Thursday, 8 June 2017

Village Module

One of my main sources of enjoyment from this hobby is the aesthetic. The way a game looks really matters to me. I have lost count of the number of games I have seen, particularly at shows, where well painted figures are let down by poor terrain. Conversely figures painted to a fair standard can be elevated to the excellent by nicely done terrain boards, buildings, trees and so on. This is why I am trying at the moment to upgrade my own terrain. Over the coming months, I will hopefully have plenty to show you. This module was designed to serve a variety of periods from say 1600 onwards. At the moment this covers my Grand Alliance and Napoleonic collections. I wanted this first effort to be a bit of a statement visually on the table, hence its size - approximately 15" by 15". This is larger than I normally prefer, especially as my own table is only 10 feet x 6 feet.

The model itself is a bit of a departure for me in a couple of respects. Firstly the main building material is 2mm cardstock, rather than 3mm MDF. The latter is an absolute swine to cut with a Stanley knife, especially the windows and I have found that if adequately braced, the card is very robust. Secondly, I have painted the walls with my latest toy - a very nice airbrush. This allows me to build up a more subtle finish through the application of several thin layers, rather than the dry brushing that I relied on in the past. Things have also been speeded up considerably by using Warbases tiling sheets for the roofs. I have to confess to being initially rather underwhelmed by these when I first saw them. Having used them on this model, I am now converted. Martin at Warbases is guaranteed a place in wargaming heaven for sparing me the torture of applying hundreds of individual card tiles! For those of you that haven't used them before, they come in A4 sheets, but as individual strips. You simply overlay them, starting at the bottom and working up, until the roof is done. It still requires some time and patience, but I reckon it is three or four times quicker (and therefore cheaper) than using individual tiles. Anyway, enough of the waffle - hopefully the pictures will speak for themselves.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The Worst Blogger in the World?

Eleven months, even by my standards is appalling - what can I say? Remarkably enough I have picked up another follower in the meantime, so welcome and hopefully I can offer up some interesting and useful posts over the following months and years. It isn't that I haven't been busy; painting and modelling commissions are taking up much of my time and my own collections have been steadily growing. I just seemed to lose my focus where the blog is concerned - mea culpa. Anyway, there we are. My next post will feature a rather nice 28mm village module I made for myself, primarily for my Grand Alliance and Napoleonic collections. Hopefully you will like it and keep following the blog.
All the best.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Scratchbuilt trees

Along with buildings, good trees can really set off a tabletop game. I have finally gotten around to making some and thought I would share the results with you.

The starting point are the excellent Woodland Scenics armatures, which come in a bag, containing both the armature and a small base. The size I am using at the moment are the medium trees, which come in at around 3 1/2 - 5" high and are perfect for 20mm gaming. The trunk is first glued to the plastic base and then the whole tree attached to a Warbases 2mm round MDF base.

The only slight drawback is that the trunks are a little on the thin side and the join with the plug in base is also fairly obvious. To get around this, I build up a layer of DAS modelling clay over the plastic trunk and then score it with a sharp knife to get a good bark texture.

Once dried, small lumps of rubberised horsehair are glued to the various branches. I use Evo Stick, which I find does the job very nicely. The key here is to use several smaller pieces rather than larger chunks; this gives a more realistic spread to the foliage.

The horsehair is then sprayed matt black. When this has dried, I paint the tree trunk and main branches dark grey, followed by a heavy drybrush of light grey and a light drybrush of white. Finally the base is textured with black tile grout, covered in grit and sieved sharp sand. The base is then painted to match the style of my figures: chocolate brown basecoat, with successive highlights of orange brown, desert yellow and buff (all Vallejo paints). Finally some static grass is added to finish off the base.

The leaves are then applied to the horsehair. I find it is easier to do this at the end as it cuts down on handling once the foliage is done. By far the best glue is something called hob-e-tac. Specifically designed for the job it is VERY sticky and remains so for a long time, as you will find out if you get it on your fingers or an adjoining surface. Simply dab it all over the rubberised horsehair and leave for 15 minutes, before liberally scattering the leaf material over it. I use Noch leaves, which come in several different shades and can be mixed together in various proportions to give a nice variety of greens.

The final stage is to give the foliage a good spray of matt varnish (I use the Army Painter one), which, along with the hob-e-tac fixes the leaves in place very nicely. With reasonable handling, the trees will last for years. If, in the fullness of time, they become a little thin on top, simply touch up with the glue, add more leaves and then matt varnish.

All in all, I am pretty happy with the result, as are a couple of my customers, who have asked me to make some for them!

I hope that this post has been of some interest. Terrain, just as much as the figures, makes the game.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Two Storey House and Garden(s)

This is another building for my late war Eastern Front collection. This can be used as a single small building if space is restricted, here seen from the front and rear.

Below is a simple garden enclosed by a low stone wall. The overall footprint is, again, quite small.

Here is a larger version, which extends out to the side of the house; this time with a picket fence and tree for variety.

One building, three uses.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Timbered Cottage

This is a somewhat smaller piece, featuring a timbered cottage with a small annex. The timbering is simply thin card, scored with a sharp knife. The cobblestones (plastic railway type), add a little extra colour and texture to the base.

The garden is divided into an open, plain garden behind the main house and a vegetable patch behind the annex for variety. Again a couple of patches of worn cobblestones.

Put the 2 together for a useful and fairly generic module. These are intended for a late war Eastern Front project I am working on, but would be fine in the Ardennes too.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Another Garden

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am trying to make the buildings modules that I use, more flexible. This is an alternative garden for the 2 brick cottages shown below.

As you can see it is considerably larger than the first and enables me to create a larger overall footprint using the same basic module. There really is no end to where you can go with this and I think that for me, this is the way forward. Unfortunately I seem to have placed the building module the wrong way round in the photos, but you get the idea!!

Friday, 5 February 2016

20mm Brick Cottages

One of the limitations of fixed buildings modules is that they are, well, fixed! Once made, they are what they are and cannot really be varied, other than through their orientation on the table. I am therefore trying to build in a little variety by making them in 2 or more parts.

As you can see, the two cottages are on a single, fairly narrow base, in case I want to keep the village footprint small. To the rear is a separate vegetable garden, bounded by a rustic looking fence. This can be added to make the module a bit more substantial.

I am currently working on a few more buildings along similar lines. The additional sections have the advantage of being fairly simple to make and easy to store and being very light, they can be stacked in a box quite safely. It is much quicker, easier and cheaper to have a smaller number of "core" buildings to which can be added various gardens etc to give variety. Hopefully, the modules I am working on at the moment, will make this a lot clearer. I will post more details as soon as I can.