Look, Up In The Sky…

…it’s a bird, it’s a plane… well, actually, it’s a flying stand to get my existing SPAD and Nieuport fighters onto the table properly!

flyingstand1

Flying stand construction. See text for details, and do click for larger!

The lower part of the base is two 3″ plywood circles from Micheal’s craft store, the lower one with a hole drilled in it wide enough to accommodate the head of the M4 20mm long bolt. The top circle has a smaller hole to let the bolt through, and I used a woodworking rasp to bevel off the edges. The two washers are fairly heavy 2″ fender washers. I used superglue to tack them in place, then ran a bead of Gorilla Glue around the edges to lock them in place and round off the base. The gravel imbedded in the Gorilla Glue adds nicely to the weight of the base, as well.

The base will get a quick paintjob to match the rest of my terrain, then some lichen or foam foliage to break up the outline a bit.

The actual flying stand is a cheap mechanic’s extending inspection mirror from a local auto parts store. The base unscrews and is threaded for a metric M4 bolt – that’s a 20mm bolt coming up from the centre of the base. Once the mirror at the top was removed, the round ball it swivelled on turned out to be easy to shape with 120 grit sandpaper, so I sanded it roughly cubical and tacked the alligator clip (also cheap from the electrical section of a hardware store) on with superglue just to hold it. Then I used fine wire to lash the clip into place, saturating the lashings with superglue after I was done. The result is low profile and more than solid enough to be gamer-proof. I did nearly glue the hinge of the alligator clip shut, though… try not to do this!

The small square of basswood on the handle of the alligator clip is just to make it easier to open all the way; the way it’s mounted on the telescoping rod centres the airplane over the stand – which is a good thing – but the rod gets in the way of your fingertip when you try to open the clip to it’s widest point. The screw I put in the belly of the SPAD turns out to be almost too big for these clips; if you look closely you can see I bent the handle of the clip outward to allow the clip to open just a bit wider. The whole clip has also been bent forward slightly to improve the angle the planes sit at when they’re clamped in.

Total cost of the whole thing is about $10 or $12. The extending inspection mirror is the most expensive part at about $8; four alligator clips were $2 total; four 20mm M4 bolts were about the same; the 2″ fender washers are about 50 cents each; and a package of six 3″ plywood craft discs was $3. If you had a workshop area full of random stuff (which I don’t) and could scrounge bits you could build these for not much more than the basic cost of the inspection mirror.

The whole assembly is just over 20″ tall to the tip of the alligator clip, more than tall enough for my purposes. The telescoping post will still unscrew from the bolt in the base, which I will probably maintain as being able to take it apart makes it much easier to transport, and the telescoping rod and alligator clip is the part most likely to be damaged and need to be swapped out.

My brother has a big 1/48 DH4 that we’re not sure will balance securely on this stand; I might wind up making a larger flying stand, probably based on CDs, for that plane. I’ll eventually make one or two more flight stands this size, too, but given that for the near future there’s never going to be more than one plane over the table at a time, we’re good to go and it was easier than I thought it was going to be to construct a solid flying stand.

Flags & Banners from Greenstuff

This is not really a new idea, but it’s one that I only twigged to in mid-2011, so it’s fairly new to me. The idea of using greenstuff for flags and banners came to me one evening as I was experimenting with a small blob of greenstuff putty. I sculpt about as well as whales fly, and I find the rubbery used-bubble-gum consistency of greenstuff quite frustrating to actually do anything with (the clay-like feel of Milliputt is far more agreeable) so I was messing around wondering what I could do with the 36″ roll of greenstuff lurking in one corner of my desk.

Pressed out very thin, I discovered greenstuff is actually strong enough to hold itself up even before it cures. Once it’s cured it’s still moderately flexible, with a springiness to it. You can actually gently press folds flat to paint them, which is a bonus. It takes three dimensional folds and ripples better than paper, and unlike lead foil it won’t crease easily. A quick shot of primer and it paints up nicely.

The excellent Brushthralls website has a great Greenstuff Gizmos article with more detail, including the use of light vegetable oil to keep greenstuff from sticking to things, which I must admit I hadn’t heard of before.

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Greenstuff flags in progress. Click for full size.

Above, my greenstuff flags in progress. Squash greenstuff into thin sheets on the back of a CD, cut flag-shapes with a knife, wrap around lengths of wire donated by paperclips, gently prod some folds and ripples in with a sculpting tool or just a fingertip, stab into a scrap of foam to cure. Done, pretty much.

Incidentally, I love big paperclips as a source of wire. Not as strong as piano wire, true, but far, far easier to work with and more than strong enough for most modelling purposes.

So, there you have it, flexible, good looking flags from greenstuff, and a use for greenstuff even a non-sculptor like me can manage!

Pulp Design Tools & Resources, Part Three: Inspiration

Infection Is Avoided...

A 1930s WPA job-safety poster. Via x-ray_delta_one on Flickr.

A necessarily brief, personal and idiosyncratic tour through some websites with noteworthy archives of 1920s/30s posters, postcards, luggage tags and other graphics. Some photos, some stuff that’s technically outside our chosen era but still cool, and far too short, but enjoy, be inspired, and get a feel for the graphics of the pulp era!

Part One of this series introduced Inkscape. Part Two talked about design, typography & fonts.

The American Library of Congress WPA Posters collection, part of their American Memory project, is huge but not that easy to navigate. Start with the Collection Highlights tour, then just start hitting random keywords or subjects to find gems like Yellowstone Park posters, injunctions to clean up your trash, and even hippos. The WPA was the Works Progress Administration, part of the whole New Deal aimed at keeping Americans employed and maintaining national morale during the Great Depression. There was a whole wing of the WPA dedicated to encouraging the arts, including the graphic arts. Hence the really cool posters.
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Pulp Design Tools & Resources, Part Two: Fonts

This is the second in a series of posts (three or more) aimed at introducing gamers to some of the resources out there they might not be aware of for making their own graphics & such. It’s based on our current areas of interest, the 1920s & 30s interwar pulp period, but should be of interest to anyone wanting to add some graphic design details to their gaming!

Part One was a general introduction to Inkscape.
Part Three is on online sources of pulp/interwar design & other images.

A Quick Intro to Some Pulp Design Basics

van isl golf poster

A 1930s Canadian Pacific poster for the Empress Hotel. Via Boston Public Library's Flickr account (CC BY-NC).

Have a look at the image to the right; it’s a good basic distillation of the design principles shared by many of the 20s/30s graphics we’re trying to replicate for our own uses. There were, of course, a number of different styles and variants in use in the period, this one just happens to be a favourite of mine and also easy to replicate in Inkscape!

There’s no gradients, just areas of solid colour. Shading is done with smaller areas of another solid colour — see the area along the golfer’s inner thigh or around his arms — or not done at all. Notice that the grass and sea are simply solid colours; the sea and sky are even exactly the same shade of blue, with the horizon sketched in with a thin tan divider. No outlines or sketch lines, either, just areas of colour.
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Pulp Design Tools & Resources, Part One: Inkscape

Everytime Corey or I post player aids, faux-vintage ads, building signs, faux magazine covers or similar to forums or elsewhere, there’s always people curious about the tools, fonts and resources we use.

This is the first in a series of posts (probably at least three) aimed at introducing gamers to some of the resources out there they might not be aware of for making their own graphics & such.

Part Two on fonts, typography & design has been published now.

Inkscape

The main tool is Inkscape, an amazing Open Source vector-graphics editor. It’s free to download, available for Windows, Linux, or Mac, and quite possibly the coolest program ever.
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Repainting Commercial Stone Walls

Pegasus produce a range of prepainted plastic 28mm wargaming scenery; all the stuff I’ve seen has been well cast but mostly badly painted. The stone wall sections are good value for money, though, with six 6″ sections for $10 at my Friendly Local Gaming Store.

I picked up a pack, took them home and while repainting them, took enough photos to assemble into a quick, hopefully inspirational, how-to.
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Building A 28mm Tent

There’s been previous versions of this tutorial posted on Lead Adventure and the Speakeasy, but I figured it’s worth reposting here.

After killing a dress shirt (black ink leaking does that to white cotton) I realized it would work nicely as material for a large safari/expedition tent. I used a CD as the base, with small blobs of milliput holding long toothpicks vertically as the poles — three on the front, three on the back. After the putty holding the poles was dry (and reinforced with a bit of superglue) I wrapped thick sewing thread around the tips of the poles, with a dab of superglue holding it in place and a bit more superglue stiffening the thread after it was secured. Continue reading

Pizza Box 25mm Skirmish Scenery

Gallery

This gallery contains 3 photos.

PIZZA BOX SCENERY: This 25mm science fiction scenery was inspired by a 25mm pirate tavern from a now-vanished webpage. That one was designed for a tavern-brawl skirmish; mine is designed for SF skirmishing on space stations or other large indoor … Continue reading