When talking about masts on tiny ships recently I mentioned that my current storage solution for my fleets was, frankly, bad. This last weekend I sat down to fix that, and came up with a solution that will should preserve paint jobs and masts on all my boats and ships (and airplanes, too).
I started with a flat cardboard box which one of my Last Square orders came in, added 25mm high dividers of mat board with strips of foam glued to them, then slit the foam to allow the ends of the acrylic bases I use for all my vessels to slip in.
The first box is full, so I built a smaller box out of more mat board to hold a few of my larger merchant ships. After we move (ten days!) I’ve got a second identical Last Square box somewhere around to create a second larger fleet holder, and two of them should comfortably hold everything I’m likely to own for the next while!
The two batches of 1/1200 airplanes I’ve currently got painted and mounted are kind of tucked into the corners around the ships, and they’ll eventually need their own storage, but given that 1/1200 aircraft weigh basically nothing, I’m not concerned for now about having them a bit tangled with each other in the lower left corner of the larger box for now.
More detailing on 1/1200 scale ships with plastic broom bristle. I’ve added cargo handling booms to the masts and kingposts of two of the Antics 3d printed merchant ships.
For the mostly vertical booms at the kingposts and on the Ehrenfels I drilled holes into the deck with an absurdly tiny drill bit; the horizontal booms on the front and back decks of the Fort are just held in place with a dab of superglue at each end. On the Fort freighter I also put a radio mast immediately aft of the bridge.
I did the Fort freighter’s booms the same base grey as most of the ship, and the Ehrenfel’s the same ivory/off-white as her upperworks and deck. The plastic broom bristle takes ordinary acrylic hobby paint just fine.
The other three Antics 3d ships will all get at least a few cargo booms, and at some point I need to pull out my main collection of Figurehead pewter ships and do the masts on those as well. The Figurehead ships come with pewter masts, but they’re terrifyingly fragile and I’ve mounted exactly none of them so far to any of my Figurehead collection!
A Word on Tools
All of this detail work was made much, much easier (really, was made possible, full stop) by an off-the-cuff purchase I made just before Christmas – a pair of inexpensive Excel brand “Slant Pointed Tweezer” superfine curved tip tweezers. Far finer than the even cheaper drugstore tweezers and well worth it if you want to do this sort of detail nonsense at 1/1200 scale!
Handling the super thin plastic broom bristle by hand is awkward and frustrating; the stuff is hard to even pick up off a cutting mat. I’m fairly sure I’d have given up on this detailing very early if I hadn’t snagged these at my friendly local hobby store.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
More on these gates soon, and in the meantime stay safe, everyone.