Sunday 30 September 2007

Gallery Update

LinkBack from holiday and back in the studio!

We have just added a few more images to the main site ( A couple of commission pieces that Ali painted last year and a real blast from the past from me - the first Eldar Aspect Warriors ever painted! I have images of the miniatures I painted for the GW studio back in 1990 - these come courtesy of Jes Goodwin who now owns the figures, and kindly let them be photographed for the site. I remember painting them really clearly, they were really quite a step forward in miniatures at the time, and a joy to paint. Little did I realise at that time that nine years later I would be sculpting updated versions of some of them myself.

Alison and I have quite a few things in the pipeline, and a really busy couple of weeks before we travel over to Paris for Salon du Jeu and the Ravage Open Mix. That's promises to be a really great event and we can't wait to see everyone who's going. I will be doing a painting demo on the Alkemy stand on Saturday afternoon, so stop by and check out their great miniatures - it promises to be a fantastic range.

If you can't see the new images in the gallery sections - try clearing the cache in your browser and refreshing the page.

Talk to you soon!


Thursday 27 September 2007

A Little Experiment!!

Back to the grindstone after our holiday so I thought I'd ease myself back into painting by having an hour or two experimenting. Recently a friend asked us to pick him up some masking fluid so we thought we'd get some ourselves. I use it quite a lot in my illustration work and I have always wanted to try it out on miniatures so I finally got round to giving it a go. I have seen it used to great effect by military modellers and I recently read an article by the very talented Cyril Abati who, like some military modellers uses it for weathering purposes more than anything else. I have always thought that maybe I could use it to produce some interesting freehand decorative effects maybe masking of areas and layering the freehand.
I figured it would work best on a nice large open area so a half painted steamjack in our miniatures case was perfect.

I applied the masking fluid with a brush. As with all types of masking fluid you have to be reasonably quick painting your design because as the masking fluid dries your brush sometimes sticks as you try to apply more and pulls what you have already painted on - right off!!
I chose to paint some simple lettering. Painting the letters with the masking fluid and then washing over the panel with another colour means that once the masking fluid is removed, the base colour of the steamjack will be left in the shape of each letter.

fig 1 - applying the fluid with a brush

fig 2 - washing over the dry masking fluid with a darker shade

fig 3 - masking fluid is removed by rubbing gently with a clean finger - or a clean eraser may be better

I then blocked out the shape of a star with the fluid so once removed the image of the letters would show through.

fig 4 - star shape painted in masking fluid

fig 5 - A bone colour is blocked in over the star shape

fig 6 - Bone shade is highlighted as normal

fig 7 - Masking fluid is removed leaving the lettering design visible underneath

The results were interesting and by no means perfect as this was just an experiment. To be honest, creating a perfect design in masking fluid would be a lot more difficult and time consuming than just painting the design straight on with paint. The gluey properties of the fluid make drawing a perfectly sharp design a little tricky. It may have it's uses though. It would be great for masking off large areas and simple shapes and I'm really keen to try it for weathering effects.


Sunday 16 September 2007

Quick update

Ali and I just wanted to get a couple of quick posts in before we leave on holiday tomorrow - we're going to be away from the studio for a week and didn't want to leave it that long before checking in again. First of all I would just like to thank everyone for the great response to the site and blog - we have had so many great emails! We really appreciate it

This is going to be a pretty brief post from me - partly because we're trying to get everything tied up today before we leave, and partly because I can't really show a lot of the things on my desk that I've been working on. Here's a quick shot of something that I can show though - it's a scenic base for a miniature I am working on for a friend (the amazingly talented Jérémie Bonamant). It shows pretty well one of our favourite basing materials - plaster. It's just so easy to get natural rocky shapes with plaster - it carves very easily to the shape you want and even though it's very friable, it can be hardened with an application of thin super-glue to the surface. I'm not sure how hard wearing it would be for gaming miniatures, but for display pieces, it's fine. Hydro-stone is far harder wearing, but is tougher to carve. I find it's best to get the basic shape right before it sets completely and then work on the texture once it's dry. With plaster you can do all the shaping and texturing once it's totally dry.

We make basic slab shapes from the plaster by pouring it in to blister packs (they are really convenient for this as they are totally water-tight), filling to different depths. We'll do a batch of different sizes and thicknesses at one time. Once it's all dry, you just turn it out of the blister and break it up into chunks with two pairs of pliers. I stick chunks together with super-glue to get the basic shapes, then carve into them to give a natural finish. You do have to 'seal' the surface before the glue will stick them though - just carefully coat the surface with glue (at the point you want to attach another piece) and let it soak in and dry. Then re-apply glue to stick the pieces together.

The sand on this base was also stuck into place with super-glue, there were two reasons for this. The first is that it tends to form onto 'clumps' more than if you use PVA (which I like), the other is that I wanted to re-enforce the join between the scenic detail and the display plinth.

I'll post again on this subject once the base is painted, and the figure is added.

That's it for this post - I'll make sure I get something new up as soon as we get back from holiday!


Thursday 6 September 2007

Welcome the Studio McVey Blog!

We are launching this blog at the same time as the Studio McVey website, and one of the main reason for the blog is so we can create articles for the miniatures we feature on the main site - and to give you a chance to see what we are up to in Studio McVey !

The main website can be found at, or just click on the link to the website on the right of this page. If you subscribe to this blog, you will automatically know when there is something new to look at here, or at

There are two brand new painted miniatures on right now - a fantastic version of Tiriel that Ali painted recently, and a Deathjack that we have been working on between us for the last year or so. We actually find it really easy and enjoyable to work together on projects - one of us will do one part of the miniature, then hand it off for the other to work on something else.

One of the things that I really enjoyed work on for this piece is the base. The thought behind this piece was that this Deathjack was being transported on a ship, but the vessel was destroyed and sank during the voyage. The 'jack had to head for land across the ocean floor, and this miniature is supposed to represent it after has emerged from the ocean. The armour is pitted and rusty, and the surface is covered with barnacles and dripping with slime. I wanted the base to look like the 'jack is still on the beach, lurching across rocks and driftwood. The photographs on this page show a couple of the key stages in the construction - it was pretty easy to make. The rocks are just made from different sized balls of greenstuff - placed onto the base and then shaped and flattened slightly. The planking is just strips of balsa cut to size and glued together. When the rocks and pebbles were dry I added the fine details - like the barnacles and star-fish.

To make the curved shape of the wrecked boat hull, I cut some balsa strips and soaked them in water for a while until they became pliable. I bent the strips round a glass jar and held them in place with a few powerful rubber bands. When the wood dries it retains the shape is was forced into. I cut these curved pieces to length, and fastened them together with some cross-bracing, then glued the whole section onto the base. As the Deathjack is huge, I wanted to counterbalance that a little by have the planking overlapping the sides of the base a little . At this point I also added the holes for the 'jack's foot pegs. I cut the holes with a sharp blade and then packed out underneath them with greenstuff to give something solid to glue the miniature to.

Once the construction on the base was finished, I sprayed the whole thing with black primer and painted it. I started on the rocks first - building up the highlights and texture with light application of a sponge. I used a few different colours for the rocks, but mainly a pale grey/blue and faded red/pink as these seem to be common beach pebble colours. When I was happy with the highlighting I added in some faint white lines to represent veins of minerals running through the rounded rocks. I painted the barnacles a pale sandy colour and added a little green round them to make them look a little more natural.

That's it - finished!

Both Ali and I are really busy working on miniatures projects at the moment, but we are going to try and update this blog and as often as possible. We'll be publishing mini articles like the one in this entry, but we'll also be sharing our thoughts about miniatures and whatever is catch our attention in the hobby. So click the subscribe link on this page, and then you'll know when there is something new to look at here.

Talk to you soon!


PS - Huge thanks to Aaron Hedquist for designing and building the Studio McVey site - we think it looks fantastic!