“Escort Service” part 2

These will make a great unit for the “Escort” scenario in SAGA

So for Part 2 of my “Escort Service” I finished up my pig herder and his swine. I also based these guys for ease of movement but tossed in a bit of a twist in that I did it like a movement tray. I did this because I wanted the ability to use these figure singly in other situations.

To make the base I used some sheet polystyrene the same thickness as my “LITKO” bases used for SAGA infantry, about 1/8 inch. I arranged the figures to my liking and then traced onto the polystyrene the area that would be the base. The base was cutout using a hobbyist sized band saw from Micro Mart.

This is a great tool to have in anyone’s tool arsenal! If you do not have one a “cooping” saw will do the job as well, well almost as well! The cut was done with a sloping angle edge to make it blend better with the terrain.

 

Next a sheet of thin magnetic sheet stock was cut in the same shape. This will later be contact cemented to the styrene base to both hold it to the storage drawer’s metal lining and help hold the figures in because of their magnetic bases.

I arranged the figures on the base again and this time traced their out lines onto the styrene in preparation for cutting the holes the figure will sit into later. My figure bases are round and 1 inch or 25mm. I used a 1 ¼”  “Fostner” bit in my drill press to cut the holes. A “Fostner” bit cuts perfect round holes not possible with a regular drill bit. Not cheap but you will only ever need one and used for cutting plastic will last your lifetime!

 

Once the holes are cut the pieces are assembled using contact cement and with a bit of finish sanding is ready for finish decoration. I use a recipe of Durham’s “Rock Hard” as a base material in landscaping and in 20 years found no problems. Mix it 80% with 15% white wood glue and 5% water. Just experiment with this formula until you get it right. It should be the consistency of porridge, easily spread on and a bit flowing. As it dries u can push it around for a natural unevenness. The glue is important since without it the “Durham’s” may chip or flake with table use.

Even though the individual figures are removable with a little effort you can make it blend very well and hardly noticeable in the base.

Once again I get wrapped up in the building and forget the pictures but I think you get the idea and feel free to ask question in the comments. I think it came out great and this now finishes 2/3rds or the “Escort Project” so see you soon for the last installment!

 

Building units for an “Escort Service”

I always like to set “my” minis apart from the rest of the pack, go the extra mile. I enjoy when gamer’s say “are those so and so manufacture?” because they look a bit different. I do this in a couple of ways, painting, basing, and customizing the figures themselves. I like variety in my figures and sometimes a line doesn’t have enough different poses for me so I’ll grab some sculpting putty (two part green stuff) and have at it. Now I’m no sculptor, I don’t do whole figures, but I’m pretty fair at cutting models up and customizing them.

I’ve been trying to clean up some lose ends on the work bench and one of the projects sitting on the shelf for a while has been some Dark Ages civilians for SAGA scenarios. For the “Escort” scenario I needed three objective units and I had the minis for several carts, and a pig farmer and his pigs.

The collection of figures and carts getting prepped for “Escort” duty!

Most of the minis were from Gripping Beast and they are great figures BUT I was not satisfied with the way they would appear around the carts. I just didn’t think the poses were quite right; I wanted them to really appear as if they were pushing/pulling cart. There was also no wagon driver…. This led to them sitting half done on the shelf.

After looking at the project for about a year while I painted a few other SAGA warbands (Normans, Vikings, and Anglo Danes) I decided to do something about it. I decided that there was no way around it I was going to have to create a sitting driver. Now I’m no sculptor but I’m not bad at taking one figure and modifying it to be what I want, in fact that’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of this hobby.

I have nearly all the Foundry Vikings and consider them the best Viking line available. I have quite a few still unpainted and after going through them I soon found a likely candidate for customization. I wanted to have;

  1. One arm using a whip.
  2. One arm holding reins
  3. Legs easily modified to sitting position.
  4. No armor.

I found a great candidate and prepared for “surgery”

Arms were almost right to start with but the legs would be a lot of work.

The Figure was wearing a sword and that would have to be removed.

Foundry uses a good quality metal in their figures and cutting and filing are very easy. After studying the figure for a bit I determined where and what kind of cuts were needed. Some cuts like the arm were completely through but most were wedge type allow removal of a section to allow bending of the figure into the proper pose. After the cuts and bends the areas were made to look right with Kneadite “Green Stuff” sculpting putty. Cutting, bending, and lots of filing were done to the rear buttocks and leg area to create a sitting figure. To help “blend” the figure into the seat a sheepskin seat cushion was sculpted from more green stuff

Yellow lines show cuts made.

The figure also got a whip made of brass rod and a “Greenstuff” handle in the arm that normally held a spear. The green stuff was give a day to cure and primed and painted.

Brass whip really gives life to the figure!

The cart itself had already had work done to it to make it look better and have more detail. Since I wanted to have the driver holding some reins I wold have to create them and make it look believable. Very little real evidence on rigs from the period really exist but ox carts still in use today use much the same systems so a believable modification was worked out.

Sculpting putty was used to create pads on yoke as well as blend in the area where the horns were glued on.

I keep a lot of small cheap chains bought at a local craft stores “bead” section and used a few links to create the “iron work” as well as some small aluminum wire twisted and painted to look like rope.

Do you need this kind of detail? “I do!” it’s eye candy! The rope wire will be bent under the oxen’s necks, cut to length, connected, primed, and painted.

The white “centra” board is a thick plastic stock that later will be carved and customized into the base

Well it’s about here in most of my projects that I just get sucked to finishing them and forget to take pictures but its mostly done anyway. I did the reins, the base, and few little touches. There is still another figure to do but he will come later. Here’s a few closing shots of the finished project….enjoy! If you like it please leave a comment, it keeps us going!

The iron yoke work shown earlier can be seen here in it’s finished state as well as the base work. Ancient dirt roads looked much different than the ones used by cars today.

I think the finished yoke work came out nicely. the reins are simplified for project, but most just involved turning an animals head in the direction you wanted to go.

Much of the baggage was created from “Sculpy” modeling clay, as well as the tarp.

The reins are thick thread painted as rope and a hole was drilled in his hand to allow pass through. I really like how the figure came out. I not sure how the figure feels being taken from “warrior” status down to “cart driving farmer”?

Well it was a fun project and one of those pieces of “eye candy” that makes the battlefield come alive! I have several more projects in the “Escort” series and they will follow shortly.

Table ready!

 

Byzantine Birthday Build

My main gaming buddy Steve Gausche had a Birthday approaching and being a guy with everything I had to figure out a gift he wanted, he needed, and something he couldn’t get anywhere else….? Easy! A Byzantine Cataphract! Steve had SAGA Byzantine Warband painted by “Monty” he purchased about a year ago, but it had not come with the very cool fully armored heavy horse cavalry used by the Byzantine Emperor Belasarious! Steve had mentioned several times he might pick up and paint some of these. Knowing Steve I sensed this would not happen soon if ever!

BYZ7So with a couple of clicks on Gripping Beast website a 4 figure unit of 28mm BZC06 Byzantine Kataphractoi were winging their way across the sea to me and my waiting paintbrushes. Within a week they were sitting on my “workbench” going through the pre-paint process. That’s where I trim flash, alter poses, and fix any casting problems a well as make custom changes to the figures. I like to have figures that are unique and a bit better than a just painted of the shelf figure set.

BYZ1BYZ2

One of the first problems I found in the casting was that the riders did not fit very well on the horses, they fit but if simply glued in place there would be huge apparent gaps between horse and rider. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist in my figure work and known for taking time with details that most of the time only I would notice….oh well that’s me!

BYZ6I knew that the gap was way to big for simple filling with glue. Even milliput of other filler would not look right. I decided to use kneadite, blue / yellow, the 2 part sculpting epoxy (used for sculpting figures from scratch) and sculpt the missing space to look like the rest of the figure. This would mostly be some padding and chain armor around the figures legs.

Besides the filling around the legs I would do scratch built steel spears, spear points, copper flags, and a few other additions. I was planning on just using decals for the shields but as usual I was not happy with that and painted the shields by hand. BYZ4BYZ3

The Byzantines Kataphractoi Cavalry used “Kontos” a very, very long spear (some estimate it at around 21’) and I wanted that to be represented on these figures if I could. The only problem with that was that a true scale 21’ spear would create problems with storage as well as their use on the battlefield. I chose to use a spear length of about 15 scale feet as it gave a good “long” look and still worked reasonably well for storage in my case.

To the spear I added some flags and pennants. I sculpted some horse tail pennants as well just to give variety. I was not sure about the job at first but later pictures show it came out great, in fact I sometimes forget it was not part of the factory “sculpt”.

BYZ5On to the prime coat and as with most of my “metal” mini’s I used “Krylon” auto primer flat black. This primer not only works great but is very inexpensive, about $5 a large can.

BYZ6p1

BYZ6p2

No more “gaps” after the additional sculpting/filling.

Well after this point I got into my painting mode and didn’t take another picture until they were based and painted! I think they came out quite nice. I went back and forth as to a shield design, at one point I was just going to decal them, but in the end I hand painted them BYZ9as I like to do. Its a lot more work but I think it then gives you a true hand painted figure. I’m not a real good painter (figures yes but portraits, no!) but I took a stab at painting the “Savior” on their shields as I thought that was very appropriate. This gives them the feel of “being Protected by their Faith!”

 

The “Kicker” of this who story of “Steve’s Birthday Figures” is that Steve was touched, happy, and impressed with the gift of the “Byzantine Cataphract” but let slip that he was thinking of selling the “warband” since he did not like playing them….Lol! So I guess I’ll just do a unit of Viking Archers for him as he will like them a whole lot more….. the Byzantine Cav?  Well I may sell them or I just might paint a Byzantine warband for myself!

Are your “Old Figures Washed up”

One of the first boxes I made over 20 years ago! Even in the cleanest conditions dust will accumulate over time!

One of the first boxes I made over 20 years ago! Even in the cleanest conditions dust will accumulate over time!

Over the years I’ve amassed a pretty large collection of miniatures. Recently I have been going through them and paring down periods and scales to stuff I’m really going to game with or at least build in my lifetime…. My buddy Steve and I used to be “Big” into American Civil War and built up large collections of 15mm figures for our then favorite rules Johnny Reb 2. Well over time you find other periods and scales and the figures find themselves on the shelf, disused for years.

 

Even in the case, and the case in a cabinet, dust manages to creep in over the years! The outline in dust shows were the first figures have been moved for washing.

Even in the case, and the case in a cabinet, dust manages to creep in over the years! The outline in dust shows were the first figures have been moved for washing.

Recently in going through my collections I took a look at my ACW collection, recalling all the fun times had playing with them I remarked to Steve “we should start playing these again” he agreed. I gave my figures another look over and noticed they just did not look as nice as I remembered them?Over the years a fine layer of dust had coated them, even stored in my custom cases dust had crept in. What to do? Well a bit of air and a soft brush might help but I have always found that it was tough to really clean them well that way as the brush misses a lot.

For almost as many years as I have painted and played minis I have pushed the boundaries of prepping and painting them. Long ago and before it was common or even popular I was priming with “automotive” primers to give the paint a secure “bond” to the metal, resin, or PLASTIC! Years ago I began gloss coating my figures before “Dull” coating to protect them from damage caused by dropping, pizza fingers, and normal wear during play.  I knew that since these figures were some of the first I had used that method on that it would be safe to WASH them!!! Yes wash them… put them under a “gentile” stream of room temperature water and brush them gently with a large, VERY soft, long bristle,  brush. I use either a cheap one from a craft store or better yet one of my wife’s “old” makeup brushes.

By having the water directly hitting the brush it will spread the bristles and push them into and across the figure.

By having the water directly hitting the brush it will spread the bristles and push them into and across the figure.

Gently drying, no het. I'm also blowing in an oppisite direction of gravity to help from blowing figures off to floor. this would be better done over a table with a soft clot below.

Gently drying, no het. I’m also blowing in an oppisite direction of gravity to help from blowing figures off to floor. this would be better done over a table with a soft clot below.

If you try this I recommend doing only a few figures at a time so you can monitor the effect of washing and if there is a problem stop before it affects your entire army. Gently work the brush around each figure as the water flows the dirt away.

You also will need to force dry your figures. Just letting them set and “air” dry is not recommended as you may get some “spotting” from the minerals in the tap water. I should mention at this point that ALL my figures use a magnetic basing system (some figures directly on magnets, some on metal, with either metal or magnet lined drawers). The magnet makes the process much easier since the figures will stick on the surface of the metal or magnet covered board I use to wash and dry them on. This keeps the water and air pressure from tumbling the figures off the board… If you have a distilled or water filter system on your sink use that.

Using air compressor (on low)

Using air compressor (on low)

So once you have washed your figures you need to dry them and you can do this several ways. I use air pressure (soft) just enough to blow water off and leave a clean dry figure. I have a air compressor in my shop with adjustable nozzle, but a small can of “Dust Off” (compressed air) or a hair dryer will work fine. If you use the hair dryer don’t use the “heat” just the cool air. Heat may damage the paint or basing material (some magnetic sheet material has a layer of plastic glued to it and heat may cause the glue to melt and the sheets to separate). You need to decide what works best for YOUR figures.

 

Those dusty Confederate figures cleaned and returned to their clean drawer. Its a bit hard to see the difference in web pictures but its very apparent in person. These figures need some re-flocking but I'm going to re-base them for "Fire and Fury" anyway.

Those dusty Confederate figures cleaned and returned to their clean drawer. Its a bit hard to see the difference in web pictures but its very apparent in person. These figures need some re-flocking but I’m going to re-base them for “Fire and Fury” anyway.

Another reason for “drying” the figures is that most of us are using regular PVA (wood glue) for applying our basing materials and this glue will break down when its wet to long. I get my figures fairly dry, no standing water on them and let them air dry the rest of the way. WARNING!!! all my basing is magnet, steel, plastic, or some combination of these “water” resistant materials, if you are using cardboard stock (dude it’s 2015 not 1972!) be careful as the water may/will damage your basing. I now gloss coat my basing materials after the figure is finished so its sealed along with the rest of the figure. (I’m sure my figures will last many generations beyond me!)

So trot out those old figures, wash them up, and give them a new lease on life!

Bill Witthans

Old Glory figures after their "bath"

Old Glory figures after their “bath”

 

ZULU Nation

 

ZULUHospitall

Alphonse_de_Neuville_-_The_defence_of_Rorke's_Drift_1879_-_Google_Art_ProjectThought I would post a few pictures of an ongoing project of mine. Years ago at the “HISTORICON” wargaming convention I picked up the “Old Glory” 15mm “Rourke’s Drift” ZULUHospitall3set. It’s a great set with all the buildings and figures you need to do the classic battle of the ZULU war where around 120 British Soldiers held of over 4000 Zulu warriors. The British finally defeat them and force their withdrawal!

ZULUHospitall2

Well it sat on my shelf for over 10 years without me painting it! Just to many other shiny projects got in the way….well I finally decided I was not going to ever do it and offered it for sale! it was bought by a good wargming buddy John Curran. Unfortunately John then convinced me to paint it on commission, dang I sold it because I did not want to paint it and now I was…lol!

ZULUMain

ZULUMain2Johns a good “egg” and has given plenty of time so I thought I’d put up some pictures of my progress for him as well as let those of you thinking about buying the set see them out of the box and painted! Below are the “Cook house”, “Kraal”, and the “Redoubt”

ZULUKrallThe castings are all pretty good and require only a little work to make ready for paint. The roofs do need a bit of work and I installed some little balsa wood blocs to keep the roofs aligned properly. I also hand made the porch roof supports on both buildings. The colors are as close as I could determine from evidence and I painted it with a fair amount of weathering. The casting were all washed, primed with automotive primer, painted, and thumbs_rorkes_drift-0001then coated in clear gloss followed by some matte spray.

Cant have “Rourke’s Drift” with out “Zulu’s” here are a few “regiments” married and unmarried. The different “Zulu” regiments had different colored and patterned “cowhide” shields for unit identification.ZULUfig2a

ZULUfig1

For now they are being stored in a custom case made out of an old wine box. So we have four 24 man regiments.

ZULUfig2  ZULUbox ZULUbox2

 

 

 

William The Conqueror a Norman legend!

William1

So I have not been posting here as I’ve once again made the mistake of checking out a cool internet game….yes and like all they SUCK you in and you suddenly find huge amounts of time have vanished along with some cash! Internet games can be fun but they are also frustrating as they are built to keeping you reaching for that goal that once you obtain immediately opens another goal you must obtain, it does not end…. The part that bothers me the most is that when I turn off the PC I’m left with nothing to show for all my efforts, perhaps some good times, but still no tangible, material, items….. With Miniature Wargaming you have not only the fun but are left with beautiful miniatures that will be there every time you open their box!

Ok, so enough of that! Since I redid my site a few months back I have been putting up content both new and lots of “old” stuff from my previous site. I thought I had put this guy up but perhaps it was only on the Lead Adventure Forum “Dark Age Challenge”?

Nor113aa

Well either way here he is “William the Conqueror” or as his friends (not where he can hear them!) and enemies call him,

“William the Bastard” leader of the NORMANS and my favorite SAGA Warband. I took a bit of time on the Normans and wanted to have a real “standout” leader base. I decided to stay with a “Gripping Beast” figure for him to keep consistent with the other figure sculpts in this army. The “Gripping Beast” William figure is probably one of the better named characters, in the line and I had a few ideas for making him really stand out.

Nor113a

Well article writing is a funny thing since as soon as I think I have all the info and pictures ready I start writing and find I can’t “find” something! I can’t find the original picture of the “Gripping Beast” unpainted figure I used for William! I believe it is actually an “Odo” figure or one that could be used as either. I do remember than the figure came with a “Mace” and that would be correct for either William or Odo. If anyone has a pic of this figure please send it or a link! So any way I changed my figure to have a sword in his hand. I also modified his horse by cutting his front legs off the base and the also cutting out a bit of the rear legs to allow it to be posed in a rearing up/jumping position. Under “William’s”  saddle area was heavily cut and filed so he was leaning into the horse in a more forward position. This did two things, first he did not look like he was about to fall backwards off the now “rearing” horse and wit a bit of bending/cutting of his sword arm he looks like he is taking a swipe at a ground target.Nor113f

 

Now to give him a “ground” target I chose an extra damaged “foundry” Viking I had lying about. The Viking had a busted/miscast arm and after a bit of hacking away with a “xacto” knife I had him posed to appear as if “William” had just knocked him off a rock and was about to make sure he was finished. Many warhorses in the day were trained to stomp enemy foot troops and I have shown “Williams” horse doing this with terrible effect!

Nor113cShield is hand painted and lions are thought to have been a device used by him although the “shield” would probably been red I chose Blue/White to have better contrast with the rest of the figures colors (red cape)

The little “mini” diorama was fun to build and I think it came out rather well. It sure scares the enemy!

 

 

Dark Ages Terrain

I have a pretty busy life with work, family, and life’s other distractions so when I do paint or build I tend to be very, very intense and as such I have one bad habit that eventually causes problems for me while painting or building. The problem is that I tend to multi task or have several projects going at once in various stages…while that is not necessary a bad thing it can cause quite a mess on my work bench. Now before I start whining to much I must say I’m extremely lucky to have the work bench and tools I have since this is more than most miniaturist ever have, I’ve worked hard for years to put it together and I’m very thankful for it. This “gripe” is just about using it and that applies to all of us no matter how big small your setup is. So the problem in doing several projects at once or moving to fast through any “one” project is that I have a habit of just dropping one tool and picking up the next one, scraps, shavings, paint, and anything else is just pushed aside to save time, finish a project and get it on the gaming table….This leads to a work bench that although bigger than most only has a tiny space in the middle for working. I also find dust and scraps form other projects contaminating my current paint jobs! Well the other day I got fed up and decided to do a major cleaning and re-organizing of it and despite my initial unhappiness at doing it instead of actually painting something I soon got into the swing of it and actually had fun! I soon found items I had lost or forgotten, the barrel of a Russian T-26, the machine gun off a Russian JS3, half a dozen various minis in different scales and periods, a “new” bottle of glue, a long lost “favorite” paintbrush, and a dozen other little gems buried in the rubble of dozens of long finished projects. I cleaned and tossed large pile of old paint bottles, broken brushes, scraps of every type, pile of minis I decided I would not use, and on and on….ok long story short after going through the whole area including drawers and shelves and reorganizing them I had a work bench back that was 4 times the size I was working on, I had a spot that was organized and I could now be twice as fast as I was working in the “cluttered” space as before. I now did not waste time looking for things….”ah so much better!”

Ahh, the pleasant time I've spent here!

Ahh, the pleasant time I’ve spent here!

So after basking in the glow of a job well done I decided to rip into a new project that I had been putting off specifically because I had so little “working” room on that bench! Dark Age terrain and buildings.

The buildings as I got them off "ebay" the original owner had just given then a once over with brown paint....

The buildings as I got them off “ebay” the original owner had just given then a once over with brown paint….

I love terrain! Even badly painted miniatures look good on a nice bit of terrain! My latest foray in miniatures took me to a period I’m not very familiar with, the “Dark ages” and after buying and painting a few Warbands it was time to delve into some real “Dark Ages” terrain. A few scans of EBAY brought me someone’s cast offs, a couple of Saxon / Viking buildings (by Architects of War?), some Wattle fencing, and a couple of small fishing boats. These were either unpainted or just had a bit slapped here and there. In many games building and terrain need to be clearly defined to avoid disagreements as to who’s in and who’s out of it. In SAGA when troops occupy a building any enemy troops that come within “VS” (very short) or 2” must melee defending units or stay out side the “VS” range. This leads to lots of measuring and re-measuring, in some games. I like buildings with bases because it gives me a chance to better blend the terrain feature into my matt; the buildings I had bought had no bases. I decided to add my own and incorporate the 2” melee zone into them so that at a glance we could tell if a unit was in the zone or not.

First thing you want to do is find the proper basing material!!! I can’t stress this enough!!! Wrong choice here and all the rest of your hard work will be for nothing. I cry every time I see someone put their lovingly painted $40 building on a .50 cent base!!! “ok” you say smart guy “what should I use?”

You want a material that is;

1.    Is easy to work with and not to cost prohibitive. Remember though that going cheap here may cost you in the long run!
2.    Will not warp! (Art board, Card board, etc…bad choices) Plywood, MDF, and other materiel may work but HEAT and HUMIDITY affect these materials as well as the thickness you use. So consider local conditions and “chose wisely young Jedi”
3.    Is easily obtainable for later building projects to give your terrain consistency!

I have been in this hobby longer than some LAFers have been alive and one of the things I learned over the years was to base my figures and buildings well as this increased my (and others) enjoyment of them as well as later on if I decided to sell them they always sold faster and for a better price when the buyer realized he would not have to re-base!

Yes the plastic used in the base was also used to re-surface my workbench!

Yes the plastic used in the base was also used to re-surface my workbench!

I use plastic sheets (Styrene) from 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Its easy to cut with many different tools and in a pinch can be just “scored” with a sharp knife and snapped in two. I having LOTS of tools available to me around the shop so I used a band saw but the same angled cut can be done with a “copping saw” (see picture) and they are handy and not expensive. A very good investment for the terrain builders work box!

Coping saws for fine cuts in wood or plastic. A great tool!

Coping saws for fine cuts in wood or plastic. A great tool!

The plastic used here is not from a hobby shop but direct from a plastic supplier. I can’t stress enough that many times we miniaturist need to think “outside” the box of getting all our materials from only “hobby” sources! Many times you can get your materials much cheaper from other sources, however you may have to purchase much larger pieces or quantities at first costing more, in the long run you will save a bunch! The sheet you see here came from a 4 foot by eight foot sheet!!! Yes and it cost about $50, but I had them cut it in half for transport and ease of working later. I have had and used this sheet for a dozen projects over the last 10+ years and saved $100s plus dollars it would have cost if I hard gone and tried to get the same stuff at a “hobby” shop and I still have another half sheet! There is also the fact that the largest sheets most hobby shops sell are 8”x12”!

The first cut of the bases showing clearly the contrast of the square base verse the roundness of the house. The base material is almost 1/4 inch thick. Not to worry it wont be very noticeable when we finish.

The first cut of the bases showing clearly the contrast of the square base verse the roundness of the house. The base material is almost 1/4 inch thick. Not to worry it wont be very noticeable when we finish.

Most projects I do I’ll think out a plan that gives me my general direction and most things are worked out in advance but since the miniatures hobby is visual there are many things that can change once you “see” the project develop in the flesh so to speak! On this one I was thinking of just have the bases square since I was having them determine specific gaming areas per the rules but when I looked at the base under the building I realized that the square corners would look way out of place on a “Dark Ages” rural battlefield! As far as the rules it would require to “fudge” a bit but would still be a clear definition of where your troops were.

You can cut bases perfectly square BUT I like to slightly curve and vary my edges on most base’s as this helps blend the base into the rest of your scenery since your eyes will tend to pick out straight lines as not being in nature. Of course the exception to this would be say in a town or fortification where it is man made.  I also like to “angle” the cut made along the base, at least a 45 degree angle to further soften the transition of terrain piece to game mat. Now some of you are saying “humph, I can’t be bothered with all that” well fine if that what you like but this hobby is all about the “visuals” and every little bit helps.

Base's re-cut with with a gentle curving pattern and the edges "softened" with the sanding block.

Base’s re-cut with with a gentle curving pattern and the edges “softened” with the sanding block.

After the base is cut I use some fine grit (220+) sand paper to smooth edges and also a bit on the top to give some “bite” to the surface to help the paint stick better. Wrapping the sand paper around a piece of foam to make a sanding block works a treat (they also make pre-made sanding pads) I then primer the base either before or after I set the piece to it. I use JB WELD (fast set version) a 2 part epoxy to affix my bases to the buildings as it make a very good bond (better than “super glue”) but any 2 part epoxy will work.

The bomb! one of my favorite epoxies!

The bomb! one of my favorite epoxies!

While we are on the subject of gluing with “super glue” I can’t stress enough about using GOOD glue!!! The cheap “super glues” you find at the super market just are not up to the task. Most people I have ever heard say they had trouble gluing figures together or have their models later drop pieces off have used CHEAP “super glues” Go to the local hobby shop or online and by the best cyanoacrylate glue you can find!!! After all it is one of the foundation items your miniature collection is built on.

2310 CyanoacrylateGlueNow many castings are not completely flat on the base so some work might have to be done to smooth it out so it sets flat on its new base. Don’t fret to much as the next step will hide any little gaps. I have been doing miniatures for quite awhile now (25-30 years) and have learned a lot from others in the hobby, I have also I think developed many ways of doing things on my own that over the years have gone out into the community and are now accepted practice. Yes I do have a bit of an “ego” about “raising the bar” for wargamers over the years and I have the trophies to prove it…lol…ok to the point…I learned a lot of build and modeling stuff from my father who was a great carpenter and all around builder of real stuff and also did some modeling and “train set” work. I was exposed to a whole world of materials and how to work with them that was absent from the “Wargaming” or “Miniature Painting” world. One of these items was wood fillers, a whole range of “putties” and fillers used to fill gaps in wood that I saw could be used in basing and modeling…yes parallel development that others around the world also see this over time, but I like to think that I was one of the first (ego creeps out!) and I’m certain the way I do it is unique to me (at least it was).

Always use "Quality" materials in your projects! This can of Durham's Rock Hard cost about $10 but contains enough for years of projects and NEVER spoils!

Always use “Quality” materials in your projects! This can of Durham’s Rock Hard cost about $10 but contains enough for years of projects and NEVER spoils!

I use “DURHAMS ROCK HARD” water putty. It’s a powder that you mix with water into a paste. Now by its self I found it works BUT is a bit delicate when put on thin and roughly handled as you might with your terrain. To toughen it up I add not only water but white wood glue in a ratio of about 65% water to 35% glue added to the Durhams powder. I mix this adding more water or glue until I get a mixture about the consistency of yogurt.

This little trowel is OLD and was found at a garage sale, used by sculptors of big statues it has a another end that is rounded, made in Germany its one of my all time favorite tools!

This little trowel is OLD and was found at a garage sale, used by sculptors of big statues it has a another end that is rounded, made in Germany its one of my all time favorite tools!

Basic baseing finished.

Basic baseing finished.

Using a small hobby trowel, butter knife, or even a wedge cut piece of card board I spread this onto the base, from the edge to the mini or in this case the building. The “filler” can then be worked smooth, rough, left high in some spots, or what ever you like.

On these buildings I also sprinkled broken sand and rocks to create rough spots as well as blend in the walkways from those on the original building casting to the “new” base.

Adding rock work and defining paths.

Adding rock work and defining paths.

I use a big medium stiff bristled brush dipped in water to move around and smooth the filler. Any of the additional materials such as rocks, pebbles, gravel, ect, can be added while the paste is still soft and wet to help it blend. Let the “Durham Rockhard” filler dry over night and then I prime the whole thing with “Krylon Automotive” black primer.

 

primed

Now your model is ready for painting, and finish details. I’m not going to detail my painting to much here as most of you are masters beyond me already. Questions will be answered of course…lol.

One thing I’ll mention is that for “terrain” I ofter use “cheap” craft paint for the big areas and save the good stuff for details. I also have a box of old paints that I try to use up on terrain when they they are replaced or deemed to old for first line use. The two bottles in the picture are the same color, the little Vallejo bottle is $3 for about 1/2 ounce (17ml), the big “Creamcoat” bottle from craft store is 8 ounces and $3.50. While I would not use the big bottle stuff on a mini as it just not near as good, it is fine for larger less important projects and will work fine generally it is so much cheaper!

Paint1

Then it’s on to flocking and such. Years ago I was able to pick up some stainless steel tubs in a few different sizes (flea market) and I use these when I’m flocking and applying terrain material it catches all the fall off and allows you to return excess flock clean to the flocking container as well as keeps your work area “flocking” clean!

Any kind of non-stick pan or tub is your best friend during the flocking process!

Any kind of non-stick pan or tub is your best friend during the flocking process!

I then let it dry over night. One step I will mention and it’s a good one you may not have thought of. To finish up I SPRAY clear gloss on the model as well as all the flocking, grass, bushes, and trees…. Why? Because it helps to “bond” the “flocking/brush” material more than the glue you used to lay it down originally. It seals the whole thing and keeps the flocking from not rubbing off from handling and game play. It also allows the gentile rinsing with cool water your pieces that gather dust over time. I use Testor’s in my air brush for mini’s but on larger projects I go with Krylon fast drying clear Gloss (in a spray can). The Gloss will darken the “flock/brush” a bit but it will lighten up a bit as it dries. Let it dry for a few hours and then you can DULL coat the entire model to taste! You now have a well protected model ready for some hard action!

I was toying with putting in a LED light and flasher to show the fire but this was deemed “overkill” since it would be seldom seen!

Here is the finished project, I was happy with it I hope you all enjoy it as well!

Bill W

My "Flemish Mercenaries" cant wait to plunder these baby's!

My “Flemish Mercenaries” cant wait to plunder these baby’s!

CLICK on photo for larger picture!

But wait there’s more!……One of the invaluable tools I use is a “hot glue gun” I use a bit of it on a nail of in the case of these larger building a short piece pf plastic pipe. This gives me a handle on the piece or miniature so I can firmly grip it and maneuver it almost 360 degrees in all directions with out touching it! I combine it with a few weighted upright “stands” to slip the pipe over, holding the piece upright while it dries.

RoofStands1RoofStands