To round out the current run of small scale scenery for coastal naval games I decided on a trio of islands, one of them with a lighthouse.
As with the rest of these small scale naval terrain pieces the base is .040/1mm styrene plastic card, bought in bulk from my local plastic supplier, with the edges shaped and sanded.
The basic structure was more quarter inch cork board, in larger pieces than I used for the rocks. I broke pieces of cork by hand and shaped the edges mostly with my fingernails.
The beaches are premixed patching plaster, applied with a wet sculpting tool and mostly smoothed with a wet fingertip. The concrete jetty on the mid-sized island is a little sliver of styrene plastic square rod.
The paint is my usual ocean scenery set – a blue-green for the water, Camel and Parchment for dark and light sand, and the rocks were drybrushed up from black with a dark grey, a pale grey, and finally pure white. The flattish areas of the islands that will eventually be flocked green were painted brown.
For drybrushing, incidentally, I highly recommend heading to your local dollar store/pound shop/etc and getting a set of cheap makeup brushes. They’re fantastic for drybrushing and available in a variety of sizes.
The water got the usual treatment, several coats of gloss varnish with a minimum of 24hrs drying time between each coat, and then acrylic gloss gel for waves and water texture, as detailed in the previous articles in this series. After all the water stuff was thoroughly dry I attached the lighthouse with superglue and did a quick flocking job with two or three different flock mixes.
These took a bit longer than I’d planned, due mostly to drying times of all the paint, water effects, and such, but they came out great and I look forward to them being a damned nuisance during 1/1200 naval games for many years to come!
After doing a pair of new sandbanks, I wanted to do something slightly different but still on the theme of “stuff to crash boats and ships into” and decided on a trio of rocky reef pieces.
As with the sandbars I started with a chunk of .040/1mm plastic sheet, cut it up into three roughly triangular pieces, and carved and sanded the edges down so they met the table smoothly. Then I took some scrap quarter inch cork board, the stuff cheap bulletin boards are made of, and broke it up into crumbs and small pieces for rocks.
It helps to remember that 1″ = 100 feet in 1/1200 scale, or 1mm = 4 feet in scale – so a rock big enough to seriously inconvenience a ship can still be just a few millimeters high! I wanted rocks and islets, not proper islands (those are coming!) so I kept most of the cork bits small, breaking it up with my fingernails as needed.
The bases got my usual blue-green ocean colour while the cork rocks got a black basecoat, and then successive drybrushes of grey-brown, pale grey, and finally just a bit of pure white.
As with the sandbars, I did two coats of gloss varnish over the water parts and then a thick layer of gloss gel for waves, pushed around with a really old brush.
These were almost as quick to create as the sandbars, you use literally crumbs of cork for the rocks so one small piece of cork will go a long, long way, and they look good. I’m looking forward to seeing them on the table menacing players who forget that no matter how dangerous the enemy is, the sea is even more deadly and far, far more unforgiving!
As mentioned in the last post, I recently made a pair of new sandbars to give our boats and ships more stuff to run into during our games. I’ve done some before but this time I actually managed to get photos all the way through the process. So here’s my simple way of making sandbars or sand banks for naval gaming.
You will need:
card or plastic card. I’ve used 1mm/.040 sheet styrene/plastic card, which I buy in bulk 2’x3′ sheets from our local industrial plastic shop.
paint in your preferred sea colour. Mine is a blue-green.
a darker and lighter shade of sand for the actual sandbanks. I use Camel for the darker and Parchment for the lighter. If you wanted mudbanks instead of sand, you might want browner shades instead of tan colours.
(optional, see text) acrylic glaze medium. Gets a better gradient between sand and water than you’d otherwise get.
acrylic gloss varnish, for the wet look.
(optional) acrylic gloss gel for waves.
I started by cutting two fairly random shapes out of an offcut of styrene plastic card I had around. Both these sandbars are about 6″ long and 3″ wide at the widest point. Carve the edges slightly irregular and sand them so they taper nicely down to table level. This is mostly why I use styrene plastic card so much, because unlike cardstock you can sand it.
I block out the sandbar shape with the darker sand paint, feathering the outer edges toward the water as I go. While that paint is still wet I laid down and blended in the brighter central paint to show the central, slightly higher, slightly drier parts of the sandbar. This is just quick and dirty wet blending with a wet brush, nothing fancy.
Adding the water colour around the edges, I also made sure to feather that into the sand to keep the edges irregular and natural looking.
After the base colours were dry I came back with the blue-green water colour, mixed 1:1:1 with glaze medium and water and went around the shoreline again to get more graduated colours where the water and sand meet. You can do this with thin washes without needing glaze medium, but the glaze medium gives you much more control and also slows down drying time so you have a bit more time to adjust things.
After this was all dry, it was time for a coat of gloss varnish over the whole thing. A word of warning about gloss varnish: make sure everything you’re putting varnish over is perfectly dry, and that includes the first coat if you’re doing multiple coats. Gloss varnish will crack and craze paint under it that is not yet perfectly dry and you’ll have to redo all your base coats and start from scratch – been there, done that, done the swearing!
After the first coat of gloss was perfectly dry (see warning above!) I did a second coat mostly on the water and darker sand areas and then let that dry.
Finally, to add some waves and water texture I went round the edges of each piece with acrylic gloss gel. This goes on white but dries clear eventually. This stuff shrinks quite a lot so the trick is to build it up higher than you think is reasonable and then let it dry for a day or several. I use a really old paintbrush to shove it around, build up lines of waves, and otherwise manipulate it. In a larger scale than 1/1200 you might want to use clear acrylic caulk or something else to build up waves.
Gloss gel is easy to work with and makes great water textures, but it takes days and days and days to dry. Skip it for now if you need to get your scenery on the table in the next several days and come back to it later!
Two sandbars done and ready to complicate the lives and decision making processes of captains in future small boat games!
Coming soon, rocky reef hazards, small islands, and more shell bursts!
Went to our local municipal Remembrance Day ceremony in person this year, after two years of live streamed ceremonies watched from my computer, which was nice.
Also making time for some hobby this long weekend, starting with some scenery and bits to add interest to our 1/1200 coastal naval games. It is a truism of naval games that if you put any piece of scenery on the table, no matter how minor, some intrepid player will attempt to run their boat into it. Therefore, a new pair of sandbanks in progress to give players new stuff to run into!
These are just simple shapes of .040″ (~1mm) plastic card with paint on them, two sand colours and the blue-green sea colour I’ve used on earlier naval scenery bits, and a bit of mindful brushwork and wet blending. I’ll do some glaze coats to blend the edges a bit more, then a couple of coats of gloss varnish and some gloss gel for waves and done.
In the background are some in-progress shell splashes. I’m not entirely happy with them at present but will put some more effort into them before making up my mind one way or another.
The shell splashes were directly inspired by Yarkshire Gamer’s rather nice photo/video tutorial over on their blog. He’s working in a larger scale (1/700 to my 1/1200) and with larger ships, but the basic technique is solid. I’m working with hot glue instead of clear caulking and of course wanting smaller shell splashes in a smaller scale, so adapting as I go. I have some ideas for making them work still, so we’ll see how that goes over the next few days.
Getting back into the 1/1200 WW2 boats a bit, had a refresher game of Germans attacking a British coastal convoy last week and I’m running a large-ish game in a couple of weeks at a convention over in Vancouver.
Naturally the prospect of a public game has me back at creating and upgrading my play aids. I’ve printed new turning circles for Coastal Patrol, tweaked my existing vessel status cards so they fit in plastic 3×4 card protectors, and have some new status tokens underway to make some things easier to track.
The older naval markers, vessel cards, and such are all available in older posts here on my blog, and sometime in the next couple weeks I’ll clean up all the new and updated files and make them available here too.
Sometime earlier in the pandemic I ordered a batch of 1/1200 3d printed stuff from Shapeways, who use some sort of resin printing to get incredible detail on their prints. I keep meaning to write up that purchase in a proper review, I took a bunch of photos of everything I bought, but nevermind…
One place I have used a few of the 3d printed bits is in some wreckage markers. I bought a sprue of inflatable liferafts, and the sprue of boats included traditional life boats in several sizes, so I popped a few of those onto 1″ styrene bases as wreckage markers, or possibly as scenario goals – rescue downed aircrew or stranded squadronmates, that sort of thing.
I also did up a batch of fire/explosion markers, also on 1″ bases. These are pretty simple things, made up mostly of hot glue splatted and “sculpted” with the tip of the hot glue gun. Holding the bases upside down and twisting them back and forth as the glue stretched and cooled helped, and for several of them I dunked them into the cool water of my paint rinse pot to help “freeze” the shapes. A few of them have wire centres but the most interesting ones don’t and I won’t bother with that step if I do any more.
After the glue had cooled and I’d cleaned the thready wisps of glue off that hot glue so often leaves, I glued on a bit of medium flock as extra texture, which works nicely.
The explosion markers got a black basecoat. I considered trying to paint actual fire on them, but decided to just do a bit of a grey drybrush, mostly on the very tops, and leave them at that.
The boat sticking out of one base, about to be engulfed in an explosion, is one of the Shapeways 3d printed ones, left a generic grey so it could be from any side of the war. I cut the stern few millimeters off that boat to tuck it into the body of the explosion a bit more, then used that boat piece on the fire marker just visible on the far right of the photo above.
The Shapeways stuff makes for nice extra bits, and the explosion markers are super easy to make. These little pieces should make for some interesting extra colour during our next games of messing about in tiny boats.
Quiet around here as I’m not doing a lot of gaming, painting, or terrain building this summer. Too busy with other things! I did have a couple of fantastic games of WW2 coastal forces earlier in August, and will get those photos up here in the next little while.
I recently got a well-stuffed box of awesome stuff from Fenris Games as part of their Toadstool Brownies Kickstarter, including whole forests full of mushrooms and some really neat tiny brownie and kobold figures. I’ll get some more photos of those and get some sort of review up soon-ish.
On to links… over on Empire of Ghosts we have some rather nice small scale islands in two styles, one tropical for Caribbean/the Med and one more northerly for the North Sea. They’re nominally 6mm or 1/300 to match the Warlord Cruel Seas boats and others, but as designed they’re pretty scale-neutral and the basic ideas will serve for even smaller scales too.
My excellent local game store started carrying UV resin and I picked some up a while ago, intending to try it out for windows in various buildings. Usefully, I just found this tutorial on using UV resin for windows over on the Comm Guild blog, which should prove useful when I finally get around to finishing the MDF church I started a few years ago.
More content here as the summer comes to an end in a month or so, I promise!
Went on a bit of a book buying spree recently in aid of getting more background material for my WW2 coastal naval gaming; among the classic references in the field are the trilogy of books published in the 1990s by Leonard C. Reynolds, Dog Boats at War, Mediterranean MTBs At War, and Home Waters MTBs & MGBs at War. Except for Dog Boats, they’ve been out of print ever since.
I looked through a few different used book websites and eventually wound up getting all three through different ABE Books sellers, despite my standing desire not to funnel money toward noted sociopath Jeff fuckin’ Bezos.
I also picked up three Osprey books on the same subject, because one of the ABE resellers is also a full-service new book store as well and Ospreys are usually worth it. Those were E-Boat VS MTB, German E-boats 1939-45, and British Motor Torpedo Boat 1939-45.
If you’re looking for reading material on the coastal forces of WW2, I highly recommend the Publications page of Spitfires of the Sea, and the rest of that website while you’re at it. It’s written by Stephen Fisher, an archeologist/historian specializing in 20th C naval matters. He also tweets as @SeaSpitfires and is well worth following there.
A scattering of links for our first Links of Interest of 2021!
More possible sources of small scale scenery are always welcome, and over on Wargaming3d Wozname has started a new line of 3d printable STL files for 1/1200 scenery, starting with a few entire islands and some castles. Really neat to see people doing entire pieces in these tiny scales that would be basically impossible to do in any larger scale!
On the small scale naval gaming theme, the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers has a couple of articles on small boat actions in the Mediterranean in WW2, with one article on mostly focusing on British vs Axis and the second spotlighting American PT boats. They’re framed around Cruel Seas but trivially easy to adapt to other rule sets.
Reaper Minis hosted a Virtual Reaper Con last weekend, and while I’d initially signed up for four classes on various painting topics, the world conspired to only allow me to attend one class, a fantastic discussion of “Additives, Mediums, and Texture Pastes – Oh My!” by Rhonda “Wren” Bender, talking about matt and gloss mediums, flow aids, drying extenders, glaze medium, texture pastes, and various other things as they apply to miniature painting. The class handout is available at the link above, the session was recorded and will eventually show up on Reaper’s YouTube channel, and Rhonda has a great website of her own over at Bird With A Brush that’s well worth checking out.
Incidentally, the anchor chain stock photo being used as a header for these Links of Interest posts is by CastleLight from Pixabay.