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:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/-/222638799128?


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...


Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Rook


This is something that we did long ago, which was apparently part of a "Chess Set", complete with Bishops, Pawns, Knights and Rooks.  My guess is that this was the Rook.


These figures were made long before Steampunk became a popular theme for miniatures.  I believe they were made in 2003 or 2004.


He's also here:



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Big Time Backdrops!


Since our return from the east coast, I have been experimenting with the new MacroMats photo backdrop kit made by TableWars.

I am especially excited, since it has several key elements which will be so helpful for what I am doing nowadays!  That is size (the mats are 15 x 30), portability (see the case below) and durability.


The backdrop setup comes with this rig, which is easy to assemble.  I am familiar with this format, since one of my camera tripods is very similar!


You have a few options when it comes to putting together the crossbar.  You can do one piece, or both, and all you have to do is snap them in place.


Again, this is all very rugged, and that is essential for photographing large numbers of figures, or massive figures, and even terrain pieces as I intend to do.  


Speaking of terrain pieces, I thought I would grab one of the largest structures that I have at the moment and give it a try.  I have not been able to photograph this yet, since I didn't have any backdrop that came close to covering it.  You can see that it was not a problem at all...


I grabbed a few of my portable LED lights, which can be positioned in any number of ways, to snap a few images!


This is only a few minutes after taking the kit out of the box.  I have more elaborate lighting set ups that I will use with this kit.


It comes with 3 different mats, including the blue to white fade, which is great for me.  Over many years, that was the type of backdrop which needed to be used for cover art and blister packs, and it is nice to know that I can add more images of these new large scale things with a similar background.


This large box is my own photo rig that I created for taking pictures of big stuff.  I have 3 under cabinet LED light strips that shine down on all parts of the figures at once, eliminating shadows.


The top bar is the longest at 18 inches, while the strips on the sides are 12 inches.  You can see the nice padded clips that come with the MacroMat rig!


I set down some of my early war German Bolt Action vehicles, and snapped a few pictures.


I was amazed at how nicely the pictures turned out, and that I was able to put so many vehicles on there at once!  In fact, I could have put more on it, but my photo box was actually too small for the mat!  Incredible.  

There is also a larger size photo mat in the works, which will be 30 x 30 inches.  I cannot wait for those!  It will be the final piece to the photography puzzle.

Here's a link to the TableWar website where you can get yours:



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ye Olde Saurus


Here's something from many years ago... over ten in fact!  This Saurus warrior was part of the very first unit that I tried using the Shaded Basecoat technique.  The figure itself is quite ancient, since this variety of Saurus was replaced be new plastics in 2003.


It's a bit scary to think of this figure being around 20+ years old, but like some of the other ancient out of print figures I have done in the past, it is neat to see something such as this with an "updated technique".


Sometimes what is old can be new again!


He's also here:



Monday, September 11, 2017

A Cabin in the Woods


In yet another terrain experiment, I was able to turn some very nasty looking toy Christmas trees into something a bit more realistic!  I don't have the before pictures just yet, but I am planning on doing a how to post for the next batch.


We needed something that looked less like normal deciduous trees to make the log cabin and lumber mill pieces make more sense!  


They still work just fine with the rest of the tree stands, and will provide just as much line of sight blocking and cover.


In addition to the conifer trees, I experimented with a "Swamp stand", where I had a set of trees but also a decent size pool.  That pool had some dead stumps sticking out of it, with the idea that I could extend the swamp aspect of the board for our Prypiat Marshes campaign.


It was not very difficult to make those pine trees look less like neon green plastic with white splattered frosting.  I simply painted trees with the airbrush, wiping out all the unnatural tones, followed by a few layers of flock.


I will be very curious to see what happens when we play some games on this.  Up until now, most of the board has been urban in nature, with a few small tree stands... and roads!


On our Barbarossa board, the only roadways are waterways.  You can also see a few more of the pine tree stands by the lumber mill.


It is quite ironic that those nifty sawed off tree logs were originally the stands that held the fake pine trees!  I had to yank the tree wires out of those, which was a challenge to avoid smushing the branches.

I was just about to toss those away, when the idea struck me to use them as terrain.  Sure enough, they looked fantastic!  They are also big enough for individuals to hide behind them.


Infantry should really dominate these games, with tanks and artillery very limited in their fields of fire.  This will also take some getting used to, as observers, snipers and vehicles can hold down entire areas of the board by themselves.


These small rickety bridges might also end up as key positions, which was the whole point of the multiple forks in the river.  While a different game system was originally intended for this board, it turns out that it is fantastic for our upcoming Bolt Action games.


Here is a view of that swamp tree stand.  I will also try to do an article on this piece.  It is not very difficult if you save up plenty of nifty branches!


Roy's Soviets seem right at home in this environment.  Can the marauding Wehrmacht make them feel a little less cozy?  The wait is nearly over, so stay tuned...