Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Reporting From the Front

Over the last few months, I have been trying to prepare for my ultimate goal of filming battle reports for Bolt Action games.  This has meant a huge amount of work... starting with painting the armies!

I have enough of the early war French and Germans ready for some scenarios, with some variety in the army construction as well.

You have seen numerous how to articles on the terrain, the game mat, and even the painted backdrops.  There are dozens of articles alone showing how this Ardennes forest table was created.

Compiling dice, counters and other items also took a while.

There are even some units that I scratch built, such as this medium 105mm howitzer for the French.  I have learned a lot over this massive project, to be sure.

It is hard to believe how much my approach has changed since I first started.  Now I am using oil paints for most of the figures and vehicles, and these are also demonstrated in several Facebook live sessions.

Here's another scratch built vehicle, the SDK 222.  It is great to finally see it on the table in a game, and not just in my photo booth!

These are the kind of scenes that I had been hoping to see for so very long.  As I have been filming, I have tried to find the best way to balance out the action, the tactics, the mechanics, and the results.  It can be a lot harder than you think!

I have been modifying my approach with each turn in this first game, so if you notice a different approach or different angles, it is because I got a new tripod or made another realization on the fly...

For my very first battle report, there are already some very classic scenes, such as the PZ 3 driving right up to the pesky sniper team (which had been on ambush the entire time), and then destroying a more distant Panhard armored car that was seriously threatening the entire German left flank.

This is the kind of thing I had hoped to capture, which is why I will be using the longer format style.  In this way, you will get to see my reaction to such crazy rolls of the dice, and the suspense of the next order dice, etc.

This will mean a lot of extra work, and a lot more editing, but I think that it will be well worth that additional effort.  Filming those live rolls and draws can mean finding a place for the camera to rest as you use both hands for other things...

You also have to think very quickly on your feet, as you don't have much time to mull over and ponder every possible strategy or action.  In some ways, it  is a bit like a tournament environment.

This picture really shows what I had hoped to capture in video form.  Something that looks as realistic as possible, so that it almost feels like you were watching a movie as opposed to a green board with some dice flying across it.

I try to capture that feeling of reacting live to a situation, such as the very unexpected result of a few random machine gun bursts setting fire to the Opel Blitz transport full of troops!

The other element I will try to bring to each of my reports is how terrain can really affect a battle.  There were so many instances of units being within a foot of each other, but no clear sight lines... just like the Ardenne forest!  

I have been observing forests and hills for a very long time, so see how limited sight lines are, and what a nightmare it would be to move large forces through them.  These games will be very cat and mouse, and also very bloody.

I will try to vary the scenarios, forces, missions, and the terrain as much as possible form one report to the next.  Campaigns will be arranged, and I might try to do the 'flip the coin' style reports, in which the same game is played over again, with the two sides switching defender/attacker, and so on.

Re-learning the video editing software has taken a while, since the original machines where I did this work are now long gone.  I definitely need to update/replace several items of equipment to make this happen as frequently as I would like.  That is why a good portion of the videos will be part of the Patreon Page, so that I can try and get these new items.

It also takes a long time to create each report, with up to 13+ hours of filming and editing, followed by the rendering and upload times.

If you want to support this effort, and be sure to see all of the reports yet to come, here is a link to the Patreon Page.  I will also be offering more raffle figures of a Bolt Action nature too!


Monday, January 29, 2018

Reading the Tea Leaves

As those of you who have seen my previous posts about basing and terrain know, using tea leaves can be a very interesting way to do ground cover on larger areas.

These tend to have a wider variety of shapes and sizes, even on one 'type' of loose leaf tea.

I realized that I could use this to augment the winter terrain pieces that I am making now.  I have a few articles on how I have been making these, starting with this:

Once the terrain pieces have been painted, they are set up for flock, and then snow.  Here's are a few episodes on how I do the flock and snow:

I try to have a number of shade and textures of flock on hand, especially when I am trying to match the game mat that I am using.  The coarse turf is great for that extra flavor of texture here and there, especially where I am trying to put the partial areas of snow.

On several of my tree stands, I have regular leaf trees, so that it is not just endless Christmas trees everywhere!  However, I had forgotten that those leaves need to go somewhere, and that I should have piles of those fallen leaves under those trees!

So, after saving several batches of Cathy's loose leaf tea (Chai and Earl Grey in this instance), I crushed those up a bit with my fingers and then piled them up under the trees.

It made a huge difference in color and texture.  It was quite fortuitous that the colors of those two tea leaves were far better than anything I could have painted.

Here you can see the difference that it makes, and how nicely it compliments the greener flock.  Oddly enough, that flock is really a brownish green, but compared to the tea leaves, it is so much greener!

That extra touch of texture is wonderful, but not so much texture that figures won't be able to stand in the forest pieces.

This tree stand shows it quite well.  Before I put on my flock, I dropped the leaves directly under the trees, scattering it a little more the farther away I got from the trunk.

With the flock placed next, this terrain piece really comes to life.

Next, I will be doing the same snow effect that I created in the previous posts.  I am hoping to do live tutorial sessions on terrain, but that will definitely require more equipment than I have available.

If you like these terrain posts, any contributions to the Pateron Page will be very helpful towards that goal!  And you will also be eligible to win the monthly raffle figure. :-)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Dead are Rising

This very neat miniature was the first figure which was painted almost entirely in oils.  Up until then, I had been doing a smaller portion, perhaps 60% of the figure, and finishing off the detail work with 'regular' acrylic paints.

On this figure, the primary area for the use of acrylics was the glowing lantern, so that I could use the Vallejo fluorescent paints.  I don't know of any fluorescent oils yet, so once the oils were dry, I was able to do that particular Object Source Lighting effect.

Here's an example of a facebook live session using the oils, and what you can accomplish with them:

If you are curious about how the base was made, I have a link to a facebook live session on how this "Bark and Branch" was created!

I didn't paint up this guy during a live session, but I have several other facebook live sessions where I paint Mierce Miniatures with oils.  If you want to see more of these, there are plenty more on my facebook page, and contributions to the Patreon Page will help me to create even more...

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Gone Fishing

Here's another Naiad Warrior that I conducted a few experiments with.  As I mentioned in the first post on the Naiads, I wanted to see if I could make some seashells mesh with the base, and some plastic foliage too.

I ended up tinting the shells with a light glaze of grayish green, since they stood out far too much from the rest of the base.  I was very pleased with that result, as it took away some of the brightness, but not the overall pattern.

Doing a heavier glaze over the plastic foliage was equally successful, using the Reaper Green Liner, Blue Liner, and some of the Vallejo Sienna Wash.  This not only made the color more appropriate,  it gave it the perfect 'flat' look, instead of the very glossy plastic.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Home On The Range

Here are the finished images of the January Raffle Figure for the Patreon Page.  The figure itself was originally sculpted and cast for a charity event, but it is available for purchase (you can e-mail Dallas at ampsayyc@gmail.com).

She was painted in a recent Facebook Live session, almost entirely with oil paints.  Here's a link to that demo:

I have been enjoying the oils so much!  It creates a lot of opportunities for color blends and unusual combinations, since you can mix paints right on the surface of the miniature.  I have taken to calling it "On Site Blending", and it is almost as if the miniature becomes my palette.

As I mentioned before, this is the January Raffle Figure for the Patreon page.  The more support I can generate for the page, the more live sessions that I will be able to do.  I really like them, but is is not very easy to balance them within the normal miniature painting work sessions.

Also, the Patreon funds are invested into the Raffle figures, shipping them out, and securing new supplies and subjects for the live demonstrations.  I always try to do something interesting and different, be that a new technique, material, and so on.

These larger scale figures have offered me an opportunity to finally paint a few.  Nearly everything that I paint has to be able to work in a gaming situation, and this is a very nice change!

The new Green Stuff World grass tufts have been very handy on my Western style figures... and these taller versions were fantastic on a large scale 75mm figure.

With each attempt I do with the oil paints, I find myself doing less and less "post production" work with the acrylic paints.  Once I learned the glazing tricks with the oils as you saw in the live demo, It has gradually eliminated the need to go in after the oils dry with more precise details.

If you would like the chance to win this figure for the January monthly Patreon Raffle, this is the last week to get in your pledge!  Any amount gets you the opportunity to win it, and your support is appreciated!

Here's the link:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Fires of Mordor

Here's the final results on the experiment with the Vallejo Metal Medium.  While it is called "medium", the conversation that was generated after the initial post makes me think that I should say it is not a 'medium' in the classic sense... it is very much like metallic paint in consistency.  It is not a thin glazing style medium!

In the past I have used regular metallic paints and added them to regular colors, but those tended to shift the original color.  This is designed to turn the color you are using into a metallic paint without that kind of significant alteration.

If you want to see the original step by step post, you can view that here:

As I mentioned very often in the original post, it was an interesting challenge,  since I normally use various NMM techniques.  It just kinda worked out that way, since commission painting requires you to do what it requested, and that means matching previously painted figures and so on.

Also 22 years spent as a 2D artists meant that metallic paints were not part of the picture so to speak!  There are not metallic watercolors, oils or pastels.  This article was made to discuss that idea further:

The lava style base was made to create that sense of Mordor, and provide a lighting source for the OSL.  I have a number of painting videos on USB drives which discuss OSL, making these lava bases, and the fluorescent paints used in the process.  Here's a sample video of the Object Source Lighting:

I will try to do more experiments with the Metal Medium, so I am looking around for the best miniatures to show such techniques!  A facebook live session is in the works, which will be yet another live experiment where whatever happens is unrehearsed. :-)

You can support those live videos by subscribing to the Patreon Page.  Any amount makes it easier to produce more of these, and gives you the chance to win the monthly Raffle Figure!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Man the Guns!

This is my third Laffly truck for my early war French army, but it has a few extra details that the others don't.  Before version 2 was released, there was a lot of questions about how many machine guns were active on these transports... and where exactly the guns were mounted.

The new version made things a lot clearer, but I'm still glad that I did these conversion elements to this great vehicle from Mad Bob's Miniatures.  Both machine guns can be removed, and the crew firing is a very fun addition!

If you want to see what this looked like when I first did the conversion, and a conversation of what it was like to hack away at the gun on the pewter figure, you can check out this previous post:

Most of the vehicle, and the figure as well, were painted with acrylics.  Of course, I have some Mig Ammo mud effects paints, and those made short work of adding the mud and splashes!

As I became more familiar with working on these historical vehicles, I started to get a better handle on things such as stowage and other ways to customize the vehicles.  When you have up to 3 of these in your army, it can be very handy for telling them apart from a distance in the middle of a game!

Here's a link to the Mad Bob's Miniatures site:

With this completed, it is time to start filming the first of the battle reports!  I can't wait to see these on the Ardennes board, against their German Heer counterparts.

I have 13 other armies under way, so these battle reports will eventually cover every era and theatre of the conflict.  It will be part of my Patreon Page offerings once I get the recordings down and edited.

If you would like to be a part of making that all possible, here's the Page: