Archive for the ‘Scenics’ Category

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From the painting desk #66 – Gun battery

August 4, 2019

A little over a year back I got in on the Slug Industries Spanish fort Kickstarter and I’m happy to report that I’ve finally finished one of the pieces from it – a separate gun battery. I think the gun battery is a very iconic part of Caribbean pirate imagery, guarding those ports and looking menacing.

The paint job was a mixture of stippling, washing and drybrushing, and I probably should have kept notes as the fort itself will inevitably look different. I wanted a fairly light look, leaning more to brown and yellow than dark grey, and I’m quite happy with it.

You obviously can’t have a gun battery without guns, so I painted three cannon from Thomarillion to go with it. These were a right bastard to paint, mainly because I didn’t spray prime them, leading to those super annoying tiny tiny spots of bright unpainted metal hiding in nooks and crannies that you only spot when you think the mini is finished. As they are quite ornate pieces, I decided to paint them as bronze cannon and I think the effect is nice, I’m really happy with the tone!

Having started painting cannon, I came across a piece that I built during the very early days of my pirate project, four years back. As some faithful readers might remember, this is of course the Cagafuego which finally got painted. A massive, old WHFB Empire cannon on a scratch-built naval carriage, the Cagafuego makes for a nice centrepiece to the gun battery when heavier firepower (or plain old intimidation) is needed.

I was in a bit of a rush and photography is a little off as a result. I set up both a vanilla version with the regular cannon and a pirate-crewed Cagafuego version for some atmospheric shots.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Finishing this piece was a nice thing in many ways: there’s always a sense of accomplishment when you get a big item out of your painting queue, it was surprisingly quickly done (I spent one evening on it), it looks pretty Azazely awesome on the table and if I ever want to run a game, it’s a very playable piece for a scenario. Job well done, me!

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From the painting desk #65 – The Kraken Arms

July 22, 2019

Every pirate town needs a tavern, obviously. While I originally bought a Warbases modular building for this very purpose, it was when I came across a Citadel Lake-town house from the dreadful Hobbit films that I knew I’d found my tavern.

It’s a lovely piece of plastic kit that can be assembled in a couple of different configurations. I put it together to minimize the fantasy/medieval/Tudor aspects to keep it in line with the rest of my pirate buildings. In addition to the building itself, there are four pieces of jetty, a larger jetty platform for the building to sit on and an outhouse. There’s also a small rowboat that I haven’t painted yet.

My paintjob for both the jetty pieces and the building followed my usual formula, with a heavy reliance on washes and drybrushing. I went with a muted blue for the tavern itself with green for the door and window frames and some yellow curtains to add a splash of colour. I made the outhouse a very worn green. As you might notice, I couldn’t be bothered to shoot the tavern from every angle, but rather just rotated the building to show its different sides. Click on any photo for a larger view.

A shot of the full kit, showing the modularity

The kit is full of nice detail like this

An aerial view of the tavern

Wouldn’t swim nearby

Brighten up your tavern with some fresh mustard yellow curtains!

There was one part of the painting process that I had been dreading for a while: freehanding the tavern sign. While I’m happy with my painting skills when it comes to miniatures, I consider myself to be somewhat rubbish when it comes to freehanding anything more complicated than very simple glyphs or the like. Still, I wanted a tavern sign matching the tavern’s name – dubbed The Kraken Arms by this point – so it was time to grit my teeth and freehand an octopus. Quite surprisingly, it turned out pretty nice! In fact, nice enough for me to duplicate it on the other side of the sign as well. The sides are not identical, but very much passable. Did you know, by the way, that octopi do not in fact have tentacles, but arms? See, punny and scientifically correct.

Behold the mighty Kraken with its fairly cute little button eyes

Obviously you can’t have a tavern without people to run it. I had plenty of  potential customers in the form of grog-thirsty pirates, but an innkeeper was needed. I had luckily picked up a suitable mini (along with his wife) from Black Cat Bases some time back, so it was time to get them painted. I had a suitable Front Rank miniature lined up as well, so I decided to finish him too. I also asked Emmi to pick a mini for me to paint and she happened to pick out one from Black Tree Design’s Pirates of Treasure Island line that was very well suited to the surroundings so I’ll show him in this post while I’m at it.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

This lot was really fun to paint! I’m a big fan of Black Cat Bases’ large, cartoonish style as well as Front Rank’s clean and simple elegance. The Black Tree Design pirate – the first from their Kickstarter that I’ve painted – took paint very nicely too. I love models like this with a limited number of elements, common in historical miniatures I think. A lot of fantasy stuff tends to be drowned in hundreds of buckles, straps, pouches, bags, daggers, more buckles and the like, and they get pushed back in the painting queue. Considering my backlog and slow painting speed, that is a long, long queue.

The innkeeper, wife and old pirate are obvious, but what do you think about the tubby man with the pewter tankard? Wealthy patron or greedy landlord?

I had a good time painting this lot, so I’m happy to enter them into Azazel’s Jewel of July community challenge! I need to do this kind of thematic thing more often, I think.

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Terrain upgrade

February 27, 2019

Like many other hobbyists (I assume), I have terrain pieces amassed through the years. After showing some old green hills in my previous post, I figured there might still be some use left in them. While I claimed they were from the 1990s, thinking back I’m fairly sure they’re mid-2000s as I remember us making them in my current apartment, so 10+ years old at least.

Click for a larger version

Now, when these were built, we prized durability a lot. The hills were carved from blue foam and then covered with a pva/sand mix. A phrase from an old White Dwarf sums it up: “In the morning you’ll need dynamite to shift it.” Of course the sand we used was a very cheap one, so it’s coarse as anything (and I’ve still got about 5-6 kg of it down in the basement). This in turn led to the hills (and the gaming boards built in the same manner) being terribly miniature-unfriendly. Basically, if you knocked a metal mini over, it was almost certain to chip. Good times!

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I was already contemplating throwing the hills away, but as they already existed, I started thinking that they could be revived and actually put back to use. Out came the craft store acrylics, the static grass and the tufts, as well as some coffee stirrers, tea leaves and some sunken resin barrels and what do you know, they actually turned out pretty nice! The static grass helps with the aforementioned chipping issue too.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

They can be used either as table edge pieces or put together to make a larger island. Painting them as islands obviously limits them to more nautical games, but I’m fairly certain I’ll have some of those with my lovely new ocean mat.

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Here’s what they look like with scenery items and miniatures placed on the pieces.

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Click for a larger version

I think it looks mighty nice! Finally, a before and after shot:

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Sorry for the slightly overexposed quality of the photos, the pieces are so large that I had to rely on daylight rather than my usual lighting – and to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to tweak camera settings.

 

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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

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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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