Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Desert Monoliths - 15mm SciFi WIP

I've been building some "rock" monoliths for my desert table.  Here's a bit of how I did it.  I wasn't very consistent with documenting the process but I think you'll get the idea.  If you have questions about how I did it, leave a comment and I'll try to answer.
I began with some beaded styrofoam insulation boards.
These are about an inch thick.
I broke out my old Woodland Scenics foam cutter.
This is one of the handiest terrain building tools I have.
I also needed my hot glue gun.
I couldn't find my low temp one but the high temp works fine.
Only problem with it is the foam will melt because the glue is too hot.
It isn't an issue on this project because all the glued surfaces are hidden.
I neglected to take pics along the way.  But what I did was cut out random shapes of foam and then glue them together to form larger blocks.  These blocks I then carved into suitable shapes.  I experimented and found some techniques that produced the look I wanted:  sandstone monoliths with wind erosion.  After I carved each monolith, I glued them to CDs for bases.  This is what I ended up with...
Basic monolith.
You can see I've coated the bases with Liquitex Course Texture Gel.
I describe this product in an earlier post.
Next I painted them all with the "Desert Yellow" texture paint I mixed for the terrain table.
Following are some closeups prior to final painting.  I made six of these pieces, which should provide some good terrain coverage for my 3'x3' table.  I'm also going to make some areas of rough ground, which I will write up in another post.
Two larger monoliths.
Two groups of smaller monoliths.
Two shapes that are more interesting.
The arch was an experiment.  It's probably a little big for 15mm.
The one on the left is designed to allow units to get up on the level space.
After the texture paint I used some light brown craft paint to make a wash and "weathered" the rocks. I didn't cover the whole model with wash. I just drizzled it on and let it drip down to make streaked stains.
Again, I neglected to take photos, but after the "weathering" I went back over everything with a heavy dry-brush of the base color.  This helped to blend the dripped wash, making it less stark.  Then I mixed in some Ivory colored craft paint and highlighted the whole model.  I built up layers of highlight until the final highlight was pure Ivory craft paint.
Large monolith base coated, weathered and dry brushed with highlights.
After that all dried I used some white glue to add the same kinds of scenic material to the bases that I used on the table.  I used Woodland Scenics course dry grass to add some small scrubby plant material near the base of the stones.
Here they are lined up on the table!
Some close ups of the models in pairs...

I'm very pleased with them.  I'm looking forward to getting a battle going!  I've got a couple more terrain projects to finish and I need to paint my minis, but I'm making good progress.  Most importantly, I'm still having a blast!

That's it for now.  Until next time, carry on!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Desert Table - 15mm SciFi WIP

Here are some shots of the 3'x3' desert table I built for my 15mm Sci-Fi project.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was built with some leftover lumber I had on hand from a home remodeling project I completed last summer.  The table is made to be set on another table, either the small card table in the pics or some other suitable surface.  The basic materials are a piece of 1/4 inch underlayment board (plywood) and a couple of 8' 1x2s.
After measuring and cutting out all the parts, the plywood was attached to the1x2s with air nailed staples and brads.
Then I filled the holes with wood putty and  gave everything a sanding with 220 grit sandpaper.

Back side showing 1x2s.
Eventually I will put another piece of plywood on this side and make another terrain surface.
I'm thinking of maybe a Martian red type surface or maybe blacks/greys for an urban layout.
After the sanding I painted a base coat of "Desert Yellow".
I went to Menard's and bought a quart of paint that closely matched Vallejo's Model Color Desert Yellow.
You might notice that I masked off the sides of the table to leave a clean edge.
I neglected to take pics but after the base coat I mixed some of the "Desert Yellow" from Menard's with a bunch of old model railroad ballast I had on hand to make a textured paint.  I then painted a coat of this over the base coat to give the surface a gritty texture.  Next I mixed some of the Menard's "Desert Yellow" with some Ivory (off-white) craft paint and dry-brushed some highlights over the gritty surface.  Then I went to work with some flocking and pale grey fine ballast I had.

The desert surface with texture, flock and some scattered areas of ballast.
I sprayed a mix of white glue and water over everything to hold it in place.
Once the glue dried I rolled on a coat of Minwax Polycrylic clear satin finish.
This gives the whole thing a very durable, hard finish.  It also keeps the flock and terrain texture from flaking off over time.
A close up of the finish.  It doesn't shine too much because of the texture.
If the satin is a bit shiny you could spray on a matte finish but I don't think it's necessary here.
And there it is!
Ready for some of the terrain I've been working on.
This was a very simple build and I used techniques I've used on other tables so it went quickly.  I'm satisfied with it and it should provide me with years of use.  I have the advantage of a fairly complete woodworking shop and some handy tools.  However, a simple table overlay like this is well within the reach of anyone with some basic skill at measuring, sawing and nailing.  If you do build something like this I recommend you take measures to protect whatever surface you lay it upon for game play.  You sure wouldn't want to scratch up the dining room table!

Until next time, carry on!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

15mm SciFi Minis WIP

I decided to keep track of my progress on this project more closely than usual.  I'm enjoying painting the minis very much, which is surprising considering how small they are.  I'm finding that the more time I spend with them the less small they seem to be.  There is some great detail and they are easier to paint than I anticipated.  Anyway, here's what I've done so far with the Rebel Minis Earth Force figures.

I started by cleaning the flash and then gluing each figure onto a #10 washer.  The sniper team I glued to a 1" fender washer.  They got a spray of my basic white primer and then I used sticky tack to put them onto craftsticks (aka popcycle sticks).  Then I could start the painting.

A layer of thin Khaki over the whole model.
Then some thin US Dark Green on the upper bits.
I eventually also did green on their kneepads.
Coated the bases with some Liquitex Course Texture Gel.
This is the stuff.  Seems like a great product.
You can see the Hobby Lobby price tag.

Painted the bases with Desert Yellow.
Guns and face shields get Neutral Grey.
My workspace.  Need to use bigger craftsticks (tongue depressors?).
These are hard to hold onto.
You can see I'm using Vallejo's Model Color line.  I really like these paints.  Hobby Lobby carries them so I've been slowly collecting the entire set.  I've also been using a "wet pallet", which is something I recently learned about here.  He discusses how to use it in the first video on the page.  I did some searching and found a tutorial on how to make one here.  Very simple.  I can't believe I'd never heard of such a thing before now!  It is a great idea that has made my painting much more enjoyable and mixing paints much easier.

I also picked up some new brushes and a few odds and ends when I was at Hobby Lobby the other day.  The Liquitex course texture gel is good stuff.  You can't see it in the pic above but it fills gaps nicely and leaves a "sandy" surface.  Perfect for this desert project.  It is easy to use and cleans up with water too.  A good find.

My next step will be to complete the base colors on the rest of the platoon.  I've only done 4 as a test strip and to set my pallet.  I will do some highlights by mixing Iraqi Sand into each of the base colors and building highlights, probably 2 layers for each color.  I am hoping that using one shade as a mix for all the highlight colors will give a dusty, desert feel to everything.  We'll see.  I am considering using the Army Painter quick shade product next.  We'll see how that goes too.

I've also been building a table and some terrain so I've been busy.  Look for updates on those projects to come in future posts.  Until next time, carry on!

Friday, January 17, 2014

15mm Claims Another Victim

I've always been a 28mm man.  Oh, I had a few obligatory 15mm Traveller minis back in the day but I've never collected or gamed in 15mm.  Ever.  Then something extraordinary happened.

I started reading blogs by some excellent modelers and gamers.  I would look at their stuff and often it would be difficult to figure out whether I was looking at a 28mm or a 15mm lay out.  I started clicking links to mini manufacturers and finding a ton of very nice looking 15s.  I resisted the urge.

For a long time I reasoned that I had an extensive collection of 28mm figures and terrain.  I reasoned that I had built my entire hobby around this scale for so many years it would be too challenging - and too expensive - to begin again in a new scale.  I reasoned that as I've aged my eyesight is less acute, my hand a bit less steady.  I had many very good reasons for not getting into 15mm.  Then last week I said, "the hell with it" and took the leap.  There's no looking back.

Truth is for a long time I've wanted to get into scifi gaming that was not 40K or a 40K-look-alike.  I wanted some real, gritty future scifi and all the best stuff seems to be in 15mm for that genre.  So, with a 5150:  Star Army campaign in mind I went shopping.

First up was to buy some Earth Force and Sahadeen platoons from Rebel Minis.

Earth Force primed, based and ready for paint.
Sahadeen still in the bags.
You can't beat the price on these figures and they seem pretty good to me.  Of course, these are the only 15mm figures I've seen in person so maybe there's better stuff out there.  Regardless, I like the look of these.  I decided to use #10 washers for bases and a larger fender washer for the sniper team.  I think I would have liked to have slightly larger bases but these are fine.  I've been watching videos on how to paint in 15mm scale and am looking forward to diving in.

My campaign idea is for a desert world with these two as the main opposing forces.  I also want to get some Garn from Khurasan just because they are cool figures.  They will act as an indigenous force, possibly fighting the others or sometimes used as mercenaries by both Earth Force and Sahadeen.  I will also be buying some vehicles from Ground Zero Games; models to as yet be determined.

I decided to build a dedicated desert terrain table for this project.  I went with a simple 3'x3' table, which is the recommended size for Two Hour Wargames.

Just needs paint and texture!
Bottom showing support braces.
This was easy enough to build with leftover lumber I had from some home remodeling projects.  The plywood is 1/4 inch underlayment for flooring.  The braces are 1x2 boards.  A little wood glue and some air nailer brads and staples fasten it all together.  It is designed to sit on a card table (or any other table!) and is quite light and easy to move around.  I'll probably put some self-stick felt pads on the braces so I can use it on something like the dining room table.

Finally, I've also begun to build some "desert research post" buildings.

Dug through the "bits box" and found some likely components...
3 research station buildings started from breakfast cereal tubs and plasticard.
The model bases are all old CDs.
The power station. The chimneys are a set of cannons from an old toy.
I'll also be making some patches of rough, rocky ground and some desert mesas.  I'm having a blast and am reminded of the bygone days of scratch-building from my early years in the hobby.  I have that same feeling I had when I first bought Warhammer 40,000:  Rogue Trader and infinite possibilities abound.

So, that's been my week hobby-wise.  I should have more to show soon.  Until then, carry on.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Our Newest Grunt.

Just a quick post to welcome the newest gamer in our family! Liam was born at 9:36pm on January 13, 2014.  Mom and baby are doing well.  Older brothers and sister are excited.  Dad is beside himself with gratitude and joy.  Looks like we got ourselves another survivor!

Okay. That is all.  Carry on.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Farmer Brown and Mini-Me

I've completed a couple more figures for All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out.  They are both from the Wargames Factory Apocalypse Survivors: The Men plastic box set.

The first is a straight up build from the set.  The only challenge was in getting his hands to both be firmly on the rifle.  I had to fill in around his shoulders with some putty because they would not attach flush and still allow both hands to be holding the rifle properly.  The model could have been a soldier in military fatigues but I decided to give him the ball cap head.  I say he's wearing modern farmer's coveralls and I've named him the very original "farmer Brown".  (I'm working on a Mrs. Brown to go along with him based on Hasselfree's Madge.)  His hat is painted in John Deere colors, the most popular maker of farm equipment in the States.  As an American farmer, being armed with an assault rifle would not be uncommon.  Most American farmers keep a similar type of weapon for "varmints and such."  I think he turned out pretty well and I like the character of a crusty old farmer defending his homestead from the hoards of undead.

The second model is a new mini-me.  I had been using this figure from Hasselfree, but decided I wanted something new.  I used the body of an office worker since I have to wear a tie everyday for my job.  I wanted him to have a different weapon from the usual machete or baseball bat.  Some time ago I bought a prop replica of Peter's sword from the Chronicles of Narnia movies.  I decided it would be fun to have my mini-me wielding this beautiful weapon in the apocalypse.  After all, it is the most accessible weapon I own as it hangs on a display rack on the wall next to my side of the bed.  I found a plastic sword from some old Warhammer Empire models and modified the figure to be holding the sword in mid-strike.  It is a very dynamic pose and gives me the feel he's about to take the head off a zed.  I also added a pistol holster that holds my Springfield .45ACP.  I painted him up in regular office attire.  I'm please with how he turned out and look forward to trying him in a game soon.

With a little modeling skill and some creative paint schemes I think I'll be able to build most any type of survivor from this Wargames Factory set.  I also bought The Women and will be assembling some of those soon.  These kits are well worth the purchase for those who like to build their own version of the apocalypse.

That's all for now.  Until next time...carry on!