Friday, April 29, 2016

Tutorial: Galen's "Cheap" and Easy Bocage

Everyone knows that if you play a World War Two game, who's main focus is the Normandy Campaign, you have to have hedgerows or Bocage. Now If you're like me, your wargaming hobby is on an extreme budget. I've seen a lot of tutorials for Hedgerows that require more money that I'm willing to spend on building the banks of the notorious Normandy hedgerows. Now, not to say that these tutorials are bad, in fact If i had more funds I would most likely be using them. But as stated previously, I don't. So, let's get on to how I made some nice looking* terrain pieces

  • Yardsticks
  • Sand
  • Sticks & Twigs
  • Clump Foliage
  • Wood Glue
  • Modge Podge
  • Superglue
  • Hobby/Pocket Knife.
  • Sandpaper or Sandblock

Step One
First take your yardsticks and cut them down to your desired length, I use 12" as my base length, and the supplement them with smaller lengths. Then you take your pocket knife and shave down the edges to give the base a bevel. Sand down the sides to make them smooth.

Step Two
Now go outside, and gather up a bunch of twigs, and smaller sticks. These will make up the bank of the hedgerow.

Step Three
Take these sticks and glue them to the yard stick, If you want you can also add dowels or bamboo skewers to support the foliage; make sure you do this before you put the sticks on. break up the sticks and glue them in place to build up your bank. You can also add in Tree Armatures to insert some trees into your hedges.
Step Four
Once you have the sticks in place, get your Modge Podge and a large brush and paint it on to the branches. Pour sand over it and let dry. Once the first layer is dried, then you're going to add more layers untill you are satisfied with the look. I personally used three layers of Modge Podge and sand. The sand will most likely drip off the side of the base, just take your knife or sandpaper and clean up the sides when it's dry.

Step Five
When it's all dry, Prime it with your favorite primer. I used Army Painter Black Primer.

Step Six
Paint your base with a brown. I personally like P3 Battlefield Brown. If you want you can also dry brush it with a lighter shade, I would recommend P3 Bootstrap Leather.

Step Seven
Now you can take your super glue and start glueing your foliage to the base. I used Woodland Scenics, Foliage Clusters, because they are bigger than standard Clump Foliage. 

Step Eight
Once you have your hedges finished up. you can flock and put static grass on the base. And there you have it a set nice looking hedgerows.

*In my opinion

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Living Battlefields: Add Life To Your Base.

We have all seen a wide assortment of based miniatures over time, ranging from just black primer to intricate dioramas.  These more advanced bases can look challenging to create, but with a little time and care (and some affordable materials) we can give our models interesting landscapes upon which to stand.  With a few easy steps you can take even the most simply painted model and bring it to life.
I always build my base from the ground up up around a fully painted miniature (some will argue to base first,) giving it a layered appearance.  I will discuss each layer briefly, however full tutorials on specific techniques may follow.  This tutorial will focus more on materials and basic techniques to inspire your own creations!

Citadel Astrogrante, Nuln Oil, and Celestra Grey (and a Necron head).

1) Textured Earth (or Mars, etc).

After priming the base, the first thing we want is a textured ground of dirt, rock, ash, etc.  The simplest way to do this is with Citadel Texture paints.  These are basically very thick paints with coarse material already mixed in, and they come in variety of colors and textures.  My favorite is Stirland Mud, which is Brown and gritty, especially if you are going to move on and add grass effects.  If you want a quick and easy grass, however, use Lustrian Undergrowth.  I use Astrogranite for my Space Marines to give the base a burnt wasteland or urban rubble look.  Whichever you use, take two more steps to make it pop!

First apply a liberal coating of your favorite color-appropriate wash, and then dry-brush with a complementary color that is lighter than the texture.  This will really highlight the texture. 
Now, you have a nice shaded and highlighted base with texture.  In other words, ground.  I used to stop here and was happy, but I have found that when you start adding more on top of the ground it makes a world of difference.

There are many other methods to create the ground, the most common being the application of sand, cat litter (unused!) or model railroad ballast to the base.  These all start with coating a primed and painted base in watered down PVA glue, then sliding it into a tub of your material and letting it set.  Knock and blow off the excess.  Ballast even comes in a variety of colors and coarseness.  I would also, after it sets, dab some very thing glue/water mix in top to seal it in. 

2)  Turf or Short Grass

Here we start to add some interest to our base.  Similar to above with the ballast, you are going to want to apply watered down glue to the base. 

TIP:  Don't cover the whole base!  Leave some random exposed earth, or try applying the flock sparingly.

Now, dip the base into a container of flocking.  This step will be using fine particles of colored sawdust or foam usually sold as "Turf" or just "flocking".  Be careful, though, as flocking is a general term for all sorts of ground cover supplies.
So you have dipped the base in, Now remove it after a while and tap it off.  Instant short grass!  But who mows a battlefield!?

Citadel Stirland Mud, Summer Turf, and Burnt Grass static grass.  There are rocks, coming up in step 4!

3) Long Grass

Okay, this is the step that I feel seperates the men from the boys; or those with and without a delicate hand.  Static grass!  This stuff is fine synthetic fibers that will stand up on the base like real grass.  There are electric applicator gizmos that actually ionize the fibers, but I have a simpler method. 

Tipthis comes in different colors and lengths, mix and match for a more natural look.
First, apply superglue where you want the grass to be.  I apply this on top of the turf, either in clump or covering about 80% of it.  You don't want to cover it all because you are going for the look of mixed lengths of flora.

Now, using tweezers, drop big clumps on top of the glue.  Use a lot more than you think you need, it won't all stick.  Do not push down on it or it won't stand up!  Push it around a little from the sides, about a millimeter in several directions.  Now, after about 5 seconds have passed, tap it off into a piece of card or paper to save the excess.  Now gently blow on it from the side, rotating the model, and it will stand up! 

Tip:  Don't blow towards your drop pile or you will have this stuff everywhere.  Don't sneeze or cough on it either, and turn off any fans.

A mixture of ground and coarse clay cat litter, Citadel XV-88, Agrax Earthshade, and Tallarn Sand.

4)  Rocks
I actually do this step before the grass because there is paint involved, but I decided to get the turf mentioned first.  This is pretty easy and there are a lot of options.  I usually just put a small rock or two in a base that is about the size of the model's foot.  In some situations larger rocks may be approoriate, or even huge ones with the model on top!

You can use a lot of stuff here, but here are my favorites:  for gravel or skree, fine or medium ballast or crushed clay cat litter (in clusters or patchs).  For medium sized field rocks small aquarium gravel, coarse clay cat litter, or coarse ballast (individually or small groups).  Larger rocks have a lot of options, from tree bark and cut cork board to actual rocks.

For all of these, you want to color the rock.  I usually do a light grey.  First prime black, then overbrush with a dark grey, leaving the black in the recesses.  Next dry brush with light grey.  Finally you could apply a black ink wash and another dry brush to really accent some texture.  Or, go for some brown for that desert look, like the guys above (mix of crushed and coarse clay cat litter.)

Brown medium ballast, summer turf, burnt grass static grass, golden wheat field grass, and light green clump foliage.

5)  Advanced Flora

If you have done the four steps above, you should have a fine looking grassy field under your mini, maybe even a little rocky one.  Or maybe we did a textured alien landscape.  Either way, you can bring it up a notch with some plants.  There is a lot out there to pick from. 

Longer grass stalks are a pain to make but look great using Field Grass from Woodland Scenics.  This is very fine colored fibers.  What I do is put a small dab of PVA glue on was paper, dip in a clump of the fibers, then cut to length.  Let the glue get thick but not dry, then stick onto the base with a dot of superglue.  Move it around a little to get it to spread out with a hobby knife, and after it is set use some scissors to give it a little trim and make the top uneven (i pull fibers away from the stalk with a knife and then cut.)  

Tip:  You can also get pre-made grass clumps, but they can tend to be a bit expensive for a very limited number of pieces.  With the field grass, you can make quite a bit!

Fighting in Normandy?  Try some clump foliage made for model railroads.  Tear off little pieces and apply to the base for a thick moss.  Use larger pieces or stack them up for bushes and hedges. 

Are we still wondering what to do with that alien landscape?  Get some aquarium plants and trim off some small shoots or fronds and glue them into the base (these may require a stem and some drilling to get them to stick, perhaps with a bit of got glue under the base).

Citadel Stirland Mud, summer turf, burnt grass static grass, and the rocks are a mix of cat litter pieces and aquarium gravel.

After Action Report

There we have it.  The sky really is the limit, and the only bounds are your imagination and dedication.  Mix it up some and use materials of different lengths, shapes, and colors.  This will all give your model a more natural look.  Need inspiration?  Go outside and find some un-mowed grass or underbrush and just see how many different plants you find.  Look at the different shapes and colors.  How are they spread out or clumped together?

Then, I would say take a trip to a store that has model railroad supplies and see what strikes your fancy, and don't forget to pick up some glue!  

Happy hobbying and happy wargaming everybody!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New blog header/logo and other news

So you may have noticed the awesome new header/logo that we've acquired! It was done by a local artist here in Asheville, NC. I always wanted to have a logo for this blog, but my artistic talents are only in wordsmithing, miniatures and cartography. So, I looked for an artist. Then through a friend I found "Strawberry Cucumber Studios". She has a Tumblr blog where she posts her art. She's a really talented artist and you should go give her love. Link here.

So I've considered starting a podcast, but never really got around to it. But the idea resurfaced in my boredom today. It might be fun to do a podcast about wargaming using the Trench Monkeys brand(?). But Even then. I'm not really sure.

Hope you all have a good day, and may you always roll sixes, or what ever the largest number on your random number generators is.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Paint Brush Review: Artist Loft 3/0 Round

I worked on some black-lining on my Zeus battlemech this morning.  Tried out a new Artist Loft brush from Michael's, a 3/0 round.  They were pretty cheap compared to the Windsor & Newton that I usually use, so I thought I'd give them a try.

The belly of the brush itself is very long, but the toe comes to a very fine point which is itself considerable in length.  It took a bit of extra care to control, but the longer belly can hold a lot of paint so it worked out well in this situation where I had the black paint watered down to the consistency of an ink wash (i find for lining the paint leaves a bolder pigment than the ink).

The crimp of the ferrule was glued into the handle.  Yes:  "was".  It fell off about 15 minutes in.  The water had gotten under it and dissolved the glue.  I put a little super glue inside the crimp and replaced it after I was done.  Hopefully it will hold up better next time.

Overall, though, I was happy with the brush.  It might be a bit unwieldy for doing lines on a flat surface, but for filling grooves such as these with thin paint it seems ideally suited.