Monday, 4 August 2014

Terrain Tutorial: Landing Pad

The final piece of scenery for the 'Get to the Choppa' game at Brocon is a landing pad for Cheetor's Helga. I tend to spend an age browsing for ideas and then humming and hawing over measurements and the like so this time I decided to see if I could make something quickly. I reckon all told this took about 4 hours to make over the weekend

I started by getting a large piece of 3mm MDF and squaring it off to 40cm x 40cm. Then I measured in 10cm from each corner and cut off the 4 triangles to leave me with the following shape.

Next I cut some spare plastic pipe that I had into 12 x 25mm lengths and glued them to the under side of the board. I put a cluster of four in the centre to add strength to the platform as I reckoned Helga's weight could cause problems with warping.

The ramp is just a simple rectangle with 2 triangular sides. It's measurements depend on how steep you want the slope. I drilled 3 holes along each long side, except for the side that the ramp was going against. I sanded the surface lightly to give it some texture and then I sprayed the whole thing black with some cheap spray paint from a euro shop. I did this outside in direct sunlight and at this point everything warped. I was not a happy camper (to say the least) but thankfully as the paint dried everything straightened out again.

I designed some yellow and black hazard stripes and printed them off on card stock. Once they were dry I cut them into strips and glued them along the edges. I cut some strips of black card and glued them where the hazard strips met. This step wasn't really necessary but it does neaten things up.

I cut 4 yellow triangles to mark out the centre of the landing pad and glued them in place. I had bought a set of cheap LED lights in the same euro shop as the spray paint and pushed these though the holes. When doing this make sure to measure the distance between each bulb before drilling the holes. I didn't and it turned out to be a very tight fit. I taped the power unit under the landing pad making sure that the switch was easily accessible from the side.

Et voila - one finished landing pad done in record time.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Terrain Tutorial: Security Fences

Nothing for two weeks and now two posts in two days. Well, having finished the Nissen huts, I decided to make some security fences to create a compound. After spending a bit of time browsing the internet looking for ideas I decided to use a combination of various tutorials. This is what the finished fence looks like

The materials needed to make these are:
  • MDF for the bases
  • Toothpicks for the posts
  • Thin wire for the barbed wire (I used 0.2mm copper wire)
  • Aluminium Mesh (I used the stuff intended for car body repair)

First stage was deciding the size of the fences. The sheet of mesh was about 200mm long and could be cut into seven strips each 23mm high so I decided to go with that. The mesh is actually soft enough to cut with a sharp knife, using a steel ruler to keep the cut straight.

Next I cut the MDF into 200mm long strips each 25mm wide. I chamfered the edges and drilled holes for the toothpick posts before gluing them in place making sure to keep them as straight as possible. I should note that I had cut the points off one end of the toothpicks and glued this end into the holes. 

At this stage I decided to texture the bases to protect the wire mesh from paint, a decision I later regretted somewhat but I'll talk about the changes I would make if I were to do this again at the end of the post. I painted the MDF brown (Fleetwood Bitter Chocolate) and then added PVA and sand. When that was dry I painted two more coats of brown and then dryrushed with a cream (Fleetwood Bracken)

Next stage was painting the toothpicks silver. I used a cheap acrylic silver paint and it was shite, took about 3 coats to even begin to take hold. Eventually I used an old pot of silver from my model making days (Humbrol 56) and that did the job. Then it was time to glue the wire mesh to the posts. This was actually quite difficult as the mesh kept springing away from the posts before the super glue dried. Then I remembered that I had bought a bottle of Army Painter super glue activator. This stuff is magical. Put the glue on the post, attach the mesh, spray and it sets in a second. Its well worth getting for this sort of job.

The next stage was adding the barbed wire to the top of the posts. I could have bought some but decided to have a go at making my own. I got two lengths of wire (0.2mm diameter, its actually the wire used to connect doorbells) and inserted the ends into the chuck of an electric screwdriver while holding the other ends in a vice. Switch on the drill and watch the two wires coil around each other. I made a piece about 2m long the first time but when I went to glue it in place it kept coiling on me and it was more trouble that it was worth. undeterred I tried it again, this time making 220mm lengths. These lengths stayed rigid once made and were ideal for adding to the posts as shown below. There is a roughly 5mm gap between each strand and the wire. The wire was then painted using silver (Humbrol 56) but I wasn't too bothered it being perfect, the little bits of copper that show through add to the texture of it.

The final stage was clipping the posts to the right height. I had decide to leave this until the end as I wasn't sure what the finished height would be until this point. If I was doing it again I would shorten them earlier in the process as the forces applied to the toothpick caused some of the wires to spring loose. I didn't measure the posts, rather I just clipped them at what looked like the same height, I figured it made them look more realistic as it is rare to have these things perfect in reality.

The final piece was the gates. This piece was done much the same as the others except I left a loop in the upper strands of barbed wire to act as a hinge for the gates. The lower hinge is a piece of plastic from a cotton bud. The gates are made from steel wire bent into shape and glued to the mesh. This whole process was a right pain in the arse as I was too impatient between each stage and it was awkward making the gates to fit the gap. I probably would do this differently if I do it again.

That's it then. Grass tufts were added at random along the base of the wire and any pieces that had come loose were glued in place again. That left me with 21 pieces of fence including 4 corner pieces and the gate piece. I will probably make some more in a few weeks, some damaged pieces of fence and maybe another gate. Total cost was €8.40 for 3 sheets of the mesh and €0.59 for the toothpicks so €9 more or less. Everything else was lying around.

It was a bit of a learning process and I would do a few things differently now

  • I would glue the toothpicks to the MDF, cut them to the right height, glue the bared wire in place and then prime the lot with a spray.
  • Then I would texture the bases and paint everything.
  • Finally I would add the wire mesh
  • I would make the gates first and then do the end pieces, that way the gates would hang better.
I'm not 100% sure that the above revised method would work better but I would give it a try anyway.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Terrain Tutorial: Nissen/Quonset Huts Part 3

I've had the huts finished for more than a week now but just never got around to posting the final part of the tutorial until now. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos as I went so I just have ones of the finished huts.

The next stage was painting and basing. I cut some rectangles of 3mm MDF, about 5mm wider than the huts on each side and glued the huts in place. I primed the edges of the MDF with some PVA to stop it warping. I'm not really sure if this was necessary but they haven't warped yet so it doesn't do any harm. Then I sprayed the entire thing with a few coats of a dark silver I got from Halfords. Once that was dry I coated the base with PVA and sprinkled sand over it. When the glue was dry I gave it a couple of coats of Fleetwood Bitter Chocolate and drybrushed it with Fleetwood Bracken.

I wasn't really sure how much weathering to apply, or how to do it. After a bit of thinking I just decided to use the newish GW paint Ryza Rust. I brushed it on at first and didn't like it at all as it was very orange looking. I wiped that off and started again by stippling it on randomly using a cut down brush. These were still a bit orange so I added water to some of the stippled areas and turned it into a wash of sorts. This was much more pleasing to the eye so I just went with it. I added rust mainly to areas that I figure water would settle, so at the base of the huts and in the grooves of the corrugated sheets. Then I applied a few washes of watered down black ink mixed with Future floor polish and another of watered down blue ink. 

I painted the doors using a grey enamel paint (Humbrol 126) and added doorhandles using pins from my wife's sewing kit, which reminds me I need to go shopping tomorrow. Once the paint was dry I varnished them using the floor polish again and added some clumps of static grass. All in all I'm quite happy with how they turned out.

The finished product
Leprecians guarding their huts
The only problem with this build was the restricted height due to the diameter of the Pringle tubes. I still had 3 half tubes left over so I decided to have a go at making taller huts. I followed the previous build up to the point where I added the corrugated card. I found some 25mm thick polystyrene sheets and cut them to the same size as the base of the hut and glued them together using wood glue. Once this was dry I more or less followed the same method as before and ended up with these.

Nissen Hut MkII
As you can see I added small windows to the front of the huts. I prepared the front as before but cut out an additional hole for the window. I glued a piece of card in place and painted it black with an 'L' of light blue in the bottom corner. Here's a comparison of both versions of the huts from the front

The door handles are visible in this photo
and from the back

Larger window at the rear of the new huts
If I was to make more of them I would do some things differently

  • I bought corrugated card from a pound shop for the taller huts, it was very soft in comparison to the coffee ones I had used earlier. T, which resulted in the creases visible in the photos above. The coffee holders were much better.
  • I would add a window to the rear of the huts rather than a second door.
  • I would use thinner card for the windows and might consider building frames for the doors and windows to give a better finish.
All in all though I'm quite happy with the results. I have 10 Nissen huts for any sci-fi games I play and they cost me €10 for the spray paint, €1.50 for the card and everything else was lying around. Oh and 5 tubes of pringles and I don't know how much coffee :-) By the end of it I was making them quite quickly and it is definitely worth making them in batches.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Terrain Tutorial: Nissen/Quonset Huts Part 2

Got some more work done on these today. I've decided to just build 7 of the 10 that I have prepared for now. I might try and do something different with the last 3, just to add a bit of variety to the collection.

I started off today by gathering the bits I needed for each hut. First off I cut out end pieces for the front and back. Then I cut out 2 pieces of card to use as doors.  Curiously I had originally cut out the doors to scale and they looked terrible, which just shows how unrealistically proportioned 28mm miniatures are. These are each 20mm x 30mm and they seem to work fine. Finally I trimmed 3 of the coffee holders to give me the longest and tallest piece possible, which works out at 210mm x 44m. 

Next I glued the doors in place at either end. I then cut a door shape out of the corrugated card. Its important to do this after you've glued the door in place as it allows you to hide any irregularities there are at both ends. Then give the ends a good coat of wood glue and attach the corrugated card. Don't press too hard as you will dent the corrugations. The end result should be something like this.

Next stage is the trickiest but its worth the extra effort to get the right finish. Take two pieces of corrugated card and trim them to the proper length. You need to make sure the cut is along the trough at both ends. It doesn't matter if there is a small overhang at either end. Now for the tricky bit. You need to break the rigidity of the card without damaging the corrugation.  The best way to do this is to carefully rub the back of the card along a table edge. This should allow you to put a curve in the card that will be similar to that on the pringles tube. Apply glue to the bottom of both sides of the Pringle tube and gently press the card in place. Again be careful not to dent the card too much. 

When it has dried a little brush glue along the remainder of the tube and press the card down. It should follow the curve of the tube and sit quite flush. Start putting elastic bands around the whole thing making sure that the card doesn't move. Take it slowly and check it continually. Eventually you should end up with this:

Try and make sure that the elastic bands stay within the troughs of the corrugation otherwise if they are too tight they can dent it. Once this has dried remove the elastic bands and cut the third piece of card to length. I left a slightly larger overhang at either end, probably one full corrugation this time.You need to break the rigidity of this piece too, but it doesn't have to be as curved as the previous ones. Then glue it in place. It should overlap the two lower pieces of card, presumably to protect any joints from the rain but I think it also provided ventilation. Put the elastic bands around the hut and voila the construction is finished. Repeat ad nauseum (this being a vaguely 40k post I figured I better use some Latin, apologies for not making up the words ;-))

This is how many I have done at this stage
The astute amongst you will have noticed the lack of windows in these huts. It should have been simple to add a window on either side of the door but when I tried it out it just looked odd. I figured they could do without it as they a) are more secure and b) have electricity inside them. That's my story and I'm sticking to it anyway. I think if the tubes had been the proper size the windows wouldn't have looked so odd. 

That's it so far, next up will be painting and basing. Hopefully I'll get that done tomorrow (World Cup allowing) If you have any queries ask in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Terrain Tutorial: Nissen/Quonset Huts Part 1

I need some Nissen huts for the participation game that the O'Hammerers are running at Brocon in a few weeks. I had a look around online and there are some commercially available ones around but if you need 5 or 6 of them it gets expensive very quickly. In the best spirit of Rogue Trader and Blue Peter I decided to have a go at making my own.

I did a bit of research into Nissen huts (or Quonset huts as they were also known) and there are actually a wide variety of types. I decided to go with the simplest one which is a basic half cylinder built of corrugated metal with a door at either end.

A couple of weeks ago I had a trial run and this is what I ended up with. It only got a base coat of paint on it but it works. I'm not sure I'm happy with the colour and may paint the next one blue/grey and decide which way to go with the rest of them. Either way it needs a bit of a wash and drybrush, with bits of rust added here or there.

I finally got around to starting the rest of them yesterday and thought I'd do a tutorial as I went along, in case anyone wants to have a go themselves. The basic materials needed are mounting card for the base, a thinner card for supports, a Pringle tube and some corrugated card (I'm using the ones that come with take away coffee cups). I used wood glue to stick the whole thing together as I have read that it contains less water than PVA and is less likely to warp card.

Historically the huts were 20' wide, 40' long and 10' high, which equates to about 90mm wide x 180mm long by 45mm high in 28mm terms. However the diameter of the Pringles tube is only 75mm, which is a bit short but I decided to ignore that and just build it anyhow. Start off by cutting the Pringle tube in half and then cut it to whatever length you require. Cut out a rectangular base from the card stock and glue some angled pieces of lighter card along the edges. When these have dried glue the Pringles tube to the base. The angled pieces will provide a larger contact area and the whole thing is surprisingly strong. I put a few elastic bands around the whole thing to keep it secure while the glue dried. Don't worry about any gaps, or uneven cuts as the final stages will hide any imperfections.

 The base with one angled strip of card glued in place

Gluing the Pringle tube in place 

This view illustrates how the angled strips work

Once the assembled pieces have dried I glued some folded pieces of light card along the inside of the tube, this will help to hold the front and back in place.

Then using the end as a template I cut out a semicircle of card and glued it in place at both ends. I used elastic bands to keep everything in place while the glue dried and then I kept on going until I ran out of Pringles. I now have 10 of the frames, which is more than I need but it does give me a bit of room to experiment.

That's as far as I got and then I had to take a break for the football. Hopefully I should get the corrugated card glued on today. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Conclave 2014

The last couple of weeks have been quite hectic and between the rare summer like weather, the world cup and lots of guests I have had very little painting time. I did however go to my first wargaming convention in about 20 years last weekend and I have to say it was great. As long as I stayed well away from the tournament games which just made me cringe. But enough about that and onto the good stuff.

The first thing that caught my eye when I walked into the room was this little piece from Warlord Games (apologies for the glare on the photos):

That's Warlords version of Pegasus Bridge in 28mm. Simon, from the Gathering, was running games of Bolt Action at this table all weekend and I have to say it was great fun. Not the most historically accurate rule set ever written but definitely one for heroics and derring-do. Warlord include a mini-campaign with the box set and we played through the whole thing over the weekend. All credit to the lads at the Gathering who built that terrain board and painted everything in the space of a couple of days to have it ready for the weekend.

The Wee Gamers put on a few demo games as well. I finally got to try out Saga, a game of Dark Age combat published by Gripping Beast and Tomahawk Studios. This is is simple but bloody game that I have only ever heard good things about and I have to say its good fun. The rules are easy to pick up and once you get your head around the dice allocation and battle boards it fast and furious.

These are both games that I want to play more of as they are relatively cheap to assemble usable armies. When I got home I started digging through boxes of minis and eyeing up starter armies when I remembered that I had a bunch of Wargames Foundry Vikings lying around that I had got about a year age and promptly forgotten about. These are solid based versions of the original Citadel minis and are perfect for my needs.

Hirdmen (Hearthguard)
Bondi (Warriors)
Thralls (Levies)

There doesn't seem to be an allowance for archers in the Viking forces but I'm sure they'll come in useful somewhere along the way. Along with the box of Dark Age warriors I've ordered that is the bulk of a Viking warband for Saga, at least for starters anyway. I've also ordered the dice and traded some stuff I didn't want any more for the rules and battleboards. 

The Wee Games also put on a demo game of All Quite on the Martian front, a new game which pits a kind of steam punk US army against Martian tripods. Its set a few years after the events of HG Wells The War of the Worlds and while I'm not sure I like the tanks I can see myself getting some tripods to use in other games. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos of the game but there are plenty on the Wee Gamers facebook page. All in all it was a good weekend and I met a few more gamers from around the Limerick area. 

Next post will be back to the Leprecians and hopefully I will have some scenery for the game we're putting on at Brocon 2014 ready to show.