Thursday, January 28, 2016

Making old timey looking paper for diorama's / display.

We have all seen amazing diorama's with wonderful old time looking paper on them, usually they have some kind of description or saying. They are a great way to break up a mundane piece of wood and add a nice touch of style to the piece.

So how do you make it? Well it's incredibly easy to do.

There are a few things you will need to gather:

1. A piece of paper (duh)
2. Tea  (or coffee in a pinch) brewed.
3. A pan
4. Your oven set to 200 degrees F. (If your from the rest of the word just go and google the conversion calculator).

When you have everything you need. Go ahead and print out what you want to say on the paper (unless you are planning to do the writing by hand later). Personally I have the hand writing of an epileptic 3 year old so I chose to find a font I liked then printed it out.

I then placed the paper in a backing tray that would fit into my toaster oven.

And poured the tea over the paper getting it good and soaked.

I let the paper sit in the tea for a few minutes. I left it long enough for the paper to absorb as much tea as it could hold. Then gently dumped the excess liquid out of the pan.

My toaster oven was warm by then and I placed the cooking sheet with the paper inside and set the timer for 15 minutes (give or take a few minutes).

I let the paper bake till it looked like this.

Then it was just a matter of tearing the paper to the shape you would like.

And now its done and can be glued to the plinth when the model is ready.

So there you go a simple easy trick to take your diorama's to the next level.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Harder and Steenbeck Review

On any given day when reading the internet forums, Facebook, or even google searches. I always see the same questions asked about airbrushes. The topic starts out with something like “I want to get into airbrushing, what should I get?”

We are going to put aside all the questions about compressors, airbrush booths, cleaning supplies, paints etc. and really dive into the heart of the question to get a good look at all the airbrushes that are popular in the miniature painting world.

The top mentioned and asked about airbrush companies are:
1. Iwata
2. Badger
3. Harder and Steenbeck
4* Grex – up and coming over the last year or so.

With this in mind I contacted all of the companies above. Surprisingly, Harder and Steenbeck was the only company to respond. Now not only did they respond, they contacted me within days of my email, offered to provide airbrushes to review and most amazingly put their people at my disposal to answer technical question and offer operational help. Take a moment to really think about this. A German company that arguably makes some of the finest airbrushes on the market with massive name recognition in the field took the time to notice, and help our humble blog.

As I already own Badger airbrushes I contacted Badger and requested and white papers or comparison info they may have, sadly Badger did not reply as of this writing.

Iwata and Grex never returned an email or call.

I teamed up with Cliff Hughes from Miniature Painting by Tadgo. Cliff is an experienced airbrush user in the miniatures field and has the Grex airbrush that we would be testing.

Because of the lack of response from the companies other than Harder and Steenbeck we will be focusing on their airbrushes for this review.  

The review - 

We set up the parameters to be fair to the airbrushes, then we determined the criteria as to what we would look for and how we would test.

1.       How does it look? Is it pretty, did it make us smile holding it in hand?
2.       Materials. Is it made of cheap materials? How well are the parts machined? Do the parts fit seamlessly?
3.       Balance in the hand. Is it tip heavy?
4.       Spray. How well does it shoot?
a.       How tight of a line can we achieve?
b.      Is it consistent?
c.       How often does it clog? Dry tip?
5.       Features. Besides spraying paint, what does it do?
6.       Cleaning. How easy is it to break down and get clean?
7.       Price – Is it worth what you pay?
8.       Overall recommendation. Would we pay hard earned money for this airbrush?

Let’s start with the Harder & Steenbeck Evolution.

First impressions are important, the packaging the airbrushes arrived in are well designed.

The case is fantastic. It is a yellow hard plastic with two latches to keep it closed.

When you open the case you see a very nice lining that reminds me of a jewelry case.

The airbrush it’s self is striking. The chrome plating is smooth and the finish is well polished. The airbrush comes with both the 4mm and 2mm needle/nozzle variants. The one I received had the 2mm inside the brush. You also get a choice of small (2ml) or large (5ml) cups. One really nice feature was the already attached quick release valve for attaching to a hose. Also included in the packaging was a pamphlet. The first thing I noticed was that the pamphlet was full color. Besides the normal quick start guide the pamphlet contains an easy to understand breakdown of the airbrush parts and a parts list. This is huge for ordering replacement parts as you can quickly and correctly order what you need.

Taking the airbrush out of the case, it feels solid and well balanced at the trigger with the small cup attached. The trigger is different from other airbrushes and is well grooved for easy no-slip handling. The trigger pulls back and depresses smoothly. There was no play in the trigger which is important to achieve a smooth and consistent spray. 

We were surprised with how wide the spray cone was on the Evolution when depressing and pulling all the way back on the trigger. Even with the 2mm needle installed this airbrush can prime and base coat a 28mm model quickly. We primed a cheap plastic model tank with Vallejo surface primer at 15psi and had no issues with clogging or dry tip.

We then cleaned the Evolution. This is where the removable cup really shines. Being able to easily access the innards of the airbrush for quick deep cleaning is a huge plus in our book. It made cleaning very quick and easy. It was really nice to be able to see all the nooks and crannies. 

We than loaded the Evolution with Daler Rowney Black Artists ink. This is an acrylic ink that does not require any thinning (this is the same ink I have used over the last 2 years for shading models).  We used this medium for the line testing. Cliff and I both shoot inks though our other airbrushes at about 5psi so we tried that with the Evolution as well and we found that we had dry tip and clogging after about one minute of spraying. I contacted Harder and Steenbeck and they recommend 25-29psi for spraying inks! We made the adjustment for psi and the Evolution performed like a champ. We were able to achieve an almost penile thin line that was consistent and smooth with very little spidering.

Cost – The MSRP on the Evolution Two in One is $220, we were able to find it on \for $199.30 online. This is not a cheap airbrush, but the big question is obviously, Is it worth the money? Our answer is yes. You are essentially getting two airbrushes for the price of about one and a half from the competition. You also get the ability to change from a smaller 2ml cup to a 5ml cup for larger projects like terrain, as well as changing from a 2mm needle for detail work to a 4mm for larger surfaces that don’t require fine lines.

Overall the Evolution is fantastic airbrush. We only wish it had a few more features, like an open back so that we could more easily clear clogs, or a way to adjust the trigger settings.

Which brings us to the Harder and Steenbeck Infinity CR+….

Again the packaging was top notch. The pamphlet that comes in the package is the same quality as the Evolution.

The case is the same just in black, and let’s be honest, besides being able to tell which is which at a glance who really cares about the color of the case?

When we open the case is where most of the similarities end. The Infinity comes with 3 different tips 2 which are for spraying and 1 is for transport. The most impressive and the type I have never seen before is for lines. This is fantastic as you can put the cap on a piece of paper or over a stencil and be able to pretty much draw a strait, even line! Now this is very cool, if you are working on photos or model vehicles with flat surfaces but does not do much for 28mm human figures.

The trigger action is smooth and has a very nice feature in the form of a trigger tension screw

Trigger Tension Screw is the one in front of the needle screw.

There is also a needle stop on the end of the airbrush. 

The needle stop is by far the best design I have used. There are clear, easy to read numbers on the back and you can engage the stop by simply pushing in the knob, which is quite genius.

Spraying with the Infinity CR+ is a dream. The balance is in the middle of the brush behind the cup making holding it for longer periods of time comfortable. The only feature we wish it had is a finger mold like on the Badger Khrome or Grex XGI.

Again we sprayed Daler Rowney black ink, and the lines were pencil thin, and smooth with no spidering. We did this at the 25psi (as recommend with the Evolution).
We see this airbrush really shine with small detail and subtle blends.

Cleaning – With the removable cup it is just as easy to clean as the Evolution. Which is saying that these are some of the easiest to clean on the market.

As to design; this airbrush has everything we wished the Evolution had. The open back making unclogging easy, the trigger adjustments and the multiple tips out of the box are just fantastic.

Cost - Again we turned to the internet and found the Infinity 2 in 1 for about $308.55. This is by far the most expensive airbrush we have ever tried out. So is it worth the hefty price tag? Frankly yes. The materials used to make the airbrush are of the highest quality we have ever seen. We even asked Harder and Steenbeck if the needles were coated after milling as we could not see any mill marks. The fact that it has both a .4mm and .15mm needle gives you the option of using it for priming / large area spraying or getting in good and close. With proper care this airbrush will last you a lifetime. That said we would probably not recommend this product as a first airbrush. Get something less expensive and more "forgiving", like the Harder and Steenbeck Ultra (which is Harder and Steenbeck's entry level airbrush), until you are familiar with maintenance, cleaning, trouble shooting etc. Once you are into airbrushing and can properly maintain and trouble shoot, then get this bad boy. It is truly a joy to paint with.

Think of the Infinity as a Porsche, it’s going to be the best ride of your life, but it’s nothing you want to learn how to drive in.

There have been several edits to this review as requested by readers and a few to clear up errors; For example,  the Infinity coming with three spray tips as opposed to 2 and a transport tip.

Thank you all for the feedback and please feel free to share your experiences with the Harder and Steenbeck airbrushes in the comments!

Sunday, January 24, 2016


I say, sure why not! Like I promised at the beginning of the month, changes are coming to the blog. We are working on a few reviews that will start rolling out in the next few weeks, and I am ridiculously excited to post them (just have to wait a little longer)!

So while I wait (not so patiently) I figured it was time to enter a few painting competitions. I wanted something completely out side of my comfort zone. I have never been attracted to painting ghoulish models so I am forcing myself to stretch and am working on a Privateer Press - Cryx model. 

This is a Cryx Warcaster called Gorshade. It's kinda creepy, but in a good way. 

The model is being painted up for a particular painting contest so there are a few things that have to be done. It will be part of a diorama and there will be another model or two in the mix. 

So here are the first work in progress pictures to wet your appetite.