Category Archives: Tutorials

Stone Outbuilding Finished

Glued down the towel thatching, slapped a coat of paint over the small stone building, added the door, and declared it done!

The towel got cut into a rough rectangle, big enough to hang an inch or so over the edges of the cardboard roof on all sides. I used a hot glue gun to glue the towel over the cardboard roof, including wrapping it around the edges and underside of the sides of the roof. This gave the roof the nice thick edge you see on a lot of thatch roofs. To fit the roof around the curve at the rear of the building I cut up to the peak of the curved part and layered the towel over itself further down, trimming a bit away so the overlap wasn’t too large.

Adding black paint and glue to the roof. Click for larger.

The first layer of painting was actually a mix of paint and white glue, generously applied with a fairly large brush, with a bit of water to help move the paint around. Towel soaks liquid up like, well, towel, so expect to use more paint and more glue than you first thing you’ll need! After this mix has dried overnight it’s really solid and gamer-proof. One of the reasons I usually use a tan or off-white towel for thatch, even though I always paint over it, is that any bits of towel that don’t get painted still look reasonable, which wouldn’t be the case if I used a colourful towel &mdhas; thatch ain’t usually blue or red…

Basecoat on the thatch, with the farmhouse in the background and a 28mm Warlord pikeman for scale. Click for larger.

After the black paint has dried overnight I drybrushed various shades of brown and tan over the thatch, ending with a fairly bright yellow-tan colour mixed with a bit of white, applied mostly along the ridgeline and edges of the roof, just to make them pop a little. As with the base coat, don’t bother using a small brush for this, I used a 3/4″ wide cheap house painting brush for all of this work!

The stonework had also been based black. I put a few blotches of green and brown down here and there, and then drybrushed a dark grey, a pale grey, and finally a mix of pale grey and white over the stones.

I didn’t get a photo of the door, but it was done on a rectangle of light card with narrow pieces of scrap wood from coffee stir sticks, glued down with hot glue, then hit with a heavy dark wash (mostly GW Nuln Oil) so it looked like heavily weathered wood.

Painting all done, just the door left to install. Click for larger.

Stonework from styrofoam is a lot of fun and fast to do; I might do a few more stone cottages or something eventually. Maybe a ruined abbey or something suitable for pulp/English Civil War crossover gaming? We shall see!

A Quick And Simple Pond

I’ve been wanting do some more area terrain – mostly flat pieces to serve as rough ground, forested areas, and the like – for a while now. With the move back into ECW skirmish and terrain building for same, I’ve decided to start with a set of low profile stream pieces that can be used on practically any table.

As a test piece, I started with a small duck pond, about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide or so.

I started with an offcut of relatively thick styrene sheet (plasticard) that I think is either .030 or .040. I chopped it to roughly the shape I wanted with an Xacto, then sanded the edges smooth and beveled them slightly.

Styrene base for the pond. 28mm Warlord pikeman on a 25mm base for scale. Click for larger.

Styrene sheet isn’t the cheapest material for terrain making, but it has a number of advantages for this type of terrain. It’s sandable, making it easier to smooth down corners and edges. It’s waterproof, so you can slop paint, water, and glue around with abandon and not worry about ruining your base material. It’s also stronger than similarly thin card and more resistant to warping. I’m using an offcut of Evergreen sheet styrene for this particular pond, but for future use I plan to go down to our local plastic supply place and buy a big 2 foot by 4 foot sheet of .030 or .040 styrene; it’s sold in bulk for signmaking and other applications and it’s much, much cheaper to buy it at that scale than in the little Evergreen or Plasticraft packages at a hobby store!

For the shoreline of the pond I used a long thin “snake” of Milliput, rolled out to about 2 or 3mm across. I mashed it down with my fingers, keeping my fingertips damp while working to prevent the Milliput from sticking to my hands. I tapered the outer edge down to the edge of the styrene sheet and kept the inner edge fairly vertical but only a couple of millimetres tall. Pushing your thumbnail up against the inner edge of the Milliput is an easy way to achieve this, although you could use sculpting tools too!

Shoreline in place with Milliput. Click for larger.
After letting the Milliput dry overnight I painted the whole thing brown. The outer edge got a couple of different shades of brown scrubbed on to look appropriately muddy, and the pond water is a greeny-blue with some brown added to the centre to make it look slightly deeper.

With all the paint thoroughly dry, I added several layers of white glue over the pond to give it the appropriate wet look. You could easily use gloss varnish or even a thin pour of clear or tinted resin here, but the white glue I’ve currently got dries to a high gloss and looks good as water so that’s what I used. I did one coat of white glue mixed with little bit of GW sepia wash to tone down the blue-green paint a bit.

Basic painting done and first layer or two of gloss glue in place. Click for larger.

When layering gloss varnish, glue, resin, or whatever water-representing material you choose, it’s important to let each layer – and any paint that will wind up underneath it – dry completely before adding the next layer! Forgetting this will get you frosting and/or bubbles and other inclusions in your layering and could really screw the look of your water up. Paint that isn’t dry properly can also crack or craze under a sealant layer and really screw things up.

I’ve got a set of 28mm ducks coming from Warbases soon that I’ll be added to this pond for some extra character. I added some flocking and tufts along the banks after the last coat of gloss had dried.

Half-Timber Dovecote, Dampfpanzerwagon Style: Part One

As I mentioned in my last post about the things I brought home from Trumpeter Salute, one of them was a copy of Issue #87 of Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy, their ECW special. One of the articles in there was by Tony Harwood, also known as Dampfpanzerwagon around the internet, including on the Lead Adventure Forum.

Wanting more buildings suitable for an English Civil War game (and possibly for early 20th C pulp games set in the English countryside!) I decided to build my own version of Tony’s dovecote. It’s a great building for wargaming, having a minimal footprint but nice presence because of it’s height.

My version of Tony’s dovecote has walls 60mm wide and a total footprint, including minimal base, of about 65mm by 65mm. It’s 120mm (12cm) to the tops of the walls. I haven’t actually measured to the top of the roof, but it’s somewhere around 20cm or so total height.

Dovecote started, with the finally-completed barn on the left! Click for larger.

The walls and base are 1/16th” matt board (picture framing card). The stone foundation is thin (about 1/8th” or so) styrofoam insulation, carved with an Xacto blade and pencil. The half-timbering is all wooden coffee stir sticks, most of them split lengthwise to make narrower beams.

The half-timbering took a couple of hours all told, done in bits and pieces in between household chores on a Saturday. Do the big vertical corner beams first, then the horizontals, then the infill verticals or diagonals. The pattern of the half timbering is slightly different on all four walls, which seems pretty typical of this sort of Medieval/Renaissance building!

Roof structure installed, half timbering done. Click for larger.

The central “tower” on the roof is more 1/16th matt board, 20mm a side. The sloping pieces of the main roof are lighter card, cut to fit by trial and error. The tower roof is a scrap of styrofoam insulation, cut with a fresh Xacto blade into a four-side pyramid. All eight roof surfaces will get “slate” tiles from medium weight card, and the top of the tower will get some basic detailing from card as well.

For texture in the panels between the timbers, Tony uses air drying clay in his original dovecote. Lacking air drying clay, I’m trying out stippling a fairly heavy coat of white glue over the card. I’ll slap some paint over it soon and see how it looks; the white glue I’m using currently dries very glossy which makes it hard to see how much texture I’m actually getting.

The dovecote at the far end of the table during our first games of Pikeman’s Lament. Good game, look for a proper review here sometime soon! Click for larger.

On to roof tiling and paint!

Links of Interest, 24 Feb 2017

Last time I mentioned a couple of YouTube painters that had good series of to-the-point, well-edited painting videos. Victor Ques is another I should mention; his ongoing “Weekly Painting Tips” series just hit episode 100 and has lots of good content. For his 100th episode he did a really nice 15 minute video talking about when to use some of the techniques he and other painters talk about; it’s a really good overview to accompany the technique-specific videos he’s already done.

Painting Buddha doesn’t seem to be producing videos anymore, but they had a really high-end multiple camera setup, with a camera on the miniature, a camera on the palette (so you can see how colours are mixed and thinned) and a talking-head camera. Their painting black armour tutorial is well worth watching, even if it’s more advanced and involved than a lot of us are going to do regularly!

A few quick links to finish off with!

Bricks’n’Tiles is a small Windows program to create endless, seamless brick, tile, and other textures for creating paper or card buildings with, but even if you don’t use Windows or don’t feel like you need to buy the program, they have some sample sheets downloadable from their website that are potentially useful.

Free Islamic Calligraphy has a lot of high quality graphic files of Islamic calligraphy, including the awesomely sci-fi looking Kufic style. Lots of good stuff if you want to add some easy Islamic (or Haqqislamic, for Infinity players!) flavour to your scenery.

Links of Interest, 15 September 2016

I’ve been spending some more time on YouTube recently, rummaging around the wargaming-related channels. I don’t have the time or the patience for the long rambling unedited vlog-format stuff, but there’s some good, properly edited, to-the-point stuff out there.

Two channels I particularly like are Kujo Painting, who did the great “How To Paint Tartan” video embedded below. The rest of his collection is well worth looking through.

Miniwargamer Jay also has a good Miniature Painting 101 series of vids with lots of good tips. Again, most of them are fairly short (5 to 20 minutes), cover a single topic, and are well edited.

On non-YouTube notes, a couple more links!

Genet Models, formerly Ebbles Miniatures have been around since the early 2000s turning out really good papercraft science fiction models. The creator of them has more or less retired from the papercraft business (I think he works on computer games now) but he’s put his entire portfolio up for free download. I’ll be adding some of these to our Infinity tables soon, especially some of the shuttles and dropships!

I linked to this awesome tutorial in an earlier post about Infinity ads, but it’s worth linking to again. Want pseudo-holograms on your science fiction scenery? H-Archive does ads and holos is well worth a read. He uses printed transparencies and 1mm clear acrylic sheet to awesome effect; I’m going to have to hit up our local plastic supplier for some 1mm clear acrylic sometime soon!

Quick Infinity Terrain: Food Booths

One of the goals with the space station terrain set was to make the whole thing look like not just a collection of tactically interesting obstacles but also a (relatively) sensible, lived-in/working facility. Right now the non-cargo bay area is a bit plain, really just the Impudent Mortal walls in my collection arranged in various ways. I did up some lockers recently to add colour and interesting cover, and now I’ve found a really simple way to do food booths or other fairly small terrain pieces.

Rough cutting guide for one booth. See text for details, and click for larger.
Rough cutting guide for one booth. See text for details, and click for larger.

Start with a strip of card 3″ wide and at least 11″ long, or multiple 3″ wide pieces making up roughly the same length. I use 1/16″ mattboard, the stuff used by picture framers, but for this project you could use just about anything. There’s only one measurement in the whole thing that depends on the thickness of the material being used (the height of the front wall of the booth) and that’s easily adjustable or even avoidable if you tweak the design a bit.

You’re cutting as follows:

  • 1″ wide for the under-floor brace/foot. Cut this piece in half again.
  • 1 1/2″ floor
  • 1 1/2″ roof
  • 1 3/4″ back wall
  • 1 9/16″ front wall (NOTE)
  • 2″ end wall
  • 2″ end wall
One booth's worth of pieces. See text for details, and click for larger.
One booth’s worth of pieces. See text for details, and click for larger.

Start by gluing the two foot pieces to the underside of the floor. Centre it under the floor — exact placement isn’t important, they just exist to lift the front edge of the booth above ground level and add a bit of visual interest. Note that in the layout photo below, I forgot to allow for the foot pieces, as I’m using that scrap of 1/8″ foamed PVC plastic above the card strip instead.

While that dries a bit, cut the two end walls some more to make them interesting. They stand vertically, and you can see from the photos that I’ve cut each in a different way to add variety and provide support for the booth’s large overhead sign(s). You don’t need to get fancy, just a couple of angled cuts can do nicely, especially if you re-use the offcut pieces again as I’ve done on several of the roofs in my set.

Glue the back wall to the back of the floor, with the bottom edge of it resting on the ground. Use the end walls to make sure the back wall is vertical and square, then glue them on, again with the bottom edges resting on the ground.

Floor on it's foot and back wall in place, side walls cut. See text for details, and click for larger.
Floor on it’s foot and back wall in place, side walls cut. See text for details, and click for larger.

Fit the front wall in between the end walls, again making sure it’s square and vertical. Exact placement isn’t important and will depend on how you intend to detail the front wall. I’ve recessed all my front walls and used various offcuts of card to add a few bits of detail. I figure these are automated booths using various machinery to process FoodGoop9000 (or possibly Soylent Green…) into various forms of fast “food” by adding flavour, so there’s no order window or anything specific on the thing.

Basic assembly done, front wall and roof in place. See text for details, and click for larger.
Basic assembly done, front wall and roof in place. See text for details, and click for larger.

I’ll probably eventually do some graphics to add to the fronts and signs of these booths, including various fast food brands we all know and love like Ariadna Fried Chickenoid and such! They’ll get posted here to the blog when they happen!

Details on front wall and inside the sign supports on the roof, first layer of the sign in front. See text for details, and click for larger.
Details on front wall and inside the sign supports on the roof, first layer of the sign in front. See text for details, and click for larger.

Glue the roof on last, and put the resulting box aside for the glue to dry a bit. Time to move on to the overhead sign.

This could be as simple as a single strip of the same 3″ wide card you’ve used for the rest of the thing, or any number of more elaborate constructions. If you want a really, really striking sign, there’s H-Archive’s awesome how-to on making “holographic” displays, which I want to follow myself sometime soon!

Extra layers of the sign being held while the glue dries a bit. See text for details, and click for larger.
Extra layers of the sign being held while the glue dries a bit. See text for details, and click for larger.

The curved sign is simply three layers of light card (65lbs, I think it is) cut 1″ high and 3 1/8″ long, just slightly longer than the gap between the vertical bits of the end walls, so that it curves. I glued one strip in place, let it cure for a bit, then gently pushed the second and third strips into place and held them with clothspins until the glue dried. Pre-curving the strips by running them over the edge of my workbench helps.

All three autobooth designs together, with various Hassassin Bahram troopers posing for scale. Click for larger.
All three autobooth designs together, with various Hassassin Bahram troopers posing for scale. Click for larger.

The grid on the roofs of my booths is some sort of embroidery/craft mesh stuff that I got a leftover chunk of from my girlfriend. It adds interesting texture if you can get some, or something similar like the plastic mesh used in window and door screens.

The Manned Booth

The fourth and final booth is a variant design that is actually run by a person (or humanoid robot, you never know in Infinity) with a door in one end wall and an open order window/bar in one side wall.

Manned booth assembled, roof off. Click for larger.
Manned booth assembled, roof off. Click for larger.

Design is identical to the autobooths above except I cut two of the “back walls” and instead of cutting the roof 1.5″ I cut it 1 5/8ths” wide so it would go over the top edges of the walls properly.

Manned booth, roof on. Click for larger.
Manned booth, roof on. Click for larger.

The inside is outfitted with various bits of card for the bar counter, a side bar/prep table, and a whole bunch of cupboards along the walls.

The outside end walls will eventually be painted and decorated to look like drinks glasses, and there will be a sign of some sort on the roof, although of slightly different design than the autobooths because this roof actually comes off.

Any comments or suggestions please leave them below, I do read and reply to comments but due to the spam filters it might be a while before I approve your comment!

All four booths together. Click for larger.
All four booths together. Click for larger.

LInks of Interest, 5 Sept 2014

Just to prevent this place becoming all-Blood Bowl, all the time, some semi-random interesting links.

Over on Lead Adventure Forum, I found the information on this thread about paint add-ins, matte/gloss mediums and related substances very useful. Going to have to visit on of the good local art stores soon, I think…

I’ve also just bought new greenstuff putty finally, to replace the very, very old strip of the stuff that’s been hanging around my desk for far too long. The old stuff had the consistency of used old chewing gum and was pretty much impossible to work with; the new stuff (along with a couple of new sculpting tools!) has reminded me how much fun messing around with greenstuff is. There’s a pile of YouTube video tutorials showing basic greenstuff sculpting techniques – one I rather like is The Dizmo’s skull tutorial.

Green Stuff Industries host a good mix of basic messing-with-green-stuff tutorials, including this Sculpting Bas-Relief Flames tutorial that I want to try out sometime soon.

One final sculpting-related link, this one from Kings Miniatures on making your own simple sculpting tools from dowel and paperclip wire.

I’m off next week to northern Alberta for three to six weeks of field work, helping run a project up there, so posting might continue to be fairly light but I’m going to take some putty and sculpting stuff with me and practice the art – it should be more forgiving of hotel suite lighting than painting, which I’ve tried in hotel rooms in the past and always quit because even at a hotel room desk the light tends to be lousy…

Stonework & A New BB Scoreboard

A while ago via Google Plus, I stumbled over the Terrain Wench and her work, specifically the nicely done Lizardman spawning pool she had created. She’d taken the trouble to do a really well-done video of her technique for doing stonework in styrofoam insulation board – embedded below.

(She has more videos on YouTube as well.)

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve been wanting to build a new scoreboard setup for my Blood Bowl pitch, one with a few features I missed in the first one built last December. I sat down and started it last night, and except for a few details here and there it was one of those projects that has (so far!) just worked, and in person it looks pretty much like I was visualizing it in my head. Always cool when a project works out like that.

temple1
Front view of the new Blood Bowl scoreboard/temple. See text for details, click for larger.

The base is about 5.5″ wide and 4.5″ deep, with the temple made out of two different thicknesses of pink styrofoam insulation board and standing 4″ tall to the top of the right-hand tower. The stairs will have a BB scatter diagram “carved” into them with Milliput, and the three square holes are for score markers in the tower and a weather indicator in the central piece. There’s a roof piece that still needs to be glued down over the central piece, and the two “arms” alongside the stairs are going to be done up like pools of water with gloss varnish eventually.

I’m going to be using the cubical styrofoam offcuts in the foreground of the photo above to make both score and weather indicators. I’ll layer Milliput over the cubes; the score markers will basically be d6s numbered 0-5; the weather indicator cube will have icons for the five types of Blood Bowl weather, and probably a second “Fair Weather” indicator on the sixth side, just because.

temple2
Rear view of the scoreboard temple. As usual, click for larger.

I’m quite pleased with the way the base of the temple turned out, with that slight inward slope as the wall goes up which is so typical of a lot of monumental architecture. I’ll be cleaning a bit of the stonework up with Milliput, but I’m generally pleased with how it’s turned out as well. Terrain Wench’s technique of using an Xacto then a pen or pencil to carve stonework gives a much nicer result than my few previous attempts at stonework in styrofoam where I’d just used a pen or pencil to carve the stone.

Crocodilian Logos with Inkscape

So I decided that my primary Blood Bowl team, made up of Impact Miniatures Sarcos crocodiles (run as Lizardmen in BB) needed a team logo.

I spent some time messing around on Google Image Search, and tried another jaw/tooth-based logo out for a bit before tripping over the Aztec “cipactli” glyph, which is a cayman/crocodile and also "e;a primeval sea monster, part crocodile, part fish and part toad, of indefinite gender"e; (from this Wikipedia article) which sounded cool enough as a concept, fit the jungle/tribal/vaguely-Central American theme usually found with Lizardman teams and looked easily reproducible and scalable as a team logo. I found a couple of versions of the cipactli glyph I liked, redrew them in Inkscape so I could work in SVG vector format, then started messing around.

One of my favourite things about Inkscape is that the canvas is infinite. Unlike GIMP or Photoshop where you define an image size and usually have to fiddle around to expand it, Inkscape will show you your defined page size, but the canvas around that page has no boundaries. Want to grab a copy of some part of your image, drag it to one side and fiddle with it separately or create different versions of it? Copy or duplicate the objects you want, and go right ahead and drag them somewhere out of the way to play with them!

inkscape_may2014
Inkscape working file screenshot. See text for details of what you’re actually looking at!

Above is a quick screenshot I took of Inkscape and the working file I’ve got for Croc team logos and related graphics. See the tan rectangle in the centre? The grey box surrounding it is a North American-standard Letter-sized sheet of paper (roughly A4 for the rest of the world) so the “real” size of this working area is theoretically huge.

The green box on the left is an entire standard-size Blood Bowl pitch with 30mm squares (a 26 x 15 square pitch, for non-BB players!) that I set up to check scale and sizes. The collection of black toothy shapes were an earlier, now abandoned idea for a team logo; the various red things are interations of a possible cipatcli logo.

cipactli
Variations on a cipactli theme. See text for details and click for larger.

The closeup screenshot of possible cipactli logos above shows where Inkscape really shines. Rather than work on just the one image and rely on undo/redo to track changes, or creating lots of versions of a single file and having to have them all open at once, if I want to tweak an object in Inkscape I can just grab a copy (Ctrl+D for Duplicate is useful, it’s Copy+Paste right over the existing object) then drag it off a bit on that infinite canvas. Rinse and repeat until you have a version you’re happy with!

Oh, and the cipactli varient I’m most likely to use, at least at this point, is the third down and third along. The slightly longer snout makes it look more croc-like, but for some reason the even longer nose of the rightmost one doesn’t work for me. I might well try another few variants, there’s no shortage of room!

Trying A Wet Palette

I’d heard of “wet palette painting” before, but for no particular reason hadn’t sought out information on the technique or looked into it at all. Then a few nights ago I was rummaging around among YouTube’s wargaming-related videos, as one does, and this wet palette howto video from Corvus Miniatures caught my attention.

Turns out to be pretty straightforward – an old container lid from the recycling bin, paper towel, water, baking parchment. We had all those things knocking around the kitchen, so I set up a wet palette and tried it out while doing the main blocking colours on six Cossack horses from Brigade Games and a swamp-monster thing from Reaper.

Compared to the dry palette I’m used to (an old CD!) you get hugely extended working time with your paints, which is especially useful when you’re block-coating six 28mm horses and a highly textured monster. I forsee fewer sad little blobs of half-dry unusable paint in my future! Blending is also easier, which is nice when you want slight variations to make your horses (or whatever else) look more interesting.