Category Archives: Tutorials

Naval Scenery Articles To Date

Here’s all of my posts on 1/1200 coastal naval scenery so far… I’ll try to remember to add to this post as I create future articles!

Sandbars, Sandbanks, etc

Rocks vs Boats

Actual Islands

…and from 2020 when I started doing coastal naval as a scale and genre, the posts on my 12″ x 4″ coast modules, and painting Brigade’s Small Scale Scenery buildings.

Small Buildings & Tiny Ships (Part One)

Small Buildings & Tiny Ships (Part Two)

Small Buildings & Tiny Ships (Part Three)

A Headland for Tiny Ships

Coastline Complete

Fifty (or so) Tiny Buildings

Small Scale Islands

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.

I forgot to take an unpainted/unplastered photo, and this one is blurry, but you get the idea. Cork for the island shapes on plastic card bases, then premix plaster for the beaches and to provide a bit of variety on some of the flat areas.

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.

Basecoats in progress – my usual blue-green ocean colour, black on the islands, sandy on the beaches.

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.

Painting all done. The largest island (lower right) is about 4″ x 3.5″, the midsize one (left) is about 3″ x 2.5″ max, and the small one (background) is about 2″ x 2.5″.

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.

First coat of gloss varnish on the water parts. These wound up with three coats of gloss varnish before I was happy with the look, and then the usual treatment with gloss gel for waves and water texture.

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.

All three islands finished, flocked, and ready for the table. Really pleased with the wave patterns in the large bay of the largest island on the left.

The lighthouse on the middle sized island is Brigade Model’s Small Scale Scenics Beachy Head lighthouse. The real thing sits directly in the water, not on an island, but it’s a nice generic looking large lighthouse, regardless!

A bit of a closeup of the large and lighthouse islands. Broken cork makes great rock formations and cliffs.
All three islands from overhead. For scale, that wraith is on a 25m wide base and the 1/1200 RAF Beaufighter is on a 20mm W x 40mm L base.

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!

Rocks vs Boats

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.

Cork rocks glued down to plastic card. I just used ordinary white glue, nothing fancy.

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.

Rocks after painting and drybrushing and a second coat of ocean colour. All ready for water effects!

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.

Gloss varnish down.
Gloss gel down and pushed around to make some lines of breakers and waves around the bases of the rocks.
Finished rocks after the gloss gel has dried for several days, all ready to ruin the cunning plans of 1/1200 scale captains!

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!

Sandbars for Naval Gaming

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.
The paints and mediums I use. Salem Green for ocean, Camel for dark sand, Parchment for paler sand, acrylic gloss varnish and acrylic gloss gel for water effects. Not shown here, acrylic glaze medium for the beach/ocean transition painting.

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.

Sandbars with base colours all done, including wet blending paler sand into the centres of the sandbars where they’re higher and drier.

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.

Thin glaze coat of blue-green water around the edges of the sandbars.

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!

First coat of gloss varnish down.

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.

Second coat of gloss varnish down. Not a lot of difference in these photos, but the second coat looks dramatically glossier and more even in person than the first coat alone.

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 worked in around the edges for waves, applied thick as it will shrink down as it dries.

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!

Once gloss gel finally dries, you get nice breakers and areas of disturbed water.

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!

Remembrance Day Weekend, November 2022

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!

Base colours done on a pair of sandbanks. Each is about 6″ long by 3″ wide at the maximum extent.

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.

Links of Interest, 4 April 2021

Cement Saul is a fairly new YouTube channel that has been doing a bunch of interesting Gaslands-related videos. I especially like the video on Weathering with Coloured Pencils and Pigments. Pigments (pastel chalk dust, or similar) are familiar to me and I’ve used them in the past, but weathering with actual coloured pencils hadn’t occured to me and I’m going to have to try that out! It’s part of a series on painting, stencilling, detailing, and weathering cars that’s well done, approachable, and worth your time.

Light Industries is a Canadian outfit that do various decals including custom work; I always like to find Canadian sources for things when I can!

Misc Minis do various decals as well, including tiny decals suitable for 1/1200 vessels or aircraft. I contacted him back in January 2021 about getting a little sheet of his smallest decals, got it in just a few weeks for much less money than I was expecting, and will do a proper review of them sometime soon!

A Paintbrush Rack from Scrap

I’ve always know that hanging paint brushes bristles down to dry was better for them, but never bothered doing anything about it. Recently my selection of brushes has expended as I’m using cheap makeup brushes for drybrushing and, right at the other end of the brush quality spectrum, my wife spoiled me at Christmas with a trio of gorgeous W&N Series 7 brushes, the seriously expensive ones.

My painting bench is an old Ikea modular shelving unit, and I realized I could add a brush rack to the underside of one of the shelves just off my actual painting area, where it would be out of the way but close at hand for convenience.

Even better, I realized with a few seconds of experimenting that I could make a functional brush rack from scrap foam and recycled cardboard! The foam happens to be sheets from Infinity box sets, about 4″ by 6″ or so; I took one sheet of that, cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut a series of slits about an inch apart and maybe an inch and a half deep.

New drying and storage rack in position. The foam will even hold the fat-handled makeup brushes I’ve just started using for drybrushing. Click for larger.

I hot glued the foam to scrap cardboard from the recycling bin, then hot glued the whole assembly into place on the underside of the shelf just on the left hand edge of my painting bench. If I ever decide to replace it or move it, the hot glue can be popped off the wood of the shelf fairly easily.

The slit foam will even hold the wide handles of the cheap makeup brushes I’ve started using recently for drybrushing and the 2.5″ housepainting brush I use on big scenery projects. Given it cost me exactly nothing to make, took just a couple of minutes, and uses a spot on my hobby bench that was previously empty space, I’m very pleased with this little project!

The paint brush rack in context, top left corner of the photo. Yes, I need to de-clutter my bench, move a whole bunch of completed figures into storage, and such. Next weekend. Click for larger.

Gates for Gaslands Racing, Part One

The Death Race scenario for Gaslands calls for at least three or four gates, for start/finish line (which might not be the same gate) and a couple along the course. We’ve been using various random scenery bits, which works fine, but proper gates have been a obvious piece of scenery I wanted to make.

The scrap metal look worked well for the jumps I made last year, so it was the asthetic I followed for the gates as well. I decided to do freestanding gate pillars, essentially, with no permanent overhead horizontal pieces but with the vertical construction to allow modular overhead gantries to slot in if desired.

To keep the tall gate posts ballasted I started with solid 1 1/4″ washers from the stash, then sank the main vertical beams for each into a footing of styrene plastic filled with Milliput epoxy putty, which dries rock hard. Because it’s a fast technique and super cheap, I filled the lower levels of the foundation footings with crumpled tinfoil tacked in place with superglue, then put a layer of Milliput over that.

Early in construction, tinfoil filler visible in the footings. The three course gates are on the left, and rightmost is the start line, which is more substantial. Click for larger.

I used a couple of different methods to construct the footings; roughly circular lengths of corrugated sheet styrene were fast and easy but I really like how the vertically-embedded heavy pipe (styrene tube) came out.

This entire project was done from the Ancient Stash of Doom; I’m pretty sure some of these random girder pieces date back to the family model railroad we had in the early 1990s when I was in junior high. The dark grey plastic is all Plastruct; all the white plastic is Evergreen Plastics. There’s three or four sizes and styles of girder, a couple sizes of tube, and sheet styrene in at least four thicknesses and styles.

Beyond making sure all the main vertical beams were roughly the same length (about 4 inches) I did very little planning ahead. Each pair of gate pieces is in roughly the same style… more or less. After making sure the main vertical beams were solidly anchored to the washers, I filled in the rest of the structure from whatever sheet and beam bits were handy and looked the part.

Left, the Start Gates, with an elevated box for race officials, announcers, media, etc. I’ve decided that the “pipe” gates are Gate One, for no particular reason. Click for larger.
Gates Two and Three, basically finished and awaiting primer. Click for larger.
The backs of Gates Two and Three. The scrap-built girder structures are actually fairly solid now! Click for larger.
The backs/sides of the Start Line Gate and Gate One. Gate One has by far the simplest struture, but I really like how it turned out and if we need more gates will definitely be copying the basic design. Click for larger.

Gates One, Two, and Three are basically done, structurally, although I might yet put more details (floodlights, maybe loudspeakers) on them, and the plan for all three is to get Corey to 3d print lettering for “GATE” and then add the gate number in sheet styrene like they were cut out of sheet metal.

The Start Line Gate is still undergoing detailing. There’s ladders to get the crew up into the announcer’s cab, and I’ll be covering the sides and back with some solid metal sheet and a bunch of mesh – you can see the first piece of that on the offside Start Gate pillar, second from left above. The ladders are scratchbuilt from very thin strips of styrene; I’d have used HO scale plastic ladders but my awesome local hobby shop was out of stock.

The Start Gate is also going to get a fairly substantial horizontal gantry spanning the course between the two pillars. It’ll have floodlights, speakers, and a 3d printed “Esquimalt Thunderdome” sign on it, or will when Corey coaxes his 3d printer back to life. I’ve got some very cool openwork styrene girders to form the main central part of that gantry.

The main vertical part of the Start Line Gate, with partially constructed announcer’s cab. This photo was mostly taken to show off the scratchbuilt ladders, which came out really well. Click for larger.

More on these gates soon, and in the meantime stay safe, everyone.

How to run gaslands (or any game) by webcam

The second wave of COVID-19 is here and with it, new restrictions on in-person events like gaming. While in British Columbia we don’t have a strict lockdown, we are limited to our “core bubble” aka our immediate household. Which means no in-person gaming. Our little gaming group (myself, Brian and our friend Sean) took a break, we wanted to get gaming again and preferably avoid fully-online solutions like TTS. Enter the webcam.

Attempt 1: Ancient webcam + gotomeeting

Our first attempt used an ancient webcam that spits out low resolution image, plus using Gotomeeting. I shared my screen, which had the default Windows camera app up on this. It worked, but was very difficult to see.

We were also challenged with how to track stats – gear, hazards, damage, etc. Brian tracked it on his computer and I tracked gear phase and hazards on the gaming board. Neither really worked – we couldn’t see what Brian was tracking and due to the webcam, nobody could see the hazards I’d placed on the board.

Attempt 2: Phone as webcam + OBS + Discord

Having tried the old webcam and realized it didn’t work, plus the need to track stats, I decided to download and play with OBS Studio. I figured I could overlay a Google sheet to track stats, plus bring in the camera feed.

To deal with the poor image quality, I downloaded #LiveDroid, an Android app that streams your phone’s camera over a local server. To help with low light, I used my new ring light that my wife had bought me for Christmas.

At the end of the third game. My phone was in the light ring holder, hence why OBS is showing a blank image right now.

Setting up Open Broadcast Studio

OBS sources

OBS is pretty easy to setup – this was my first attempt at using it and it ran flawlessly. I had four different sources: cam link from phone (as a browser source), read-only Google sheet (as another browser link), white image for a background and the Esquimalt Thunderdome branding image. Note that I didn’t run any audio through OBS, as we were talking via Discord.

For stats via Google sheet, I first setup the needed columns and then cropped the source down using a Crop/Pad Effects Filter to only show the key part of the stats. This method is easy to change on the fly, which we did when I forgot to add Gear Phase to the initial sheet.

Streaming from your phone

I downloaded #LiveDroid, a free Android app that streams your camera to a browser on your local network. You will need to set the resolution for both the camera and in OBS. I set the phone to be 1920×1280 and the OBS source to 1280×960. For me, Camera 0 was my rear camera.

I also tried DroidCam, which has an OBS plugin, but that stuck an ugly watermark on the image.

Connecting it all together

Finally, I shared the OBS window out using a virtual webcam. On the bottom left of the OBS window, it is labelled Start Virtual Camera. We then started a video call in Discord and I changed my webcam source to OBS Virtual Webcam.

If you’re the presenter, don’t be alarmed when your webcam looks like this:

Discord helpfully flips the webcam image, which works great for your face. Not so much for this.

But for everybody else, the combination works well. This was Brian’s view of the final hit of the game.

Modifying Gaslands to play via webcam

For those playing remotely, the hardest challenge is spatial sense. A lot of Gaslands is about choosing the right template. Also, play will be slower, so plan for that.

Adjusting the template rules

The touch it, use it and no pre-measuring rules from Gaslands assume you have a good view of the table, which remote players really don’t. So we changed the template rules a bit. They could ask me about what a template would look like and sometimes I would even lay it down after they’d described what they wanted to do.

Keeping the cars and game simple

In order to keep the game from bogging down, we decided to institute a few simplifications to the game:

  1. Everybody drives the same car, in our case a car with a single HMG forward facing & a mine layer aft
  2. No sponsors
  3. Easy scenario – we ran both a modified flag tag and arena of death

Have a record keeper (and track stats locally and remotely)

The person moving the cars and running the feed doesn’t have the time to deal with record keeping that others can see. So we ended up tracking the key stats both on the game board (so I could see them) and in the Google sheet. So Brian, sitting at his computer, could track the stats for everybody, leaving me free to move cars and keep the game moving

Be ruthless about whipping people along

In order to complete a game, you’ll need the person who is moving the cars to be a ruthless GM. They need to keep the game moving via ensuring each player moves, constantly asking all the key questions like “How many dice do you want to roll”.

What’s next?

Overall, the second game ran really well. OBS made it a lot simpler for everybody to see all the stats.

One of the key problems we ran into was seeing the dice. Instead of an online dice roller, I rolled everybody’s dice in person. For the next game, I plan on using the crappy old webcam as a dice cam – set it up vertically over a dice rolling box.

I also need to play with the colour balance, contrast and saturation of the webcam. Unsurprisingly, all the various pieces of software being used tried to do some sort of correction and not all of it worked.

Where to get the software

OBS is free and runs on most major OSes, while #LiveDroid is Android-only.

Links:

Links of Interest, 17 August 2020

Nice little sculpting tutorial on doing feathers in greenstuff from JuanHidalgo Miniatures. I really like short, approachable tutorials like this, it’s something specific to concentrate on if (like me) you’re not much good with sculpting!

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!