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Workbench

Welcome to the workbench. This page is constantly changing. I aim to update it in the middle of every month, showing you work in progress from various projects. This is a chance to see behind the curtain (or to see the latest mess I’ve made).

Eyes. Probably the most difficult thing to paint on figures of any scale. If they look natural, no one notices them. If they look unnatural, everyone notices them. For my own satisfaction, it's the kind of thing I wouldn't even put on figures unless I know I can get them to look natural. I'm probably an "eye snob," if there is such a thing. Many painters think the whites need to be as wide as the whole socket, which leads to a personal pet peeve -- "fried egg eyes."
But there's a very easy technique to creating eyes. Use the thinnest pointed brush you have, even one trimmed down to a hair or two. Mine is 5/0 and that's arguably too big at the point. Put a tiny dab of white on an eye, just off center toward the side of the head. (Pic #1) If you can barely see the dot, PERFECT! Less is more in this situation.
I then use a Micron pen from the craft store, size 005. The nib is tiny! I dab in a pupil hopefully at the center of an eye, leaving some white exposed to its side. I then draw an arc at the top of the eyeball, and an arc for an eyebrow. Done! (Pic 2 & 3) Sometimes one or more of the two arcs don't even get used, depending on the shape of the casting and look already achieved. The whites on the soldier above are probably too big, but as you can see the finished result partly covers them with iris/pupil for a reasonably understated look (to my eye... pun intended).
Micron pens are available singly or in packs. You can also order them online with a google search. If you're getting one, get several. They tend to dry out and/or the nib wears out before its time. Still, they're indispensable for creating eyes.
I thought it might be useful to share the tools I use to prep figures. This is all pre-priming. For priming, my paint of choice is still Krylon Gesso in a spray can. These are just my own techniques/steps/tools. Everyone has their own, of course.
-- Flat file for smoothing undersides of bases
-- Scalpel/Xacto knife for trimming hard-to-reach mold lines
-- Emery board and round file for filing accessible mold lines
-- Greenstuff for attaching separate parts
-- Superglue for super-activating the greenstuff for attachment of parts
-- Wood glue for filling gaps at assembly joints
-- Dentist-style pick for applying wood glue in small, controlled beads
-- Wood bases for eventual mounting
Work is underway on a set of Rall grenadiers for customer Ed Y. Some might say "Von Rall," but I understand the "von" was reserved as a title of the Hessian nobility, of which Colonel Rall was not. He was raised from the ranks, IIRC. In a show of solidarity with the common man, I'm sticking with plain ol' Rall.
Customer Josh L asked if I could make him a mounted grenadier officer from the von Lossburg regiment. I whined and moaned about being really short on time, but after I did the conversion necessary, I had to see it through to painting.
The rider is our AWI mounted general in greatcoat. I took one of our tricorne heads and cut off the hat with flush cutters. The grenadier miter comes from our Hessian grenadiers, which is already a separate item. I drilled a hole in the top of his head and fit the hat. Only once assembled and primed did I remember that I meant to give him a mustache, which you see here.
Here he is being painted. Completed pics to come.
Check out our past workbench entries, below.

Among our newly revised AWI figures are our British infantry. These will look familiar to many. The basic figures remain the same as before, even down to the command. They haven't been converted, but have been re-mastered and re-tooled, making for sharper castings than ever. That includes the soldiers, officer and color bearer.

I have even remedied the tricorne where it could have a notch over the soldier's right eye.
Now here are some truly converted figures in progress. I used our Recruit Your Own Regiment menu to create the 3rd New York. They combine bodies at attention with “Leather Cap Head Set #2.” The officer and color bearer are also from the menu, and show the versatility of pose that results from separate arms and heads.
Like the marching British, above, our familiar Continentals have been re-mastered and re-tooled. This set is available on the ATKM site. No need to mix and match figures and heads if you want a basic Continental set of troops.
You really get to see the crisp details of these castings on the soldier's back.
Here's a set inspired by Butler's Rangers – our soldiers in hunting shirts combined with “Leather Cap Head Set #1.” The musician is our classic ensign body, now with a hunting horn option as shown here. This particular combination of officer body, pointing arm, and head look really sharp to me.
One of my personal favorites among our revised sets is these Highlanders in Trews. The now-separate heads really make them looked distinguished.
I went back to the original green to re-create these soldiers, and it shows in a figure that is more robust than before.
This AWI officer was originally part of our Queen's Rangers set, but has universal application, so I've made it available separately as part of our Recruit Your Own Regiment menu.
Likewise this drummer. It has wide application for almost any regiment, so I've made it available separately.
And this fifer. Choose the kinds of heads you want to go with these, like any troops on the menu. None of these three command figures has been revised; they're already at the standard to which ATKM offerings are launched. By separating heads on many of our older AWI sets, I have made them as versatile as these are.

The following are pics of the new and revised ATKM facilities. Shown here is the deluxe painting area with more space than before.

Here we have custom-made display cases (which is a fancy way of saying, "I put them together.") The shelves are removable so whole armies can be pulled out at one time.

The mess of a computer station, where sticky notes reminders rule the land.

The ATKM workshop. In particular, the spincaster and melting pot.
These two little fellows are vulcanizers, used to create molds.

The mold cutting and general-purpose area. Normally the place isn't so tidy, but I got sick of my own mess and cleaned up.

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