Materials #1½: Containers & Treasures

Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Materials 1½ ?

Well, just before we move onto other materials and cover "wet palettes" in the next post, I wanted to elaborate on containers.


This weekend my fiancée and I visited Reverse Garbage in Marrickville.

It's literally a treasure trove for miniature fx artists and really, anyone who's creative.

View Larger Map

You could practically lose yourself in this massive shed filled with useful items normally dumped in landfill and so on. These guys share the view that things should be re-used rather than recycled.

There's everything here from massive sheets of polystyrene to rolls of paper, cardboard, boxboard, wooden skirting and boards of all sizes, plus containers galore.

I fished out a bunch of old, never-used medicine bottles and an empty Epoxy resin jar to convert into containers for everything from plaster to PVC glue & sand mixes, to custom washes or flock, lichen and other terrain materials.


There were more spray bottles and spray triggers than you could poke a stick at and plenty of other bits and pieces that could be used for terrain building.

Get yourselves down there, have a rummage around and see what you can find of use. You'll be doing a great deed for the environment and satisfying your miniature-artist craving for treasure hunting.

The prices are unbelievably cheap and they're constantly being stocked with new items. Check out their site for some more information and pictures.


For those of you in Queensland, there's a great looking Reverse Garbage in West End.

View Larger Map

If anyone knows of other similar Co-operatives fueling the "re-use" movement around Australia, post a comment here.


As a side note to the previous post's discussion on selecting water jars - here's a little tip on taking off labels.

I've got here a Master Foods jar (for ginger) that's been washed and "de-labelled" and is currently my prop for keeping brushes upright while painting (never ever leave your brushes head-down in your water jar, you'll damage the point way too quickly).


Now, to take off the label a lot more neatly than what you normally would, my Dad's got a great trick he learnt about 30 years ago.

1.) Tear off a piece of clear cling-wrap, enough to wrap around your chosen jar;

2.) Stretching the piece of cling-wrap open, gently hold it under a tap of running water for a second or two;

3.) Once the cling-wrap is wet (do not let it buckle in on itself - keep it stretched open) wrap it right around your jar covering the label. It doesn't matter if it overlaps several times;

4.) Leave the jar out in the sun to dry for a few hours;

5.) Once dry, you peel off the cling-wrap, then use your nails to scrape away a small section of the label. Then the majority of the label will slip off nice and easy with very little adhesive markings left behind;

6.) Dab some methylated spirits on the corner of a cloth and use it to wipe down and polish up the exterior of your jar.

Happy "de-labelling".

Materials #1: Paints, Washes & Palettes

Friday, 27 March 2009
Okay, down to business.


Those of you who are experienced (at any level) with painting miniatures would have already decided on their preferred materials. I've included a small poll in this blog (scroll down below our Flickr feed) asking after your favourite brand of paints.

For the past 6 or 7 years I've been using Games Workshop and Citadel paints and am really keen to start switching over the set as each little tub dries up. The helpful guys at Tin Soldier over on York Street, Sydney, have suggested a mix of Formula P3 (Privateer Press) and Vallejo.

Vallejo has a good dropper style for using just a little of the paint – rather than dealing with the clumsy Citadel lids that scoop up paint which pools and dries too quickly at the hinge (it's too wasteful). I find Citadel paints have a high pigment content, which is great, but blobs too easily. Thinning with water helps achieve the best results.

I've been told that the Vallejo metals are okay, but don't compare with P3. Although P3's range is limited, its metals are top quality.

To be honest, Games Workshop metals (particularly Golds and Bronzes) have been annoyingly grainy on the brush as they dilute themselves. It doesn't allow for smooth application and you find yourself constantly shaking the pot (lid closed!) to re-mix before re-applying. When it comes to metals, you really don't want your choice of paint to lack enough persistence when bonding with a surface.

We'll see how we go. I'll definitely start posting my experiences with any P3 or Vallejo paints I add to the collection as time goes by.

What's the other benefit with non-Citadel/GW paints such as Vallejo? ... the $4.50ea price-point.

It's economical, you don't lose as much paint to clumsy lid “globbing” and the dropper-style sounds enticing.

Other brands you might like to try: Rackham, Coat D'Arms, Tamiya (the paints I started with back in the early to mid-90's).


One of the guys at Tin Soldier pointed out to me a few weeks back Citadel's new range of washes.

No, I'm not affiliated with Tin Soldier in any way, I just consider their store my favourite supplier in Sydney at the moment.

I've yet to get my hands on a set to review and test-run what are apparently one of the best sets on the market. There's no need to dilute them, the wash goes straight on and saves you time having to ink wash (or create your own). I've been told there's no need for an additional layer of dry-brushing to touch up your highlights as you would after an ink wash. The wash goes straight on as a final coat. This would save a heck of a lot of time (especially as GW ink washes take a bit of time to dry).

Check out the set, they retail for around $6 each, or $33 retail for a full pack of 8 washes.

Scrap Dragon have them for a great price $26.40 + $5.50 postage within Australia = $31.90 total. Or you can skip the postage costs and pick them up directly if you live near Condong, NSW.

View Larger Map


Water jars should have stable bases - don't pick tall ones. I prefer short, stout jars. Preferably with a wider base then neck. This makes them harder to tip over.


A small lint free cotton cloth for removing excess water from brush or wiping off paint, etc.


Buy a decent palette at any hobby store or bargain shop. Or consider white china plates or white china condiment dishes (available at most kitchen shops). Some people use white Corelle plates as they are snow white and when watering down your own paints the wash won't bead on them as it sometimes does on plastic. Nor do the plates stain – in theory – if washed properly. I found my triple-scoop condiment dish at St. Vinnie's in Newtown for $3 bucks!


Make sure you leave your water jars / glass jugs and white condiment trays to air dry after wiping down with a lint-free cloth after washing.

NEXT TIME: We'll have a look at accompanying equipment, “wet palettes” and more.

Thursday, 26 March 2009
Welcome to!

We've been kicking around the idea for this blog for quite some time. Finally it's here and we're looking forward to sharing our experiences with you. We'll experiment, test-run techniques and materials, plus review products and miniatures in general.

I've been inspired by the blogging success of a friend and colleague in the digital media industry to kick-start On that note, if you're into 3D and sci-fi and are after some serious inspiration and great tutorials, check out Paul's blog at The Process Diary.

While I have a personal preference for painting Fantasy and Mediaeval/Historical miniatures and creating terrain, I'm also a big Sci-Fi buff and will try to deliver content applicable to painters for that genre.

I'm not here to judge anyone's style or technique. Heck, I'm self-taught so I'm sure there's plenty things I do that can be achieved with easier, more economical methods. If you know of any, post a comment or contact me and I'll give it a test-run and blog the results.

I'd really like to see grow and develop into a resource hub with video footage, slide shows and tutorials. Feel free to contact me via with thoughts, opinions and tips.

You can look forward to some upcoming reviews on materials I've been using lately. Everything from paint brushes (Sable hair -vs- Taklon synthetics) to brands of lichen, lacquer, palettes and more.

Keep an eye out for interviews with featured artists from around the world, showcasing some of their work and discussing technique. I feel wargamers can learn a lot from experienced terrain-builders in the film industry or in model train-set construction. So I'm keen to bring across tips and tricks from featured artists in those areas and apply them to historical and fantasy scenarios.

I'm currently working on a series of Warhammer High Elves for a private commission and will be taking you through the process from time to time. I'd like to work on some Ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan warriors before trying Celts and other similar peoples. I have a full-time job running a design studio in Sydney, so forgive me if my own personal projects take a while to kick-start. I've got an old set of Battle Masters (anyone remember that?) that I'd like to finish painting up one of these days ... not to mention HeroQuest ... plus I'd really love to attempt grafting some figurines together to make key characters from The Ancestral Trail at some point ... for some 90's nostalgia.

With some great pieces of polystyrene in storage, there'll be dungeons, citadels and ruins with plenty of great terrain and water effects to keep this blog occupied throughout the year.

So whether you're an amateur or seasoned painter, into fantasy-adventure miniatures or model train sets and terrain-building, welcome aboard, subscribe to this blog and spread the word. I'm looking forward to engaging many of you through, learning some new tricks and passing on what I've experienced.

All the best,