Thursday, March 19, 2015

Post-Apocalyptic Greenhouse Scratchbuild, Part 3 – Basing

I enjoy basing. Often times, more than painting! So, when I got the finished (but unbased) greenhouse from Jon, I was excited. I wanted to give it a basing treatment worthy of the time he put into it. I forgot to take pictures of a few steps, so I will do my best to describe them.

The first step was to get some texture on the base. I used Liquitex Resin Sand. It is cheap enough and comes in a large container. Liquitex makes two versions of sand texture. Resin Sand has larger grain, giving it a coarser texture. No need for primer... this stuff sticks great! After it dried (36 hours or so since it was thick in spots) I painted it all over with Games Workshop Dryad Brown.

Next, I gave the whole base a wash of black and brown. Then, I drybrushed progressively lighter shades of brown and grey. There are at least four layers of drybrushing here.

I used the same wet mud technique as I did on my Wreck-Age Stakers to help these sections pop.

I added the resin water in thin layers, letting each one dry before adding the next. I added some patches of dried mud (no water) in various other spots around the base.

Next, I covered it all up with static grass! It is thinner in some spots, so the depth of the painted texture shows through. I added some individual leaves as well.

I wanted to get a natural look inside of the greenhouse. I splattered watered-down PVA on the tile floor, and sprinkled the leaves from high above it. Once the floor was littered in leaves, I blew into the greenhouse through the doorways to clump them in the corners.

I added static grass to some of the brick areas, as well as some individual leaves in random spots. There are also some small shrubs and some wild flowers.

Here you can see one of the finished "wet" spots. Isn't that hose awesome?

This is the wet area around the water tank.

I kept the back side of the greenhouse simple, adding some moss and vines. Just out of the picture is a large log, made from a small stick. No painting necessary!

Here is a close up of one of the vines. I think this is my favorite picture!

In one of the far corners, I made a shrub from some lichen. I gave this a black and brown wash.

I am very pleased with this addition to my post-apocalyptic terrain set. Look for it on the battlefield very soon!!

-- Josh, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Post-Apocalyptic Greenhouse Scratchbuild, Part 2 – Painting

Painting the greenhouse occurred in record time. Well… record time for me, that is. Ask anyone in the club and they will concur: my painting process can be glacially slow.

I started with a black base coat on the bits and bobs attached to the model as accessories. For this, I used black acrylic gesso -- an awesome and extremely useful tip I picked up from Karl a few years back. The gesso doesn’t stick quite as well as primer, but it has a few advantages in that it shrinks to fit, so you can glop it on fairly quickly with minimal loss of detail once it is dry -- and more importantly, you can paint it on with a brush in the dead of winter when it’s 10 degrees outside (try that with spray primer…).

Before I go any further, I should specify that I am working with a previous version of the Citadel paint set that I picked up a few years back, so the color names may not be familiar to newer painters. I followed the base coat up with a wash of Citadel Baal Red to the bricks which gave them a lovely but hideous luminescent pink color.


This was not a flattering look, as Josh quickly pointed out. Not to be discouraged, I followed up with a couple of coats of severely thinned Scab Red and Vermin Brown, giving the bricks a nice brick red base color. I then spot-painted individual bricks at random with less thinned washes of Vermin Brown, Scab Red, and Dark Flesh to deepen the color, or add variation.

Then I hit the corners and spot locations between the bricks with a three layer combination of Fortress Grey, Vallejo (VLJ) Model Color Medium Sea Gray, and Skull White to simulate mortar between the bricks. The mortar was painted in a similar spot technique to represent wear to the model over years of usage. In between tedious intervals of mortar paint application, I test-painted the wood on the entire model with a thin coat of Ogryn Flesh Wash (an actual wash… really! you’ll note I often severely thin the standard paints to simulate the effect of a wash).

The result was a darker, but still yellow/orange wood base which looked older but not yet weathered. I put the wood color on hold to return to later.

At this point, I also tested layering on paint in small locations on the wood frame to look worn, dirty and pealing, or completely peeled off. I started with a Scorched Brown base in each painted location and layered over Jade Green and then hits of the lighter shade of the same color (essentially a frost green, both bottles are older Citadel colors, and the label has completely come off of the second so I have no idea what it was originally called).

Finally, I started layering color onto the bits on the model as well.
  • The water tank was a Vallejo Model Color German Gray base with Fortress Grey, VLJ Medium Sea Gray, then detailed with black gesso, red and blue text and graphic shapes, with a final layer of Medium Sea Gray and Skull White over the top of the text 
  • Metallics were Boltgun and Chainmail for steel colors, and Tin Bitz, Bronze and Shining Gold for bronze and gold colors 
  • You’ll note the hose done in Snot Green, highlighted in Scorpion Green with a fading yellow stripe on it, complete with a hose roll-up 
  • The table was weathered with peeling paint in a VLJ German Grey base spotted onto the wood, and the same combination of Fortress Grey and VLJ Medium Sea Gray on top of that 
  • Dirt trays were left black with the dirt, a combination of Scorched Brown, Bestial Brown, and lighter tan Kommando Khaki highlights 

After a discussion with Josh, I decided to definitely apply further weathering to the wood on the model. Another wash, this time a severely thinned Fortress Grey wash was applied yet again to the inside and outside of every frame and window slat on the model. Much better! This gave the greenhouse a look of wood construction that has been in the elements for a very long time.

For final touches, the windows (and tile floors) were washed in places with green, brown and black washes to add staining. Then a coat of matte spray varnish was applied, with an intentional hit on the windows to simulate years of weathering and acid rain stains.

The End Result
In the following shots, you can get a good look at the window distressing referenced in the previous Greenhouse article, and the wood weathering mentioned above. The chalkboard sign above the door reads “Bob’s Weeds N’ Rads" complete with a tiny hand painted radioactive symbol.

The fans were done in a Regal Blue base with lighter Ultramarine Blue highlights. The individual blades were edged in Boltgun Metal and then streaked and edged in Chainmail to make scratches and wear on the fan blade edges. Rust was added with layers of Beastial Brown, Dark Flesh, and Vermin Brown, with a final speckling of the brighter orange Macharius Solar Orange (Foundation) to represent different types of rust. Variations of this rust technique were also applied to the water tank and various bits throughout the model.

Here you can see the detail on the removable catwalk. Note the yellow stripe on the hose that hangs underneath. The hose meets up on the side of the model with a pipe that runs down to the floor, and through the wall to the water tank (and actual water is pumped through… err… yeah… right).

Here are a few closer shots of the table inside and the view through the side door.

And here's a closer shot of the hose and hose roll-up. Note the ammo crate. These were painted in Catachan Green with Camo Green highlights and simulated text in yellow.

An over the top shot of the damage to the glass panes from the roof.

I painted this over the course of approximately three weeks, at two to four evenings per week, at which point I handed over the built and painted model to its new owner. This story however, is not yet complete. Stay tuned for Part 3, as Josh bases the model for an amazing finish. Cheers!

-- Jon, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Repainting the Hirst Arts Wizard Tower

Way back in fall 2012 I completed a rather spectacular online swap, whereupon I traded a mountain of comic books and graphic novels for two huge boxes brimming with fantasy terrain, buildings, walls, fences, accessories and bits galore. Seriously -- this is the sort of trade that comes along once in a lifetime. The other fellow wanted to divest himself of his 28mm fantasy stuff, and I just so happened to have a ton of comics and graphic novels to send his way in exchange. Chicago Skirmish Wargames has been enjoying the spoils of this deal ever since.

Anyway, among the many, many terrain items packed away in this huge box was a Wizard Tower made from Hirst Arts bricks. It was painted dark gray and was otherwise unfinished. Nevertheless, it made its way onto the battlefield in several games, including this one where you can see it in the front-most table.

I always planned on repainting and rebasing it, and, as I'm due to become a father in the next week or so, I figured this was a good time to finish off this terrain piece as a sort of "swan song" for this phase of my wargaming career. A final project before real life takes over for a little while, if you will.

Here is what I came up with. The exterior got a quick repaint and drybrush, followed by some green and brown streaks to suggest that the elements have not been kind to this particular watchtower.

The overgrown cobblestone pathways are pieces of Lemax decorative vinyl cut up and glued to the base. The edges are hidden with gravel, sand and flocking to make the whole thing appear old and time-worn.

I had a little fun with the back corner by crafting a little built-up rocky foundation using blue foam chunks and pea gravel. (While building the foundation, I once again marveled at the fact that you can sand blue foam with a piece of sandpaper.)

The foliage is a mixture of clump foliage and static grass. I really like the whole "overgrown ancient ruin" look for my fantasy terrain. Even though this tower is certainly occupied by someone (or something), I still made sure to put some vines and creepers up the sides.

What's up with this guy? Is he exploring the depths or fleeing from the tower's denizens?

Up top I had fun with my newly acquired packet of little fake leaves. It takes just a few to give the impression of windswept parapets.

There you have it! This terrain piece will be equally at home on back alleys of a fantasy cityscape or in the trackless depths of the wilderlands. Look for it in future battle reports!

-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Monday, March 16, 2015

Post-Apocalyptic Greenhouse Scratchbuild, Part 1 - Assembly

The aspects that probably I enjoy most about the tabletop gaming hobby are model conversion and scratch-building. Last year Josh came up with the great idea for a post-apocalyptic greenhouse, so we worked out a deal wherein I would build the model in trade for some models from an ongoing Kickstarter.

Josh supplied some core materials, including stone mosaic craft tiles, and small-scale bricks (roughly the size of a cinderblock at 28mm scale) for model building, and I provided the rest. Ninety-five percent of the model came from materials I had on hand.

To start, I laid out the floor tile, then built up a small wall of bricks. The tile and brick were too grainy to work with super glue, so I used contact cement as the binding agent. On top of the brick, I then used balsa to frame out the shape of the building.

Next, I framed out a removable greenhouse roof, and windows. The original plan was to use clear CD covers from broken CD cases as windows. The material is hard and scores and snaps easily (I use these for movement trays all the time). I quickly found the CD case cover was too thick and made the windows look cartoony. Blister-pack plastic proved to be the perfect material.

All of the window were built as larger pieces framed with very thin strip balsa on both sides of the plastic to make panes. This added strength to the window pieces (very necessary when they were later distressed) and covered the unpainted, underside glued to the window (to avoid having bare clean wood showing on the other side of the pane in the finished model).

For the roof, which needed greater rigidity for regular gameplay, I found an old transparent plastic sign cover, stiffer than the blister pack, but not nearly as thick as the CD case. The entire process of laying out the balsa strip for proved to account for probably two-thirds of the entire build time.

Finally, it was time to add a whole lot of detail. Highlights consist of:

  • A catwalk above the interior made from screen mesh, styrene rod, paperclips, and balsa. Underneath is strung hose made from tubular plastic covered wire (the kind you have to untwist when opening toy packages) and tiny watch gears for sprinkler heads. Inside a pipe runs down the wall from the catwalk to the floor, just inside the building from the water tank.

  • Two large fan\vents in the rear wall made from vents cut of of zoid parts, and a couple of fans I picked up several years back from Evil Mushroom Games, and a few other bits 
  • A balsa table on styrene legs with tools and bits strewn across it. Bits used include planting trays (halved 20mm square bases filled with ballast for dirt), bullet shells, Dreamforge ammo box bits, brass rod, paperclip, and vases (beads) 

  • External details outside of the building including additional ammo boxes, bins (ammo shells), resin stowage bits, backhoe heavy equipment parts (a large hook\shovel piece from a zoid), 40k bits (shovel, pickaxe), a hose (again made from plastic covered twist wire), gears, and beads, and a large water tank (an old vacuum tube, zoid parts, plastic model bits)  

Following detail work, I distressed the windows (photos to come) using a variety of techniques:
  • Drilled bullet holes with scored edges all over the model 
  • Cracks scored into the windows 
  • Panes cut in part or whole leaving jagged holes or bits of glass remaining, or gaps where a pane used to be. People who live in glass houses… and all that. 
  • Scratched graffiti including lines from semi-obscure poems ‘Childe Roland to the dark tower came…”, mis-quotes and random slurrings... “NEEL B’FOR ZED” 
Tune in next time for the Part II where-in painting the greenhouse green (…overly literal?) commences.

-- Jon, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mech Attack Adepticon Playtest Report

The club is putting on its first-ever game at Adepticon next weekend, and so last week we got together to playtest the scenario we'll be running there. The setup is similar to last year's scenario: a raid where the attackers are aiming to destroy certain buildings in a built-up urban environment.

The rest of the details will be a surprise for the actual players at the game. If you like what you see below, join us at 10 a.m. Saturday at Adepticon. We still have some spots available!

For those unfamiliar with our convention Mech Attack games, it's mostly a matter of scaling up. Usually at the club we play with 10mm scale rebased MechWarrior clix units, but for the conventions we double the ranges and use 28mm scale mechs ranging from 4 to 8 inches tall!

We've also moved from crate buildings to actual models this year, which will provide a visually striking improvement. The crate buildings are very lightweight and easy to pack up, but these new buildings are a good deal more gritty and realistic.

Also, we've moved from desert to an urban theme, though I still have to drybrush the grey fabric "concrete" mat. I'll also be putting out alot of scatter terrain that will mostly have no effect on the game but will make some of the open areas look a bit less bare.

Tim has prepared five new Zaku mechs for the Green Attackers. These guys are massive!

I'm bringing six new mechs for the Defenders: 3 Kryomek Striders and 3 plastic mecha kits

You can identify them easily in the pictures because they haven't received a wash yet and their bases are bare.

Lastly, here's the diecast Mechwarrior Legionnaire. It was a favorite from last year. I've got another one of these that I might base up. The stock paint job is nice enough that you just have to base it up and maybe dirty the feet a bit.

And that's all for now. The countdown to Adepticon is on! Remember: We'd love to have you join us there for the game or just stop by and say hello

-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fantasy Warriors Tower, a Rockpile and a Mystery

Despite the mechs that need to be finished before Adepticon, I procrastinated some more and made some medieval fantasy scenery.

First, a dirty pile of rocks. It's just a repainted vinyl/plastic toy I found.

It's flat on the back, so you can place it right up against another piece of terrain. Looks slightly odd, but at least it's detailed.

I want to know where this is from. This was originally a toy of some sort, probably a display for some character, but it lacks pegs to hold up an action figure. On the bottom it says "2003 NLP Inc. Marvel Ent. Inc." It has a speaker and battery compartment on the bottom, and one of the rocks is a button. Unfortunately I've got no mini-batteries to try out the sound. If you know what it is, please let me know in the comments.

My second project was a tower that Pat gave me last week.

As it happens, this tower is a bit of gaming history. It was made in the 90s by the company Dragon Castles Inc., and was sold through Grenadier as part of the "Warlord Keep" set for their "Fantasy Warriors" game.

It was also likely sold separately through game stores, since I and others recall seeing it in game stores back in the day. Thanks to the crew on The Miniatures Page for helping discover the source of this tower.

It's made of wood and was covered in that spray stone stuff that is textured and grey with black flecks. It looked more like a toy, but as it was already textured, I just gave it a black prime followed by brown, tan and bamboo colored drybrushes. I did the same on the roof, minus the second and third drybrush color.

The roof removes and there are two wood doors that can be slid out. You can see the original grey color inside the tower.

And to answer the question all fantasy gamers will have. Yes, it's even taller than a Marauder mech!

Well, the tower turned out pretty good, which leaves us with a tip for the budget gamer. I've passed up a fair amount of cheap second-hand terrain covered in this faux-rock finish, which to be honest looks a bit dated and not really up to par with current terrain techniques.

Now I know that it's a great surface texture that's easy to update with just a few layers of paint.

Don't forget to chime in if you have any ideas about the origin of my mysterious rock pile!

-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member