Friday, October 26, 2012

Derweesh Mark II Watchstrap

It took me a while to find a watch I really liked, but I finally settled on the Timex Ironman Dualtech. I used the Derweesh Mark II belt weave with black 550 paracord, which for some reason seems to be "flatter" than other types (colours) I've tried. The buckle is from a women's belt I bought cheap from a charity shop, and the leather loop is from another belt I stole the buckle from for a previous paracord belt.
The Timex Dualtech is a nice, clean analogue watch...
... with all the advantages of a modern digital watch.

I used four spine strands, and weaved around each one, which turned out to be just about the right width for the buckle. I used one loop-back row per crossover row to create as many holes as possible so the length would be as adjustable as possible. I think there's around 20 feet of paracord in the strap, I'm not really sure but it's certainly a little more than most thanks to the extra length.
You can clearly see the holes in this picture.
Admittedly it's quite thick where the two straps overlap.

Initially I weaved up to the watch, pulled the strands unwoven through the pins and under the watch, then took up the weave on the other side, but I found that it actually didn't wrap around my hand as well that way. Instead I tried to continue the weave the whole way, and attach the watch using the two inner spine strands (using all four would have interrupted the weave). This turned out to be more comfortable, and I believe it will be easier to remove and reattach the watch when necessary. It does mean the watch sits a little higher, but I don't think it will be a big problem.

The end was a little tricky to tie off neatly, but I've found that if you push the ends through the final loops without actually pulling the weave tight it gives you some wiggle room to fit one more cord through (since each row has two cords you might find yourself a little tight on space at the end, as I did), and luckily I was able to weave it tight and get a neat end.

Overall I think this is quite a unique watch; while paracord straps are not uncommon, I've only ever seen ones with snap clasps that are obviously not adjustable, while mine has (what I believe is) a fairly unique weave and a buckle making it adjustable. Typically I find watches quite uncomfortable to wear, I'm hoping the single piece strap will help this one to be more tolerable, but time will tell.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Newbies Eternal

I haven't been doing much painting lately, but the last few weeks I've been trying to put a little time in - need to try this newfangled "sic-th edi-shon" thing everyone's been talking about. So here's the scouts I've had on the shelf since, oh, ages ago.

I'd say they came out quite well. Comparing them to the first scout I painted shows just how much damage that crappy varnish did. The stuff I'm using right now, Vallejo matt varnish, is much better. To be honest I think Games Workshop purity seal has actually given me better results and I'm considering going back to that, but I'm still a little scared of all the sugar-coated-frosting-of-Doom stories I've heard.

As you can see the paint scheme is basically the same, but there's a few improvements. The cloth is meant to be basic black instead of green (the original model actually had different coloured cloth areas as it was a test piece), the camo pattern is finer, the flesh worked out a little better, the blue highlighting is toned down a little thanks to a blue wash, and the green glowy lenses look much nicer. The new model's leather is much darker; this was by accident rather than design but it kinda makes them look more... stealthy, possibly even more dangerous.

I've also dimmed the Sentinels Eternal symbol from the bright white I was using before - they are supposed to be sneaky after all.

I used a blue primer, but again the Army Painter primers don't seem to be that good and I wont be using them again. The armour is Regal Blue (which I've decided is my favourite of the old GW blues) with Ice Blue highlights then washed with Asurmen Blue wash. The cloth was meant to be black, but I got lazy and just drybrushed grey then white over the blue primer then washed with black, thinking that should be enough to create the effect of black cloth with grey highlights, but the paint rubbed off as I handled the models and as a result the blue shows through in some places. This doesn't look too bad, but I would have preferred a colourless grey/black appearance as my chapter colours are meant to be blue extremities over black central areas.

The leather was my standard Scorched Brown and Snakebite Leather highlights, but washed with Devlan Mud, which darkened it more than I expected. The capes were Dark Angels Green with Camo Green and Bleached Bone (and possibly Goblin Green) spots, and various washes (not sure what I used to wash with, one cape seems to be noticeably greener than the others, I think I was experimenting but I forget now). I also drybrushed the capes with Camo Green and Skull White, but I think the drybrushes were partly rubbed off from handling. I also stippled black onto the bottom of the cloaks and boots, though I'm wondering now if a dark brown might have been more appropriate. The brass is Tin Bitz and Dwarf Bronze. The black is highlighted with with Space Wolves Gray.

The lenses are just white washed with Thraka Green wash to create a slight glow effect, which is just faster and easier than painting actual lenses. In this case I think it works well enough and provides a nice spot colour. I still finished the lenses with a gloss varnish to add those natural glassy specular highlights.

Skin was based with different flesh colours, then I carefully painted on Army Painter Quickshade (strong), which I find works better than normal washes for shading skin. However the quickshade colour doesn't quite look natural (it's a little too dark and unsaturated I guess for the skin colours I'm using), so I then used some washes - Gryphone Sepia if I recall - to try and give the skin a more uniform shade and tie the colour together better. I think it worked alright, but the final result has less shading than I expected. This might be a result of the wash or the relatively small area being covered.

I tried to give the hair texture by applying a thick layer of un-thinned paint then pulling the brush through it, which would of course be enhanced by drybrushes and washes, but I had very little success. I tried to vary the colours somewhat, leaning to browns and reds.

I made a few mistakes while working that I had to fix afterwards. For one thing, my initial drybrushes on the cloaks look like they were partly rubbed off as I handled the models; the end result lacks definition compared to blending or layering as applied by more skilled painters than myself.

As I was applying the gloss varnish over one model's shoulder I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to actually apply the chapter symbol in any way, shape or form. At that point I was sorely tempted to leave it out completely, after all they are supposed to be all stealthy and thus they might not want to give away who they are if caught... but in the end I decided it was a flimsy excuse and painted the symbol over the varnish. Only two models got the symbol, however, as the cloaks cover the shoulder pads on the others and I couldn't see a good alternative location. The symbol was a quick freehand job and turned out better than I had expected, though I was forced to apply a grey outline as the black was too close to the blue to see clearly.

Finally, half way through applying the second varnish, I noticed that I had forgotten to paint the eyebrows. Once the varnish dried I slapped on some quick (and sloppy) brown lines then varnished their faces a third time. At that point I was tired of it all, and as a result the eyebrows don't match their hair colours and just don't look all that good - but in my defence I can't seem to figure out how to paint good looking eyebrows at the best of times. Luckily they're mostly hidden by the goggles anyway, so no big deal.

I have made some progress with my efforts to assemble a model with a LED bulb inside, and that progress is this: I have discovered that my original plans to use magnets to hold the bulb are unlikely to work because in order to get a good connection I will need magnets on both faces (my previous attempts involved a magnet on one face and another touching the rim, which did not give me a good connection). This involves using very thin magnets (.5mm) if I want to use a normal base, but trying to solder wire to thin magnets kills the magnet. Therefore I would need to use bigger magnets, in which case there's no advantage over using a proper battery enclosure. So yeah, I haven't quite given up yet.

Next up I'm hoping spend a little time assembling some models that I've been planning for a while. Of course I probably won't have anything painted any time soon, no surprise there.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Make Me One With Everything

I decided to spoil myself a little. Cheeseburger with a fried egg, portabello mushroom, and fried onions. It was amazing - I cannot believe how well the mushroom especially turned out. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. I enjoyed it so much I had to post on my blog about just how much I enjoyed it.