Wednesday, April 25, 2018


When I learned of the Bolt Action tournament at Little Wars just a few weeks ago, that set off a scramble to prepare.  The army was painted, but I didn't have a display board, nor did I have objective markers.

While I am not sure if they are actually needed, I figured that have the standard 3 objectives on hand might be a wise precaution.  One of them is already set, but I needed 2 more that could cover a few different aspects.  They needed to fit my early war "what if" French army, but later on I wanted them to be potential terrain pieces which could work for both France 1940 and for our Barbarossa campaign.

This meant breaking out the extra firm Gray Sculpey, and seeing if I could get these sculpted, baked and based in a mere 2 hours!!!

The hulls of the Panzer 1 and 2 were a more simple task to create, but the wheel and track assemblies are always much tougher to construct.  I had to save major time, and after reading a book series called PanzerWreks, I discovered that burned out tanks had a tendency to end up on their belly armor buried in the dirt/mud. 

This is due to the rubber on the drive wheels burning off, but more importantly the tortion bars melting.  Once this happened, the weight of the vehicle made the remaining hull sink to the ground.

This was perfect, since it meant that I could set the hulls into the wood filler, as well as the scattered drive wheels and sprockets.  I could also make some very quick and easy folded track lengths, and bury those too!

This alone saved hours of painstaking work on something that was "destroyed".  Yet another reason I did not want to spend very long on this project!

I used my clay extruder/pasta machine to create metal 'plates', which I could cut up with the exacto knife and turn into hatches, hinges, viewports and so on.

I was hoping to keep the hulls intact so that I might even be able to make temporary "complete" wheel/track assemblies in case I needed a working tank, but this part of the vehicle is simple enough to sculpt that I could make more in a pinch.

It is mostly a matter of creating 'blocks' of the Sculpey clay, and cutting away at it to get the desired shapes.

Once the pieces were set into place, I added some more wood glue to cover up bits of the tracks, as well as provide a little more 'grip' for the shattered wheel assemblies.  It was pretty funny to see them sitting at such odd angles, but after looking at dozens of images of wrecks, this is fairly common.

I had a collection of debris from my previous terrain projects (the roads and display board), which made some very nice large rocks and other scatter bits.

The original bases were going to be larger, so that I could potentially have miniatures standing on them, but space on the display board is at a premium.  Also, this is a lot closer to the normal recommended size of Bolt Action objective markers.

These have already been primed, and I will try to paint them in some form of video tutorial.  It might be a facebook live, or an instagram live.  Not quite sure yet!!

As always, any support on my Patreon Page makes it easier to create how to articles such as these, terrain making videos, painting videos, and so on.  It is a lot of fun to do them, but they also add a lot of extra work to every project.

Any support is greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A New Species

Here's a few shots from the Black Heart Models bust that I painted during a live session last week.

It was a lot of fun, experimenting with new colors, in addition to the Mig Ammo Oilbrushers!  This link will take you to that broadcast:

While I could not follow these reference pics exactly, they were a handy guide.  I might still try to do the lacquered effect on the skin, but I have to make sure everything is completely dry.

I used a Badger airbrush on the pedestal base, starting out with light primer colors, and then going over the top of those with a few of the Ghost Tints.  You can see that I emphasized the blue and magenta, as I thought this might be a perfect compliment to all of the greens and tans of the bust.

It was a tricky balance, since the colors on the bust were somewhat muted.  There are some areas that have a deep blue green or dark red, but those are in specifically designated areas.  Using Pthalo Green and Quinadridone Magenta really added some extra punch, very similar to what I do with the Reaper Clear and Liner paints.

I had been waiting a long time to test out these brighter and more intense tones.  This bust was certainly a great candidate!

You can find her on the Black Heart Models webstore here:

I will be painting many more of these busts, which I will be turning into various tutorials.  Some of these will be "hard copy" recorded and edited videos available only to my patrons on the Patreon Page:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Ostfront Opens

Some of you might recall the Barbarossa Board terrain project from last summer.  Well, a few weeks ago it was time to take it out for a spin with a test game for Roy and his Soviets!

There were a number of step by step episodes showing how that was created... Here's one link to the board project:

We tried to keep things fairly basic for this first game, but something that would touch on all aspects of deployment, reinforcements, unit types, and so on.  It was decided to do a Demolition scenario.

Obviously, the Soviets had a bunch of order dice.  There were a number of anti-tank rifle teams, inexperienced squads, NKVD units and Maxim MMG teams.  The T-34/85 is actually a 76, we just had to proxy that.

As the board was made to represent the Pripet Marshes in Ukraine, I knew that the streams and rivers on the board were going to present a significant challenge, especially to the advancing Germans.  It was rough ground for infantry and tracked vehicles... but I made it impassible for wheeled vehicles to keep things more interesting.

That choice of playing the terrain had less to do with the depth of the water, and more about the sloped nature of the river banks.  Also, I had a number of wheeled vehicles, and I did not want to be racing across the board to claim an objective on the second turn ;-)

Commissar Royitsky surveys the field, and informs his troops that they will soon sacrifice themselves for Mother Russia.

The Wermacht troops surged to the first river, getting out of their Opel Blitz truck which could not cross that obstacle.  It was hoped that the SDK 251 rolling up behind them would be enough support to get across the second river!

The air observer continued to hide out inside the lumber mill, trying to figure out where his ground attack planes were..

However, a number of Soviet ant tank rifles had moved away from a potential air strike and into position in the woods which blocked the path to the Red Army base.

While the Luftwaffe aircraft were heard overhead for several hours, they did not make their expected strafing and bombing runs in time... much to the dismay of the German high command!

The troops of the Wermacht would have to use all their skill to utilize the steep river banks as cover to reach that enemy base.

The Soviet tankers detected this movement, and attempted to cut off the advance.  They took up a position in the center of the battlefield, ignoring the autocannons and light artillery of their enemies.  This would allow them to block the central path, which also had the only bridges!!

Behind that was the Machine gun team, which would have to bear the brunt of the eventual air assault.

The Soviet forces were indeed taking a number of casualties.  The squad of green troops had already been dispatched, as had a few of the anti-tank rifle teams.  The heavy Maxim MMG team also met their end to repeated long distance fire from the Panzer II and the SDK 222.

In response to the German "right hook", Commissar Royitsky forced his inexperienced squads across the river.  They were hit by withering fire from troops on the central island, the Opel Blitz and another machine gun team.

The untrained troops wavered a number of times, but Royitsky restored their morale with a few well placed pistol shots to reluctant soldier's heads.

Meanwhile, the German advance to the Red Army base was thoroughly blocked by two fanatical units of NKVD.  Despite the exhortations of their officer, the squads were being gunned down as they struggled in the rivers.

The Hanomag gunner was unable to kill the pesky NKVD in the woods, and eventually the T-34 crew would use their battlefield experience to finally claim the transport vehicle as their first kill.

Once the German squads had been sufficiently ground down, the NKVD felt confident enough to emerge from their forest hideouts to assault the Axis troops.

The German armored support had rapidly moved to the left flank, trying to hold off the Red Army attack on their own base.  Despite all the massive firepower and casualties, the Soviet survivors had reached the German base despite valiant efforts by the Wermacht.

Commissar Royitsky had achieved his goal, at incredible cost.  Will he be able to raise enough new recruits to hold off the next German attack?  Stay tuned as Barbarossa continues!!

I also have my video battle reports:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Furry Friends

When you are matching previously painted figures from the distant past, it can be interesting to adapt new methods and approaches to look more like things that you painted long ago.

It is definitely a challenge, since that usually means altering your palette significantly.  Even with something "gray" like this, the more updated approach would involve many different hues and tones that would give the appearance of 'gray' as opposed to using gray itself.

What really makes this even more prominent in my mind is seeing sets for "painting gray".  There are 10 jars of 'dead' gray paint in the set, with no life to them at all.  Making gray is very easy, and there are countless ways to do so.

I suppose this is one of the reasons that I made "Shades of Gray" one of the 5 color theory videos for the Painting Pyramid series.  I will be including that video as part of the Patreon Page next month, where colors are discussed in more detail.

Gray can be brownish, greenish, blueish, or even have a hint of purple!  That is so much more interesting to look at than lighter and darker versions of the same dead gray tone.

Stay tuned, as always!

Friday, April 20, 2018

At the Crossroads

While I have had a lot of success using the plaster and wood glue mix on my terrain pieces, I had wondered if that would be the best set of materials for making my new road sections.

I usually play lots of YouTube tutorials while I am working, and I stumbled across one terrain building exercise that mentioned how wood filler can be a very effective material.

It has strength, durability, and a faster drying time.  There is also a natural texture, which the plaster mix does not have.

As usual, my starting point is the pink underlayment foam, which is about the same thickness as foam core.

It doesn't seem like the biggest container, but this goes quite a long way!

Since I know that the pink foam will not curl once this is applied (the wood filler is specifically designed not to shrink or crack!),  I mixed in a little wood glue for extra holding power and started to spread it across the intersection with the palette knife.

You can see that I have tried to create some piles of dirt in various sections of the road, making things as uneven as possible on this country road...

Once I had the general shape that I wanted, I smoothed out the rough surface with a 1 inch synthetic brush.  This removed all the obvious hard lines that the palette knife left behind.

Standing the brush on its end, I used that chisel point to create tire and track marks on the road.  I tried to pay special attention to how the vehicles might turn on this road, matching the tracks trough the turns.

You could even run a spare vehicle through the mud to make it even more realistic.

While the wood filler does have that additional texture that the plaster mix lacks, I still wanted to have even more texture on the sides of the roads.  Shrubs and small trees will line the side of this road, so I wanted a rougher texture under that growth.

I began with our dried tea leaf mix after spraying a bit of watered down wood glue...

The tea leaves were followed by coarse ballast from Woodland Scenics...

The final layer was a bit of fine ballast, which I also placed in the center of the ruts.  I will be making some puddles on the roads as well, so I thought it would be important to have this extra texture.

The long, straight road sections were a little more 'straightforward', so to speak.  Keeping the shapes interesting along such a long piece is something to be aware of as you place the wood filler.  Also, it is best to keep a consistent amount of texture on the ends of all your roads, so that they match up when you place them together on the board!

I did the same process with the tea leaves and ballast once I had placed all the wood filler.

I think these angles give you a sense of the texture... this will be even more pronounced when it is painted and flocked!

Here you have it... some new country road sections.  I was glad to see that my new photography light setup was very useful in lighting this, since I am hoping to do some facebook live terrain sessions, as well as create new recorded videos for YouTube and the patrons of my Patreon Page.

A $5 pledge lets you view these YouTube tutorials, while a $1 pledge is very helpful in securing more equipment and materials for experimentation such as these.

If you can support the Patreon Page, that will allow me to create more of these terrain projects, and also create new videos!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Gun

It was certainly a brand new experience painting Games Workshop figures in oil paints!  Until then, I had used them mostly on larger scale resin figures, or historical vehicles and minis.

Those were primarily earth tones, muted browns and greens, and so on... which made the brighter colors and steel of these figs something brand new with this medium.

Since these were painted, I have discovered some metallic oil paints which I would like to experiment with!  In the meantime, you can see how I approached painting the Clan Escher figures with the oil paints in this Facebook Live session.

Here's a link:

I have a new series of unit painting videos using oils coming up, this time using the new Games Workshop Dark Elf figures.  These will show how to paint the skin tones on both the Harpies and Medusa!

They will be available to the patrons on my Patreon Page: