I thought I’d better get a post in before September became a completely blank month. Luckily I’ve just finished these bikers. The two bikes were put together about ten years ago and then kept in a box, as is standard practice for things that don’t quite get done before interest wanes and you move on to a fresh project. I started painting them for BOYL 2016 when a Helsreach game was mooted. Although it never happened, I did manage to finish them at last.
Helsreach biker gang
First up were these two. The riders are from the Wargames Foundry Street Violence range. The bike is from the Citadel LE Sleazy Rider – an orc on a Harley. I never owned the rider or I would have left it as is – converting such a rare and classic model would have felt like vandalism, but as I didn’t have the full set, I modified the front wheel (wooden in the original) into a more conventional bike and added a big headlight to cover the demonic face.
The riders are a particularly characterful pair – although not meant for a bike, they fit on well. I like the way the man appears to be leaning back to catch something his passenger is saying.
The luggage on the back is a plastic Warzone backpack, with a green putty bedding roll on top. I put off finishing this bike for ages because I couldn’t be bothered to make the bedding roll, but in the end it only took about ten minutes. You can see from the back that the Sleazy Rider bike is clearly modelled on one of the Judge Dredd Lawmasters – which only increases its appeal as far as I’m concerned. A simple loop of wire was added to hold the luggage and give the passenger something to lean against.
The second of the pair is a trike. This sculpt is currently sold by Fenryll (in resin), but this one is metal and I’m 99% sure I bought it from em4 but they don’t list it now.
Trike with minigun
I like everything about this vehicle from the way the punk on the back is casually hanging off, to the over-the-top spiked wrist bands and weird helmet of the driver. I wondered whether the trike would just tip over if he fired the minigun. By my calculation, assuming he is firing about 2,000 10g bullets per minute, it would generate the equivalent of 26kg of weight (sideways). So, seriously de-stabilising, but provided that he fired it parallel to the bike, they could just about cope with it.
To take the punk biker from hell image to its logical conclusion, I went for flames on the mudguards, a lightning flash on the jacket. Rock on.
Was thinking about some of the features I could recreate in my dungeon setup. Started to consider whether I could model some bioluminescent plants. Came up with some initial ideas but before I invest in proper stuff I figured I would use some cheap battery operated leds from a discount store and see how I could use them. The first idea with some seed heads didn’t really work – I’m going to persevere but need some heat-shrink plastic to try the idea out.
While I sort that, I thought I would try using the lights with a couple of small pieces I was making for the dungeon. If you’ve seen the earlier breeding pits posts, you might remember that I leave 2″ sections out of the room walls, then make different inserts to go in them. Blank walls and doorways and suchlike. The additional room I made required some more inserts, and the approach I took was to make a couple of inserts with one side plain and the other with a feature, and those features would give me the chance to see how they might look with lighting.
It wasn’t as successful as I would have liked, but it has encouraged me to try and get it right.
The concept behind the first piece was a magic mirror in which an ogre had been trapped. His face, set in a permanent scream, is embedded in the mirror, the surface of which has been distorted by the spell. The frame is one of a set of laser-cut mdf frames from a discount Craft store. The face is a spare head from the GW plastic ogres set. The mouth is wide open and there is no back to it. The eyes are solid, so I drilled them out with a pin-vise.
I cut a channel from the base up through the middle of the foam, and cut a hole from the mirror side through to that channel behind where the ogre head would be. With the frame and head in place some filler is used to fill the space between them and shaped into a series of ridges to have the mirror surface distorted.
The second one is an alcove with a statue in it. The statue is a piece from the discontinued GW Manor House set. Shame they don’t still do it, it has a host of extras that come in useful for modelling. It has a groove in the back where it is designed to fit onto a wall – seeing that groove was what prompted me to put a light behind it. I have some plastic stars which are slightly reflective, and glued these to the back of the alcove. The statue was then painted (very sloppily) and when it was dry I attacked the paint with some scrunched-up foil and the side of a blade, in an attempt to show where the paint had been eroded away. I’m not really sure whether painting it was the right thing to do – it might have looked better if I’d have left it a stone colour. Ancient statues were often painted, but the passage of time has seen the paint fade and erode so we tend to see them unpainted nowadays. To maximise the light reflection, I lined the groove in the back of the statue with foil.
After painting the stonework of the insert I glued the statue in place with pva, then gave it a heavy black brown wash in the hope it would disguise the rubbish paintwork. It didn’t really, but it’s not quite bad enough for me to repaint it as stone. I might change my mind.
I then slid one of the LED lights up the holes in the base, and set the pieces in the gap in the wall of the room. Here are the final pieces lit up
Finally, here is the setup so far. I think I need 2 or 3 additional rooms to have a playable layout, although I need to figure out how to simulate a larger cavern area – the breeding pits suggests a way round the dungeon solution by using the normal scenery as if it’s in a huge underground cavern
Got my Breeding Pits kickstarter for Frostgrave, so decided that the insert for my next room would involve a cell with a set of bars. Figured the breeding programme would have resulted in some things better kept secure. I’ve included detail on the basics for the room and walls in previous posts, so won’t repeat those, and rather than go into every stage there are only a couple of wip shots nd I’ll describe new stuff.
The basic room is 12″ by 12″ externally, 10″ by 10″ internally. Only slight difference in the construction is that certain tiles have a plastic star glued to them before painting. To make the cell, I wanted to do it as an insert which could be lifted out if I wanted to used the room for another purpose.
The cell/cage insert spans the full 10″, with a 3″ wall section at right angles, so that when it is inserted into the room it makes 2 rooms on one side of it. I decided to have a small guardroom 3″ square and a 6″ by 3″ cell. The barred opening was made using my largest jig. I cut a 1cm strip from the bottom of the piece I cut out, then cut a chamfer on each side leaving a flat central strip into which the bottom of the bars would fit. I then offered it up to the gap and positioned a wooden lolly stick along the centre of the bottom of it. The stick overlapped each endonto the bottom of the wall each side of the arch. I marked the outline with a lining pen and carefully cut out a slot into which it would fit. The aim is to provide a good support – the 1cm strip of foam alone would get easily damaged.
Took me a while to figure out how to make the bars. Thought about straight florists’ wire, but that bends too easily – I’d have used it if I wanted to show where something had burst through the bars, but I settled on steel wire which is less likely to get bent. The cross-struts were another puzzle, but I decided on 2mm wide strips of 1mm plasticard. Using a lining pen I marked the centre of the 2 strips at 5mm intervals, and then used a pin-vise to drill holes the right size for the wire. Could have gone horribly wrong but it was easier than I expected and there were no horrible mistakes. I also marked the position of the holes on the foam strip for the bottom of the arch and made holes so that the wires would slot into them.
I made slots in the arch at the required height and slotted the strips into place. Before gluing them I slide the bars into the holes to get them properly lined up, and when the wires were in the right position, pushed them into the underside of the arch. As a tip, this is much easier if you twist the wire as you do it. Push the wires in so that the bottom of each wire is around 5mm from level of the bottom of the arch walls. As the bottom foam strip is 1cm deep, this means the bottom 5 mm of the wires will be embedded in that bottom strip.
Offer the foam strip to the bottom, then glue the ends to the walls using pva and glue the supporting lolly stick in place.
Wanted to add a couple of bits of detail. The first was a set of tombs, where the bones of celebrated or notorious former inhabitants of the dungeon were laid to rest. The idea is that the bones are behind a gravestone, with a shelf underneath where offerings might be placed. One of them has been broken open in the hope of finding treasure, with the rubble at the foot of the wall below. The gravestones are from the Renedra gravestone set. To support the rubble. I glued a piece of plasticard to the bottom of the wall and used pva to fix some chunks of gravestone and rubble to it. I dug out some skeletal bits to represent the bones remaining in the grave.
To create the pots which are the offerings, I used some beads picked up from a craft store, with stoppers made from cocktail sticks. I also wanted to represent a smashed pot, so I took a seed capsule from the garden, drew a few marks on it to represent decoration, then broke it into pieces. The plant is called Lychnis Coronaria, and the seed pods are useful for pots and storage jars, or can be painted as exotic alien flowers. There are a couple of beakers made from Fimo clay. I have just left the beads as they are, but they could be painted.
The other bit of detail is the remains of one of the inmates. Another bit of plasticard to act as a support, a bit of tissue doused in watered down pva to represent a decaying bedroll.
I wanted to have the skeletal remains chained to the wall, so it was off to poundland to buy a couple of cheap necklaces. Not exactly the most macho thing I’ve ever done, but I took it as a sacrifice to my art. I cut some sections of plastic tubing to represent manacles, drilled a couple of holes with a pin vise in each to take a link of the chain, and superglued them in place. A bit overscale, but they do the job. A GW plastic skeleton from a long time ago provided the lucky victim.
On to painting. Same old same old for the walls. The iron bars and manacles were painted black, to which a bit of bronze was added to give me the effect I wanted. Dark brown and orange were used to try and create a rust effect. I should have made a door or two, but I’m a bit lazy so haven’t done that yet. I’ll probably do a few as a batch – Tony Hardwood’s book has some good ideas, as does the GW terrain book. The cell doorway is larger on one side of the wall than it is on the other. The idea is that the door – if it ever appears – would fit in the larger aperture on the outside of the cell and be more secure than a standard opening. Just in case the inhabitant ever felt that they would like to leave.
The remaining shots show the finished piece. Hope you like it – I should finish another couple of small pieces this weekend so I’ll post that up when it’s done.
One of the key elements for the Inquisitor Cynole game at BOYL last weekend was the ornithopter. The story snippet from the original Chapter Approved that this game was based on describes it as follows “The ‘thopter was a local model, ancient and noisy, the dull beat of its engines drowning any attempt at conversation”.
Here’s the finished model – Curtis of Ramshackle Games cast this in resin from a master that I built. He also created the wing designs which are printed on clear acrylic. Massive thanks to him – apart from the technical expertise and moulding equipment, he painted this one because I was away on holiday and didn’t have time. This will be on sale in due course on his website – expected price £25 including P&P, and it’s quite a big beast as you can see from the second shot with a models in front of it. I was working on some solid wings (still unfinished), and it will be available in two variants – one as below and one with the solid wings. If you are in a hurry and you want the ‘dragonfly’ wing option then contact him through his website and he will probably be able to sort you out.
Ornithopter model – photo by James Holloway
When I started planning the game last September, I realised I needed at least one ornithopter, but googling for one, there wasn’t much on offer. I really didn’t like the Revell Dune one: http://www.fantastic-plastic.com/HARKONNEN%20ORNITHOPTER%20PAGE.htm, and I couldn’t find anything else, so I was going to have to make one. I came up with the idea of actually making something that could be cast, as I was hoping to field two or three, and spoke to Curtis who agreed to do the casting.
I bought some old Robogear kits, with a view to using some of their bits, but in the end I just raided the big boxes of old model parts and plastic off-cuts that I have hoarded over the years. Long ago I played the old Dune 2 Amiga game, and that had relatively elegant white ornithopters flapping big, long wings – an image that stuck in my head. I wanted a more streamlined and technological look than later GW stuff – all square corners and riddled with rivets. As a Rogue Trader game, they should have more of a traditional sci-fi aesthetic, a bit like this tiny ornithopter from the rulebook, but I needed something pretty big that looked like it could carry a squad or so.
Illustration of ornithopter from WH40K 1st edition
I started off with a really rough full size cardboard mockup (now binned), just to get the size of it. Next step, I mocked it up in Lego. This was a big help in imagining to overall size and shape of it. I was aiming for something that two people could sit side-by-side in the cockpit.
Armed with this and a few bits I had been tinkering about with, I went to see Curtis at the end of May (August looming worryingly close) and he went over the basics of how to design stuff for resin casting. I didn’t have a clue about this, but you have to be very careful about designing to avoid trapping bubbles, and to get something that will go together well without weak spots. We sketched out a few ways to break down the model. An additional constraint is that the rubber is pressurised when making the mould. The master has to be really solid or it will cave in. I got round the fact that I was using some thin plastic shells for much of it by filling it with plaster after the basic shape had been made.
Some of my early sketches looked a bit like a helicopter gunship with wings, and that seemed a bit dull. I wanted something a bit more sci-fi and the legs seemed a good way to achieve that. I settled on big back legs, which gave it an interesting insectoid feel, and I imagined that it might use them to spring into the air on take-off. Coupled with a strange, bulbous cockpit, it was taking on the right look, but painfully slowly. Cutting a bit of plastic card to just the right shape and getting it neat and crisp is a lot more difficult in reality than it is in your head.
Ornithopter scratch build in progress
Over the next 6 weeks, I worked on the scratch building and got as far as this by mid July. As I was away the week before BOYL, I was almost out of time. With only two weeks to go, I dropped off what I had, and Curtis came to the rescue by sorting out the wings, doing the final tweaks to make it castable, making the mould, casting the first one and assembling it and painting it. I first saw it on Saturday, with just hours to go!
If your average medieval bod wanted to go down into a dungeon, it wouldn’t be using a lift (elevator in some parts.) I thought I’d have a go at making a set of spiral steps. I decided to put it on a 4 inch by 4 inch base and allow it to be accessed by a corridor from both sides. The diameter of the staircase is just a bit less than 3 inches, to enable some room for the side walls on the base. A keyhole shape felt like it would do the trick, so I marked up a piece of card, and cut the curves using my cheap rotary cutter. The photo doesn’t show it clearly, but there is a small blade instead of a piece of pencil lead. I then stacked 5 pieces of 5mm foam and pinned the template on top. Using the template as a guide, I used the hot wire cutter to create the shapes.
2 strips of foam gave me 18 steps in total. Stacked on top of each other they stood 9 cm tall. I needed 10 cm, so needed 2 more 5mm steps, and decided these would be differently shaped at the bottom of the steps. To get the right shape, I decided to mark up the base. This would also give me the shape of the side walls. A hole was drilled using the pin vise in the centre of the base, and a pin inserted through the hole in the centre of the template. This is rotated and a pen used to mark the indentations in the walls. The shapes required for the 2 bottom steps are marked on there. The cutter is then used on another piece of card to get the shape of the indent on the wall, which will be used as a cutting template..
A slight change of plan at this point – I decided I wanted to show the staircase descending to the level below. I cut a piece of brass rod and threaded the 18 steps on there. At this stage I didn’t glue it so I could decide how big the steps should be. I started making them quite generous, but then realised that the angle of ascent had to be a bit steeper to create the headroom for the side passage and the descent to the level below. It was ok for hobbits, but no good for anything bigger. The steps had to be made narrower, so I reduce the steps by 7 or 8 mm on the outside diameter. Once I was happy with the look, I glued the spiral steps together, cut the slot out of the base where the steps down would be (if I ever made them to go down to another level,) and cut the 2 bottom steps to the required shapes. The steps are all glued on to the base, and the brass rod is left in to slot into the hole in the base and provide strength.
The side wall template is then used with the hot-wire cutter to cut the indent. A lesson learnt is that I should have made a duplicate template and pinned it to the bottom of the wall piece when cutting using the hot wire, as it isn’t easy to make the cut absolutely perpendicular and there is some distortion at the bottom of the cut. Top looks ok though.
Next job is to mark the block pattern on the walls. The curves could have been tricky, but fortunately I found a pair of flexible rulers at The Works for £1. They flex in one direction while providing a straight edge – one of the following pics shows one being used.
With one wall glued in place, together with a piece of mdf to provide strength, I cut and glued the floor tiles for the passage, then glued in the opposite wall.
Then for the end sections, or end section because I decided I wanted to leave one side open. I needed to offset the door, otherwise anyone going through it would fall down the stairs. Elf n’ safety.
The required jig is pinned in the right position, the door marked and the blockwork marked. The hot wire cutter and the curve template provides the required indent on the rear of the wall, and the blockwork marked using the flexi ruler. It is then positioned and the cutouts marked so that the joins can be disguised with some single blocks. The missing blocks are then cut and glued in place.
The same paint routine that was used on the corridor was applied to this. Following a suggestion on the Lead Adventure Forum, I figured that the top of the stairs would get more light and that moss and ferns might grow there. The moss is fine sand mixed with green acrylic, placed in strategic places and highlighted with a greeny yellow. The Ferns are made with some small pieces of plastic florist fern, fixed with a hot glue gun to some small sharp slivers of wood, and then the wood is coated in pva and pushed into the foam.
The completed item.
The temple floorplan is printed and stuck to boards. They have a few wrinkles because I stuck them down with very thinly spread PVA. Spray mount would have been much better, but it’s excruciatingly expensive. Still the end result is pretty good. Everything in the photo below is flat except for the three models.
Following on from the success of this, I’m thinking about doing some for Frostgrave’s Breeding Pits expansion. Alan’s 3D dungeons (from previous posts) are fantastic, but this takes a tiny fraction of the time (and is easier to store too).
I’ve completed the floor plan for the temple in the Inquisitor Cynole game. It’s 2ft by 4ft. I collaged it up in Photoshop using textures mostly Googled up. The next step is to print it out and stick it to 30cm hardboard squares, as I did last year for the Chainsaw Warrior game. Here’s a sample.
Temple floor plan sample
I’ve used a Layer Mask and Layer Effects (Dropshadow, Inner Glow etc.) to form the walls. Effects such as moss are a continuous texture layer, which has been hidden, and then small areas are made visible by spraying white on to the Layer Mask with a scatter brush.
Started work on some corridors, so that when I get more than 1 room, I can link them. The more perceptive of you will see that I started making the corridors 10 cm high, to match with the rooms, but I then decided to make them 8cm high, so cut them back part way through. Although it would make a neater connection with the rooms, I felt that the narrow corridors didn’t look right at that height and it would make handling the figures a bit awkward. These are the 10cm high corridor section frames.
Next stage is the floor. I mark the floor into 1 inch squares, so to create the joins I cut mounting board into 24.5mm squares. I don’t want them looking pristine and new, so to make them look old and worn, I round the corners and cut some of them into pieces as if they were broken. Here are some examples as cut, and then applied to the corridor. The foam walls will fill in each side and so I only need the central 2 rows. To toughen the surface for painting, I mix some pva with acrylic paint and a tiny bit of fine grit and paint them, trying to get the grit in the crevices.
When that is dry, I try to work a similar mix, with a bit more grit, into the crevices. It is to make it look like rubble and junk has accumulated there. That is then ready for basecoating, so on to the walls. I am concentrating on the 8 inch section of corridor. The plan is to have 2 plaques and a candle alcove on one side, and 2 candle alcoves on the other. The alcoves are marked using one half of the jigs I use for doorways. When the alcoves are marked, along with the areas for the plaques, I then rule a series of horizontal lines 1 cm apart to represent the courses of blocks, using a steel rule and a cheap lining pen, then mark the vertical joints. I mark the 2 walls on opposite sides of the same block of foam, because I will cut the block in two using the hot wire table mentioned in the earlier article. Another reason for deciding on the layout of the alcoves on the 2 walls is that I want the foam to be thicker behind the alcoves, for reasons which will be clear later.
Next, cut out the alcoves with a sharp craft knife, and carefully cut out recesses into which the plaques will slot.
I could have simply put a flat back into the alcoves, but a discount store find and an idea to make pillar sections gave me a further idea.
The following picture shows a box of laser-cut mdf shapes bought from The Works. There are 4 each of 9 shapes. I figured that if I pinned a shape to the surface of a 25mm sheet of foam, I could use it as a guide template and create sections of ornamental pillars. I used a pin vise to drill two holes in a suitable piece, inserted 2 pins to fix it to a square of foam, then cut round it with the hot wire. I was quite pleased with the sections of pillar I created, but I haven’t done anything with them yet. It struck me that the offcuts of the squares might come in useful. I trimmed it to the correct width for the alcove, used the jig to mark the curve of the arch on the back, then cut it out with a sharp craft knife. The picture shows the cut piece. It looks like a pointed arch, put that is a false impression given by the ridge in the middle – seen head on it would be a rounded top.
The piece is pushed into the alcove from the back of the wall. The plaques are plaster casts from moulds I have made, and are glued in place with pva. The alcove sill is a section from a piece of doll’s house dado rail, purchased from the 4D model shop in London, and trimmed to taper it in, in the same way that stone sills are shaped on historical buildings. Very useful stuff – can be used to add other details to model buildings.
Next stage is to basecoat tiles and walls with a light grey paint to which a little brown is added. A couple of the pics show a larger room on which I have only done the floor so far. On some of the tiles in here I have glued plastic confetti stars, bought in a pack from The Works. (I am their leading advertiser.)
A black/brown wash is then applied, followed by dry-brushing with a light grey.
After this, a number of washes involving different mixes of brow, black and green are applied to give the final finish. I try to streak it down the walls and puddle them on the tiles. The final detail involves candles for the alcoves. Because of the central bar, I want 2 in each alcove. To make them I take short sections of cocktail sticks, cut the top of each at an angle to represent the uneven melt that candles generally have, and then use a pin to make a small pilot hole for where I intend to insert the wick. the Pin Vise with a very fine bit is used to carefully drill a short hole. The pilot hole makes this easier than it sounds. A strand of sisal string is painted black, and once dry is dipped into pva and inserted into the hole. It is trimmed to length with a pair of sharp scissors. In preparation for painting, the candles are attached to a strip of thin card with pva, with the following result;
The candles are painted using a mix of white and yellow acrylic to which some pva is added. I am looking to give the effect of wax melted down the candle stem and pooling round the base.
The following pictures show the results before and after the walls are glued into place. The brown effect is caused by photographing them in artificial light – they don’t look like that in reality. The 4th shot is in normal light but indoors, and the final 2 are shot outside. The first plaque is a Gondor-style tree motif, and the second attempts to portray a dog-rose surrounding a unicorn shield, which is an ancient GW piece.
Most forces in the game are being supplied by the players themselves. The only major player controlled force I’m supplying are these feral world natives. I thought about these for a long time before buying the models. The temple itself has an Aztec vibe, so initially I thought along those lines, but it seemed a bit clichéd, so I looked further afield. It proved really difficult. I didn’t want anything too historically recognisable, I wanted them to look a bit barbaric/uncivilised, so definitely no armour, boots, or other sophisticated manufactured items. I looked through a lot of tribal ranges – e.g. Darkest Africa, but a lot of those were very African. Classical period stuff tends to be too recognisable (and too much armour), vikings look too much like vikings, etc. etc. In the end I went for these Black Tree Design picts. They have very anonymous tunics and cloaks, not much equipment and nothing particular recognisable.
Feral world natives
I wanted them to have a strong tribal feel, so I’ve used these random striped patterns in a limited palette of reds, black and a warm yellow. The shields are all in black and yellow with variations on circles, arrows and lightning. I’ve done their short swords in bronze, to highlight their lack of metals.
I struggled with the skin tone for some time. Initially when I was thinking along Aztec lines, I imagined a reddish brown colour, but I wanted something a bit more alien and imaginative. I tried lots of different colours: white, blue, purple, grey, red, but most looked either too ‘dead’ or too artificial or just a bit close to normal Earth humans. In the end I plumped for blue, which contrasts nicely with the clothing. Facial hair is a pale blonde. Rather pleasingly this is the exact skin and hair of Rogue Trooper, which is always a great old school reference.
These two are a bit rough and ready when viewed close up, but they look OK on the table. I’m aiming for this level on the first pass, and then if I have time I’ll tart them up a bit more.
For a future project, I’ve ordered up a copy of ‘Secrets of Shandisholm’ which has just been released by Oakbound as part of their “The Woods” range. I’ll be picking up a copy direct from Geoff at BOYL in a month’s time. It’s set in the world of Celtic myth – with plenty of really weird and interesting creatures of faerie. I’ve got some Black Tree Design Viking and medieval villagers to paint up which I’m hoping will fit in nicely. More information here: – http://www.propworkshop.co.uk/oakbound/the-woods/