Speaking of YouTube, Dr Alexander Clarke has an interesting channel with WW2 and interwar naval stuff, mostly British. Similarly, Drachinifel does mostly WW2 naval history videos as well, more American navy but some others.
Boom & Zoom Graphics have a set of really approachable, humourous, but (far as I can tell) complete introductions to WW2 aircraft markings, painting, and camo, with entries for each of the major combatants. Superb reference for WW2 air if that’s largely a new field to you as it is to me!
There aren’t a lot of small scale scenery tutorials out there, either as videos or traditional blog post writeups. Viv on RubbishInRubbishOut, though, did some YouTube videos of Dystopian Wars scenery a few years ago, and it turns out that DW is in something approximating 1/1200 scale, more or less.
Also, Dispatches from the Front has been working on some fantasy naval scenery for Man’O’War using the Brigade Models buildings and it looks fantastic. Fantasy microscale terrain has a definite appeal, you can get grandiose epic terrain on the table that wouldn’t work at all in any larger scale!
Decided to crank out another piece of fantasy terrain this weekend. I’d been thinking of gateways, portals, and fantastic archways off and on for a while, after someone shared this rather cool garden gate on one of the Facebook terrain groups.
I decided on a CD-sized base, because why break good habits, and wanted the portal gate to be solid enough to block line of sight, with a raised platform that can hold several 25mm based figures or one monster on a 40mm base.
The whole thing is made up of dense pink insulation styrofoam, cut with a knife and textured with a ball of crumpled tinfoil. There wasn’t a lot of planning, just repeated test fittings with various figures like the Reaper demon hound above to make sure figures (and fingers) would fit.
Assembling the arch took a few hours, most of it working fairly casually with a beer to one side of my workbench. I used hot glue for speed, and there’s a partial toothpick holding each stone to the one below it so the whole thing is solid and should be gamer-proof. The top of the arch is about 6″ above table height and flat enough to put a 25mm base on, just for fun.
Except for checking clearance on the demon dog and a couple of bigger figures as the arch went up I didn’t do a lot more planning or measuring, just cut and shaped stones that looked like they’d fit.
The big keystone at the top of the arch started as a random roughly triangular foam offcut and I shaped and textured it early, then fit the last few stones at the top of the arch to make the keystone sit where I wanted it.
I think for painting I’ll basecoat the archway in white instead of my usual black, then start painting the stones with a heavy drybrush of black so the deep grooves between the stones stay white, possibly with a blue or green wash over them to make it look like magical energy is flowing through this thing, holding it together and powering whatever arcane process the archway contains. The base will probably get the normal black basecoat and then the same drybrushing up for texture.
Painting in the next few days, anyway, as we’re doing a stat holiday game this coming Wednesday (not like there’s going to be any big Canada Day celebrations to go to, right?) and I’d like to get this one the table then. Stay well, stay safe, and stay sane.
Nice simple bit of terrain I recently cranked out. I realized that the mushroom ring I built recently was nowhere near gamer-proof; it started shedding mushrooms as soon as it left my workbench so I popped the mushrooms off to rebuild the whole thing in such a way as to let me pin the mushrooms to the base with wire. More on that later, but this left me with a flocked and decorated CD base with nothing on it and it seemed a shame to waste it.
I took a scrap of 2″ thick pink styrofoam insulation, sliced off a piece about two inches wide, and craved bits off until it looks about right for a tall thin standing stone or monolith. Then I took a ball of tinfoil and rolled it all over the piece, which gives a really nice random stone texture. I put a few cracks and lines in with a pencil then rolled the tinfoil over those marks again, then glued the monolith into the centre of the CD with a healthy blob of hot glue.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a single photo of this piece during assembly or basecoating, but it got my usual mix of black paint and white glue as a basecoat, then once that was dry (overnight) it got drybrushed up with dark grey, pale grey, tan, light blue, more lighter grey, and finally white. The pale blue is subtle but makes the piece really pop, and I’ll definitely be using that on more stonework in the future.
Finally, I highlighted all the edges with pure white. It doesn’t show up all that well in the photos I’ve gotten so far, but in person that final step really makes the edges pop and makes the piece look bigger. After that it was just a bit of extra flock around the base of the stone and to cover the spots where mushrooms had originally been glued down.
The Rebuilt Mushroom Ring
As for the mushrooms, I took a scrap of 3mm plastic board, carved and sanded it so it fit onto a new CD, hot glued it down solidly, then marked out a circle and drilled a bunch of holes with a tiny drill bit. Those got overlength pieces of paperclip wire stuck into them with superglue. The wire was trimmed short after the glue had cured, and then mushrooms with holes drilled into the bottoms of their stems were superglued on.
The lovely Bad Squiddo mushrooms got glued down (some got repainted beforehand, because I’ve just gotten some new shades of green paint, so why not?) and then the whole thing got my usual turf mix and will eventually get some flowers and other tufts to finish decorating it.
My Turf Mix
I had someone over on Lead Adventure Forum ask about my turf mix. It’s not an exact mix and has been changing gently over the years, but the base is Woodland Scenics mixed fine turf, with WS dark and medium green fine and coarse turf, some Games Workshop summer grass flock, and at least a couple random brands and colours I’m forgetting about in there.
That mix lives in a big 1 litre margarine tub that’s large enough to comfortably put an entire CD-sized terrain base in. For these pieces with fairly wild heavy turf on them I’ll leave the entire base in the turf mix for at least an hour or so before removing it and shaking excess back into the tub, to give a nice heavy scruffy layer of grass. For more manicured lawn-like grass, I’ll take the piece out of the tub right away and shake it off back into the tub, leaving a much shallower layer of turf.
I feel like I’ve linked to 6mm ACW before, but that website really does have some great 6mm terrain tips that aren’t just limited to those gaming the Slaveholder’s Insurrection.
My most recent YouTube channel discovery is Miscast out of Australia, with a series of painting and terrain videos that tend to be short (this is good) and well edited (also good). I rather like this How To Make a Crystal Elven Waystone for D&D & AoS, which I’ll also embed below. He’s got an accompanying miscast.co website with some interesting stuff on it.
Stay safe, stay sane, and try to keep creating things, faithful readers.
For our Forestgrave games I wanted some decidedly weird scenery, stuff from the other side of reality that doesn’t quite look like it obeys physics as we understand it. I wanted a lush, not-quite-overgrown-but-almost faery realm thing going on, what in D&D is called the Faewild.
It turns out that, far as I can tell, that’s not a super common theme for wargaming terrain, which surprised me. Maybe I haven’t discovered the magic search terms in Google or YouTube to let me find the other folks doing weird natural terrain yet. If you know of any, let me know in comments, please!
Anyway, I started with a scrap CD, hot glued some washers to it for ballast (because I knew I wanted my final tree to be five or six inches tall), and then used the light cardstock from a Frostgrave figure box to start forming the trunk, with lots (and lots) of hot glue to hold everything down and together, fill gaps, and add some texture to the trunk.
The stone platform is half inch foam insulation, cut as if it had at one point been octagonal before splitting in half somehow. I spiked a toothpick into the foam and then down into the cardboard of the trunk, and it’s solid enough to hold large metal figures without worrying me, even though it’s only attached to the trunk at a single point.
I pushed a couple of toothpicks into the trunk in a few places, securing them with more hot glue, then covered the entire tree with clean toilet paper slathered with white glue. Push it around a bit with a stiff wet paintbrush and extra white glue as needed, let it dry overnight, and it’s fantastic easy cheap bark texture for bigger trees. I first used this on my big jungle trees for Infinity a few years ago, and it’s fantastic.
Next step was black acrylic craft paint, mixed with a generous amount of white glue for extra strength. That took a while to dry on the tree, so I stuck sand and grit onto the base while it was still wet, as well as adding a few bits of scrap foam for stone blocks.
The platform got the same black primer, then various shades of grey, tan, pale blue, and white on the stone. I shaded the centre section with blue ink, then used both pale blue and white as final drybrushed highlights.
The two smaller trees in the photo above, incidentially, were made from wire and hot glue several years ago, got put away unfinished, and I just found them last week while looking for something else. They got extra basing materials and tree foliage alongside the big one, and are finally finished, at least five years after I started them. Yeah, I’m organized.
The base got foam foliage bushes, a base coat of my usual mixed grass flock, patches of several other types of flock, a few mushrooms from Bad Squiddo Games, and then a lot of tufts, both grass and flowers.
The grass and flower tufts are mostly from Rain City Hobbies, who do all sorts of great stuff including a bunch of styles of grass and flower stuffs at really good prices. I’ve been using the flowers on my English Civil War/generic English terrain already, and dailling them up higher to get that fae-touched lush look was the right choice, I think.
There’s still room for figures on the base, despite the abundant plant life, and I’m looking forward to doing more scenery like this soon!
And again, if you have a line on good inspiration for this sort of faewild overgrown haunted woods scenery, please let me know!
Dogs and cats living together! Chaos and disorder!
Well, something like that. Horses and armour, at least.
I realized that all twelve horses for my regular ECW cavalry are all brown. Every last one of them. There’s a bunch of variation in tone, mane colour, stuff like that, but they’re all bay, which is horse-speak for brown. Well, some of them might be chestnut, which is horse-speak for “lighter reddish brown”, more or less. For the six horses I needed for the current batch of cuirassier I decided to mix it up a lot. There’s a white horse, two different shades of grey, two different bay, and one black horse.
Unfortunately I totally forgot to write down any of the paint mixes or layers I used for this batch of painting, so I’ll have to re-invent the wheel, or at least the horse paint, next time I do horses!
For the armour, I put pins up into the backsides of all six cuirassier, making them extra-long to make painting easier. Then I used a scrap CD, two lengths of scrap wood, and my hot glue gun to create a very useful little painting stand, seen in the photo below.
All six riders got all their armour basecoated bright silver (Reaper’s True Silver), then various inks and washes were layered over to try for a treated-metal appearance as discussed in my last post on coloured armour.
GW’s washes don’t work as a base layer for this, I discovered right away. They’re not designed to stay on flat surfaces particularly well, although they shade crevices and lower areas of a surface very nicely. I used India ink for the three blacked armour sets, Reaper’s Red Ink for the russeted armour, and FW Artist’s Acrylic Inks for most of the rest of the colour.
The three blacked armour riders were basically done after one coat of thinned India ink, and then I went back in with metallic paint to do some of the edges and highlights, especially on the rider in the foreground of the photo with the hammer and plume.
The two russetted armour guys and the one blued rider (far left) got at least a couple of more layers, including either very, very thin India ink or GW’s Nuln Oil to darken the bright initial ink coat. The blue guy especially looked incredibly bright and weird after his first coat of just blue ink – my girlfriend saw him and said, “Seventeenth Century Power Ranger!” and damned if she wasn’t right…
I’ve also discovered that these guys are nearly impossible to get a decent photo of in their current setup, the above blown out and fairly crap photo is less crap than all the rest. I’ll try for better pictures once the riders and horses are all attached to each other. Still to do is boots, saddles, faces, and weapons.
I’m really pleased with how these guys are turning out so far, and I think they’ll look great on the tabletop once they’re all finished. Ink over silver is definitely a win for doing coloured armour!
I’ve posted links to horse painting articles and tutorials before, including the exhaustive “horse of a different colour” series over at Trouble at t’Mill. Mike even gives you some rough math on what colours any given troop/regiment/herd/group of horses should be: “One tip – if you’re batch painting, the maths works out roughly that you should pick out your hero horses that are going to be fancy colours, then split about a quarter of the rest off and earmark them for chestnuts, split a quarter of the leftovers from those off and earmark them as blacks, and paint the rest (which should be a bit over half) bay. The further back in history you go, the fewer chestnuts you’ll probably have.”
But what about the riders? Unarmoured or mostly unarmoured riders provide obvious opportunity for colour, depending on the army or era you’re modelling, but if it’s knights or early 17th Century cuirassier in full plate it’s all going to be silver/grey metal armour, right?
Armour can, in fact, be lots of colours than just “shiny metal”. It probably should be, in fact. Blacking, russeting, or even painting seems to have been fairly common. Keeping armour “white” (shiny) was a lot of work on an ongoing basis so a lot of munition-grade ordinary armour was finished in some way.
Russeting, blacking, and other forms of surface finish are done with various oils, acids, and other chemicals along with heat to seal the surface of the metal and protect it from rust and other corrosion. An interesting and informative thread over on My Armory (an arms/armour collector and creator forum) talks about various historic and modern treatments and the various shades that can be achieved. One essay on russeting I found uses modern Clorox bleach and baby oil!
Heating metal produces a coloration of the surface, which changes from yellow to purple to deep blue as the heat increases. When taken out of the fire at a particular temperature, the metal retains this color. Considerable skill is required to achieve a consistent and even heat-patination of large areas (e.g., a breastplate) or groups of objects (e.g., a complete armor, 32.130.6
). The favored color for armor, edged weapons, and firearm barrels was a deep blue, in a process is referred to as “bluing.” A range of colors could also be produced chemically, using a variety of different recipes, such as a rich brown color that was popular on firearm barrels in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Besides being attractive, patination and painting also inhibit rust on metal surfaces.
The entire Wallace Collection website is well worth looking through, by the way. It includes a huge collection of arms and armour through the ages, and a really well organized Advanced Search function to make things (slightly!) easier to find.
Also from the Wallace Collection is a “black and white” set of cavalry armour, almost certainly from an officer, with distinctive polished/silver bands around the edges of otherwise blackened armour. The Wallace writeup say, “Most military armours worn by lower-ranking troopers or infantrymen were left ‘black from the hammer’, that is, the metal was worked only up to the point when the armour would function as required. The surface finish was left black and hammer-marked. Bodies of cavalry wearing such armour were therefore often described as ‘Schwarze Reiter’- black riders. The armours of officers commanding groups of men armed in this way often had the bands and borders of their armour polished bright, producing the distinctive visual effect characteristic of ‘black and white’ armours.”
For a straight-up painted helmet, this one is 15th C, much earlier than the period I’m currently concerned with, but had red and white (now discoloured almost to yellow) paint that is still colourful and must have been spectacular when it was new. I don’t think, from what I’ve seen, that full on painted armour was still current by the mid-17th C, but blacked, blued, russeted, and even gilded surface treatments were certainly in regular use.
When it comes to miniature painting and armour, I’m thinking that the best way to represent coloured armour would be a metallic base coat and then inks or washes over that. I’m going to do some experimenting on the six cuirassier current on my painting bench and will report back!
Incidentally, if someone managed to save a copy of the Games Workshop article from back in 2011 I once linked to here I’d love to have it. I recall it opened with joking about how the author just painted all horses brown until his daughter told him his horses were boring, or similar!
Hope everyone had a good Labour Day long weekend, if that’s a thing for you, and a good return to school, if that’s a thing for you and your family!
My hobby time has been really minimal the last while, both because the weather has been awesome, and because of whole piles of family stuff going on, both good and bad.
I’ve nevertheless managed to get the last of the resin water poured into the river modules, and touch up some of the earlier pieces done with epoxy glue with a skim of pourable resin to improve and harmonize all the water on all the segments. The two corner pieces done with epoxy had gone quite matte when the glue cured fully, not like the full gloss the resin retained.
Not quite done with these river segments yet, though. The ends of each segment needs cleanup. There’s bits of blu-tak that have bonded to the resin and will need to be scrapped off, a little bit of overflow resin to carve off, and most of the segments have little ridges at each end where the resin has crept up the tape-and-craft-stick dams at the ends of the segments. I’ll need to carve those off carefully with a sharp knife, and might need to mix a tiny batch of resin to patch a few bits.
After that the flocking on the banks all needs to be re-done; I’ll just cover over the existing flock with a new layer after the thinned matte medium went all milky.
Looking forward to getting this project done and onto the table during an actual game, it should look pretty damn good and I’m happy to finally have a high quality set of river segments at long last!
I had used basic hardware store 5-minute epoxy glue for the swampy pond test piece, and had more or less intended to just keep doing that for all ten river segments. I did the two smaller corner/curve river segments as a further test, and was really irritated when one of them came out all lumpy and matte instead of glossy.
I also realized that given the price of 5-minute epoxy, actual casting epoxy resin was actually going to work out cheaper for this whole project, especially given that 40% off coupons for large chains of craft stores are a thing! I picked up some EnviroTex Light Pour-on Epoxy from the aforementioned large craft store, for a total cost of about three more tubes of 5-minute epoxy after that useful discount coupon.
One US fluid ounce of resin nicely fills one of the full size 12″ long river segments; I could probably cut the quantity down just a bit, even. I did the resin pouring in an old cafeteria tray I use to help contain potentially messy projects. The dams at either end of the river segment are hardwood craft sticks (tongue depressors) wrapped in packing tape, secured with more packing tape from underneath the river segment and then further secured with blobs of blu-tak. I also pushed more blu-tak in along the edges of the river banks to block up possible gaps there.
As far as I can tell everything has gone smoothly with this first pour; I did it last night in bad light, working on our back patio to keep from stinking the apartment up. The Pour-On product is much less volatile and stinking than 5-minute epoxy glue, though! I didn’t see any leaks onto the tray and everything seemed to be cured up OK when I checked this morning before work, too, although the material info does warn this stuff takes up to 72 hours to full cure.
I’ve got seven river segments still to do water on – five more long straight pieces, the bridge, and the ford (both 6″ long) – so at one piece a day it’s going to be sometime next week before I can put the epoxy away.
The resin is much, much more aggressively self-levelling than the epoxy glue. I might go back and do a few ripples with gloss medium just so the river water doesn’t look completely still and stagnant. The one curved river segment that went all lumpy is going to get a very thin skim of resin to fix that and get a proper wet glossy look, as well.
At that point, once all the epoxy has cured hard, I need to go back and fix the flocking along the river banks. If you look at both photos above you can see some white staining on the banks. I put a coat of dilute matte medium over the flock, which I’ve used before many many times to properly secure flock and foliage on terrain pieces, and this time it left a distinct milky residue behind. I painted over that where it had stained the river bottom, and once the resin water is properly hardened I’ll re-do all the flocking to fix the discolouration there.
I’ve never had a matte medium and water (or white glue and water) mix do this to me before, in years of using it to secure terrain material of all types. Any readers have any good ideas about what the heck happened here?