Wednesday, February 14, 2018

AHPC VIII: British 25 pounder & crew

 Over the years, my Britis 8th Army North Africa collection has grown to be rather extensive but I was missing an icon from that era - the ubiquitous 2r pounder.  Well that gap has been filled by this fine miniature and crew from Brigade Games.  This group was my submission for the "BFG" bonus round in this year's Challenge.

 A simple paint job and basing and these lads are ready to take on the worst Rommel can throw at them.

Monday, February 12, 2018

AHP VIII: Blood & Plunder Pirates and Sloop

Firelock Games: "Blood & Plunder" is the new "hotness" and I've jumped in by buying a few factions and boats.  First up are 25 figures from the "Unaligned" faction which consist of 24 crewman and a captain.

One side and then..
the other
And finally the Captain.  These are 28mm scale figures but are definitely heroic in nature (on the big side).  The sculpting is fantastic and they are a joy to paint.  My only criticism is that these figures come with a cast on base which is textured like the planking of a ships deck.  The only problem is the bases are small (20mm diameter) and since cast in soft metal are rarely flat and have a difficult time keeping the figures up.

Any decent Pirate needs a cool ride and these lads Have the Sloop at their disposal.  This is a resin hull and metal detail part kit and was a lot of fun to put together
 The sails can be found as a PDF from the Firelock Games site - print out and glue the tow sides together and you're done

 The resin hull had a minor miscast just to the left of the stern gun port of the starboard side.  Rather than try to repair, I left it as battle damage.

Can't wait to get to work on my French faction

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Challenge Update: Union Infantry Regiment and

 I'm a bit behind in posting my painting output for this year's challenge so will try to catch up over the next few days.  First up is a 24 figure Union Infantry regiment
 These are 28mm in scale and are from the "new" Perry plastic Union Infantry box.  "New" is qualified as the box is half new - the figures that are marching with shouldered arms are the same as found in the Perry plastic Confederate Infantry set.  The skirmishing figures are new and come in the form of a smallish four figure sprue.  The command sprue is also the same as in the Confederate box.  The figures are great but to be honest I was a little disappointed in the in the lack of new sculpts.
 I think this is my 19th Union Infantry regiment of 24 figures - should I stop at 20?  Nahhh.
 During the same weekend I paint up some 28mm scale vehicles - a British Scorpian and Technical pickup truck from Empress Miniatures and a Rubicon German Half track
Next up - Pirates!!!!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Challenge VIII: Progress through Week 6

The Challenge has completed 6 of it's allowed 13 weeks and it's important to answer a question on everyones mind - Is he still so daft and tracking progression a spreadsheet?

It hurts me you have to ask the question.

In a typically overcomplicated form the attached graph shows my progress.  The two bars are based on challenge VIII with the red being plan and blue actual.  I've totaled 1,686 points vs a plan level of 1,305.  Please note the painted tally is a bit higher than the official score on the challenge blog as I've included some items that have been painted but not submitted for an upcoming Bonus Round.

I'm well off the pace for Challenges VII and VI, but thats ok.

As with all challenges lost everything I've painted has be 28mm scale.  The new scenery category has also been very fun, with 353 of my 1,686 points coming from there.  There will be a lot more!

Thats it for now.  I believe I have re-certified myself as an "uber-geek" with this post.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

London in January & Meeting Mr Roundwood

 A ery quick trip to London last week for work.  I've grown very fond of the city for both personal and professional reasons.  That's good because I average 10-11 trips a year.  My wife and I are seriously considering moving there one day.

I rarely remember to take pictures and when I do it's of more random locations.  The first picture is of a church in Notting Hill after a breakfast meeting.  It's rare to see the sun in January in the UK.

 London can also be a spectacularly silly city, as evidenced by the Hausner & Wirth art gallery on Saville Row, which is some really pricey real estate.  The "art" on display is essentially construction debris.  It's a solo show from the artist Monika Sosnowska titled "Structural Exercises" and appears to be made up from debris from construction and/or demolition sites.  Perhaps I'm doomed to an unenlightened life as my only reaction to the "art" is to compliment the artist for pulling a fast one over the gallery.

Hurry the show end on Feb 10th, 2018.
The highlight of the trip was meeting up with Sidney Roundwood (his non-de-plume) on Friday night.  One of the joys of this hobby and blogging is all the wonderful people you meet along the journey.  This fact is especially true with the those involved in the Challenge and being able to meet Sidney in person was a real pleasure.  He sales has exceptional taste in wine so I heartily recommend allowing Mr Roundwood "control" of the wine list!

Now back to painting

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dungeon Terrain Tutorial, Part II - Painting

Once the glue has set, it's time to paint the sections.  I typically give the tacky glue at least 8 hours to set.  My method involves a four step sequence of:
1) Priming with a black primer
2) Painting grey
3) Dry brushing a light grey
4) Washing with a black tinted wash.

As with the previous post on carving the tiles, I've pretty much stolen the painting process from the Black Magic Craft YouTube channel.  The first picture shows the tiles after the black primer wash.

While not the most informative of pictures, I did want to discuss the primer - it serves to both prime the polystyrene foam for future painting and also harden it.  The primer is a 50/50 mixture of basic black craft paint (I use Liquitex Basics paints) and Modge Podge (matte finish).  You could probably use any other matte medium.  Mix up a largish batch and then keep it around for other terrain projects.  I also add a little water to help it flow better as you want the primer to flow into all the recesses.

It's really important to make sure the primer has fully cured before moving on to step 2.  This is not the most complicated of steps - just paint the tiles the primary color your want.  I'm going with a dark grey.  Slap it on and then set the tiles aside to dry again.
Step Three is my favorite - dry brushing.  I use a beat up paint brush and a rag and dry brush a 50/50ish mix go grey and white paint onto the tiles.  Remember with dry brushing, less is more in terms of paint load on the brush.
And the tiles are all dry brushed.  Again set aside to dry before moving on to the final step.
Step 4 - apply a black wash.  Apply liberal amount.  The wash is a 10 to 1 mix of black paint and water with a few drops of dish washing soap added in to improve flow (breaks down the surface tension of the water to ensure it flows into all the details.)

Like the primer, I mix up a large batch of the wash and keep it in a sealable container to use for other terrain projects.  The plastic tub in the upper right is what I use to store the wash.
I'm using a very limited color palette for these tiles and may go back and add some different colors for details.  I tend to use Liquitex products for terrain making.  I can't really say if they are better or worse than other alternatives as I've pretty much only used them.  Liquitex has never failed me and with Amazon Prime anything I need can be at my doorstep the next day.

The Dungeon collection to date - I've got some more to make to be ready for Historicon 2018 but it's a serviceable collection and covers a little over a 3x3 foot square.  That’s all for now.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Challenge Bonus Theme 1: Flight

The first bonus round of the Challenge was titled "flight" and I was caught a bit flat footed.  The I remembered I had bought a starter set for "Check You Six" and had some unpainted WW2 Pacific theater aircraft in 1/300 scale.
These are some of my first gaming miniature and have remained unpainted for over 9 years.
I may gave to get them out on the table one day.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dungeon Terrain Tuturial

 I've been on a bit of a tear making geomorphic Dungeon terrain for this year's Challenge.  I thought it might be helpful to put up a short tutorial on how to make these sections.

Please note I've "borrowed" (OK, stole) the technique from Jeremy P. and his youtube channel "Black Magic Craft".  He's very creative and has a lot of useful "how-to" content on his channel.

There are a lot of commercially available dungeon tiles on the market but they can be expensive and heavy.  Plus there seems to be a general convention of 2 inch x 2 inch base size which makes set up rather hard - lots of pieces.  Plus, I just wanted to make something different.

 These tiles are made out of pink insulation foam (EPS) which can be made surprisingly strong with a coating of a 50/50 mix of black paint and Modge Podge matte as a primer.   The priming and painting of the tiles will be covered in another tutorial.  It's a very simple 4 step building process that I think yields very good results.

Step 1:  Cut out the foam pieces, in this case we're making a "U" section.  My tiles are based on 4 inch x 4inch size with 1.5 inch high walls.  I tested a lot of wall heights from 0.5 up to 4 and found that 1.5 had the best mix of looks and utility (players can see and easily reach their figures.  It's important to cut these out as exact as possible so I use my trusty Proxxon Hot Wire table cutter.  If you like to make terrain out of EPS foam then you should get one - it's the most useful hobby tool I have.

All of my walls are 0.5 inches think.  Remember to take into account wall thickness when cutting pieces the abut together. The "U" section has three walls 2 that are 4 inches long and 1 that is 3 inches - since it connects with the other two walls it needs to be shorter by 2x0.5 inches!

 Step 2: Engrave the bricks and floor tiles.  This part can be as simple or elaborate as you want.  I use a custom made engraving tool in the form of a dull pencil.  The brick patterns I'm using are rather simple as I've got a lot of these to make.

Step 3: Texturing.  This is an optional step but I think adds a lot of flavor to the overall effect.  Again another sophisticated special tool is required to add the texture - a rolled up ball of aluminum foil.  The foil starts out as a ball but quickly transforms into a cube!.  Take the foil ball and pound it into the foil.  Remember to add texture to all the wall sections that will be visible but not the parts that will be glued.

This technique does allow one to release some aggression and I can often be heard muttering "What did that Orange Moron say now?...."

Step 4: Glue the textured pieces in place.  Any PVA based glue will work.  I prefer "Eileens Tacky Glue" as it holds the pieces without any need of clamping.

There a 5 basic tile designs - an open square in the center and then from lower left a single wall, corner, corridor and a "U" shape.  Since these are "custom" designs you an also make other sizes - I'll be adding a few large rooms but everything will be sized to fit as a multiple of the basic 4x4 inch tile.

I'm also experimenting with some tiles that incorporate LED lights - you can see some tests in the upper right of the picture.

None of the tiles will have doors - I'm using slide on doors that fit over the 0.5 inch wide walls.  I'll do another tutorial on doors and other details.

One thing I strongly suggest is the make a lot of the components at once.  I find I get better results when I'm focused on making these and it goes relatively fast - I made enough for 30 4x4 tiles in less than 1 hour.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Technology is Taking Over the World

My son has been playing around with his Alexa and Echo devices and has built some switches to let them control physical things - the cool part is that he wrote the code that works with both devices.  Being at Carnegie Mellon he gets these thing for free as the companies like the students to push the boundaries.  The first video shows a light switch.  All the mounts were 3D printed by him.

The next video is much more important from a fate of the species kind of thing - he can now issue voice commands to turn on the coffee maker.  He's also got it rigged so that when his moving alarm goes off, the coffee makers gets turned on.

Now if he would only be half as industrious looking for a job post graduation...

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Introducing Izzy and Buddy

 My wife wanted to get a new cat, as we our previous cat, Oliver, had recently passed away.  So off we trundled down to the animal rescue center and much to my surprise came back not with one but two rescue cats - a kitten we've named Izzy and and a giant orange beast called Buddy.  I felt the need to point out to my wife that adopting more than two cats at one time puts her dangerously close to "Crazy Cat Lady" status.

Izzy is 4 months old and very adventurous.  There isn't a space in our house that isn't climbable for this cat.

 Buddy, is pretty much the opposite - he's extremely timid and spends most of his time hiding.  We're pretty sure he came from an abusive situation and has become a bit of a project for Mary Beth.  He looks very similar to a cat Mary Beth had as a child so I knew right then he was coming home with us.

Buddy excels at hiding under ottomans and eating.  Skills that I often aspire to.

Izzy has taken a real shine to me and has become my constant companion - you can see her checking out some of the latest updates on the Challenge blog.  I'm not really a cat person but have warmed up to this little one.  I suspect some go my future Challenge submissions will feature cat hair as part base scenery.

If only I could teach her to paint.