Workbench


"Big" Hill Sectional Terrain Panels 2: Ground Texturing

 With the frames and base foam installation complete the next step is carving the foam to look less "wedding cakey" (yes, that is a real term) and apply the ground texture.  Being pretty much an idiot, I forgot to take pictures of carving the foam but I just used a very sharp knife to smooth out the slopes and as you can see in the first pictures added some exposed rock face with some pink foam.  Once that was down a layer of sculptamold was applied to fill in any big seems and smooth out any transitions.I do focus of figure stability so there are still layers but they're just not as a prevalent as some of my earlier hill attempts.Once the scultpamold has set, it's time to cover the whole thing with my "secret" terrain tool - pre-mixed tile grout (and pre-colored!).I do mix in a little PVA glue which really helps with hardness and makes the surface very durable.  Application is dead simple - put on a pair of surgical gloves, grab a handful out of the can and plop it down.  Now hears t

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HCON Prep: Big Hill Sectional Terrain Panels

 I really like the 2x2 terrain panels I built a few months ago but they do suffer form one issue - their umm flatish-ness.  I wanted to add some height variations and decided to build some modular hill sections.  The height of the hills will be four inches (3 inches from the top of the terrain as standard height of each panel is 1 inch). The first step in construction was to make the sloped panels, since I'm making three sections, I cut 3, 5 inch x 24 inch pieces of plywood and traced out the dimensions of the slope which is 4 inches flat in from each end and a diagonal line connecting the two points over the remaining  linear 16 inches (4+4+16=24).  The three panels were then taped together and I ran them through my band saw. And just like that I've now got 6 perfectly matched side panels.  Well perfectly matched after bit of sanding as band saws are never really precise.  At least the way I use them.....I then cut the rest of the side pieces out.  Here's the full

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Historicon Prep: Post 1,

The official countdown timer for Historicon now reads 42 days and 11 hours so It's time to "get it in gear".  First on the task list is painting the village sets I picked up from Total Battle Miniatures.  I've primed all the buildings with grey auto primer (my go-to primer) and laid out the flexible base for the "Hamlet".After about 90 minutes of work, I've gotten the Hamlet about 80% done and started another building.  The manufacture suggests not priming the flexible bases and just painting them with acrylic paints, which what I've done.  There is an amazing amount of detail in the building casts which just cry out to be painted.The buildings look a bit shiny now as the paint is wet and I haven't applied any washes or the matte sealer.I have three sets to paint:- A Hamlet which has three buildings (to the right) and is mostly painted- A Village which has four buildings (the buildings are on the left of the tray)- A Town which has 7 buildings (grouped on the right of the tray).  The

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Wizard's Tower: Part Two - Painting

The painting of Steve's Tower was very simple.  The first step (which I have no pictures of) was to cover the entire piece in a primer made of 50% cheap craft paint and 50% Modge Podge matte finish.  This provides both a nice black primer to cover up the pink and white EPS and also hardens the foam a bit to make the piece a bit more durable.  I got this idea form the Jeremy's Black Magic Craft Youtube channel and am using it for almost all of my terrain related projects.Because the surface is so uneven, I do the priming in two steps - a thinned down version is first applied and allowed to dry and then a full strength one is applied over the top.  The definition of thinned down is a dip my brush in the 50/50 mixture and then dip it again in some water before painting it on.  I used a 1" brush as priming terrain isn't exactly precision work.Once the primer has been given 24 hours to dry, the next step is to paint the whole thing a medium grey, dry brush a light grey and black wash.This

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Wizards Tower, Part One "Lets make foam bricks, a lot of foam bricks"

 A few months ago, I made a custom 3 level Wizards Tower for my friend Steve Mac to use on his D&D Streaming Channel "Castlemac".  He wanted to surprise his players so I've held off until now posting about the build.  It's a pretty simple design and was a lot of fun to build. This post will cover the construction. I cheated a bit and purchased some styrofoam 12" diameter circles, that were 1" think.  I've always struggled cutting precise circles in EPS and wanted the base of each level to be as uniform as possible.  Steve's uses a 1" grid so one was added using a dull pencil. Once the grid was drawn in, I marked off 4 points in 90 degree increments which was very helpful later on in the project.  Then the somewhat tedious part of the project started - brick work.  The first course of bricks are 2"x1"x1" rectangles.  I went with larger "base bricks as the matches the floor level and broke up the monotony of the exterior a bit.  These were attached with

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Workbench is Disarray

 My Painting workbench is in a higher level of disarray than usual.  Perhaps it's due to mixing the painting of 15mm Napoleonics with Star Wars Legion mini's.  That's likely a phrase not heard too often.The initial paint for Boba Fett is done - now need to do the details and a wash.  I am pleased with the progress so far.

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Finished 15mm Forrests

 OK, we're up to the final two stages of this miniature forestry adventure - making the tree canopies and scenicing the bases.  A word of warning - both these processes are extremely messy and YOU WILL burn yourself on the glue gun.  Sometimes sacrifices must be made the the Miniature Wargaming gods. The first step is to cut out the underbase for the tree canopies.  I like to use black foam core as its cheap, durable and the black hides any gaps from the attached foam material.  Just trace the shape of each tree base onto the foam core and the cut it out with a new facto knife blade.  For some added elevation I attached another layer of foam core.  In actual practice this didn't really do anything so I would skip that step.With the canopy bases cut out the next step is the attache the foam.  I strongly serge you get a cheap cake pan as pictured for any flocking exercises.  The pan really controls the mess and helps me reused the flock that shakes off.  I ended

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Life Goes On

My mother-in-law, Rosemary, died suddenly a week and a half ago due to complications with the surgery she decided in the end to have. Either way, she was faced with a terrible choice; a slow deterioration which could rob her of a meaningful life, or a risky operation which offered her a chance of total recovery or catastrophic failure. After a week in which her symptoms only got worse, she opted to take the surgery with the proviso that if anything went wrong, she would be allowed to die without intervention. The surgeries themselves went without a hitch; it was just her body's reaction to them that was the risk factor, and unfortunately the worst happened. She died after a very rapid deterioration in her condition a week and a half ago. We said goodbye to her yesterday in a moving ceremony where my stepfather-in-law read out not only his own eulogy, but a letter Rosemary had written to her grandchildren. Each of the four grandkids was presented with a little enamel box and instructed to fill it with thi

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Smaller Scale Tree Stands: I AM A MINIATURE FORREST RANGER

First a reminder of what I'm trying to replicate.  The photo to the left is a close up of one of the three tree stands that Ernie made for me way back in 2010.  Ernie does have remarkable skills and these beauties have held up rather well.As Stated in earlier posts, I did want to change the design concept and replace the roofing nails Ernie used with wooden dowels.  Even with the points ground down, the nails are still sharp and gamers at a convention are, ummm, not the most graceful in motion.  An impaled gamer is a terrible sight to see and rather messy.I also wanted to make the trees slightly taller as 15mm scale vehicles sometimes don't fully fit under the ones I've got now. I have a bunch of 12" inch long 1/8 diameter dowels which is a perfect dimension for the tree trunks.  So I got out my trusty precision cutter  "The Chopper", set the length to 1 3/4 inches and started chopping away.  The blade is a little worn down so I could only cut three dowels at a time.Slo

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Smaller Scale Trees: Basing Test Results

The results are in and it seems everything old is new again.I have two criteria for terrain making efforts - looks, durability and ease of application.  Both methods passed the looks category with a slight edge to the non-pre-mixed version.  The flexible pre-mix on the right can look a little smoothed over.  Since both will be covered 95% by ground foam those minot smooth spots will be covered up.On Durability the pre-mixed flexible grout won hands down.  How do I test durability - I take the piece , turn 90 degrees and whack the side on the my workbench fairly hard.  The side with the unmixed grout just flaked off while the flexible pre-mix didn't show a mark.  I ended up redoing the unmixed by adding in a 50/50 mic of matte medium and water rather than just water - while the matte medium shows through it now passes the "whack-test"On ease of application their both about the same so the winner is my tried and true pre-mixed flexible tile grout.  The unmixed stuff is still u

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Smaller Scale Tree Stands: Basing Test

A few months ago, I made a large number of tree stands that work great with 28mm figures but not so well with 15mm and 6mm figures.  Since I've got a large convention game coming up this summer - I really HAD TO HAVE a solution.  At least that's what I've told my wife as she rolls hers eyes at me (again).  A long time ago, Ernie Baker made some really nice tree stands for me that have removable canopies as you can see in the first picture.The removable canopies make it easy to move troops through the forrest and give a really nice look on the table top.  The tree trunks are nails.My wargaming club also uses a similar style of tree bases which you can see here.I made a similar set of tree bases for Curt during Painting Challenge VIII but now need some for my personal collection. I've also stumble across new (to me) type of material call "PALIGHT" and wanted to test it out for the bases.  Palight is a foam version of PVC - think foam core with a flexible plastic outer shell rather than

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Really Yesterday's Post

Having spent much of the day shivering and sleeping I thought it was time I posted what I did yesterday. Things planned for the week are now getting close to completion. So all in all I am feeling quite happy. Despite the shivering.I am even getting close to finishing off the terrain. There are loads of bits to do, enough to do three linear feet, which has kind of put me off so far. Still it's there and and I want to get it done for a couple of game I have planned.Now I thinking about next week. I have found eight figures that I think I purchased in 1992. This would be a nice thing to get out of the Lead Mountain. Not the oldest thing I own but probably the oldest thing I can find at the moment. They turned up a few years ago but there is one missing. I was hoping to find the missing one before I started but what the hell. If I do get round to painting them I have no idea what I will use them for. At the moment I just want to.

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Terrain making and a biological disaster

All work has stopped here at the Lair by way of Royal decree.  It seems that executive management (the lovely, yet fierce, Dr Reidy) has grown alarmed at the level of debris created by terrain making and called a household vote on the matter.We run a very democratic household and when there is a dispute as to the direction of our tiny realm we have a fair and open election.  I get to cast my one vote and MB casts her 99.  Once the votes are tallied we know the decision by the people.As with many elections the pre-vote debate was fierce and my faction - "The Mess Makers" seemed to be winning the day but then we were hit by a scandal that our superior policy arguments could not overcome.  Now this is kind of a funny story.  We've got a small freezer in the unheated garage where MB stores overflow items.  The garage isn't really wired to be a workshop so sometimes I need to unplug the freezer to avoid blowing a circuit.  I only do this during the winter months when it's really

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Workbench Clean Up & So Long to a Old Friend

One of the side effects of miniature painting (well, at least the way I do it) is the creation of a giant mess and periodically I need to stop on clean the place up.  I was in the process of doing just that and came to the conclusion that is was time to replace the self healing mat.  Mr Green (mat) has seen many years of service and been through a lot, but sometimes it just time to hang things up.  Let us all tip out hats as Mr Green exits stage right into a well earned retirement.  We shall not see the likes of him again.I also cleaned the workbench off and have also realized that after the challenge it needs a full sanding and re-finishing. Here's the new mat in place.  I know I'm being very avant guard going with a dark grey version.  Sometimes one just needs to shake things up.  We'll see if doing so improves my rather limited painting skills.11 days of the Challenge left to go and I've got a business trip and Cold Wars in between so I'm not sure how much more I can get

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Terrain Storm

 With Cold Wars less than 2 weeks away, terrain making has kicked into high gear here in the Lair.  I needed a simple bridge so slapped this together from some scrap balsa and bass wood.  I need to add some ramps to either end but it will do. There are also some simple hills being added to the inventory - the base is Expanded Polystyrene (the stuff that makes lots and lots of dust)The hill sections are smoothed via a knife and sander (wow that created a lot of dust) and then covered with sculptamold.  Once that dries a thin layer of tile grout/PVA glue is applied for texture.Lastly, I made some "tree plates" a few years ago (Link) but was never really happy with them.  I found them bland as you can see from the top of the picture to the left.  I've cut out some new shapes (MDF is cheap) and have been experimenting with different mixes to get a more varied forrest floor look.  Still some work to do but I already like the new stuff A LOT better.Also experimenting with mag

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