren't. I don't know why that is, it just seems that way. I'm almost certain all Dark Eldar players struggle with this daily.

Pinning fragile joints on models shouldn't be tough to do. With the right tools, it should be a quick, painless task that pays big dividends in the end in terms of piece of mind. You know the connection will hold and you don't have to worry about a slight breeze resulting in a broken model.

I know there are a number of tools out there, but I use the GW pin drill for my work. Personal preference and/or experience might have you using something else, but the process is the same.

I start by cleaning the area and even sometimes cutting away the surfaces until they are flat so I can join them a litte better and get as much surface contact as possible. With both surfaces cleaned, I make a small pilot hole with the tip of my X-Acto blade so the drill does not skip along the surface and create the hole in a bad spot. This tiny step is well worth it as the drill tip starts off in the right spot and will usually stay right there. I'll even go so far as to mark the area with a tiny black dot first if need be.

1. Clean the surfaces
2. Mark where you plan on drilling your hole
3. Drill a pilot hole with the tip of your X-Acto blade
4. Drill out the hole for you paperclip

Note: It's worth lining up both pieces you are going to be pinning to make sure you get the holes in line with each other. Most of the time you don't have to be exactly spot on since there is some wiggle room, but it helps to be close especially when you're pinning things that need to be lined up in order to "look correct."

I've found that smaller paperclips are the perfect size to match the hole left by the GW pin drill. Cut it to the correct length, superglue it in place and join the two pieces together. Depending on the location of the joint and what exactly it is, sometimes I'll go in with greenstuff and fill in anything that needs cleaning up so that the connection doesn't draw any undue attention.

And as you can probably tell, this is how I drill out gun barrels as well.

Pinning larger joints should not scare you either. It's a matter of scaling your tools up and making everything bigger. A concept not lost in the 40k universe.

The big thing is taking your time and planning everything out. Once you start using the big guns, any mistakes you make can cause real problems. But don't let it deter you from shoring up your models and making them useable.

A look at Object Source Lighting
Another one of the guys brought in his Forge World Ork monster dreadnought construct thing. Talk about huge. It makes any Imperial dread looks puny in comparison. I'm going to jump right in here under the assumption that most of you reading this were following along with the OSL stuff first posted on FTW a month or so ago.

If not, the three part series on Object Source Lighting can be found here. I never imagined tackling a subject like this and I know it's helped a few people get started down the path of using OSL on their own models.

So here's his model. I told him the big thing with this one is the treatment given to the glowing sphere in the center. It's not quite rendered in a way that is easily recognised by the viewer. The use of drybrushing of successively lighter colors to represent the radiant light works well (he's consistent with his radius, values and proper surface planes), but when you do the same thing to the glowing object, both parts come together in a bad way.

In order for the effect to really work well, you (as the viewer) need to be able to recognize the object doing the lighting.

By using a drybrush approach to the object itself, it makes it harder for the viewer to tell the difference between radiant light and the source.

Most of the time (and I say most, because I'm sure there will be exceptions to the rule) your light source will be the brightest portion of the OSL effect. If you are able to paint it in smooth blends as appropriate, you can reinforce the glowing nature of the object and help the viewer tell the differnce between the object and the radiant light.

The trouble with drybrushing is that it brings out the surface texture which goes counter to our lava approach of highlighting the core where the light is coming from within.

I think if he goes back in and cleans up the object itself with some nice blends and gets rid of the drybrushing on it, he should have a nice final effect on the model. You'll be able to recognize the object that is glowing and seperate it from the radiant light. And with the radiant light properties correct, they serve to reinforce the entire effect.


  1. Pinning. The sooner you get good at it the happier you'll be.

    I recently realised that I have finally got into the habit of pinning everything that might be considered fragile. Banner poles, slender details, protruding parts, all are now pinned in place.

  2. GDMNW: I do that myself... if it looks like it could use it, it gets a pin.
    I've even gone so far as to cut things apart to reinforce them with a pin.

  3. I just pinned my whole army on resin bases. Never thought i would be doing that. Love the method!
    Also your OSL example and tutorial makes me wanna try it! Keep up the great work!

  4. Tom: Pinning can add some time on the front end during assembly, but it's worth it isn't it.

    Give the OSL effect a try and make sure to let me know how it goes. I'd love to see what you come up with.

  5. With me anymore, any joint that can't be glued with plastic glue, gets pinned.

  6. Ron, Great set of articles on OSL. It's something that I haven't gotten into yet because of the intimidation factor. Just as dirtying up a model tends to be after all of the detail is finished... I'm afraid to screw things up! I think it's time to give it a shot.

  7. Brian: Try it on a test model, that way you don't lose anything if you don't get the exact effect you want.
    Even something that is just primed. It doesn't have to be completely painted for you to be able to practice on.

    Good luck with it!

  8. Great articles - I just discovered this blog, now it's in my live bookmarks for good.

    Do you have any advice on placing the highlights when doing OSL with a spherical source, like the Ork Dreadnought claw above?

  9. Anon: The same rules apply when you're adding your highlights. Work out from the object itself keeping in mind the distance you're moving away from the source.

    Just because it's a sphere shouldn't matter. It's all about figuring out the actual planes the reflective light is falling on.