Tuesday, October 9, 2018

6mm Sci-Fi Buildings

With the hype for a new Battletech game reaching fever pitch in August, I impulsively bought Gamecraft's 6mm Middle Eastern village. Now that the release date has been pushed back severely, I'm left with a village but no games to play it with. Ah well, this was a fun side project in a scale I don't normally tackle. 

The buildings themselves are more or less stock, with some bits added here and there to give it a low-tech feel. Being laser-cut clear acrylic, they were somewhat difficult to assemble, especially the corners which have several butt joints with larger gaps. I filled the gaps with some spackle which seemed to do the trick, though that added a lot of time to the assembly process. 

I then primed the entire building white, inside and out and airbrushed a graduated basecoat of Vallejo Dark Sand. I then blended and streaked the white and sand color together using a drybrush technique working vertically. This give the buildings a weathered appearance as if dust and grime had accumulated on the upper surfaces, whereas the ground floors had been left a bit cleaner due to the density of other buildings, regular cleaning, or simple human contact. I then added darker chips of Golden Brown and Beige with a sponge (to simulate pock marks and sections of flaking stucco) and painted all the smaller details. 

To simulate graffiti and commercial signage, I used random decals from GW, GF9, and Italeri. Once dry, I sealed the entire building and added clear plastic (with a layer of semi-gloss sealant on the reverse side) to simulate glass doors and windows, as well as the "holographic" billboards. To finish them off, I added some dry pigments applied as a wash to simulate dirt and grime buildup on the roofs.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Tutorial: Shattered Cityscape Basing

As much as I love cast resin bases, when purchased in a quantity of anything higher than a single squad, the cost becomes astronomical. This either forces modelers to spend exorbitant sums in order base their armies and/or keeps new modelers from spending much time or effort on their bases. Personally, base work is one of the aspects of modeling that can make or break a miniature, so I set out to make a cost-effective and reasonably approachable tutorial to make eye-catching bases with little experience.

Here's how you can make great Shattered Cityscape bases. The two most expensive items in this tutorial are the cork sheets and GW skulls - the latter being an optional addition that could easily be left off.

As always, practice responsible shop safety.

Materials Needed

  • A selection of bases
  • Thin cork sheeting (I used IKEA placemats)
  • Paperclips or copper wire
  • Sand/gravel/grit of appropriate size
  • 1/48 or 1/56 scale bricks (optional)
  • GW skulls (optional)
  • Other bitz (I-beams, plasticard, scale sandbags, etc.)
  • Propaganda posters/signs (optional)
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • White and super glues
  • Gesso
  • Acrylic paints and washes (see below for appropriate colors)
  • Brushes
  • Flat clear spray sealant
  • Black spray primer

1. If you're using plastic bases, be sure to wash them in warm water with some dish detergent. Bases are produced in huge batches, which causes the producers to use a lot of mold release agent. If you don't wash it off, that agent prevents glue and paint adhering properly. Rinse and dry them thoroughly.

2. Rip off chunks of the cork sheeting. This will be used to mimic cracked concrete, so it's good to rip them into larger chunks first and then split those into smaller and smaller pieces that can be placed close together (leaving a gap of some sort) to resemble the irregular cracking of concrete under stress. Place portions onto bases and arrange them before gluing the pieces down with super glue.

It's a good idea to leave "open" spaces on some of the bases large enough to fit any sand/grit, bricks, skulls, or other bits. On every third base or so, I leave enough room to place one or two skulls. If you'd like, you can layer the cork to resemble thicker pieces of concrete or to provide a taller base for character figures.

3. Apply two coats of gesso over the top of the cork. Do not apply it to the ripped sides. This does two things - it seals the top of the cork making it more durable and provides a dried concrete texture to the undamaged top portions.

4. Glue any large bitz into the open spaces using super glue

5. Spread a 75/25 mix of white glue and water over the open portions of the base that remain and sprinkle some sand/grit over the mixture. Don't worry about covering these portions completely, you'll be doing a second coat. Let the glue dry for at least 2 hours (overnight is best).

6. Once dry, gently blow any excess sand away, then again using the 75/25 mix of white glue and water, cover the grit areas again, as well as some portions of the undamaged "concrete". It's a good idea to add in any bricks or smaller bits at this point as well. Let the glue dry for at least 2 hours (overnight is best).

7. Once dry, gently blow any excess sand away. Roughly bend your paperclips or copper wire using the needle-nose pliers and cut off small 3-6mm portions with a wire cutter. Realistically, even though the reinforcing metal rods called rebar are buried a bit deeper than what would be exposed on a 2mm high base, we add these for artistic effect (The Rule of Cool). Put a dab of super glue on the end of one of the pieces and stick it horizontally into the side of the cork, then mentally draw a straight line from one end of the base to the opposite and do the same there. It doesn't have to be exact. You should space the rows about 10mm apart.

Rebar is (generally) laid in perpendicular rows at right angles, so do another row or two on the other sides. If you miss a few, don't worry - not all the rebar will be exposed, On a 25mm base, I do about 1-3 rows total, so anywhere from 1 to 6 exposed ends. Larger bases get more rows and more exposed ends.

8. Prime with black spray primer. This may require several coats to get into the crevices between the concrete. I suggest doing a couple coats of spray primer and then finishing up with an airbrush loaded with black acrylic paint running at 15-20psi, if you have one. If you don't have an airbrush and can't get into the cracks, once the primer is dry, dilute black acrylic paint with water and flow improver and apply that as a wash into the deeper cracks.Let the primer dry for at least 2 hours (overnight is best).

9. Paint with acrylic paints, starting with the darkest color and working up to lighter colors. Here, I started with a Dark Gray color called (appropriately) Pavement and applied this to the entire base. I then added subsequent layers using a a mix of a custom "concrete" color (itself a mixture of light grey, beige and brown tones) in increasingly higher ratios (i.e. first 75/25 Pavement/Concrete, then 50/50 Pavement/Concrete, and so forth) until the last highlight, which was a pure Conrete color. I used semi-dry brush technique where I loaded the brush with paint and then wiped off the excess - not to the point where the brush was truly "dry", but to where the outside of the brush was slightly damp with paint.

10. Paint any details. Rebar has a dark brown to rust color and bricks come in a variety of reds, brown, yellows, and grey. I basecoat my skulls with a tan color called Golden Brown, then do successive semi-dry brush layers of Ivory. If you'd like, repaint the black ring around the lower base.

At this point, I also come through with a variety of washes; loading the brush up with a diluted mix of wash and water and just dabbing the brush randomly on each base. This adds a subtle variety of colors to mimic the effects of crumbling concrete, masonry, and other debris mixing together.

11. Once dry, seal with spray sealant. Allow to dry 6-12 hours.

12. If you'd like, find and print 28mm propaganda posters and cut out. Burnt posters can be replicated by using a lighter (after you've cut them out and before you glue them down!). Glue them down with white glue.

Obviously, you'll need to paint (or at least prime) your miniatures separately for this tutorial but it's easy enough to temporarily attach them to a figure holder, scrap wood, or spare base while doing so and then adding them later. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Product Review: Italeri/Bolt Action 1/56 scale StuG Ausf. G kit

I never had any intention of buying this kit but stumbled across an Ebay listing for almost 50% off and couldn't help myself. I should point out that I intend to complete this build as a Hungarian StuG, but all of my research indicates that - with the possible exception of swapping the German MG34 for a Hungarian Solothurn M31, stowage additions, and insignia - these StuGs were virtually identical to their German counterparts.

The kit contains two sprues of dark grey plastic, an instruction sheet, and a small sheet of decals. First impressions were relatively good - everything was well molded with very little flash or mold slippage, the instructions seemed clear and straightforward.

However, when I started assembly and dry-fitting, I realized something was off, as the hull is rather to short. The frontal armor seemed very thin and the rear engine deck did not have the noticeable "overhang" of the Panzer III/StuG series. Upon further research, I found that StuGs after the F model had either a 30mm thick frontal hull with a 50mm thick piece of armor riveted on or (post-1943) had an 80mm thick piece of armor that was welded fully unto the front of the hull. In either of these cases, this extends the front armor out substantially, but this kit had frontal armor that sat flush with the front of the track covers. It's my assumption that Italeri used the F-model as a basis for this part of their design and not the later G model.

Is something like that a big deal? Probably not to most gamers. Unfortunately, there are a few other issues. Italeri molded on what appear to be rivets on the hull frontal armor, the crew compartment frontal armor, and the gun mantlet itself. These should actually be hex nuts on the mantlet and hew nuts with protruding bolts on the frontal armor.....so I re-did the frontal hull armor, scraped off the rivets, and replaced them with plasticard hex and circle rod.

Okay, done right? Oh no, wait, there's more. The driver's visor is too small and there's a massive (and I mean, massive) armor block on the hull in front of it. So I was forced to very carefully slice the armor block to a manageable (and realistic) size and replace the visor.

With that done, I had to address the lack of the overhanging rear engine deck. This is a common feature to the Panzer III chassis, so it's really odd that Italeri decided to make their engine deck/rear armor plate flush with one another. I accomplished this by adding a piece of .020 plasticard to the last "angle" of the engine deck (disregard the stowage rack) and then sanding it flush with the rest of the engine deck. It's not complicated, just annoying to have to do.

At the point however, is something that I can't abide - incorrect instructions. At Step 5, the commander's periscope (Part #26) is mixed up with the Notek blackout light (Part #2) in the instructions. A beginning or unaware modeler could easily miss Italeri's mistake.

Otherwise, the rest of this build was fairly straightforward. The schurzen are a very tough assembly but they do look good. I actually haven't glued them on for these pictures; they can be held in (if you're delicate) just by tension alone. A minor quibble is that the gunner's hatch (when assembled in the closed position) is just a flat piece of plastic with no hinges. As with every Italeri kit, the crew figure included is both badly sculpted and badly molded, which I've come to expect.

Decals provided are fairly basic, which is in keeping with most of the real-life StuGs, including a variety of black and red numbers and two pairs of unit insignia. The painting guide includes directions for three separate finishes, all from 1944 - two from the Italian front and one from Normandy. Given my earlier critique of the incorrect frontal armor, I find these choices even more baffling, as after 1943, most StuGs were upgraded to the much thicker, welded frontal armor.

Overall, especially for the beginning modeler, this is a fairly solid build if you're not too worried about authenticity. For the skilled modeler and rivet counter, I would not recommend it unless - like me - you bought it at a very steep discount. I would highly recommend buying separate crew models (available from Warlord and Perry), as the base model is well suited for including them, but the stock crew is very poorly sculpted.

  • Easy customizations allows for model variability, regardless of skill level
  • Nice base kit for conversions
  • Easy and quick assembly, especially for beginners
  • Incorrect part placement in instructions
  • Incorrect frontal armor arrangement
  • Open gap behind the gun mantlet
  • Badly proportioned and scaled crew figure

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Adepticon 2019 Necromunda Update & DeviantArt Gallery

It's Fall and that means Adepticon event submission! Necromunda will, of course, be returning. However, due to the vagaries of Gmail spam folders and a busy September for my family/work, I'm just now getting around to talking with the team and getting all the events submitted.
As it currently stands, we have two tournaments scheduled:
Necromunda by Night - Thursday 5:30-11 PM
Necromunda by Night - Friday 5:30-11 PM
We are looking to add at least one more event/tournament differing from the "By Night" format in some way or another. Unlike last year, which saw the tiles and 3D tables separated by event type, we largely found that format unnecessary, so we will likely combine both formats.
Additionally, we are starting to look for sponsors who are willing to provide some prize support. We had an excellent group of companies who provided a wide range of products last year, and we're hoping to get the same or better engagement this year. If you would like to contribute, please feel free to DM me on Facebook or to contact me via email at ancientsociety79@gmail.com
As for the event team, Duane will once again be joining me. Longtime event player Jason will also be joining our team and I thank him for his continuing support. Unfortunately, Dan has moved on to organizing his own event - GW's upcoming Speed Freaks - and I thank him and wish him the best.

I am always looking for help, advice, terrain loans, and team members, so if you're interested in helping, please feel free to DM me on Facebook or email me.


Additionally, if you're on DeviantArt, I've started a profile there as well. I know some people don't enjoy Facebook, so this will be a good way to keep up with my work. Every time a new project is completed, I'll post up a glamour shot and link back to here in the description.



Sunday, September 9, 2018

Mechanicus Servitors

Once again, I was able to complete a small unit that's been sitting in my paint queue for months. If you consider the fact that many of these minis I've had since I played 40K on a regular basis, some have technically been sitting in my lead pile for about a decade. Honestly, I always had a soft spot in my heart for the humble GW servitor miniature. Nothing truly aspires to the grimdark aesthetic like a giant slab of lobotomized, cybernetic muscle brimming with massive servo-claws and heavy weaponry. Until now though, I'd never had much use for them as I never ran IG, though I did toy with the idea of starting a Horus Heresy army for awhile and considered putting them there. So, in an effort to "do something different", I pulled these out of cold storage in the vaults of Mars and got to work...

In the interest of being different, I wanted some Frankenstein-like flesh and decided on a blue hue. I did this by basecoating in Vallejo Grey Blue, adding increasing highlights of Army Painter Wolf Grey, doing an overall wash of Secret Weapon Cool Grey Wash (hint: it's really blueish), adding more highlights of AP Wolf Grey and finally mixing that with some Vallejo Basic Skintone for the most extreme highlights. Where cybernetic grafts met skin, I mixed AP Wolf Grey with Vallejo Salmon Rose for a distressed look. I also wanted to do some bright red uniforms. Normally, I do much deeper reds (actually starting in purple tones) but, again..."doing something different" I wanted uniforms that would reflect the holiness of the Omnissiah. I started with Vallejo Flat Red as a base, washed with some (very old) GW Red Wash. I did a few alternating coats of this to sort of build depth, then started gradually highlighting by mixing in Rach Red, and then the most extreme highlights being a 50/50 mix of Rach Red and Salmon Rose.

The "bronze" cybernetics are actually basecoated in cheap craft paint - FolkArt Chocolate Bronze - that, while lacking a good amount of pigment, is actually a very nice color after a few coats. This was gradually highlighted by mixing in Vallejo Brass and then given a wash of GW Earthshade. Utilitarian pieces of kit were all Vallejo Luftwaffe Uniform (trying to continue the blue-grey color tone) and washed with P3 Armor Wash. There's also a LOT of wiring, buttons, and dials that were painted various colors but no need to go into them here.

These are all based on resin bases I custom-made years and years ago and I found a good recipe for "sidewalk" cement. Basecoat in a 50/50 of beige and a midtone grey, then drybrush with light tan, and finally off-white. Then, without using glaze medium, apply a "wash" of diluted mid or dark tone grey in 1-3 coats. Done! 

Demolition servitors (the aquila icon was basecaoted in Pewter Grey, stippled in gradual highlights of midtone to light greys, edge highlighted in off-white, given a diluted wash of Tamiya Light Grey, then given some spot washes with Tamiya European Dirt)

Heavy Weapons Servitors

Utility Servitors

Data Scribes (I had actually painted these ages ago but they were so badly done, I had them stripped and repainted for this unit. The parchment is basecoated in Vallejo Dark Sand, given gradual highlights by mixing in Ivory, then pure Ivory for the top highlight. I only washed the most extreme shadows with GW Earthshade.)