Monday, December 31, 2012

Down on the Farm with Fritz

I realized I hadn't taken any shots of the farmstead with figures. That was sort of the whole reason for making it, to give some scale for the miniatures I had finished.

One thing I ran into with the tile board was that the magnets in the trees I made aren't strong enough to grip through the thick vinyl. So I ended up making a few small metal pieces to use as bases for the trees. I did them basically the same way as the board but I picked up some different turf colors to mix in as well.

I'm kinda going around in a circle on the bases with terrain. It just seems faintly ridiculous to make a base for a tree, that was made to not need a base, so it will stand up on the board. I might need to rethink this whole basing thing. While I like the baseless concept, at 1/100 scale I'm not sure how practical it is. I've already used small, partial bases on the buildings I made to protect some of the more fragile parts. I'm thinking something similar would work with the trees as well. I might be able to get away from the thick trunks then and keep it more realistic looking, which was the original goal anyways. I'm gonna keep experimenting but I expect I'll be going with more bases in the future. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Laying Some Groundwork

A little while ago I started work on a simple section of board to take pictures of my farmstead on. It didn't go so well. It just wasn't flat enough for the house and other terrain to sit on nicely. So I decided to take another approach. I borrowed an idea from Spacejacker over at Tiny Solitary Soldier and picked up a simple vinyl tile at a local hardware store. Its a foot square and I looked for one that had the most surface detail. I sprayed it black and dry-brushed it up through brown in the recessed areas.

Next I layed down some ground scatter across all of the areas that I wanted to get covered with grass. I used the same fine turf that I've used previously on the trees.

I forgot to take a picture of the tile after just the dry-brushing. Here it is with the turf applied.

I've always had a problem with the turf wearing away in the past so I experimented with soaking the whole board with a mix of watered down glue. I also wanted it to act like an ink wash so I mixed a little paint into it as well. I applied this with a pipette so it thoroughly soaked all of the turf.

While still wet I also put some glue directly on in spots and then hit this with some static grass clumps. I sprinkled more static grass around as well. 

Just after I put the static grass on and still soaked with glue.
Coming back the next day I saw both good and bad. The turf was attached very solidly so that worked out well. The paint in the mix though didn't act so much as an ink-wash as it just colored all the turf a similar color. It also left distinct edges anywhere it didn't get too. Not a total loss though. I dry-brushed some greens and browns on to blend things together and give some more definition.

 Room for improvement but I think it turned out fine. I'm considering getting 4 more and making a quick and easy board to play on.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Good ol' Fashion Barn Raising

Well to be more accurate its a barn assembly but close enough. I've gotten a good start on the barn. I saved it to later because going into it I knew I wanted to try out a couple of more complicated ideas with it.

Pieces for the sides cut out.

First, I wanted a removable roof since its big enough to fit a fair amount of guys in there. This meant the walls would have to be pretty strong on their own without the reinforcement of the foamcore center that all of my other buildings have. It also means a detailed interior. Luckily barns are pretty open so that won't be too bad. I decided to carve wood  planks into basswood for the cladding and use some more basswood strips as the interior framework. It won't be nearly as sturdy as the rest of the buildings but I don't treat my terrain too roughly either so it should be OK.

Internal framing. Now that's a barn that's not going to fall down!

I also want to make the main doors open-able. Mainly because I think it would make for a great picture of a monster or robot pushing them open as it stalks forward from the gloomy depths of the barn. I'm still playing with the best way to attach them. Since I'm patterning the barn more or less on local ones here in Western PA I've decided on using New England style sliding doors as opposed to the English style swinging ones. I've also had better luck with sliding pocket doors on buildings as opposed to hinged doors.

Backside showing off that fine panel work.
First tile strip done.
 I also completed my first strip of roofing tiles sculpted out of procreate. Once I get a few more done I'll get a mold made and start casting them. I'm going to need a lot of tiles to cover that big barn roof!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Someplace For All My Chickens

Still working on the conversion parts for my Cabal guys. The backpack is coming along but the rifle is causing me problems.

In the mean time I've finished the shed I've been working on. A couple of sloppy mismeasurements led to some extra pieces being tacked on the front and side but overall I think it turned out alright. I'm thinking about making some tiny chickens to scatter about near the coop for pictures and playing.

Next up is the barn and I might also work on the hand-pump at the same time. I'm also thinking about some fencing and some field crops. I might reuse an old technique I discovered with caulking for the crops. I'll have to do some more research on period fencing before I figure out how I'm going to make that yet.

The farmstead is starting to come together.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Repurposing Some SciFi

I've been looking around recently and trying to see what's out there miniature-wise that I could incorporate into my collection. Khurasan Miniatures have been putting out a lot of really nice stuff but they are too futuristic to fit in with the rest of what I have. Then I thought maybe I could make some various bits to steampunk them up more. 

In my opinion the nice thing about steampunk is that any scifi concept should be able to fit in with some tweaks. After all it is called Victorian Science Fiction. I'm not just talking about sticking some gears on it, but some more thoughtful changes. The aesthetic is important as well as making modifications for period appropriate materials, power source, and technology. I have some wiggle room in there for my setting since it already includes some fantasy elements.
So first up are some of the Riflethings from the Control Battalions. I think they'd fit in great as soldiers in the Cabal, my evil techno-sorcerer faction. They are getting some backpacks, new rifles, and a little bit of resculpting to the legs. For the rifle and backpack I'm going to make one nicely detailed master and cast it so I can easily convert more guys in the future. I want both to be styled similar to the Cryx Warjacks that I will be using as their warmachines.

Riflethings hanging out near my partially completed shed.
 I'm starting with a basic shape made out of styrene. I'll sculpt details over that. I've also cut the knee pads off of the figures (Victorian soldiers had tougher knees I guess) and the back plate off so that the new backpack goes on smoother. Finally I cut most of the rifle away leaving the stock behind. The supporting hand went with the rifle, I'll sculpt on a new one to hold the new rifle.

First steps of the conversion to Cabal Pawns

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Take 'em Out To The Woodshed!

Finished up the woodshed that I've been working on. I have to admit that I'm pretty happy with this one. I based it off of a woodshed at a place I vacationed at up in Maine. Nothing fancy, just some boards knocked together to keep the wood dry and a stump with an axe out front to split it with.

Its mostly basswood strips and the firewood is made out of some sticks from the yard that I split with an x-acto knife. The stump is another chunk of stick and the axe is just a piece of wire stuck in it with the axehead sculpted out of putty. Finally, I finished the ground with some wood filler.

Painting was straight forward, I just wanted it to look well weathered and well used. I've found that I'm relying heavily on dry brushing followed by ink washes and glazes to get the effects I want.

I've also started on the other outbuilding. Still pondering the well as it should probably be a hand pump. Harder for monsters to craw out of that though. Finally, I'm hoping to get back to working on figures this week. I just got a package in the mail and I have some plans for the contents. More on that next time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rutger Farmstead

I decided to give a proper name to each terrain project I'm working on just like I've been doing with my miniatures. In this case the house is going to be the centerpiece of the Rutger farmstead (named arbitrarily after one of my favorite actors, Rutger Hauer.) While I'm sure in use I'll mix and match the various pieces it gives me a theme to work with.

 I had a hard time getting a color scheme on it that I was happy with. The walls and roof just kept ending up to close in color. In the end I hit the roof with some ink washes and dry brushed the walls up more to get a good contrast. All part of the learning curve when you start working in a different scale.

I can almost see old man Rutger standing on his front porch smoking a pipe. Maybe this year no giant monsters or robots will come along and wreck his back 40. Guess I need to find an Old Man Rutger figure now too.

Next up for the farmstead is finishing up the woodshed, starting on the barn and I want to make another outbuilding with attached chicken coop. Maybe a well too, need somewhere the gribbly monsters can climb up out of.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tiny Roofing Man's Blues

If there is one thing this project has taught me it's that I have no desire to become a 15 mm roofer. On a 28 mm building cutting the shingles is tedious but putting them on is actually kinda relaxing and fun. Not so at this scale. Each shingle is too small and fiddly for my sausage fingers to easily manipulate. I'm reduced to pushing them around with a sculpting tool and disliking every moment. I would cut them as strips but again they're so small that cutting them like that is going to be pretty horrible.
My basic technique is to scribe some guidelines on the roof and then glue the shingles on in courses.
I think the next thing architectural detail I'm going to do is make up some shingling strips and cast them in resin. Then I can use those to roof any future buildings. A little more work on the front end should save me a lot of work on the back end.

Finally, all done. The chimney was sculpted over foamcore base to look like field stone.
The back side of the house.

I'm hoping to get the house painted this week and some finished pics up then.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Second takes, Second Year

A couple of setbacks with the terrain pieces. Using balsa and pressing the detail in just isn't working for the roofing. I tried a test piece and didn't like the level of detail or definition. I also tried painting it thinking perhaps some dry brushing would help distinguish it. Unfortunately the base coat soaked into the balsa and swelled it up returning it to virtually flat. Now I'm a little worried about the siding. Nonetheless, I'm pressing on.

I've started doing the shingles with thin card. I was trying to avoid it since cutting out the shingles is very time consuming and I've had bad luck with card warping in the past. After completing only one part I realized I'm being a little too slapdash with them. At this scale I need to cut my shingles more uniform in size then I would for a bigger model. Some of the shingles on there would be 3 feet across in real life!

Up front is the framework for a woodshed. I'm planning on a barn and another outbuilding to complete the farmstead.

On the plus side I've been working on this blog for an entire year now. I'm pleasantly surprised I kept it up all this time and the fact that I'm still interested in continuing it as well. What I'm working on has changed dramatically from what I originally intended but that is part of the hobby I suppose. I tend to get obsessed with something but move on pretty quick. So its surprising  that I've more or less been working on one project since Christmas of last year. I guess this whole steam punk enterprise is just the right combination of things to really get its hooks into me!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A House in the Country

With some trees done I knew I needed something else to go with them. Trees and to a slightly lesser extent rocks are pretty much scale neutral. Next to a 15mm figure a tree might be a mighty oak but the same tree seen with a 28mm figure looks like a scrubby little maple. So I needed two things to make everything work out.

First is something for my trees to stand on. I like magnetizing the trees since it allows them to both be positioned individually and to minimize the base so it looks like its coming straight out of the ground. The downside is you need to make a board specifically for them with metal built into it. So I made a small board mainly for taking photographs. Its sized to fit in my light box and the plan is to try to scale it to 15mm.

The board starts as just some insulation foam with bits of sheet metal glued to it.

Next a layer of spackling to smooth it all out.

Second I need a house. Buildings are the best thing for showing scale. There is a reason Godzilla is always stomping down main street in downtown Tokyo. I wanted my first building to be nice and simple so I can experiment with building techniques and not get bogged down in the details. I decided on a simple clapboard house with an addition and a little porch. I saw a picture of something similar in an American Civil War era photograph and I'm using that as my guide.

Basic structure put together and casting some details.
The basic structure is built out of foam core. I used some of my cast architectural details for the door and windows. I pondered how to do the clapboard siding and decided to use 1/32 balsa wood sheet. I cut it to size and then using a straight edge and a spoon buffer sculpting tool pressed in the board shapes. I glued these on the outside.
Started work on the front porch and laid down some plasti-card to form a base for the roof. The tool up front is the spoon burnisher used to press in the boards.

I'm thinking the roof is going be done similarly. I'm guessing it would either be shakes or slates in reality so I'm going to try to press the pattern into the balsa wood and see how that turns out.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Little Bit of Wilderness

Next on my list of projects was to finish off some of the trees that I had started a while ago. This is the first batch done.

I basically stayed with the method I laid down in the earlier post. After the flock mixture dried and hardened I gave the trunks a quick paint job and drybrushed the leaves with a bit of green. Then I painted on some watered down glue across the leaf areas haphazardly and covered the whole thing with some more flock. This ended up giving it a more unified appearance between the different materials. 
A detective takes a stroll through the woods.
 They ended up being more work than I first expected. The technique of bulking them out with the flocking works better on the more tightly packed trees. The flock mixture just doesn't stick that well to branches and so multiple layers have to be built up. Also I'd like it if the leaves were more clustered around the outside of trees with more open branches on the interior, more like actual trees. The trunks ended up a little thick for my liking as well. I have a few more to finish up so I'll probably experiment with them some more and then think about improvements for my next section of forest.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Post Hiatus

So I've been taking a short break from the hobby recently. Mostly a combination of time constraints from work, other commitments, and a vacation and the requisite catching up with life after a vacation.
The time away did give me an opportunity to refocus on what I want to work on though. I have a short list of projects I want to complete and hopefully I'll be able to show each one as I'm done.

Pre-hiatus I was having a hard time getting anything done mostly because I was feeling too lazy to start working. Generally I work while watching TV after dinner which can sometimes be distracting but to be honest it's either then or never. My current plan is to make sure that every time I'm sitting down to watch something (Star Trek: The Original Series Season 3 at the moment) I pick up something to work on. Once I get started it's easier to keep going. It's that initial start that's the most difficult.

In that spirit I was able to finish off this guy.

Malcolm Gosswell always dreamed of winning glory in the skies for Queen and Country. But as you get older you learn that glory rarely pays the bills and while the work might not be as exciting as on a Royal Airship of the Line, the pay with the Moss Hutchinson Shipping Company is a damn sight better. Although with air piracy on the rise Captain Gosswell may very well get some of that excitement after all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lost in Space

I was able to finish up painting the new additions to my Chaos force. On Sunday I participated in a special space hulk event for the campaign. My squad of Chosen marines, the aptly named Forsaken, heroically managed to open a door, get shot by laser defenses, were stuck in close combat with some Genestealers, and finally had the chunk of space hulk they were in blasted off by a massive decompression. Currently they are drifting through space but I expect they might show up again in another game.

The whole squad just before embarking for their ill fated trip to the space hulk.

He was previously destined to be a sergeant for my regular Space Marines. Funny how career paths can change.

The guy all the way in the back is an older paint job. You can see that the new ghost parts are much more turquoise. I like that green color better personally.

I also finished my Obliterator. About half way through sculpting I figured out a new method of creating the ectoplasm that I really like. It's simple and basically is just sticking a pin through the putty to pull and shape some holes. I'm not as satisfied with the paint job. I tried some of the new GW paints and wasn't much impressed. I might end up repainting all of his ghostly bits so they better match the rest of the force.

Next up are 1000 point games so I'm going to have to put together an army list and see what else I want to add.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Unit Cards

One of the things I hate about playing games like 40k is flipping through rulebooks looking for information on units. I always liked the unit cards that came with the warmachine models so I decided to do something similar for my 40k force.

I put together a quick template and added pictures of my units I took on one side. I also added a short background blurb. On the other side is the statblock and a short description of pertinent rules. I print the cards out at index card size and stick them into photo sleeves. That way I can write on them with a dry erase marker, put extras into the pockets like psychic power cards or whatever else I need.

The other advantage is since I'm using nonstandard models for my troops they can be used as identification cards for my opponent.

These are my first run of cards. I'm already thinking of changes and additions now that I've used them in a game. I'll definitely add more rules info on them and maybe play with the layout.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Phantom Firepower

I had a lot of fun in the first campaign games and with the new 40k, so I'm looking to expand my force. Next weekend starts the 1000 point level and while I have enough guys right now to reach that I want to add some variety and more long range punch.

Quickly put together from partially assembled guys I had lying around from an old project.
 First, I want to expand out a squad of basic chaos marines. I have three right now and my goal is to get three more done for this weekend so I can switch out a squad of the Wights. I'd like to add a heavy weapon to squad but the codex says you need a 10 man squad for that option. So a plasma gun is as good as it gets for them right now. 

He still needs all of his ghostly ectoplasm sculpted on.

Next I had an idea for making some themed Obliterators. I feel like I'm going to need some ranged firepower at the next point level and these guys should fit the bill nicely. Plus I always liked the concept of guys manifesting the right weapon for the job and it seems like a rather spectral ability so it fits my theme.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lord Orpheus and the Spectral Dead

I'm going to play in a 40K campaign that is running at the local game store this weekend. I was pondering which force to play with when I remembered my ghost marines that I painted up about 4 years ago. So I had my lovely photographer take some quick pictures of them using the lightbox that I just made. I wanted to do a force that I didn't really need to spend much time painting and focused mainly on converting them to look like ghosts.I use the Chaos Space Marines army list for them and kinda stretched the unit types to portray their necromantic might.

Wights ordered into battle by their Necromancer (Thousand Sons Marines)

The Tomb of Zagreus (Dreadnought)
The Spectral Dead! (summoned Deamons)
Lord Orpheus ( Chaos Sorcerer)

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