North Star are an awesome miniatures company who do all sorts of cool stuff, and among them is their North Star Magazine which is completely free and stuffed with awesomely well photographed painting articles by Kev Dallimore, an amazing and awesomely experienced pro painter.
In the tutorials line, Handiwork Games out of the UK have a nice pair of articles on making a simple terrain plinth for miniature photography. Part One is here, and Part Two goes into flocking and detailing.
I’ve finally finished another module for my 1/1200 scale coastal naval terrain. This is another 12″ long by 4″ deep piece with part of a reasonable size town on it, and has been sitting around for two years or possibly a bit longer, so it’s nice to get it finished and out of the way!
The construction is my standard setup, written about previously (see other related posts at the bottom or my naval scenery summary post) with a base of 1mm styrene sheet, a mix of materials for the basic ground forms, and a lot of different flocks for ground cover.
The one thing I might still add is some more of the marvelous Shapeways vehicles here and there…
Left end, looking from seaward, mostly industrial.The centre, looking over the old Martello tower toward the church and centre of town.The harbour, stream, and bridge end.The whole module from seaward.
I don’t have any immediate plans for more coastal modules… but I do have a lot more buildings and vehicles to put to use, and I was thinking that a coastal gun battery would be an interesting addition – the British coastal batteries seem to have had a pretty quiet war, mostly engaging aircraft, but the Allies reported regular engagements with German batteries especially along the occupied French coast… so maybe a half-length 6″ module with a bit of a headland, some gun pits, and a couple bunkers? We shall see…
I did a Shapeways order in August 2020 for a whole bunch of 3d printed 1/1200 scale stuff and am slowly using up those vehicles and such in various projects. I maintain a 1/1200 WW2 Useful Things list with current links, if you’re interested.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
A few days into January I had a fall that destroyed my glasses and injured my shoulder, both of which combined to cut down the amount of time I was able to spend on the computer. The upside of this, as I still needed something to do, was that I started a random construction project and completed it in about three weeks. (glasses have been replaced and shoulder is nicely on the mend, too)
Over the Christmas holidays I had painted up an entire village of really cool Toadstool Brownies from Fenris Games (they’ll get their own post soon) so I decided to trash bash a multi-story tower for them to cause trouble from, a sort of weird fantasy cross between a fortified tower house and a tenement apartment building.
I started with a medium size paper coffee cup from a widely available but deeply mediocre coffee chain, glued that to a scrap of 1/8th PVC sheet a bit bigger than my hand, then started adding details with scrap cardstock, wood coffee stir sticks, bits of styrofoam, paper, and Milliput.
Very early in construction.Very early construction, with Toadstool Brownie on 20mm wide base for scale.Details going on.Shutters in place.Textured with thin plaster and priming started.Paint started, roofs and chimney details done.The skinny chimney on the left is Milliput around a toothpick core, for strength. Nicely gamer-proof, I hope!More paint. I used all sorts of random washes and drybrushing to add texture and character.More paint. Lasercut window and plastic skull above it.Paint on the shutters.The big chimney.Finished tower, view of the main roof.Finished tower, skull window side/back.Finished tower to the right of the door and ramp.Finished tower, door, ramp, and garden.The “back garden”.The front garden, and yes those are skulls…The Toadstool Brownie Tower, construction and finished photos!
This hasn’t actually graced a table yet, but I’m sure it will soon, and I want to write up stats for the Toadstool Brownies as either playable characters or random on-table nuisances for the games we play!
I haven’t done a pure stratchbuild like this in a while, but really want to do more, and weird fantasy builds are SO much fun!
Each year Lead Adventure forum runs a Build Something Competition, each with a theme. Brian and I have participated 5 times at various points in the past years. So with 2022 here, I figured it was my time again.
Sometime earlier in the pandemic I ordered a batch of 1/1200 3d printed stuff from Shapeways, who use some sort of resin printing to get incredible detail on their prints. I keep meaning to write up that purchase in a proper review, I took a bunch of photos of everything I bought, but nevermind…
One place I have used a few of the 3d printed bits is in some wreckage markers. I bought a sprue of inflatable liferafts, and the sprue of boats included traditional life boats in several sizes, so I popped a few of those onto 1″ styrene bases as wreckage markers, or possibly as scenario goals – rescue downed aircrew or stranded squadronmates, that sort of thing.
Wreck and rescue markers for naval gaming, and the first two fire/explosion markers behind.
I also did up a batch of fire/explosion markers, also on 1″ bases. These are pretty simple things, made up mostly of hot glue splatted and “sculpted” with the tip of the hot glue gun. Holding the bases upside down and twisting them back and forth as the glue stretched and cooled helped, and for several of them I dunked them into the cool water of my paint rinse pot to help “freeze” the shapes. A few of them have wire centres but the most interesting ones don’t and I won’t bother with that step if I do any more.
Various explosion markers in progress. You can see the wire core in the one second from right, but don’t bother with this step if you do your own like this.
After the glue had cooled and I’d cleaned the thready wisps of glue off that hot glue so often leaves, I glued on a bit of medium flock as extra texture, which works nicely.
All the explosion markers painted, lightly drybrushed, and the first coat of gloss added to the water.
The explosion markers got a black basecoat. I considered trying to paint actual fire on them, but decided to just do a bit of a grey drybrush, mostly on the very tops, and leave them at that.
The boat sticking out of one base, about to be engulfed in an explosion, is one of the Shapeways 3d printed ones, left a generic grey so it could be from any side of the war. I cut the stern few millimeters off that boat to tuck it into the body of the explosion a bit more, then used that boat piece on the fire marker just visible on the far right of the photo above.
The Shapeways stuff makes for nice extra bits, and the explosion markers are super easy to make. These little pieces should make for some interesting extra colour during our next games of messing about in tiny boats.