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Friday, January 6, 2012

Tutorial Basic - Battlefront MIG Pigments

Using Battlefront’s MIG Pigments
To be honest I was surprised that Battlefront introduced MIG Pigments into their paint line. These are primarily used by modelers on just about every type of kit but primarily on display and competition pieces. In most cases these pieces never get the kind of handling that our gaming miniatures are going to get. However, they definitely have some uses on our miniatures and I’ll give you some basics (very basic) on how to use them. Please keep in mind that I am still practicing and learning these techniques as well so if you have better information or another twist to using the pigments feel free to leave a comment or two!

There are several brands of pigments on the market; MIG Productions, AK Interactive and Vallejo being the biggest. There are a number of smaller companies out there making pigments as well. First thing these are not the same as pigments you can make by grinding up pastel chalk and they do behave differently (although some of these techniques may work with chalk if you want to give it try). Most of the model railroad pigments will work using these techniques as well although they don’t tend to be as finely ground as MIG and AK pigments. MIG Pigments and AK Interactive Pigments are almost identical having been developed by the same guy (Mig Jimenez, who started MIG Productions and has since left and is working for AK Interactive now). AK pigments may be ground a little finer than the MIG ones but I haven’t really noticed a difference. I haven’t tried the Vallejo pigments so I can’t help you there. Every place I have tried to order Vallejo from has been out.

Generally pigments are used for weathering affects and are applied after everything else is done. They don’t have to be used just for weathering or applied last but that’s the main way they are used. There are two main techniques; applying dry and applying wet (a wash). Dry pigments are best affixed to a matt surface which gives the pigments a little tooth to hold on to. The dry application works the same as you would use for applying pastel chalks. Spoon a bit of the pigment onto a piece of plastic (a plastic palette is great for this), a little bit will go a long way! Don’t be afraid to use multiple colors to get some different tones on your vehicles either. Using an old brush scrub the pigments onto the surface of your model, concentrate on those areas that would collect mud with darker colors and lighter colors for dust on the upper surfaces. The concrete color in the Battlefront set makes a pretty good dust color. Once on a model pigments can be easily rubbed off with your finger (as a modeling technique) or if you hate what’s going on just wash it off. Like anything else I do I like this technique because I can build up layers till I’m happy. To build up layers though you need to fix the pigment into place, you do this using white or mineral spirits (turpentine is to strong although turpenoid is okay). Load the brush with white/mineral spirits and touch it to the model letting capillary action spread it to all the surfaces. You just want to touch the surface if you try and “paint” it on you will actually create a wash and lose the effect you have created. Once the white/mineral spirit has dried the pigment becomes much harder to remove (although you can still rub it off if you need to) and you can apply another layer or let it be and call it done. You use thinner to help fix the pigment in place (and don’t panic when you apply the thinner and it looks like the pigments have disappeared, they will come back as it drys) instead of a dullcote spray. Spraying dullcote tends to displace the pigments from where you put them tends to make them disappear never to be seen again (something to do with light reflection and the nature of the lacquer in the various types of dullcote I am told). For light gaming these vehicles would be fine but the pigment will still wear off with continued use (and we do like to play with our toys). If you want them to be permanent then you need to use something called “Fixer”. Both MIG and AK make this fixer and I wish I could tell you that there is a substitute but I can’t figure out what this stuff really is. Be sure that everything is the way you want it and then apply the Fixer the same way you apply the white/mineral spirits. If you are going over something you have already fixed in place with the spirits then you don’t have to be quite as careful. Once you have applied this stuff its not coming off unless you strip the entire model.

The other technique is to apply the pigments wet as a wash. A wash can be made using water, white/mineral spirits or alcohol (ISP 90% is best, vodka is not a good choice for this). Washes are better used on glossy surface so that they flow better. You can mix up a wash in a palette or you can create it right on the model. Like you did with the dry technique apply pigments to the model but just drop them into place rather than scrubbing them on. Use darker tones in areas of shadow and lighter tones higher up. Once your pigments are in place load up a clean brush with the thinner of your choice and apply it to the model liberally (paint it on) making sure all the pigments are wet and push and blend the colors on the model into the places you want them. Again wet pigments tend to disappear but will show back up as they dry. You don’t need the “Fixer” for this technique and you can seal it with dullcote (at which point you could then apply the dry technique). The neat thing about the wash technique is that you can “clean up” the model if it gets some place it shouldn’t. Just load up a clean brush with whatever you used as a wash (water, white/mineral spirit, or alcohol) and gently rub it across the surface you need to “clean” you are diluting and wicking up the excess wash from the higher surfaces.

There are other things you can do with pigments, like making cool mud and winter effects. There are a number of youtube videos out there (more than half aren’t worth the time) as well as DVDs by both MIG and AK. I would recommend MIG’s “F.A.Q. 1 Pigment” DVD and AK Interactive’s “Weathering an SdKfz 222 in one hour”. Both MIG and AK have US locations so shipping is not nearly as expensive as it would be from Spain if you want to experiment with other products. Mig  Jimenez has an excellent blog where he discusses and shows you a lot of techniques. His is in my list of blogs.

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