Monday, July 27, 2009

On the Bench: Cinematic Effects

While at the local FLG getting plastic glue and bases, I decided to purchase a blister of cinematic effects for the imperial guard. Cinematic Effects, produced by Armorcast, are bitz that can be used to give the appearance of a weapon firing. Armorcast makes cinematic effects for various types of weapons like flamers and plasma cannons. It is a very cool concept that allows the average hobbyist to add a little pop to their models without having to be an expert when it comes to converting.

The blister I decided to purchase was the medium laser muzzle flash (ACFX009). I decided upon it because I thought it would be cool to model some of my guardsmen as if they were in a firing line. It is a simple concept, but one I would have found difficult to do if I attempted it using only greenstuff.

When actually using this bitz, the first challenge I noticed with them was that since they are pewter, they may create a weight issue when combined with plastic models. Fortunately for me, I use George Bases which are solid wood, so they are slightly heavier. Along these same lines, the design of the end which is supposed to attach to barrel seems upon first glance to require pinning if I am going to expect it to stay on. This end does appear to have a pin built into it, but the length of the pin seems to vary with each individual casting, so I am approaching the use of the muzzle flash as if I need to add my own pin.

The actual process of pinning the weapon and effect was not difficult, but it does take a steady hand. I used a 1 mm drill bit, which was just a little larger than what would have been optimal. For the actual pin, I used 0.9 plastic rod, which fitted snuggly into the barrel and cinematic effect.

With the model assembled, I proceeded to paint it with the exception of the cinematic effect.

When it came to the painting of the cinematic effect, I felt that I needed to do a little homework on what others have done with them. I honestly didn’t find the Armorcast site very helpful when it came to actually painting their products unless I was doing the hamster rockets. I did however find some great inspiration on the Painted Dragon website. A poster by the name of Bulldog did some amazing work adding the effects to his marines.

Upon studying Bulldog’s work, I decided I would go with a blue scheme. The base color for the scheme was going to be Vallejo’s electric blue. Shading and highlighting would be based on mixing skull white or magic blue with the base. I also decided that I would try some glazing on the effect using the methods Midloo posted on his outstanding blog.

The end result was satisfactory, but lacked the bang I was hoping for once the model was completed. I think any lack of “pop” is purely based on my abilities as a painter and not the actual cinematic effect. I would however state that I feel that the effects do need a little bit of skill when it comes to painting them if one hopes to get the most out of them. They are simple in design, but sometimes such simple modeling requires skillful painting inorder to bring out the most in a model.

In conclusion, I am really impressed with Cinematic Effects. I feel Armorcast has really hit upon a great idea with them and look forward to adding more of the line to my models. The biggest challenges when using these products is going to be mounting them securely and painting them to get their full effect. However for the cost and “wow” factor, I can’t think of a cooler product than these if one is looking for something to take standard models and make them stand out.


  1. Looks cool, but for the sake of "sci-fi realism" (if there is anything like that) put them on bolters rather.

    Think about it: a laser is just coherent light- It only makes a soudn when firing cause of some capacitors discharging (I can't even begin to like this fluff...)

  2. Cannonfodder – I get what you are driving at, but since 40K is Science Fantasy, Space Opera, whatever it is labeled today, I am okay with forsaking realism for cool visuals. I guess if I ever felt the need to justify them, I would say the effect is not the actual laser but a flash that has been added to let the user know that the weapon fired.

  3. You are after the cool effect- totaly with you on this- I sound like one of the CMON geeks rating you low for not bewing fluffy- lol. Sorry for that, jm2c

  4. CF - All good! Just wanted to respond to your comments. Your feedback (postive or negative) is always welcome. I agree with you that if I was going for realism, only powder weapons really should have a visual effect. I have to admit while working on the Cinematic Effect I was making little laser beam sounds like when I was a kid. Its just a fun product if you are going for that Star Wars, cartoony feel.

  5. Thanks for the plug Equinox! You are on the right track with the laser effect. I would recommend going up to white as a highlight on themore bulbous part of the flash as well as the tip. I would also recommend ading a light wash of blue ink around the base of the flash and in the folds on the bulb of the flash. Finally to make a warm/cool contrast I would even try a little yellow (1 part yellow , ten parts white) to be the super highlight of the flash. This can make the colors pop. also I would try to glaze the rifle muzzue with some blue for point source lighting. Also, Shawn Lux who sculpted most of the effects uses them on his own minis and they are posted on He is Shawn.r.l.

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