Coastline Complete

The first coastline segments are done, barring a tiny amount of touchup here and there.

coastline overview
Overview of the coastline and other bits. Click for larger.

The sandbank off the headland still needs some paint and the waves done, and I need to do a bit of drybrushing along all the cliff segments to get a better colour match along the whole thing.

headland
Low level view of the coastline, starting from the headland. Click for larger.
village
Low over the coastline, approaching the village. Click for larger.
farmland
Over the village and looking at the farms and countryside beyond. Click for larger.
river
The last part of the finished coastline features a lazy tidal river and mudflats.

I’m planning on running this 1/1200 naval game and a big 28mm Pulp Alley game at Trumpeter Salute 2020 in April (the 17th through 19th) so I doubt I’ll do more coastal segments until after that, but in the future I do want to do several more segments, enough eventually to have one side of a table as solid coastline, so six or more feet.

Now on to the tiny ships!

A Headland for Tiny Ships

Cranked out a headland for my coastal terrain, so we can have the coastline end on-table without looking super-weird. It’s designed to go on either end of the modules, so that constrained the design considerably, but I like how it worked out.

headland in bare plaster
Basic headland before painting. See text for details, click for larger.
As with the larger coastal sections, the base is 1mm (.040″) plastic card cut down and sanded, with a chunk of half-inch styrofoam insulation for the land. I used a couple of different grades of sandpaper to shape the landform, including the slightly undercut eroding cliff faces, which I really like the look of.

After that I covered the whole thing with a 1:1 mix of premixed drywall plaster (the pink stuff) and white glue, smoothing and shaping it with my fingers to cover the styrofoam, smooth out the sanding marks on the cliffs, and shape the sandbank in front of the point.

painted finished point
The headland basically finished. Click for larger.

Painting and gloss gel for wave effects went fairly quickly, with a dose of my usual flock mixes on the land side. Because this headland section has to connect to any end of the other coastal sections, and I (deliberately) didn’t run roads off the ends that limited what I could realistically put on this piece. So it’s just scrub, cliffs, and ocean.

headland in context with village
The headland next to the village module. Click for larger.

Finally, a quick shot of the new headland next to the village module, which is still awaiting woodland sections. I can see I need to do a little bit more drybrushing on all the cliff sections together to match them up, but otherwise everything looks good together. The gap between the modules is less obvious when they’re properly in place; here the headland is tipping off the edge of my cutting mat and making the gap look giant!

I’ve had a bit of setback with the river section – glue accident while putting flock down – so it’s back to finishing that off in the next few days then I need to actually do the wood canopy sections to call this round of tiny naval terrain finished!

I have to admit to being straight-up intimidated to start painting the 1:1200 Last Square coastal naval boats. They’re tinier than anything I’ve painted in years and incredibly detailed. I’m not kidding when I say I own 28mm figures with cruder details than these tiny, tiny ships, most of which can balance on a fingertip.

Small Buildings & Tiny Ships, Part Three

A green and miniature land! The first two coastal modules are finished, except that I’m still mucking about with forest canopy solutions, so those aren’t done yet either. There is also the chance of me being (more) obsessive and going back to add even more details – cars on the roads and sheep in the fields, maybe?

Imaging that the odd brown-black blocks in the following photos are solid woodland canopy, please.

tiny village 1
The farms outside the village. Note vegetable garden in the nearest farm. Click for larger.
village 2 closeup
The village up close, looking down the slope. Note war memorial for the Great War next to the church. Click for larger.
river module
The river module finished except for trees, as with the village, and some more gloss varnish over the river itself. Click for larger.

Incidentally, for some other high-detail microterrain work that covers whole tabletops, not just slivers of coastline, go feast your eyes on the Münsterland Wargaming English blog’s 2mm archive. The towns are all amazing, and the autumn coloured table (for an early winter Franco-Prussian war battle) is gorgeous.

I’ve got a headland module underway now; no photo because it’s currently a slightly glossly white blob under plaster and glue. These three will let me end the coastline on-table sensibly, and the headland is designed to fit at either end of the coast. I’ve got definite plans for at least two more full size coastal sections, but first I’m going to paint boats!

Small Buildings & Tiny Ships, Part Two

Painting up the Brigade Models tiny English buildings turned out to be ridiculously fun. They’ve got all sorts of great detail and really reward a little bit of extra effort beyond a basecoat and drybrush, although you could turn out perfectly usable buildings that way too.

1/1200 ships and buildings all primed
Buildings and boats all primed and ready to be painted. Click for larger.
Above is everything I primed in this batch, including a number of buildings I don’t intend to use right way and all of the British 1/1200 boats and the two coastal merchant vessels I bought from Last Square in December for this project. Everything is mounted on tongue depressors (craft sticks) that are 6″ long and about 3/4″ wide, just for scale. Small buildings and tiny ships, indeed!

tiny buildings in progress
Painting buildings in progress. Click for larger.
more tiny buildings in progress
More buildings in progress. Click for larger.
The only thing left to do on most of the buildings now is to go in with black and darken all the windows, and then some cleanup here and there. I’m going to be mounting some of the buildings on thin plastic card to make it easier to add garden walls and similar details, and then we’ll get onto flocking and detailing the actual coastal pieces last seen mostly painted in the previous post.

British WW2 coastal combatants
Some of the British coastal combatants & merchants from Last Square. Click for larger.
Finally, because this is supposed to be a naval wargaming project, here’s a look at some of the Royal Navy ships & boats from Last Square, along with two coastal merchant ships. In the foreground are three anti-submarine or minesweeping trawlers, then four Fairmile D Motor Torpedo Boats. The third stick back has Fairmile D Motor Gun Boats and (with the red hatch covers) a coastal merchant vessel. In the background right is the stern of another, larger coastal tanker, as well as two Martello towers from Brigade Models.

Small Buildings & Tiny Ships

Progress on my naval project, last seen in November’s A Naval Diversion post. My buildings from Brigade Model’s Small Scale Scenics range and British & German ships from Last Square’s Figurehead 1/1200 Coastal Forces line all showed up before Christmas, but aside from doing some quick and basic cleanup of most of the castings I didn’t do anything with them until after Christmas.

The scenery plan for this project is fairly simple, a set of modular coastal strips. After some experimenting with the Brigade buildings I decided on 4″ wide by 12″ long modules, with roughly 3.5″ of land and half an inch of sea/beach. The base is 1mm (.040″) sheet styrene, which I buy in big 4’x3′ sheets from our local plastics shop, and then half-inch styrofoam insulation for the land on top.

coastal scenery planning
Quick graphic done up in Inkscape to explore options for coastal modules. The left-hand trio were 3″ deep, the right-hand set 4″. Click for slightly larger.

Because I’d never done any scenery this small before, I grabbed a scrap of MDF and did up a quick test piece. A lot of flock and foam foliage is too coarse for 1/1200 scale stuff, where 1mm equals 4 feet, so an average human is under 1.5mm tall! I wound up picking up a couple of extra colours of fine foam flock, and I really like the look I got on my little 3″x3″ test piece.

tiny scenery test
A 3″x3″ scrap of MDF plus various foliage materials and such for a test piece of 1/1200 scale terrain. Click for larger.

So far I’ve done just two modules, but I want to do at least one more full-size module and a headland/corner module of some sort so the coast can end on the table without looking weird. The first module has a looping tidal river and not much else; the second one has a village at a low break in the coastal cliffs and farms outside the village.

village planning
Brigade’s tiny English buildings laid out on one of my coastal modules. Click for larger.
The village has a fair-size church, a small commercial area/High Street, some row houses, and a few other buildings that might be the village school or similar.

village module
The village module, mostly painted. Click for larger.
The river module will be mostly river, mud flats, scrubland, and fields, but there will be a small lifeboat station in the outer edge of the big curve. Just one or two buildings and a short dock.

river module
The river module. There will be a small lifeboat station on the right, where the road comes down to meet the river. Click for larger.

Finally (for now!) here’s a photo of all the Brigade Models buildings I bought. The group of large buildings in the left foreground is SSS-8010 Industrial Buildings, then going clockwise from there we have all of SSS-8037 English Detached Houses, SSS-8007 English Churches (three of those), SSS-8022 English Town Shops in the back corner, and finally SSS-8006 English Village Houses in the right foreground. They’re amazingly detailed little buildings, and should be awesome to paint up.

Brigade Small Scale Scenics group shot
All my current Brigade Models Small Scale Scenics English buildings all together. Click for larger.

More soon as I get into painting buildings and ships!

Some End-of-Decade Housekeeping

After a few minutes of experimenting with the new WordPress Twentytwenty theme (not bad, but not image-centric enough for me) I’ve taken the time to tweak Twentyfourteen (finally!) to suit my taste better, and done a bit of other cleanup and housekeeping, mostly behind the scenes.

At some point early in 2020 I’m going to have to do much more major behind-the-scenes work, as the WordPress install this blog (and a bunch of other stuff) runs on was first spun up in 2009 and parts of it are showing signs of cruft and wear. Not looking forward to that, but it needs doing.

Happy New Year to all my readers! May 2020 bring you what you need from it, without too many “2020 vision” bad jokes along the way.

Links of Interest, 12 December 2019

If you’re interested in terrain building but not sure where to start, or you already craft terrain but want to step your game up, there’s a bunch of great YouTube tutorials out there these days. I’ve linked to Mel the Terrain Tutor before, but Black Magic Craft (YouTube homepage, website) is one I just recently discovered, and on his website he’s got a fantastic list of Essential Equipment with discussion of what he uses each tool or thing for and links to the various incarnations of Amazon to buy the things. Very useful regardless of your experience level.

By way of example, here’s one of Black Magic Craft’s videos on Better Stone Painting with some good stuff on getting your stone to be something other than flat grey, which is a thing I still struggle with after years (decades, gah!) of making terrain! (direct link to video, if the embed decides not to work)

Terrain is the third army, so why is it so neglected? was posted a couple of years ago (2017 sometime) but remains true and is a useful short rant on the importance of what might be my favourite part of this hobby!

Blinky blinky lights! Aircraft-style strobes on models with really simple electronic components, via Instructables. I still want to do some sort of shuttle or dropship for sci-fi gaming, might need to bump it up a notch and add lights now! Hmm, maybe a live lighthouse on the 1/1200 naval terrain I’m doing?

In the “It’s insane, I kind of want one, but storage would be a nightmare” category, Things From The Basement has a 20th Century Train Station that is 45″ (yes, forty-five inches, almost four feet) across! Some other neat stuff too including a batch of Russian buildings and scenery. There’s a fantastic fully painted and decorated version of the train station with lots of photos over on The Demo Gamers. You could run an entire pulp game just in and immediately around this thing…

Finally, from the recent (Nov 2019) Burrows & Badgers Kickstarter, a post with a trio of really nice painting tutorials all in one shot. One on tartan, one for worn leather, and one for leaf-patterned cloaks.

More on the naval gaming front soon, although expect a bit of a blogging break over the Christmas & New Years holidays as I shall mostly be out of town. On the off chance that I don’t actually blog again before leaving town, I hope my readers have excellent holidays. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and so on and so forth!

Improving Old Terrain

TerranScapes has a good video on using gloss gel for water, and I also found a video on using gloss gel medium for ship wakes, so naturally I had to pick a tub of the stuff up from my awesome local art supply store, Island Blue. (shop local, folks. Local stores are always cooler, and the staff far more likely to know their stuff!)

Anyway, I pulled out two of the shoreline/river bank modules I made over a decade ago (Part One, Part Two). For pieces started in June 2010 from matt board they’ve held up remarkably well, and they made ideal test subjects for learning how gloss gel medium works.

two shoreline segments w new waves
Gloss gel waves applied to two of my shoreline or river bank segments. Click for larger.

Gloss gel medium works beautifully for waves, and the main thing I learned is not to be afraid to put more on than you might think is wise, because it shrinks a fair bit when drying. It also doesn’t dry perfectly clear when it’s thick, which is fine for waves. That might be a function of humidity, according to the TerranScapes video. He talked about putting terrain pieces in a box with desiccating (silica) pellets to get everything perfectly cured and clear…

I’ve got another two or three of these modules around here somewhere, so they’ll get spruced up with gloss gel now too, eventually. I’ll also redo the foliage along the banks, and probably have to repaint the undersides to take some of the warp out of the cardboard again. Not bad for terrain that’s over a decade old!

A Naval Diversion

At BottosCon 2019 earlier in November I got the chance to play Warlord Games’ new Cruel Seas coastal naval game, British vs German speedboats in the Second World War. It’s not a bad game, but it’s definitely got some quirks and while the models are lovely, 1/300 (6mm) is too big for naval gaming. The table got very crowded very quickly and it felt more like bumper-boats than anything else.

That said, this sort of coastal gaming with light forces has always been one of the few areas of WW2 I’d consider gaming, so a quick chat with friends and look around the web pointed me to Last Square’s 1/1200 coastal forces, the Figurehead range, and I ordered a few British motor boats, some German boats, a few merchantmen, and a couple of aircraft. I also had a look at Magister Militum’s 1/1200 Hallmark range but decided to stick with Last Square for now.

I was also already aware of Brigade Models’ Small Scenery range, which has intrigued me for several years but which I’ve had no particular use for until now. You can, of course, run a perfectly good and realistic naval game with nothing but ship models and a blue or grey mat, but did anyone really think I was going to start a new genre and scale without doing some sort of scenery?

All of that stuff is enroute to me now and I’ll update when it arrives!

Rules?

Boats, ships, and scenery notwithstanding, what about rules? I’ll be trying out both the brand-new Narrow Seas by David Manley or Coastal Patrol by James Schmidt, published by TooFatLardies in their Summer 2011 Special.

We’ll try out both sets, as well possibly Flaklighter II from PT Dockyard, and see what works for us.

Other Resources

In the course of looking up the North Sea and English Channel battleground, I discovered that the amazing David Rumsey Map Collection has England and Wales, Sheets 1 – 146. Ordnance Survey, Popular Edition One-Inch to the Mile digitally composited at crazy high resolution so you can zoom way in and see what the land side of England and Wales looked like between the Wars. Not much in the way of maritime details like shoals and reefs, but fantastic for getting a feel of what the shoreline might have looked like, especially when you can compare the 1923 map with modern Google Maps/Streetview images.

Also from David Rumsey is a 1922 atlas showing the southern North Sea and English Channel with a bit more maritime detail like shoals, sandbanks, and shipping routes.

If anyone knows of a set of pre-WW2 Admirality charts online that cover England and maybe further, please do point them out. The National Library of Scotland has charts but they only cover Scotland.

The Wildfire III website has a scan of a maritime chart of the Thames Estuary and approaches with Allied & Axis ship losses marked, giving you a startling indicator of the intensity of the fighting, a lot of it shockingly close to shore. Lots of other good stuff there about WW2 on the Thames Estuary, too.

Finally, on a more directly related to the tabletop note, Mel the Terrain Tutor did some terrain for Cruel Seas when it first came out. Obviously the scale will be different from what I’m planning, but sandbanks and such are pretty scale-agnostic anyway… By way of an end to this long and rambling post, here’s Mel’s rather good tutorial video on sandbanks for small scale naval games.

Extremely Bad Dogs, Almost Finished

Most of the painting is finished on the various Reaper dogs last seen a few weeks ago, and they’ve painted up so nicely I’m going to show them off before they’re entirely finished, which I do not usually do.

three demon dogs
Centre is Reaper’s Moorhound; flanking him are Reaper Hellhounds. Click for larger.

The Moorhound got a black basecoat; the other four got a dark brown basecoat. No particular reason, honestly. Most of the texture was brought out by simple drybrushing in a variety of off-white shades, then some highlights all the way up to pure white, and some selective shading with washes. I pushed the contrast more than I usually do and I think it works really well for these otherwordly demon-dogs.

different demon dogs
Back view of the Moorhound, flanked by two Reaper Goblin Wolves. Click for larger.

The bases all five dogs are on are 40mm rounds built up from sheet styrene and putty; I’ll get flock and tufts on them in the next couple of days. Then I need to figure out stats for these in Pulp Alley 2nd Edition and unleash them upon our tables!

demon dog vs priest
A Warlord 28mm priest faces down a Reaper Moor Hound. Click for larger.

Wargaming & Such (formerly Brian's Wargaming Pages)