Saturday, April 30, 2011

Miniatures in photo paper

I always read on the Cardboard Warriors forum about how paper minis printed on photo paper look better, and even though I was interested in trying that, I can only find photo paper in very expensive bundles of lots of sheets. A couple of months ago, one of the forum regulars (Parduz) posted about using a photo printing service and that stuck on my mind. Recently, I found a place where 10x15cm photos may be printed at a low price, so I finally managed to get some miniatures done. Here are the first results, from Darkmook's Surival Horror set 6 (Unstoppable):
The colors look sharper and there is also a lot more detail. Obviously, part of that comes from the fact that it is printed on a much better equipment, so I believe that even if I used photo paper on my home printer, the result wouldn't be so good. For the sake of comparison, the following picture shows (from left to right) one mini printed on cardstock and covered with sealant, one simply printed on cardstock and the one on photo paper. The dark camo pattern on the operative's uniform is clearly visible, as well as details on the boots.

As one might expect, things aren't perfect, and there are some downsides as well. Scoring the paper so that it folds properly requires using more pressure than with normal cardstock so that you almost cut the two halves apart. Less than that, and the paper behaves like a spring, making the gluing process a nightmare.

The glue stick that I have been using very successfully also didn't work with this paper, so I had to get back to spreading thick PVA with a brush. I also found necessary to burnish the glued sheet well and leave it to dry under some heavy weight for hours before cutting. I didn't try spray mount on these, maybe that's a better solution. For the above reasons, my attempts at making tabbed bases in photo paper (shown in the first picture) didn't go so well and I don't plan on doing that again.

After this test, my opinion is that printing on good cardstock already provides good-looking and useable miniatures. Using photo paper (especially if using a good printer or print service) gives them a more distinguished look and thus could be used for player character miniatures in RPGs or special units in strategy games.


Parduz said...

Hi from Parduz! :D
Seems you have got some hard times with the printed photos...
I've done 3 things with the photo printing services:
1) Some paper miniatures: as i like the thick, i used double-side adhesive tape (someone told me it is the kind used to attach mirrors to its frames). I score with a ball-point pen on the paper, attach the tape to one side, peel of the protective paper and then i fold the photo over it.
The only tiny problem is that when you cut some of the tape glue will stick on the blade, but other than this i've got nice mini >1mm thick.
2) MechAttack vehicles. I used superglue for them (that kind that will attach your finger in seconds). Never got a "spring back" effect :D
3) Outrider: that photo paper was of another brand, much more "gummy" than the previous. Spray glue worked well. Again, no "spring" effect.
Try it again... i'll never print on my home anything that will fit on 10x15 photos.... my next plan are WormHole ships (scaled down to 75%)
Ciao :D

Ricardo said...

Thanks for the tips! I'll have to try double-sided tape, it sounds really good.

Parduz said...

You're welcome!
About that tape, you'll have to try some brands. They're made by a sort of "foam". Some of them are so "tender" that when you cut minis you'll end like cutting pizza... i mean lot of .... what's the word? well... sticky "ropes"...
Other tapes have a grid as support inside the "foam". Much more better and much more less "pizza" mess.

Hackbarth said...

I tried these 10cmx15cm photo machines on some of Dave Okum Samurai. But at 1R$ per photo, it's more expensive than printing in cardstock paper.

The results where very good, very bright and crispy, but so reflective that I think they distract a little from the piece.

Ricardo said...

Yeah, normally the price is too high but at the time of this post I had found a place that charged something like R$0,50 per photo (special price for a limited time.)

lu_diegu said...

Hi there! Cool looking minis! Can I ask you what sealant are you using?