Thursday, February 23, 2017

Making paleontologists cry since 2017

Yesterday I had an entire evening to give over to the hobby. And with the bases I made over lunch mostly dry I could take some of my plastic dinosaur bones and rearrange them in interesting new shapes to cover the bases.

Interesting find, I'll call this species the Coversavous Terrificus.
I know from experience that this Chinese plastic shows no inclination to get bits stuck together with plastic glue so I got my superglue and tacky glue ready. Next up as much derring-do with GW's razor saw. Mine is a bit blunt but GW no longer carries these and finding a replacement has turned out te be harder then expected. Let's compensate with an action shot.

Me risking life and limb for the noble purpose of cutting plastic dinosaur bones into new and interesting shapes.
To assemble interesting corpses I just poured out the contents of a number of dinosaur bone bags and threw them in a pile. I wouldn't want to accidentally assemble an actual dinosaur at this stage after all.

I could've just fixed them to a pieve of MDF and called it a day...nah maybe for another project. 
As this scatter terrain will mostly be used in Age of Sigmar I want plenty of room on the base to give a small unit (or individual model) a cover save. At the same time the terrain is small enough to prevent big units or large model units (like the Varanguard) from doing the same.

A nice place to hide your nasty Skinks, devious Gutter Runners or lonesome Chaos Sorcerer.

I had a quite a lot of fun cutting up dinosaur skulls and rearranging bones, all the while humming the Monkey Island 2 Bones Song as a matter of course.

The headbone's connected to the tigh bone, the tigh bone's connected to the shoulder bone...
I ende up with this interesting collection of large skeletons. Not mentioned so far is that I have not glued the bones to the bases. The bones are stuck together (where necessary) and I can now easily paint and drybrush the bases in a sand color and follow up by painting the skeletons with airbrush and wash. All this with the noble goal of building extra terrain in record time.

I think I'm onto something sweet here.
Now all I have to do is await the arrival of a new mega-tub (200ml) of Sepia Shade by Vallejo. In the meantime I can use a rattlecan to paint the bones Zandri and I guess I'll use my Cursed Waste scenery paint set on the bases so the bones will contrast properly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Badlands scatter terrain, aka: sticking sand to wargame terrain bases

If you ask me any good terrain set has a nice selection of scatter terrain to go with it. Just some smaller bases that make te table look interesting and give (AoS) units a +1 cover save if they all manage to fit in it. During my lunch break today I grabbed my power tools and a strip of MDF to make some bases for scatter terrain.

Bosch should consider sponsoring this blog, then again I seem to buy their tools without sponsorship...hmm going commercial is harder than I thought ;)
After sawing and sanding (beveling) the bases I plan to simply put sand on them, paint and flock them and finish off by adding some huge skeletons separately. That will give me a chance to get the bases painted as lightning speed. As for the skeletons I have a project box (of course (please don't have me committed!)).

Cheap plastic from China equals lots of bits to turn into terrain (add in thrift store visits to get even nearer to perfection).
The skull was sold as part of a 'collect your own skeleton' magazine rip-off with the bottom half of the skull (pictured) costing 1 euro and every other bone costing about five or six times as much (starting with the skull cap). The other skeletons are dinosaur skeletons I bought cheaply from China through Aliexpress. I always overdo the buying of cheap components for terrain, that's why I have slightly more then I will most likely need in my lifetime. On the other hand I can usually find something interesting to build terrain with...

Measure once, ignore lines, cut once, hide your utter lack of precision later.
Making scatter bases is not rocket science. Here is a quick check to see if I can fit the bones on the base. I actually did these before as well to draw the guidelines for cutting, but I forgot to take a picture. Also note the high precision I use when cutting along the lines for scatter terrain. Definitely not rocket science (as long as I hide my sloppy markings on the side that gets painted).

Maybe I should clean up my work area. The cardboard I'm working on is starting to look like a modern art masterpiece. 
I quickly picked out some bones (I'll make these ready for use later) and got ready for the hard part: sticking sand to the terrain base. First off I discovered I nearly used up my nice mix of beach sand with broken shells. I proceeded to grab a plastic container with generic beach sand and just tossed in anything that looked slightly different to break up the texture. It ended up as a mix of tiny rocks, very tiny rocks, fine sand and the coarse beach sand I started out with. Now onto the steps for sticking sand to a base. This being the internet I'll make this a five step program and I'll add a bulleted (numbered) list to make it look even more internet.

Sticking sand to a base in 5 steps:


  1. Stick base in box
  2. Pour on some glue
  3. Abuse a (cheap) brush
  4. Remove said brush
  5. Pour sand.

Step 1 - stick base in box



Stick the base into a box lid. This is helpful because around step 5 you will have a lot of excess sand and you can pour that back into your container using the box lid as a dustpan.

Step 2 - Pour on some glue



Grab your bottle of PVA, unscrew the (har har) precision top and just let a large glob of glue splash onto the base. Worry about using too much glue? Don't (or go out and buy cheaper PVA).

Step 3 - Abuse a (cheap) brush



Every once in a while I pick up a fresh pack of sad looking cheap brushes. Sometimes I use these to drybrush large terrain pieces (but only after checking over both shoulders too make sure no one watches). Officially I only use them to spread big globs of PVA glue around.

Step 4 - Remove said brush



After spreading the glue over the base, remove the brush from the box before pouring sand into it. If you don't you will have a brush covered in glue and sand (and that makes it slightly more difficult to spread the glue out). I, being a semi-professional* blog writer, would never forget to remove my brush so please disregards any photographic evidence to the contrary...

*semi-professional as in amateur.

Step 5 - Pour sand.



Pick up your container of sand and up-end it over your glued base. Wait a few minutes to let the sand settle in and then shake you box around until the base becomes visible. Take it out of the box (careful not to push too hard into the sand. Hold the base upside down and tap it gently to get rid of more excess sand. Then using the previously mentioned dustpan technique put the rest of your sand mix back into the container. Congratulations your bases are now covered in sand.

All finished up, now where can I find a cheap equivalent of Zandri Dust?
As with almost every piece of terrain I finish the pieces off by gluing a few bigger pebbles to the base. This helps break up the monotony as these bases will have bones added to them later I can't put the stones on the center bits so I stuck them to the sides. With this done I'll put these bases near a heater and let them dry for a day.

Next up: assembling some large skeletons.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Finished my badlands terrain for Warhammer and Age of Sigmar (part 3)

Last night I affixed the final bits of flock and moss to my badlands terrain. Except for a barrel and a lantern that will get added to the mine this part of the badlands terrain set is finished.

In the heart of the realm of wood (and wintering garden furniture) five Chaos Warriors struck out on a quest to find the lost mine of King Sigmaron...

I had some doubts about applying green flock to the red/brown bases but pictures of this terrain show green vegetation and it does contrast nicely with red, so I went for it. Now that it is on, I'm happy with the decision.

The band of the wiggly rune betrayed their lord long ago. They hadn't looked back since.
I've added some Chaos Warriors to the set for scale purposes, Dwarves would've been better but my total number of painted Dwarves right now rests at two (one Fyreslayer and one Dispossessed).

From a distance the slapping of a palm on a face could be heard. With servants like these, one needs no enemies.
I had quite a lot of fun with the mine entrance. No paint hit it internally. In real life the polystyrene is a magnitude more visible.

The famed polystyrene veins of King Sigmaron's mines?
So after painting the track I grabbed the airbrush and just sprayed it black, taking care to hit the end of the track as well, it has to meander off into the darkness.

Lets go for mysterious darkness, that sounds a lot better....
The split in the rock is now covered up nicely as well. Although quite visible if you know it is there.

Legend had it that these rocks were stuck together with gigantic cocktail sticks...
Still it adds character. Well enough talk, I'll leave off with some extra pictures. Next up: some regular painting or maybe I'll get started on some matching buildings and scatter terrain....hmmm decisions, decisions....

"Commander, about our vow never to look back...?"

"What about it?"

"Nothing sir."

"Nothing..."





Monday, February 20, 2017

Building and painting badlands terrain for Warhammer and Age of Sigmar (part 2)

This is going to be a rather massive post about the badlands terrain I'm building and painting for Warhammer Age of Sigmar. I should have split it up over the course of the weekend, but well I didn't so here goes. In the previous post about my badlands terrain build I glued polystyrene blocks to MDF, took fork and knife to them and covered the result in instant filler and PVA. The next step is sanding the base and the flat parts of the mesa rocks. To make sure sand only sticks where I want it, I had to wait until the terrain was well and dry from the previous step (i.e. wait a few days). The next step is adding a thick glob PVA with an unwanted (cheap) brush. I occasionally water down the PVA slightly to make it flow a bit more, but never too much (as I need control).

Ever wonder what the point of cheap brushes is? It is for adding glue and other brush destroying activities.
I cover one complete rock formation in PVA and then sand it, pouring sand from the plastic container over the model with a box under it. After gently shaking most of the excess sand in the box, I then pour the rest of the sand back in the plastic container and repeat.

Cut PVA to pieces, add sand...almost done...almost....
After a while rock formations start to look a bit less like polystyrene and a bit more like the way I want them. After covering each piece in sand I let rest on a plastic cup to dry. The bottomg of the base has excess PVA on it and this stops the piece from sticking to the newspaper.

This would be the sort of mistake I knew I shouldn't make, but made anyway.
Next up was a bit of a problem block (bad design by me). I glued to blocks next to each other from the base to the top and I should have stacked smaller blocks (like brickwork). The net effect was that the formation split and lifting the base would make the split worse. So no amount of filler or glue was able to stop this piece from breaking apart.

Time for a brutal fix: skewer the mistake...
Time for a quick fix. I grabbed some skewers stuck in two diagonally one way and another (no room for two) cross-ways from them. Then I snipped of the tops that stuck out and covered the remaining split with extra PVA and sand using a drop of superglue on the edges to stop the PVA from leaking out.

I always suspend MDF bases that have glue added to them to stop them from sticking to the underground.
Now all my hills look something akin to this. The sand I used here is from a beach with lots of smaller pebbles and bits of shell making it nice and rough ground. Next up is using even more PVA to glue bigger bits of rock to the model. I find using some real rock next to polystyrene rock makes the whole lot look more convincing. It als gives me a chance to cover up some ugly bits.

Stones add a bit of realism to the whole and cover up mistakes.
I use decorative stones from a plastic tube for this. I occasionally use stones I pick up from gravel roads but a) I ran out and b) these where available for next to nothing at the local Action (cheap stuff store) that also provides my endless supply of cheap PVA.

Slowly but surely we are getting to the painting stages.
Here is another shot of the terrain so far, ready to have the PVA dry for a while. I had one other small detail chore left to make the look complete. I cut out a mine entrance in one rock that needed some wood beams. I measured these in by eye.

Cut a mine shaft first, add supports later...not recommended for real mines.
These beams are bits of balsa wood. It has two nice properties. One is that it is very soft and easy to cut, the second that it can sponge up thinned down PVA making it reasonably strong after you put it in place. An important aspect of balsa sticks like these is that you need to cut random bits of the edges with your scalpel otherwise it looks way to new and square (like the bits above).

It even looks dark in the picture, in real life I look straight at the blue of polystyrene.
Here is the entrance glued with some extra cross supports of course. As my eye measurements suck I had to pushe some PVA below the beam on the right and add some sand to fill the gap. Not pictured is the PVA I used to fill the gaps on the sides of the beams. A cotton swab was used to flatten thicker drops of PVA.

Step 1: Cut little planks from balsa. Step 2: cut snippets from the planks to make them look old and worn.
Next up were the obligatory rails. A few more bits of balsa and two even smaller balsa sticks. Note the balsa curls at the bottom. The railway ties will need to look as worn down as the entrance.

A railway with floating ties? 
After a bit of screwing around with tweezers the railway is in place, but one thing looks off....

That's better: ties buried in the sand.
I used another cotton swab to add some PVA to the side of the front ties and added a bit of sand. Now it looks buried and it can pretend to be a big tie instead of a strange plank floating above the sand. After this detail it was time to give the entire assembly a lot of time to dry.

The first layer of paint has been applied. 
Next up I grabbed the colored latex wall paint, added a bit of PVA and water to it and covered the rocks a thick layer of paint.

Two thin coats is for another type of painting project.
The water in it makes it look worse, but the paint is on really thick as this is not a finely detailed plastic model there isn't a hell of a lot of fine detail to destroy by applying the paint to thick and it will over an extra layer of protection while gaming with it. Next up, you guessed it, more drying time. This brings it to the final stages I got to over the weekend: mostly drybrushing and washing.

Drybrushed the first contrast onto these rocks.
I picked up a GW Cursed Wastes scenery paint set earlier. And though the base color (Steel Legion Drab) is not much use here the drybrush colors are excellent for my purposes. I first drybrushed the sides of the cliffs with Tallarn Sand (pictured above). Next up was painting the tops of the hills with Zandri Dust. I could have picked a cheaper option then GW paint for this, but the stores where closed, I had a spare pot of it in my painting box and I was on a roll with this. So I didn't.

Add sand color.
After drying I washed all the sand areas with Seraphim Sepia (same story as with the Zandri Dust...). As I forgot to take a picture I'll have to ask you to use your imagination as to how it looked after this step. Next up was grabbing my ultra expensive terrain drybrush by Ikea...

It's almost like the artificer brush! Can you spot the difference?
I drybrushed both the sand and the rocks with Ushabti Bone to tie the sand and the red together.

Drybrushed again, this time with the higher contrast color.

The final step for this part of the process was a thick wash home wash. I made this by mixing cheap brown and black hobby paint with Pledge Floor Cleaner (for wooden floors). I apply this wash very \thick and then I use paper towel to dab off the top parts. This helps fill any spots I missed in the previous painting steps with a dark brown color. All drybrushing, especially the bright Ushabti layer is toned down a bit and it ties the sand and the rock together with a dark dusty layer. And last but not least it deepens the shadows and helps bring out recessed areas that the drybrush has missed. This weekend closed off with a step taken multiple times before: waiting for the project to dry. Next up I will be painting the mine entrance, add details and make up my mind in regards to flock and vegetation.

Covered in my homemade wash.
I'll leave this post with a close up shot of the homemade wash drying.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Warhammer and Age of Sigmar badlands terrain (part 1)

One of the terrain sets I've been meaning to make is a badlands type with Monument Valley style cliffs. The fact that the first season of Westworld is awesome helped set me off on a polystyrene carving binge. I made my first test rock following along with the excellent tutorial by Rob Hawkins Hobby blog. This one still needs a bit of flock, but as a concept it'll do.

Some nefarious Tzeentchy types seem to be lounging around on this cliff.
With the test piece completed it was time to escalate to make a full terrain set. Step one cutting up a number of 3mm MDF bases and sticking clunks of polystyrene on them. I diverted from Rob Hawkins tutorial because I had rather a lot of spare bits around that I wanted to use up.

Not pictured: exciting footage of carving and beveling MDF (see this post for some rambling on that). Also missing: footage of a hot glue gun, a PVA bottle and blocks of polystyrene.
All in all it will be a nice set of cliffs to put on the table.

I feel the need to make even more cliffs, but knowing myself I should stop here (or the table will be too full to put actual models on it).
After this it was time to break out the high-tech carving tools...

Noting but the best of the best here (*cough* *cough*)
The most useful blade in this set is the breakaway blade of course (having a lot of spare blades helps when carving polystyrene. The potato peeler has a useful point for taking deeper bites out of the rocks but the blade has to be sharpened often (and I'm too lazy to do that while carving). The fork is used to get a good taste of the hills, wouldn't want to make tasteless terrain after all...ok it's used to rake over the terrain and rough it up.

Here's me crossing my fingers and hoping this will look like a cliff after paint is applied.

After a bit of carving the rocks started shaping out reasonably nicely.

The fork really makes a damages mess of things.
Luckily polystyrene makes no mess whatsoever...

Not featured:me sweeping the floor multiple times and still finding bits of polystyrene.
The next step for me was to use instant filler to close up some gaps. I've been very sloppy in my gluing and the spare bits weren't a very smart idea after all (too many gaps). After the instant filler a layer of watered down PVA was added to give a bit of extra strength to it all. As I'm impatient and it is still rather cold around here the instant filler wasn't dry yet. That's ok, it just mixes with the PVA and covers the rocks a bit more. After all this is terrain, not rocket science.

The cliffs were moved out of the shed and into the house. It is still too cold outside for PVA and instant filler to dry  properly. 
And here is the end result so far. The cliffs have been covered and arae standing on raised platforms (plastic cups, paint buckets, etc.) to dry. This is an old and easy trick to prevent PVA'd terrain from sticking to your table/old newspaper/other surface. Next step will involve me trying to be patient as the PVA and instant filler dries. Then it is on to sticking sand and stones to the terrain to give it a bit more character. I've also spotted/carved a very nice place to build an (obligatory) mine entrance on one of the rocks. In other words, I'm rather excited about this project. Now if only it would dry faster...