Friday, December 21, 2018

Yearly Chaos Incursion: Target Identified - S. Clause

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Repetition of General Directive 264-A-XCIV

To: Distribution, Sectorium Primus
From: Office of The Grand Inquisitor, Ebineezar Grinchanius
Re: Yearly Chaos Incursion

This purpose of this notice is to remind the forgetful of the annual visitation by the minion of Chaos known to the unworthy as Santa Claus.

+++ The Emperor's Light Banishes the Shadows of Heresy +++

As the diligent will recall, the incursion occurs regularly every 8742 to
8766 Terran hours, roughly corresponding to a Terran year. This trespass has
occurred with disturbing regularity since at least the Horus Heresy, and
perhaps longer, as many records were misplaced.

+++ Love and Obey the Emperor +++

The faithful will recognize the target on sight, as his garb and gear mark
him immediately as an agent of the abominations.
Santa Claus is a corpulent, bloated creature approximating the human form.
It wears a crimson tunic the color of fresh blood, marking him as a possible
follower of Khorne. It is bearded, mocking the honorable Squats, and its
hair is a sallow shade of gray, betraying its unnatural age. Be advised that
despite the creatures fearsome name, no claws have been observed, and the
former is likely a ruse.

The target has been observed in the company of smaller creatures having the
appearance of thin (less than 30 kg, approx.), stunted (1.5 meters)
humanoids with pointed ears. Their appearance suggests the involvement of
the decadent panzee, and although that race denies involvement (*reference
the Rudolphian Campaign [index 4111-BGE-MMXCII-Primus], specifically the
Battle of Yukon Coneliaus IV [ibid., index 6]*), agents are advised to be
prepared for their involvement, as the panzee are known for their deceitful
ways.

Santa Claus is conveyed by means of a grav-sled powered by unnatural
livestock as detailed below.

The target's vehicle is a grav-sled. It has superfluous runners which are
used only on landing and take-off. Despite the appearance, no frozen water
is necessary for its operation (another ruse). The vehicle's resemblance to
the foul Palanquin of Nurgle should not be discounted, even though the
colors continue to be reminiscent of Khorne.

The device is powered by the unholy ministrations of eight or nine
quadrupeds. Ordo Malleus scholars have identified these creatures as warped
versions of an extinct species of Terran mammal known as a Moose (reference
900002-ER-CIV). These beings single-mindedly pull the target's vehicle
during its yearly invasion. They are outfitted with belled harnesses which
are apparently imbued with the ability of flight. These beasts have been
likened to the Fiends of Slaanesh, and such a comparison should not be
dismissed too lightly, as the creatures shed a luminous substance as
effluent as they move. Inquisitors should take care to avoid exposure.
Perhaps more disturbing is the variable number of the minion-creatures. On
occasion, a ninth Moose has been observed, placed before the other Mooses.
This creature radiates a sickly reddish glow from its snout, as a psychic
beacon to other followers of the Vile Ones. This Chaotic device has allowed
the target to navigate despite our best efforts to jam its navigation
systems.

+++ Blessed is the Virtue of Blind Faith +++

Santa Claus gains entry to the domiciles of loyal Imperial Citizens (see
below) and leaves small Chaos Rewards to tempt the faithful.
Inquisitors are reminded to confiscate and incinerate these items before any
lasting damage is done. As a localized temporal distortion field is in
effect around the target, these items are secreted in the habitations of the
Imperium at exactly 2400 hours in every location defiled by the creature. It
is therefore possible to gain entry to the citizens' quarters and remove the
items (often cunningly hidden in footwear) before the citizens are aware of
the heresy that has been committed upon them.

In other cases, removal of the items after the citizens have discovered them
is possible. In such situations, small children are occasionally loath to
surrender the items, as the tainting of the juveniles has already begun.
Executions of the above are to be handled in the most expedient manner
possible.

Often, juveniles that are well within the Emperor's Grace are given small
blocks of graphite ore rather than the more tempting gifts visited upon the
less faithful. The identity of these individuals are to be recorded, as
future recruitment into the Inquisition or Adeptus Terra is possible [Note:
Inquisitors or other agents who do *not* receive the graphite stones should
be watched carefully].

Santa Claus enters the domiciles be way of heating ducts and waste vents.

The size of the opening is not a factor, as the creature can adjust its mass
and displacement by means of psychic manipulation. Mining these openings
with frag, krak and other demolitions has proven unsuccessful.
The creature egresses by the same means, after ritually caressing his
nostrils. No mucus has ever been recovered.

+++ The Death of Emperor's Enemies is the Only Gift We Can Give +++

Although all previous attempts at the destruction of Santa Claus have
failed, Inquisitors are urged to make such an attempt whenever possible.
However, of more importance is the suppression of cultist activity
associated with the yearly incursion. The Tainted have been known to erect
shrines in their homes in the form of shrubbery adorned with baubles and
lights [Note: the shrubbery is often highly inflammable, and offers a
discrete method of executing the offending heretics without calling undue
attention to the operation].
Other warning signs include:
Hallucinations involving sugared candies during slumber;
Excessive singing;
References to "a magical time of year" (note the influence of Tzeentch);
The construction of effigies made of snow; and
The performance of Slaanishi rituals while underneath plant clippings of the
genus Phoradendron flavescens.
Once again, executions should be handled in an expedient manner.

+++The Emperor Protects+++

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Building the Astraeus Super Heavy Tank - Forgeworld


  So.  I did a thing when I went to the GW New Hobbyist Expo in Texas.  I bought a Thunderhawk.  Yeah, needed that like another bolter shell in the head.  But I have always wanted one, so I did it.  To lessen my feelings of guilt and shame, I made myself swear to finish the Astraeus I got for Christmas first.  So herein lies my tale of building the model and how the new ForgeWorld kits are.
Overview
  First off, let me say this.  This kit is a HUGE hunk of Resin and the quality difference between now and just a few years ago is amazing.  Nothing was warped that had any size to it.  A couple of gun barrels, and the main gun barrels needed a little straightening, but it was by no means like it used to be.  If you used to be apprehensive about buying ForgeWorld big ticket items, don’t be anymore.  This kit and the Thunderhawk are beautiful, detailed and needed almost no re-working at all.

  Next, assembly gaps.  Yes, there are gaps in the finished product.  You will have to green-stuff or putty little joins here and there.  This is a fact of life with these resin kits, and I’ll not devolve into the merits of resin v plastic.  These are fun models that need a bit more hobby proficiency than the shake the box kits that GW makes.  But half the joy is in the assembly, so it’s kinda what I paid for at least. 
  The new manuals for assembly are about 3257% better than the old photocopied crap instructions that used to be in these kits.  The new manuals are full color, they show the parts very clearly.  They also take care to overlay colors onto the areas you should glue, and areas where resin will need to be removed to make it look or fit right.  There are also notes and callouts where the assembly can be fiddly, or where something needs to be done to make the final piece have movement or elevate properly.  

  So, the grade for the kit overall is a solid A

Assembly notes.
  I would suggest magnetizing all the weapon options for the tank in a big way.  It’s nice to have options and this is resin, it’s easy to drill the holes and easier to mount the magnets.  If you don’t have the magnets, I would suggest either MagSavvy.com or the MagnetBaron.com.
  I also magnetized the sponsons into the side of the vehicle.  The fit is a little loose overall, and I did not want to glue the sponsons in.  The assembly itself has ‘ridges’ in the holes for the sponsons and the sponsons have splines that will hold them in different elevations.  They are reasonably thick, but I preferred to put a magnet in there to hold it better. 

Turret weight
  The turret is the first thing you build and it needs a few tweaks, at least mine did.  The weight of whole assembly is definitely toward the rear, and the guns are not long enough for the moment of inertia to equalize the weight.  So, they tend to slam down and always point up.
  Since friction is really cool, all I did was take some very thin plasticard (.10) and made 2 sleeves for the gun turret ‘holes’ to tighten it up and hold the guns in any position I put them.  See the picture. 


Glue…
  So, for most of the large body assemblies, I used bamboo skewers as ‘pins’ (the ones I have are nicely rounded and have a 3/32” diameter).  It was easy to drill with my Tamiya drill and then used 5 minute epoxy to glue it all up.  For almost all the littler pieces I just used thick super glue.
  Keep in mind that you’ll need to ‘score’ the mating faces no matter which glue type you use.  I just used an x-acto hobby knife to make lines in the faces.  It gives the glue (or epoxy) an extra surface to bite into as it dries and sets.

All in all, assembly was really easy and straightforward.  I’d have to give it a solid B+.  The manual and the new, clean lines without warpage made it a breeze and done in a couple of evenings.

 

Painting
  I left off all the repulsor plates, the engines and weapons.  These will be primed separately and be painted then applied.  Hopefully, I’ll get to show you a painted version soon.
So overall, the whole thing gets an A.   It’s a great kit.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The care and feeding of brushes, and how to fix them when you don’t.


Using your brushes so that they last a lifetime.

  We all know that we need to care for our brushes, but after seeing some things recently, I have come to understand that there are a lot of people who don't know how to just that yet.  So here are my guidelines for how to care for your brushes, and what to do if you don't sometimes...
  These are guidelines, not rules to live by.  We all have habits, some bad and some good.  These are really just things to think about was you use your brushes.  I would, however, say things in the ‘never’ list you really should try to avoid doing.

       Always

o      Use a brush for one medium only.  Don’t use the same brushes for oil paints (or oil washes) and then acrylics.   The stuff used to clean oil brushes is pretty harsh (mineral spirits) and will really wear a brush out. 
o      Always wet a brush before you start painting.  Don't pick up paint with a dry brush.Unless you're dry-brushing, of course.
o      Once a brush is charged with paint, begin painting with it immediately.  This will pull the paint away from the ferrule.
o      Once you have rinsed a brush, shake out the excess water rather than rubbing or squeezing it out with a cloth or paper towel.  Never pinch and pull on the tuft with a towel, as this will break or pull out the hairs.
o      Wash and shape the brush hairs when you finish your work session, using lukewarm water and a commercial artists' brush cleaner (links below)
o      Treat synthetic brushes with the same care as natural hair brushes.  The rule to never rest a brush on its tip is even more important with synthetic brushes since they tend to retain any shape they get into.
o      Dip out and mix paints with an old brush or stick, never your best brushes.  If you’re mixing on a palette using your good brushes, just be sure not to get paint up in the ferrule.  

       Never

o      ‘Reshape’ a brush with scissors or X-Acto blade.  Trimming the ends of a natural hair brush leaves them in a 'broken' state and they will never get back to 'normal'.
o      Never hold a loaded brush with the tip pointing upwards.  The paint will ‘wick’ towards the ferrule and make it harder to clean.
o      Leave a brush sitting point down in water
o      Leave a brush wet with paint for extended periods
o      Let it dry out with paint on it especially in the tuft (or ferrule)
o      Clean or rinse a brush in hot water.  Hot water can affect the glue up in the ferrule and allow the hairs to pull out or get misshaped.
o      Avoid submerging the tuft in paint for long periods. This encourages the capillary action that causes paint to migrate up the hairs into the ferrule, where it is difficult to get out.
o      Do not submerge the brush in water beyond the top of the ferrule. Water will seep into the ferrule from either end.  This could cause the handle to swell, crack, and loosen in the ferrule.

Cleaning brushes correctly

  Cleaning is really straightforward, but if you’re not doing it right, you can really ruin brushes fast.  The cheaper the brushes, the more they get affected by bad practices.
       Never use hot water!  (see above)
       Use a purpose-made brush soap (Masters or Jentastic Goop), baby shampoo or something super gentle.  Never use hand soap or harsh cleansers.
o      Get the brush good and wet with water, swirl it in the soap until it lathers up a bit, then brush it in the palm of your hand to ‘scrub’ the bristles.  Never jab it or move it in a motion that would go against the ‘grain’ of the hairs.  Always be ‘pulling’ it toward the natural lay of the hairs. 
o      Rinse the soap out carefully in water, swirling it around for a while. 
o      Once cleaned, shake excess water from the brush.  Don’t dry a brush by wiping the tuft with a towel.  If necessary, shape the brush gently against the side of your finger so that it comes to a balanced point. Wash brushes need to be shaken out more assertively, as they hold more water.
o      If you’re crazy like me, now is the time to dip it into some hair conditioner (you’re wife’s bottle is probably in the shower, go grab a small squeeze of it in a small seal-able cup.  She won’t mind.)  Seriously, brushes are just animal hairs, and they dry out.  Conditioner helps them

Remedies - When you don't follow the 'guidelines'

  A good brush is always worth the investment. Not only is the finest quality, natural hair brush a joy to use, it can always be returned to its original state no matter how bad you treat it.  Cheap ‘box store’ brushes are not so forgiving.  Everyone I have met who swears by cheap brushes changes their tune when they start using quality brushes.
  That said, poor care and use of brushes can lead to them getting really hard to use.  Most often, the head of a brush will start to splay as pigment becomes trapped between the hairs in the ferrule.  This is what normally keeps them from holding a good point.  This will occur if paint is not thoroughly washed from the brush after every use, or the brush is used too aggressively to pick up or apply paint.  There are ways to fix this though!

   Winsor & Newton sells a brush restorer chemical that is designed to ‘gently’ eat the paint that has dried in the ferrule.  I have used this stuff with great success on even some of the most abused brushes (Elric!).  All you need to do is put the brush into the bottle of cleaner (or a separate container, see the photo.) up to and a little past the ferrule.  This will let the cleaner fluid work the dried acrylic out of the brush.  They recommend soaking the brush for hours or even overnight if need be. 




  Once it has soaked for a decent period of time, run through the cleaning cycle.  Use clean water, brush soap and gentle scrubbing.

Hair conditioner

  As brushes are used and cleaned in normal painting, the natural oils in the hairs are worn or washed away. The usual symptoms are that the hairs will begin to look dried out or frizzled, the brush will not point as promptly when wet, and stray hairs begin to appear.   Some folks will use brush soap and actually leave it in the bristles without washing it out.  Let it dry them in an hour or so, rinse it thoroughly.  Most times that will work to recondition the brush.
  You can also wet and wash the brush in lukewarm water and then apply a small amount of hair conditioner to the wet clean hairs, work it in thoroughly with your fingertips, shape the brush to a point or flat edge, and let it sit for an hour or so. Thoroughly rinse out the conditioner and shape the brush to dry, and repeat if necessary.

Brush shaper or Gum arabic.

  After washing, if the hairs or bristles are still crazy splayed out, you can use gum arabic or brush shaper to shape the brush back to a point (most natural hair brushes come preshaped with gum Arabic on them and need to be cleaned before use).  Dip the brush in the brush shaper or gum arabic solution, shape with your fingers, and set it down where it can rest undisturbed to dry.   The longer it sits, the better the result will be.  Keep in mind though, if there is dried paint in the ferrule, it will not stay pointed for long after this treatment.  Go back to the remedy section.

Stray hairs.

  Almost always, just leave these alone, as long as the brush shapes to a good point and the strays do not interfere with your brushwork.  If you need to remove a nuisance hair, grip the hair carefully with thumb and finger, or a pair of tweezers near, the visible base (not the tip) of the hair shaft, pull it down and to the side against the edge of the ferrule, and snap it off at the edge, using the ferrule edge to cut it.  Try not to ‘pull it out’ from the ferrule, as it will leave a tiny bit of a hole in the glue and allow gunk to build up.  Don’t try to cut stray hairs with scissors or a blade, you won’t be able to trim it close to the ferrule without damaging the tuft.   
  Never attempt to "trim" stray hairs by holding the dry brush tuft near or against a flame. This will very likely burn off other hairs in the tuft and can invisibly blunt the tips of the hairs in the point as well.

Storage

o      Never store a wet brush upright, the liquid will just wick up into the ferrule and that’s never good.  Leave the brush horizontal or face down (not resting on the hairs) to dry, then store them upright.
o      Never store a damp brush in an airtight container. The dampness will cause mildew, and that will destroy the brush hairs.  Baaad!
o      Don't store brushes near heat (furnace vents, sunlit windows).  Heat is not a brush’s friend.

Traveling with brushes

o      To carry brushes on trips, use a brush roll holder or something expressly designed for that purpose.  Lots of companies sell roll up or zippered pocketed holders for brushes.  Tossing them into a box may not always be the best answer, they take a lot of abuse banging around like that.
o      Once home, brushes should be immediately unpacked from the holders, cleaned, shaped and dried in the usual way.  (Unless you already did it on your trip…)

  Always remember, once a brush is useless for one purpose, find something else for it to do.  Maybe it becomes the brush you use to pull paints out of a pot, or mix on your palette?  Maybe it becomes a new drybrush?  
  So there you have it, just an average painters ideas about taking care of your brushes.  Do you have to follow this like law?  Hell no, nobody would, but if I manage to change one bad habit, my work here will be done!