Category: Scenery and Terrain

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!

End of year means yours truly takes stock to consider the past year of brushwork and how to continue doing what one does best – painting some models! I’ll cover each of my projects one by one and ramble a bit. No pictures of models in this one, so if you’re the kind of fellow who looks at shinies without reading the context – check back later! Here goes.

  • Napoleonic French: I’ve added a squadron of Chasseurs and one of Cuirassiers, two line battalions and a couple of vignette models over the course of the year. It’s my first historical project, and it’s still going strong. Next year I’d like to get at least two further line battalions ready for duty, paint up more cavalry as well as horse artillery. There’s also Napoleon’s Berlin Carriage…
  • Vikings: My second project, and one that could almost be considered finished, were it not for the fact that I continue to collect and paint Northmen for the sheer joy of it. I’ve actually sold off a portion of my Viking army this year – mainly duplicates and plastics – and I might continue to do so, just to keep the collection fresh. In 2016 I have no immediate plans to purchase or paint new Vikings.
  • Flemings/Crusaders: I’m fairly satisfied with my collection, so much of the past year was spent filling in some gaps; priests and pilgrims, a bishop, etc. What I did paint a lot of were Maltese crosses, with a decent number of sergeants and foot knights being added to the army. In 2016 I’d like to get some more cavalry done for the army, but it’s fairly low priority.
  • WW2: My Fallschirmjaegers and Red Devils both received a decent amount of attention this year, with a couple of big cats for the former and a big gun for the latter. More bodies, especially officers, for both sides as well. I have plenty of models on the lead pile to carry over to 2016 and I will certainly be adding further to both projects!
  • Late Romans/Arthurians: I’m deliberately keeping this army fairly small – I’ve painted up most of the infantry this year, and I just need to finish basing one last unarmoured unit to be done. Cavalry wise I have a unit of companions and of horse archers to be handled, and then a small selection of artillery. I’d like to handle all of these in 2016 and finally finish a project for once!
  • Dacians and Sarmatians: These were sidelined in 2015, with just one falx unit being completed. I purchased some cavalry at Crisis last year but still haven’t gotten round to them, and I also received some Foundry foot archers from a gaming compatriot which have yet to be handled. In 2016 I’ll try and finish them, but interest is currently low.
  • TYW Dutchmen: Well, shit. Nothing whatsoever was painted for this project in 2015. Better get going again or it’s Ebay time!
  • 6mm WSS Catalans: No loving for them in 2015, but just before writing these words I dug them out of the lead pile to recommence work on these imps, so how’s that for progress? I have just one foot and one horse regiment done, and my projected force will count four of the former and eight of the latter, plus artillery and commanders. At the moment I have everything but the commanders in my possession, so whils I’d like to finish the project this year I’ll have to figure out how to get a hold of more Baccus stuff. I don’t think I saw them at Crisis ’15…
  • ACW: Painted a couple of ACW units in 2014, but lost interest in 2015 completely – I guess all those Prussian uniforms put me off Union blue! Perhaps I’ll pick up the trail again in 2016, as I did see good progress on the Black Powder supplement for the ACW. Who knows?
  • Fantasy & Sci-fi: As you might have noticed on the blog recently, Frostgrave has grabbed me firmly and won’t be letting go in 2016! I’ve dug out many old Warhammer models and made some additional non-GW purchases to complement them, and I’ll continue doing so in the foreseeable future. On the 40k side of things, 2015 saw – shock and horror – a new project in the form of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but this has fallen by the wayside a bit. I just find assembling these newer models so bloody tedious, as even the infantry models don’t go together without having to look at an assembly leaflet and match numbered parts. Still, I’d like to pick up where I left off in 2016.
  • 12mm Great War models: These were a fairly cheap purchase at Warcon ’15 of which I have painted just a third of the models. They’re great sculpts, certainly, but the scale is difficult – neither my tried techniques for 28mm nor those for 6mm work well. I’ll probably get these finished in 2016, maybe buy officers for both sides, then shelve them.
  • Scenery: I built a couple of items in 2015 but didn’t finish them off and, as a result, didn’t show them on the blog. I’d like to collect and build even more, but with the small apartment we’ve moved to I don’t really have the room to store an expansive collection. Choices, choices… So my pledge for 2016 will be to finish and preserve what I currently have.
  • Commissions: 2015 was a busy year with a lot of Prussians (I reckon around 200 of them?) and some Arabs thrown in for good measure. As always, I’m stating now that 2016 will of necessity be a year of fewer commissions and more personal work; we’ll see how long I’ll keep that up!

 

So that’s the main overview of my futile attempt at coherently outlining my painting work in 2016. As ever, stuff gets dumped due to waning interest or laziness, new purchases are made because I am a wargaming magpie who likes shinies, and whole projects get shelved for a year or more because I have the attention span of a toddler in a liquor cabinet. Nothing is set in stone!

Still, despite moving house and breaking my elbow, my year of miniature painting was successful. The figure below will tell you just how successful:

855

That’s how many figures I painted, with each cavalry model and vehicle counting as a single model, and artillery pieces having the gun and each free-standing crewman count as a single model as well; and this across all scales. I was going for 600, so that’s not too shabby, eh? For next year I’m upping my goal to 700, but as I did last year I’m counting in the 255 surplus models from 2015. I’m devious like that.

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The Beautiful Alliance

It was only a matter of minutes before I caved in and put the 28mm mdf version of one of the most famous buildings in history on my Warlord Games wishlist; and my girlfriend duly responded by putting it in my Christmas stocking. I’ve painted it up within less than 24 hours of receiving it, which must be a first for me!

A great building by Sarissa Precision.

A great building by Sarissa Precision.

This is the first mdf kit I’ve assembled, and overall I’m really pleased with this kit. It was easy to put together with just PVA, and the instruction leaf is well-made. Tip of the hat to you, Sarissa!

 

I've gone through the trouble of adding glass to the windows, made from blister packs.

I’ve gone through the trouble of adding glass to the windows, made from blister packs.

I’ve used basecoat sprays, of course. I sprayed the roof separately with mournfang brown, the main structure was undercoated with a light coat of white.

 

Several tufts of MiniNatur flowers were added to the porches to liven the building up.

Several tufts of MiniNatur flowers were added to the porches to liven the building up.

The roof was fairly hard to get right; I used successive drybrushes of mephiston red, squig orange and dwarf flesh to end up at this point. It might still be a bit too dark, but I’m satisfied with the way it looks.

 

Quite cozy looking, innit?

Quite cozy looking, innit?

Stock mdf buildings can often be a bit bare-looking, which is why I added some tufts and, most noticeably, some poison ivy to the one blind wall.

Overall I’m very happy with how it came out. I’ll be sure to take some pictures of my French with this as a backdrop soon!

2014: The Great Wrap-up – and Christmas Presents for 2015!

Just as I did last year, this post bookends the painting and modeling activities I pursued in 2014. It’s been a year full of a change for me: I was fired from one job and hired by a much better company straight away, I’ve picked up sports again, and I’ve taken on way too many commissions leaving little time for my own lead and plastic pile to be reduced! At any rate, let’s take a look at the various projects I have completed or are still running:

  • French Napoleonics:
    • 2014: I’ve picked up a bit of the slack and have doubled my infantry battalion count from 2,5 to 5 over the past year, which the army sorely needed! Some more guns were added, but sadly the cavalry was completely neglected.
    • 2015: I’d like to add a sixth battalion to the army as soon as possible, and then it’s on to the cavalry – chiefly cuirassiers, but I’ve also picked up horse artillery and a Chasseurs-à-Cheval unit at Crisis. My mother and my girlfriend also conspired to give me Napoleon’s Berlin carriage and Baron Larrey and his ambulance for Christmas. Both are fantastic models and I can’t wait to get started on them.
  • Vikings:
    • 2014: Not too many were painted this year, especially after the summer. Chief among my exploits were the jomsviking mercenaries, and that Jarl Rognvald fellow who was completed just in the nick of time.
    • 2015: They’ll probably continue to be on the backburner in 2015. I purchased a couple of the new Shieldwall vikings which will be handled in between other projects.
  • Flemish Crusaders:
    • 2014: I put a fairly heavy focus on these guys this year, didn’t I? I’d consider the army mostly done at this point, with about sixty spearmen, 24 bowmen, 12 crossbowmen and 12 cavalry. It certainly is playable in Sword&Spear, Saga etc.
    • 2015: I’d like to add some more pilgrims and/or clergymen to the army, and maybe some more cavalry as well. It likely won’t be happening soon, though!
  • Dacians & Sarmatians:
    • 2014: I completed most of the army this year, but then I decided to go ahead and buy more at Crisis. Idiot!
    • 2015: These new purchases should be dealt with soon enough – a unit of light cavalry, a warlord on horse and a small (literally) unit of Foundry cataphracts. My girlfriend also gave me a pack of Druids for Christmas, which is superb as I was lacking in the command model department.
  • World War Two:
    • 2014: Both my Fallschirmjäger and British Airborne had their basic forces completed early in the year – it’s a shame I didn’t get more Bolt Action games in, but the game is gaining ground. I really love painting up those camouflages, so more’s on the way!
    • 2015: I’ve purchased additional models for both armies, and I can’t wait to go to town on them! The krauts are getting a Hanomag with a PaK 36 my mother bought me for Christmas (she’s nice like that). The Airborne are getting a bit more love, with two jeeps, a 17-pdr AT gun, a plastic Sherman and… a Welbike-mounted section!
  • Pike&Shotte Dutch:
    • 2014: I’ve been rather unkind to this army, and I’ve only managed to paint up a firelock storming party. Shame!
    • 2015: While I don’t have a lot of unpainted Dutch on the plastic pile I’d really like to paint them up – just two companies of shotte to do. But I do have plenty of blue to paint already, which brings me to…
  • ACW Union:
    • 2014: Speed-painting 40 Zouaves in four days was ridiculous; I’ve also painted up half a unit of cavalry and half a regular infantry regiment. Not quite playable yet, but we’re getting there!
    • 2015: What I’d like to do ASAP is to paint the two other halves of said regiments. I’ve got plenty of infantry left after that, and I’ve also picked up a box of plastic Perry artillery which I can’t wait to open up. Still, interest in the conflict has died down a bit in my club, so I’ll take things slow.
  • Medieval Arabs:
    • 2014: Nothing at all!
    • 2015: I’ve still got eight cavalry lying around… Maybe it’s time to give them some love?
  • Jugula:
    • 2014: Eight gladiators done, which is the bare minimum to play with.
    • 2015: I hear rumours of other people in the club expressing an interest in the game, so I’ll paint up the models I have left for variety and see where it goes. I’m not ruling out additional purchases for this game, as it’s very cheap.
  • Late Romans:
    • 2014: Just a colour scheme test, nothing more! Although it still amounts to a single completed unit.
    • 2015: I’ll be focusing heavily on this army in the new year – almost all of it is second-hand so it’s been an ideal way to get a new project started up. I’ve managed to find a striking colour scheme without having to invest oodles of time into layering, so you’ll see some results quickly!
  • Greeks:
    • 2014: Just the one armoured hoplite regiment done – which I haven’t even shown you due to it still needing to be based.
    • 2015: I really need to get going on this army, but I’m considering selling them off as I just don’t have the time for them. But who knows? Maybe I’ll suddenly be inspired to continue working on them.
  • 6mm Catalans for WSS:
    • 2014: one regiment of foot and one regiment of horse done, and I really like the scale for how different your approach to painting has to be.
    • 2015: I’ve acquired a batch of infantry, horse and artillery and I’ll be painting these up in between other stuff. The scale isn’t very popular in our club, apart from one guy who has a massive 6mm WSS army already… Small engagements first!
  • Hospitallers:
    • 2014: Just sixteen foot knights were painted up this year.
    • 2015: I still have half a box of Fireforge knights and a full box of mounted sergeants lying about… as well as more foot sergeants, more foot knights… But with all the crusader craze I’ll get to them eventually!
  • Commissions:
    • 2014: many, many crusaders for Kurt, some WSS for Alex, and some Prussians for Henk. All in all I think I’ve painted over 200 models for other people, which is a bit on the high side.
    • 2015: More Prussians – I’ll be doing quite a bit more infantry. Also Kurt has provided me with a small bag of Hashashin for use in Saga, and I’ll be doing these up soonish. Should be fun with all the robes! I know I said exactly the same last year, but I’ll try and keep 2015 light on new commissions – there’s just so much of my own stuff to be done!
  • Western:
    • 2014: Just two guys done.
    • 2015: Finding a decent ruleset for cowboy skirmishes is a top priority for the new year, preferably as cheap and as simple as possible. I’m open for suggestions!
  • Warhammer (40k)
    • 2014: Hahahahaha…
    • 2015: …hahahahahaha

 

Now, one final item, and it’s really simple:

816

That’s the number of models I’ve painted in 2014. Slightly higher than my goal of 600, so what I’m going to do is I’ll start counting for 2015 from 216 on, and set a goal for 600 models again. Before you cry havoc – I’ll be moving house sometime next year which will impinge drastically on my painting time, so I’ll be hard pressed to get to 600!

That’s it for the wrap-up, folks. I’ll be posting a few small updates before new year, but the coming days will be busy with work, a surprise weekend trip to Waterloo (courtesy of my fantastic in-laws) and luxurious, decadent, gluttonous feasting. Let me wish you readers all the best for 2015, and I’ll try to keep the blog as entertaining as possible. Arrividerci!

Scenery project: Art Gallery

With Bolt Action having taken off in my local gaming group in Halle, we figured we’d need some scenery to fight over. Some ruins of buildings are often the most evocative kind of scenery you can imagine, and so I sat down last week and built one. Not just any ruin though – I really wanted to go to town (pun unintended) on a challenging piece. Here then, dear readers, I present you the fruit of my labour.

The front of the house, with the gallery's sign bearing my girlfriend's name - she's an art historian!

The front of the house, with the gallery’s sign bearing my girlfriend’s name – she’s an art historian!

The walls were built out of foamcore – the stuff that architects use to create their mock-ups. I found it relatively cheaply at a local scale modeling store, and it’s really the best material to make decent buildings out of. That brick texture was made by pressing a ballpoint pen into the thin card layer, which is simple but also immensely tedious work.

 

The creeper plant on this corner is poison ivy by Mininature.

The creeper plant on this corner is poison ivy by Mininature.

Doors and windows were cut out with an x-acto knife, taking measurements roughly in keeping with the size of the models and their bases. Once all the basic shapes were done, I glued them onto a plasticard base with a liberal application of PVA.

I decided I'd done enough bricks, so I cut some corners on this wall.

I decided I’d done enough bricks, so I cut some corners on this wall.

The floor, doors, window panes, roof tiles etc. were all made from cardboard, kindly donated by some of my Warlord boxes! Other materials used were bits of plaster that were left over from another scenery project, barbecue sticks (don’t know how they’re called in English) and good old styrofoam.

 

Plenty of forward-looking windows, but terrible lack of cover from the back.

Plenty of forward-looking windows, but a terrible lack of cover from the back.

Of course, with it being an art gallery, the interior is the focal point of this building. I had my girlfriend pick some paintings that are no older than the Napoleonic age – as I’d like to be able to use it for that era of wargaming as well – then downsized them and printed them out. Then they were stuck onto thin cardboard, provided with a gold trim aka poor man’s frame, and stuck onto the walls.

The table is a simple piece of cardboard provided with four lengths of barbecue stick.

The table is a simple piece of cardboard provided with four lengths of barbecue stick.

One thing I am going to add before calling it completely finished is to add a makeshift ladder so that the top floor can actually be reached. Other than that, it’s on to another piece of scenery!

Scenery on a Budget: Dilapidated Walls

Scenery building is often low on the agenda of many a wargamer, playing second fiddle to the act of getting enough models painted. However, a lovely tabletop to play on is every wargamer’s dream – a dream I have been neglecting until recently. With my local game store closing it doors in a few weeks, I’ve started building some scenery pieces for my own collection so my friends can come round to my place instead. This article deals with a very simple project I’ve recently completed, and I hope you’ll find it helpful.

Materials needed:

– Small pebbles, rocks or bits of brick, roughly 0,5 cm to 1cm in diameter
– Strips of mdf or plasticard, at least 2mm thick, about 2cm wide and as long as you like (has to be sturdy enough!)
– Coarse modelling sand or gravel
– PVA glue, preferably with a rather precise applicator
– Paint and some big brushes
– Other basing materials to suit your gaming table

 

Step 1: assembly

Step one

Step one

Take a base and squeeze a thick ‘sausage’ of PVA glue across the entire length of it. Then lay down the first layer of rocks one after the other. It looks better if you use the thicker rocks for this layer, and your wall will be sturdier as a result. Let this first layer dry, then add a second layer on top of it in the same fashion, making sure that the rocks from the second layer have a decent contact area with those underneath. Continuing adding layers until the wall is as high as you’d like it to be – though with the size of rocks I listed you need just two to reach a nice height for 28mm models to crouch behind.

 

Step 2: undercoat

Step two

Step two

Once all glue has dried completely, undercoat the walls. I used a black undercoat spray for this, but you can do this step with a brush as well.

 

Step 3: drybrushing

Step three

Step three

Use as big a brush as you can for this step. Choose the colours you’d like to have your walls in; they don’t have to be grey, you can do some sandstone walls, some chalky white ones etc., it really depends upon the theme you would like to have your tabletop display. For my own walls I used a drybrush of xv-88 followed by dawnstone, both applied rather heavily.

 

Step 4: the base

Step four

Step four

Now cover the base of your walls in some PVA and dunk it in coarse sand. Don’t worry if by accident you get some sand onto the walls, they’ll only look a bit more weathered if you do.

 

Step 5: basecoating the base

Step five

Step five

Using a dark brown paint and a measure of water, basecoat the sand once it’s dry. Again, don’t worry if you get some dark brown onto the walls, as it will look like a splash of mud.

 

Step 6: one more drybrush

Step six

Step six

Once everything is dry, give both the walls and the base a final drybrush in a very light colour. I used a bone colour for this. Make sure the paint on your brush is very dry, and it will pick out all the rough texture on those rocks.

 

Step 7: final touches

Step seven

Step seven

Afterwards, add static grass, tufts, meadow flowers, lichen etc. to your walls. You can take this as far as you’d like – you could add some weeds growing between rocks, some rock moss on top, even some bird droppings. I chose to leave it at static grass to tie the bases into my standard grass gaming mat.

There you go, some walls. Of course, they’re never going to be considered marvels of architecture, but this makes them fit with many periods of history, from Celtic settlements to rural farmsteads in occupied France. This project also costs next to nothing and it won’t take too much of your time. Good luck with it if you try your hand at this project!