Archive for the ‘Scenics’ Category

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Custom mat from Deep-Cut Studio – a review

February 16, 2019

It just so happened, that I wanted a gaming mat for sea battles – possibly unsurprising considering my pirate infatuation. Turns out such a mat isn’t all that easy to find! You’d assume it to be a common gaming mat staple: a lovely, greenish-turquoise Caribbean seascape is pretty iconic and it’s not like pirate gaming isn’t popular. However, this assumption would be wrong. While there are seascapes available, many of them are very much a dark blue. This is nice in itself and probably fits most naval games wonderfully, but it’s not ideal for evoking a sunny Caribbean/West Indies feel. Furthermore, I wanted the mat to be mousepad material as it’s easy to store, lays flat and has a nice feel to it.

After doing plenty of googling and window shopping, I ended up looking at Deep-Cut Studios’ custom mat printing service, Print-O-Mat. I was overjoyed, now all I needed was a suitable image, and surely one would be easily available. How wrong I was. As is apparent in hindsight, you need a very big image for a quality print, and I was going for a 3x3ft map – roughly 90x90cm to fit my small table. While there are beautiful stock photos of Caribbean waters, you need a very high resolution for a high quality mat. After spending hours searching through various photo archives both free and commercial, I settled on something especially designed for the purpose: a printable battle mat image from Tiny Worlds. A bargain at $4.50, it suited my needs wonderfully. While it was also very blue, purchasing it as a file meant that I could simply use Photoshop to tweak it to my needs. I edited the colour balance to make the mat more green to evoke the correct genre feel.

Original on the left, colour-tweaked on the right

Pleased with the result, I headed to Deep-Cut Studios’ site and used their simple interface for creating the mat. The final price for a 90x90cm mat was around 40€ with a flat postage rate of 15€. Deep-Cut is situated in Lithuania, so no customs charges for a Euro customer. I was quite happy with the price altogether! The mat was very speedily delivered in a work week, and boy, was I impressed with the end result.

As you can hopefully see in the photos, the mat is crisp and vibrant. While colours are a tad darker than the original image, it’s still a faithful rendition and looks pretty much just like I imagined, and it should be noted that the lighting conditions and camera settings distort the colour in the photos! I threw down some super old hills that were originally made for WHFB way back in the 90s (I think) as well as some of my badlands/scifi cork outcrops that make for surprisingly nice rocky shoals. I love how it looks.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Overall verdict: I’m super happy with my custom mat. Great quality and quick delivery at a very reasonable price point. While a part of the credit obviously goes to Tiny Worlds for the original image, I’m really, really happy with Deep-Cut’s service and will likely use them again.

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Rubble City go go

February 1, 2019

Painted stuff! Not miniatures as such, but very useful nevertheless. Inspired by both Azazel’s monthly challenge and my lack of time to focus on miniatures, I figured it would be fun to add some generic scenery pieces to my table. All of these are from Fenris Games, one of my favourite companies for miniature terrain, and part of Fenris’ Rubble City range. For a change I figured I’d photograph the pieces on the gaming table!

Click for a larger version

I actually painted these fieldstone walls last year after buying them at Salute, but as I gave them a bit of touch-up, I thought to include them here as well. There’s nothing super special about them, but that’s pretty much what I like – they’re nice, clean and generic enough to go with pretty much anything.

Click for a larger version

There’s a similar charm to these rubble walls and corners that I got as part of Fenris’ Rubble City Kickstarter. Like the fieldstone walls, these are super clean sculpts and very crisp casts so a veritable joy to paint.

Paint jobs were simple, but I’m happy with the end results. I painted all the pieces using mainly craft store acrylics. I started with a dark brown base coat, stippled on browns and grays, followed with progressively lighter gray drybrushes. I then slapped on some Agrax Earthshade and finished everything with Athonian Camoshade (think Agrax Earthshade but green) at the base of each piece and painted splashes of the wash here and there. I think the stone looks quite naturalistic, which is what I was going for!

These are really useful gaming pieces, so I figure’d I’d show you a couple of shots with figures. The walls and ruins fit wonderfully into my Caribbean setting, but would definitely not look out of place on any fantasy or even modern table.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

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Fortstarter

June 27, 2018

Such a long time since my last post! No, this blog is not going under or anything – the combination of home renovations, Emmi moving in and a busy time at work have simply meant that I haven’t had the time (or space) for anything miniatures-related. All this is slowly changing, however, so I hope to have the blog running/walking/lurching again soon.

Spanish fort in 28mm

At the risk of sounding like a Slug Industries shill, there’s another sweet Kickstarter going on at the moment. It’s for an 18th century Spanish fort, based on Fort Matanzas. As you can imagine, I couldn’t really miss out on it, so I went in for both the fort and a gun battery. Sure, I already have one fort – which I’ve yet to show by the way – but who’s counting. The combination of these three will allow me to build a fairly formidable fortified town. Maybe throw in a few ships and I see a coastal assault scenario or six in that.

Have a look at some more photos and throw some money around!

Spanish fort in 28mm

Click for a larger version

Spanish fort in 28mm

Click for a larger version

I’m actually writing this post on a train from Dublin to Cork, as I’m on a conference trip. I cleverly picked a conference that’s near casa sho3box, and I’m looking forward to a couple of days of geeky hijinks. I’m transporting a Playmobil ship to him, I kid you not.

 

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Turtle Rock

December 7, 2017

With my dissertation turned in for now, I finally have more time and resources to devote to blogging. I have plenty of stuff that I’ve managed to finish during long evenings, so expect to see them here in the future – starting right now. I’ll be using some cell phone shots in these posts, as I’ve been shooting them along the way.

Caves and pirates go together like any two things that go together well, so I was immediately sold when I picked up a suitable looking piece of terrarium decoration for 10€ at the local pet store. A hefty (hollow) chunk of resin, and as you can see from the photo below, pretty much ready to use as is.

Pirate cave

Click for a larger version

To match it with the rest of my terrain, I went to work. I repainted the cave, added a bunch of tufts and a bit of plastic Ikea plant, and here’s the end result:

Pirate cave

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Here’s the cave shown in its natural environment and much more yellow lighting, with my night watchman exploring. Smugglers, pirates, monsters? Certain doom, anyway.

Pirate cave exploring

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I have to say I love little stuff like this. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s good fun and it’s effective on the table. A cave is a simple enough feature that it will easily find use regardless of setting: add a troll, and it’s a trollcave, add in a few crates and it’s a smugglers’ hideout. Easy-peasy! The cave was dubbed Turtle Rock on a Facebook group I frequent, and the name stuck. It looks like a turtle and was originally intended for a terrarium setup, so I’m fine with it. I’ll be keeping an eye out in the future for terrarium bits, as they usually lack the seaweeds etc often crafted onto aquarium pieces. This piece was from a company called Exo Terra, but I’m sure there are tons of alternatives out there!

 

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Bark bark bark

October 12, 2017

It’s terrain time! Lately I’ve been working on a variety of fairly low intensity scenery builds – pretty much things I can work on while watching Killjoys and The Expanse.

I picked up the idea for these somewhere online, as these things happen. Someone had used bark to make rocky outcrops, and as I was about to head to our summer place, I figured I’d pick some up and give it a try. Pine bark is plentiful in Finland, and after a few days without rain it was easy to gather up more than enough dry pieces.

The whole process was delightfully simple. I chucked the bark pieces into the oven for a 20-30 minute bake at 200°C. This not only dried them out and got rid of all sorts of teeny tiny little critters, but it also gave my apartment a lovely wood-fired sauna smell.

I glued the pieces to large oval mdf bases I picked up at a local convention, and went to work. After sealing the bark with watered-down PVA, I started painting them. Using mainly cheap craft acrylics, I first painted the pieces black, and then followed it up with progressively lighter shades of grey, drybrushed on, up to pure white. A quick Agrax Earthshade wash followed, as well as a few licks of green wash here and there.

Before and after

Finishing touches were done by adding in a variety of decorative stones, sand, tufts and shrubs, some undergrowth cut from an Ikea plastic plant and static grass. The end result is…surprisingly nice! I feel these just might be some of the nicest scenery bits I’ve ever produced. I snuck in a secret hatch in one of the pieces, made out of coffee stirrers. An old, battered hatch hidden in the bushes under a rocky outcrop – it just screams “pirate” or “smuggler” to me.

Rocky outcrop made from bark

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Rocky outcrop made from bark

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Rocky outcrop made from bark

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Hidden hatch under a bark rock

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Captain Pemberton-Smythe leads his men on a hunt for pirates

A special mention goes out to Tajima1 Miniatures, who manufacture wonderful tufts and shrubs for miniatures. Fellow blogger Paul of sho3box fame somewhat gushingly recommended these to me, so I decided to give them a try. I’m happy I did! They’re the first tufts I’ve tried that actually live up to the claim of being self-adhesive, and they look lovely to boot. I’ll definitely be using plenty of these.

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Salute 2017 part 2

April 28, 2017

Time for part two of my Salute report. This is mainly a photo dump of some of the things on display that I liked. Short descriptions when I can remember (or knew) what was going on. You can click on photos for larger versions, they all open in a new tab.

A dog looks on as the Russian revolution happens

Massive Star Wars battle going on

Some wild west action

Fantasy fun for everyone

A massive dungeon setup

Desert warfare

Lovely Frostgrave (I assume) diorama

A wonderful winter fantasy setup

Plenty of ruined walls to hide behind

More winter fantasy

Zombies break down a fence in a Walking Dead game

French and Indian wars

More French and Indian

They DO move in herds! A great Jurassic Park game

Hail to the king, baby!

Loving attention to detail

Welcome! To…

Papers, please! Slug Industries’ game in the vein of Escape from Colditz

Nazis roam the streets

The lovely cobblestone streets are currently on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/718310363/streetscape-28mm-cobblestone-road-sections

More of Papers, please

Storming the beaches of what I assume is Normandy

Love the explosion effects!

Giant steampunk robots in what I think was a demonstration of Wolsung

Massive 18th century battle setup

The gentry, happy behind their walls

The Random Platypus/Hasslefree collaboration table

Mawes incoming

A security meeting

Things getting tense

The coolness radiates off him in waves

Lovely detailing in the corridors

Ready to receive

A beastie comes charging in

You’re going to need bigger guns

Troopers protecting despot Drumpf

The second Random Platypus/Hasslefree game, a fantasy one

A miniature’s eye view

Dwarves and orcs clash

A look inside the dwarven hold

A wonderful upcoming giant from Heresy Miniatures

That is a big giant

Lovely minimalist setup, never caught a game on it sadly

Definitely not minimalist, lovely though!

Epic fantasy

Semi-fictional late-17th century clash between the Swedish and the Dutch

The table won multiple awards and for good reason

Disembarkation in progress

Villagers milling about

A fortress was involved a well

Advancing across the fields

“Oh deer.”

Row, boys, row!

The ship bombards the fort

…and the fort shoots back

A demo setup for Drowned Earth, currently on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1559814207/the-drowned-earth-miniatures-game

As you can see, there was plenty on offer – this was just a small sample of all the wonderful games and table setups on offer. If you haven’t visited Salute yet, I definitely suggest you do if at all possible!

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X marks the spot

January 6, 2017

The first thing of 2017 painted! I bought this Giant Doom Track Marker from Fenris Games, as to me it definitely fits a trope prevalent in pop culture pirate map imagery – the skull shaped rock (see this or this). Most likely known as Dead man’s rock, Skull rock, Cursed rock or something equally imaginative, this is one of the usual checkpoints when looking for hidden treasure, and as such it fit the project perfectly.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The paintjob was super simple, and the plentiful texture made this an easy piece. I gave it a black basecoat followed by a highlight layer of grey (I used an airbrush for this, as this is pretty much the level of complexity I can manage at the moment), then followed with progressively lighter drybrush layers and a black wash to dull it down a little. The rock features small, literally beady eyeballs in its sockets. I painted these black, put in a dot of white and gave them a gloss varnish. Onyx stones or the soul of a dead pirate? Who knows.

All in all this probably took less than thirty minutes from start to finish, so it was very rewarding and a nice and easy start to the painting year. In games it will function as a lovely little piece of thematic scatter terrain, like this:

"This is where the magick points?" "Yes ma'am." "Dig, ye scallywags, dig!"

“This is where the magick points?”
“Yes ma’am.”
“Dig, ye scallywags, dig!”

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