Wednesday, September 3, 2014

HOBBY: The Use of Subassemblies

Subassemblies are something very useful to all miniature painters out there, from the most experienced to the newest initiate. You may not even realize that you are already doing it. Today I am going to take a look at what this means and how to use them.

What is a subassembly you may be asking? Very simply it means leaving parts of your model off while you paint it. There are many reasons to do this but the most common one is so you can reach hard to get at areas that would otherwise be blocked. Now if the area that is blocked won't be visible at all on the finished mini you might want to just glue it all together. I started doing this almost immeadietly when I entered the hobby but I didn't realize what I was doing.

My first army was Space Marines, as I'm sure is the same with many people out there who play 40k. I soon discovered that the Marine's bolters always got in my way so I started leaving them off while I painted them. They blocked the chest and made it hard for my to paint the eagles there but didn't block it completely from view. Eventually I also started leaving the backpacks off as well. For Fantasy I did the same thing with my Skeleton's shields. This is the most basic subassembly and what you will most commonly have to use it for.

Once you start getting into more complex models or paint jobs the subassemblies become more complex as well. For my Casket of Souls each crew member was painted separately as well as the Casket itself and the base. You may notice that the models are attached to something. I use wine corks because they are free (if you drink wine) and easy to pin into. I find a point on the model that won't be seen when it's all glued together and drill a hole with a pin vice. I then glue a section of paper clip into this hole and push the other end into the cork. Since the model isn't attached to a base this gives me something to hold onto as I paint the model. Generally you want to touch the actual model as little as possible while painting.

Once the model is done just pull them out of the cork and then use a pair of pliers to gently pull the paper clip out of the mini. It should come out pretty easily if you gently rock it back and forth. As you can see I also used this method for Angron. He was broken down into the base, the casualty, Angron himself and his cape. The more of a model you can have glued together before painting, the better. This allows you to get a better idea of the finished whole as you go along. Even when I have the model broken down like this I will glue the pieces together as soon as I have finished painting any areas that may have been blocked without the subassembly. Again, this is so I have a better idea of what the finished mini will look like at the end. There have been several times when I painted a subassembly and then had to adjust something once I glued it together because the color values didn't match up exactly or something like that.

On some of GW's newer plastic character models this becomes a little more difficult due to the way the model fits together. There are often times where you would like to leave something off for ease of painting but due to the way they cut the mold you have to glue it on to be able to attach the next piece, or worse yet, fill a gap. On this Krom Dragongaze model I originally had him in even more pieces. His front torso, left leg and head were one part, his back, right arm arm and cape were another and his left arm was also separate. I even had to have his little wolf tail thing near his shoulder separate. This was due to the way the mold was cut, but in the end I decided that I would sacrifice being able to reach some areas and glued it all together. In the end he was three parts, the main body you see above, his base with lower right leg and his back pack.

Doing this has made him much easier to paint as it would have been very hard to paint his cape if he had been glued together completely form the start.

Subassemblies are a great way to ensure you get every nook and cranny on your models and are practically a must for anyone painting a display piece. I can guarantee you those judges are going to pick up that model and look at it from every angle so you want to make sure they can't find any holes in your painting. Just remember that if you do break apart your model for painting, be sure to pin them to a cork or something similar so you don't touch the model itself. 

What are some of the most complex subassemblies you have done? I still have a Fantasy Wright King waiting to be painted who is in about five pieces.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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