Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Great Outdoors

This set of terrain is very different from the "set piece" Barbarossa board, even though the vast majority of it is forested.  I needed to create hills that were much larger than anything I had done before, which meant taller and broader.

That would present a very different set of challenges than the board we had been working on, where I could create depth very easily by carving into the thick foam.

You will recognize many of the materials from that previous board, such as the moss, wood glue and spray glue.  However, a few new options presented themselves when I was moving some stuff around to make room for this gaming table.  Over the next few episodes, I will try to show how I used them.

These are the only images that I have of the hills and rivers prior to painting and flocking.  They were made mostly from the same thin pink foam that was used on the buildings.  The tiles are roughly 12 inches square, so that gives you a sense of how large these pieces are!

I tried out a sculpting plaster for the first time, which I needed to create a more gentle slope on the hills.  If that was too steep, the figures would simply keep rolling down these hills!  I wanted something that would not just block line of sight, but be a terrain piece which would interact with the figures.

Once all that dried, I used a watered down glue glaze with various ballast scattered over the top.  I used Badger airbrush paints to get a few quick layers of browns, greys and even a few greens.

As you can see, there were a few tree stands as well as the rivers and hills.  This time around, I wanted to see if I could make larger shrubs and bushes out of the moss.  After seeing countless tables where moss was used as scatter terrain, I thought that I could utilize the moss to create what I have seen over and over again in nature... lots of small trees and bushes growing right on the banks of rivers and streams.

The first task was to glue those in place with wood glue.  That took longer to set, so I did that on all the pieces first.  After setting one clump in place, I tried to surround it and support it with smaller pieces around its edge.

These were made large enough to both impede the progress to infantry and vehicles and offer them adequate cover/line of sight blocking.

Hopefully you can see that I tried to make as many of the clumps as possible hang over the edge.  The main reason I did this was to "hide" the fact that this was just a strip of pink foam placed on a table, as opposed to the dug in river of the Barbarossa board.

They would also be a more impressive obstacle to those vehicles and infantry that I mentioned earlier.

I did the same thing on the larger hills, although I had to be careful not to put too many of those on each hill.  I wanted to have the option of placing buildings, tree stands, gun emplacements and other objects on or near the tops of each piece.

Here's an example of that, where one of the larger tree stands is in place.  It would look very odd if there were suddenly a group of larger trees without even a shrub nearby!  Later I will show you some images of how I used a squad of infantry to judge how big to make them, and where they should be placed.

I made a set of walls to go along with my village houses from the previous set of how to posts, using a few simple strips of the thin pink foam.  After watching many episodes of Midsomer Murders, I had gotten very used to seeing these stone fences overgrown with vegetation!

Much smaller clumps of moss were glued to the fences.

Here's the first of the new materials.  Lo and behold, I had a few bags of the Poly Fiber from Woodland Scenics, something which I had been intending to purchase.  While I love to use the moss for trees, it can sometimes be difficult to use on trees which I make from natural branches.

It there are not enough supporting 'branches', the moss has a tough time staying in place.  The poly fiber is designed to stretch out over such surfaces.  It is also much lighter, so far less glue is needed.  I decided to use the poly fiber to support my smaller clumps of moss.

There was also another material (the packaging was gone so I don't know what it is called) which was similar to the poly fiber, but covered with rough foliage.  It could be stretched out just like the poly fiber, so I used it to create an additional layer of texture on that stand, and as extra support for the sections of moss on another stand.  That is the image in the upper right.

I think this was also intended to be used as vines or ground cover, so I gave it a try on my walls too.  It definitely created a bit of an ivy look...

These larger Woodland Scenics plastic trees had plenty of supporting branches, so I could use my normal spray glue and moss technique.

You can see how each clump is draped over those branches, giving them plenty of support.  Once these were in place, I sprayed them with the adhesive and then dropped a variety of flock over the tops.  Some of it had a heavier texture, as well as different tones and shades.

Here's one of those trees ready for the final colors and textures of flock!  I will cover that in the next episode, so stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Time for Stucco!

As I was looking for more Vallejo Oxide paste , I ran across this White Stucco medium, and immediately thought of the old Flex Paste from Woodland Scenics that we used to put on walls and other similar surfaces.

I thought that it might work as the added exterior texture which would make the brick seem as if it had been exposed by shell fire.

While you could use a brush to apply it, I knew that a palette knife would give me a better chance to cover up the indentations of the bricks and other rough sections.

These images give you an idea of what I meant, as it is easier to build up the stucco without lots of brush marks.  I could also get the sharper, broken edges where I wanted to have the exposed bricks.

I worked my way from one one wall to the next, going around the shell holes and the shutters...

The taller, more open sections of the buildings were very easy, and I tried to make them as smooth as possible so that there would be a real difference between those and the broken walls.

The other advantage of the palette knife is that it can "ride" along the top of the surface, and not fill in things like the shell and bullet holes.  A brush is more likely to smush the stucco down into the holes.

This stage is now complete, although I will be doing a second application in some places to get more definition in the walls.

I will probably paint in some cracks as well when I get to that stage!

These furniture pieces from Burn In Designs were originally intended for another game system, but it seems like they can still work for our WW2 boards.  I will paint these up and use them as interior scatter pieces in cafes or whatever.

I have even started to see more ruined buildings with exposed interiors that have wallpaper and furniture, so that is something that I will be experimenting with on the next post.  I did put some wallpaper into the Steampunk Western theme buildings, and I want to give that a try on these as well.  Stay tuned!

I have been attempting a few other more "natural" terrain pieces of a larger scale as well.  For a long time, I wanted some larger hills that would block line of sight all on their own, or at least have a bigger influence on how units moved on the board.

Somehow I happened to have some sculpting plaster of paris around, and I gave it a try on a few rough hills that I made using lots of scraps.  The plaster managed to fill in those large gaps, making a surface which was a gentle slope.  That was key to not having figures rolling off the hill!

I also wanted to make a river that would impede units, but work on any sort of board.  Unlike the "dug in" river that I made for the Barbarossa board, this flat river can work on anything.  It is pretty large, as it can run from one long table edge to the other.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sticks and Stones

Now that we are starting to play Bolt Action in multiple locations, the need has arisen for more terrain pieces... and more terrain pieces!  Time constraints are even tighter, so getting the maximum results from the least amount of time and expenditure are key.

I needed to create a second set of village style buildings like the ones seen in this image.

They were multi story buildings that were partially ruined, with removable second floors.

You can see how those were made in the original how to post here:

I still had the templates, but I wanted to get some more depth of texture in the new batch.  Since I made these, I had discovered a few new materials, and I wanted to give those a try.

In this new series of posts, I want to focus on those new elements. You can refer back to the first instructional post on the basic materials used to block out the walls of these structures.

In this new attempt, I had some new wooden craft sticks, a new and faster way to mass produce bricks, and some white stucco.

Just as I did in the first batch of buildings, I used coffee stir sticks for flooring.  You can see the outline of the support structure for the second floor.

Wood glue is placed on the floor, while Oxide Paste is put on the areas where the bricks are going to be piled up.  To conserve on the Oxide Paste, I cut a few small angled pieces of the pink foam in the corners for extra height.

Those bits came from hills and tree stands which I was making at the same time.

The boards are in place, some of which are bent or out of place to show that interior damage.  I have a few types of medium and fine ballast to place in and around it.

The bricks (also made of the same pink foam) can be dropped into the Oxide Paste.  To get more interesting piles, I had some wood glue off to the side where I could dip the bricks into it and put them on top of the original pile.

If you have more time, you can make smaller bricks, or even break them!  It is very easy with the pink foam.  All I had to do to make the bricks was to cut some thin strips, and then chop off the individual bricks as if I were cutting carrots.

A combination of various ballasts was applied to fill in the gaps and substitute for crushed bricks and other debris.

There are several reasons why I love the thin pink foam instead of the usual foam core.  First, you can paint the foam and subject it to all kinds of moisture and it will never warp.  Foam core has paper on each side, and that will indeed warp when painted.

Second, as you can tell by the brick pattern on the walls, it is very easy to put in cracks and a number of textures on the surface.  This is that extra layer of texture that I wanted.  Basically, I wanted to see if I could create an "exposed brick" texture around all the shattered areas of the walls.

You can also see those "risers" of extra pink foam under the Oxide Paste.  Once again, this was a time and money saving measure.

Just as I did in the interior, I made piles of bricks, focusing most on the sections of walls which had broken down the most.  If I had more time, I would have made them a little smaller and made more broken bricks... but as always, time was at a premium!

The same process of floor boards was done on the upper floor as on the main floor.  On these new buildings, I realized that it might be fun to have a few piles of bricks on this floor too.  I was even tempted to make bigger piles, as if a soldier had taken some and built his own shelter.

It all starts to take shape!  Some of the Oxide Paste is placed on the tops of the broken walls for rougher texture.  If you wanted, you could even add some of those individually cut bricks and place them on the tops of the broken walls, slightly askew, as if they were about to fall off.

In the next episode, I will cover the next layer of texture on the outer walls, and show a new material.  This will be the final touch to create that exposed brick look, so stay tuned!!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Queen

Here's another exercise in gold NMM and purple.  This is a very old figure from a miniature line that I am sure does not exist any more.  The concept behind this group of miniatures is that they would be a "chess set", complete with pawns, rooks, knights and so on.

I have some of them... probably not enough to create the full set of both sides.  As I was working on several other pieces that required gold NMM, I used some of those same colors on this one.  As I have mentioned before, it is a great way to keep that line moving, and also to keep the figures that you might be getting bored with at that particular moment a little more fresh!

She's also here:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Class notes...

The most unusual class I ever had to teach was certainly a few weeks ago, where I had to do a "demonstration style" class.  Unfortunately, I had virtually none of the necessary elements (no functioning AV equipment, etc), so that meant a rapid rethinking of what would be done!

I determined that it would be turned into a participation laboratory, where I would spend the entire time trying out new techniques for the first time, so that folks could see that it is OK to try brand new stuff.  Yes, even with an audience who would be witnesses to  potential failure.

Since I could not bring everything with me on the plane, I had to utilize the things which I did have.  That consisted of a batch of Secret Weapon weathering paints, one jar of Vallejo green wash, and a handful of weathering powders.

You can see that there are two palettes in this image.  The one on the left has acrylic paint on it, while the upper palette has weathering powders that have been turned into a liquid by adding rubbing alcohol.

I painted each half of the vehicle using these different mediums.  The idea was to show that either one could be used, but they would have different properties and a slightly different appearance.

I did some examples of painting rusty surfaces with paint and another with powders, along with working on the tracks, hull, turret, and so on.

Painting with powders is something that not everyone tries, and it can take a little getting used to.  However, it can all be washed away if you don't like the results!

What I wanted to try most was to see how the white powder would react to drips of rubbing alcohol dropped down the sides of the vehicle.  I have noticed that water stains or other similar effects don't always follow a clean straight line down the side of a vehicle.  They often split apart, and look more like rivers!  

My hope was to create this effect in a much tinier scale, using the increased capillary action of the alcohol, which is thinner than water and with its much more rapid evaporation rate.

None of us knew what would happen, so we all waited anxiously to see what the results would be.  In the end, it did what I had hoped, and the experimentation continued!

I tried a few other mixtures, including powder and paint together, which made thicker blobs of powder that could be shoved into the tracks and wheels like mud, or even spattered onto the vehicle!

We also tried to "pile up" the whitish powder mix to see how close we could get to snow texture.

The height of experimentation arose when I said that I could not show them how to make a spatter brush out of the green handle craft brushes due to a lack of cutting tools.  A quick thinking student took one out of his case, and a spatter brush was created.

When I mentioned that I like to put clumps of static grass in the mud which I apply to the treads, that same person suggested that the cut bristles of the brush could be used as static grass!  Lo and behold, it worked like a charm.  Instant static grass!

I want to thank everyone who was in those two classes, because so many new techniques were created.  Several folks said that they are normally very hesitant to attempt new methods or materials, and are now far more willing to dive in and take that chance.

Who knows what kind of nifty new things you might discover...