I was a bit keen with the sand-paper, so some bubbles came free completely. Otherwise, the edges rounded nicely with the sand-papering: .

Putting two layers of paint on will help fill up the tiny holes a bit…when I cover them with Aquadhere, that will get rid of all the small holes and tiny grooves completely. Finished product this weekend, if this freaky Autumn warm spell can hold until then…

I’ve already done 333 posts…one third of a thousand. I didn’t think back at the start that I would need so much time to complete enough German forces to have a good slog against Peter – well, I was wrong. At the rate I’m going, I’ll need another 300 posts at least…

Anyway, let’s keep making better hills!

Assemble all terrain ingredients you think will be useful: . I’ve got my Woodland Scenics Green Blend flock, my SeeNiks Earth Blend flock, some Woodland Scenics fine Talus, some Heki coarse flock and Selleys Aquadhere glue. No, none of these companies are sponsoring me.

Apply the glue completely and thickly: . A thick application of glue will fill up any small holes and crevices, leaving a smoother appearance.

If you’re going to apply talus, now’s the time, before applying any flock: . Remember, grass grows up,  around and sometimes nearly covers rocks…not the other way around (unless a volcano just went off).

If you need to apply any sort of coarse turf or small clumpy foliage, you are now at the appropriate stage to do so: – I use this strongly-coloured green coarse turf stuff from Heki to represent big-leafed weeds. Green Blend flock is fine, but it’s still a fairly uniform product. Break it up with some of this kind of stuff.

Thickly apply your flock: – you too can let a chance ray of sunlight into your garden shed if you want…this was by and large a grey morning, so all my other photos don’t feature it. Once applied, I manually pat the stuff down hard so I know that it’s gone into the glue. I pat the whole hill over and I pat it with some strength to the action. Then I apply more flock over the top of what’s there because inveitably you’ll see some glue visible somewhere after patting.

Now you can leave it for 24 hours(or longer if the humidity’s high) to dry.

Want to do hills where some bare soil is showing? OK, apply glue and then your Earth Blend flock: – I placed some Talus around its edge to show the effects of erosion. Remember, erosion usually only affects one side of a hill, so don’t go silly with your Earth Blend flock. I decided with this project to leave the Woodland Scenics Earth Blend out – I wanted to try the less uniform and slightly more gritty SeeNiks Earth Blend. It goes on OK and looks good at this stage.

I like to put some lush vgetation (thick weeds) on the opposite side of the hill, to show that the other side to the Earth Blend is sheltered from the wind: .

Then on goes the Green Blend flock, thickly applied, patted down and then reapplied where necessary: – you’ll see that I’ve even applied it almost covering the Earth Blend flock too. I don’t want the erosion to be too bare.

Now wait for it to dry.

***

Back inside the house, the next project is waiting to be started. It’s a pair of infantry guns: . I bought them over a year ago – it’s time to get these Caesar Miniatures sIG 33 guns built, painted, based and gaming.

This final experimental batch of trees made from armatures are done. Here they are, immediately after a good spraying with Dullcote to seal them: . Covering the bases with lots of glue to try to reduce the sharp and unnatural angles/contours of the film cannister lids did not quite work: but at least the coarse turf does soften those angles/contours a bit: . So, it seems to me that I’ve worked out the best techniques for preparing plastic tree armatures to become wargaming trees – simple PVA glue to affix lichen; a good spraying with watered-down PVA glue a couple of days later and then careful application of covering flock or turf is all that’s really required. Forget Hob-e-tac! Forget Clump Foliage! Trees made with those don’t survive regular handling and accidental knocking over. So, experiment and project complete.

***

I bought some more Heki apple trees yesterday. I already have 6, but on the table they make a small orchard and I wanted to have either a big orchard or two small ones. I have also decided to refurbish the trees I have with very warped bases, so I’m going to do them all these trees in one big batch:  . However, I have finally finished all the fiddly gluing and preparatory painting for my Panzer IIIs and Krupp Boxers, so they will be getting full priority from now on: .

Well, this time I think I’ve got things working correctly. I think this is the correct recipe for making trees using these armatures. The sprayed-on glue has really held the lichen in place on the armatures and toughened it so that it doesn’t give way when handled.

Last night I glued Coarse Turf onto the bases to represent the thicker grasses and weeds that occur underneath or close to trees. Here’s how the bases looked initially, with their two coats of Kayak Brown interior house paint on them: . I prepared all my ingredients: – an equal mix of light and dark green Coarse Turf; Selleys Aquadhere PVA glue; a plastic yoghurt tub with water in it for cleaning up. The PVA has been squirted into an upside-down red plastic juice bottle cap (I like using plastic bottle caps as reservoirs for glue & paint and also for holding water for preparing decals when there’s only one vehicle to decal) and I’m using a very poor quality brush to apply the glue.

The glue is thickly applied around where the cut-down film cannister lid meets the sheet styrene base (as I want to try to mask the unnatural angles there) becoming thinly applied at the edge of the base: . Then it’s time to pour on the Coarse Turf. I do this in two stages: first I pour on enough to provide a few milimetres’ depth of cover across as much of the base as I can, then I flatten it using the opposite end of the brush, or my finger, or a wooden ruler or whatever else I have at hand. By flattening it I’m ensuring some is stuck in the glue and the glue adheres. Then I pour a second coating on, again enough for a few milimetres’ depth and put the well-covered base down, finished…if there’s still any exposed glue, some of the second coating will adhere to it and in doing so it produces a contouring effect. I know much of the second coat won’t adhere, but at least complete coverage of the base is ensured. After putting it down, it looks like this: . Easy! Now it’s another minimum 24-hour wait for the glue to dry.

With the strains of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the background, I commence the final of the series of entries I’ve been writing about using tree armatures to make trees with. The last time I posted about these was to report my failures on May 17 this year.

I had resolved to try putting lichen on the armatures initially glued in placed with PVA glue, then sprayed with watered-down PVA. So, I began by gluing everything together: . This time, the film cannister lids and armatures were glued onto the sheet styrene using PVA, as I discovered that the Revell Contacta glue was warping the sheet styrene early in June. So, I had tree trunks fixed onto bases: . Then I had to search through the lichen for suitable clumps: . I can’t describe how I chose the pieces, except to say that the fluffy rounded top bits obviously went onto the top of the armatures or where I wanted to show new growth on a big limb. I tried to select pieces that were stretchy thin “sheets” that I could wrap around the armature and cover as much as possible with, but I also put on smaller clumps here and there so that each tree didn’t look too uniform in appearance. PVA was thickly brushed on to each single limb, to a depth of 1.5cm, or until a fork was reached (or both): (you can see a blurry big drop of PVA waiting to have lichen pressed onto it). I hoped that it would be a quick process – the first tree seemed to be done fairly promptly: but when I finished all 6 an hour had gone by. I left them overnight, hoping to spray them with watered-down PVA today, but the weather was against me. So, more tree updates as they sprout.

***

I’m working on too many things at once again. I am slowly preparing enough figures for a company of Panzer Grenadiers. I didn’t have any suitable Platoon Commanders (Sergeants?) so I cut MP-40s off excess numbers of one pose and glued them into the empty hands of another pose: .

***

The Panzer IIIs are having their tracks painted. This involves two painting stages and four wash stages, so it’s taking some time to do.

 

The Opel Blitz cargo trucks and the Opel Ambulance (I’ve assembled and painted it to be a mobile HQ) are finished!                               With the camera flash switched off, the colour is more like this:  .

I mentioned in the preceding post that I was trying to paint the camouflage on the Opel Ambulance using pieces of sponge dipped into paint of varying strengths and that things had not gone according to plan.

Well, after some advice from regular readers, I had another go, and managed to correct many of my earlier mistakes. How I did that is recorded in that preceding post’s Comments, to whit: “So far, spreading the paint around with the sponge after application is helping, it makes the whole lot an even layer of paint. Going back to full-strength paint helped too. I pressed the paint-loaded sponge against the model, released it for a couple of seconds, then lightly pressed again and using the very tip of the sponge, spread the paint around ‘inside’ the splotch to make it even.”

So, my technique for painting cammo with a sponge is:

  1.  Dip the torn-off piece of sponge into full-strength paint.
  2. Press it against the vehicle for a moment, moving it around slightly. This is important and must be done each time you reach Stage 2, so that each time, the shape of the paint is not quite the same.
  3. Stop pressing it against the vehicle for a moment.
  4. Look on the vehicle for where the paint is too thick or has bubbles in it. Gently dab the sponge against it to even it out and pop the bubbles.
  5. When satisfied, go back to Step 1.

I did have to correct extra unwanted splatters with the base colour and did “improve” the shape of some paint spots by going back later and working on them with a brush, but only where I felt it was necessary.

So there it is. Good luck with it! If you improve my technique, be sure to let us all know how.

I’m proud of the aerial recognition flag on the bonnet of one of the Opel Blitz cargo trucks:  . It was done by first cutting up a washing instruction tag off one of my old heavy metal t-shirts into the right shape and size rectangle; covering that rectangle on both sides with PVA glue and then affixing it to the bonnet. Next, I had already collected some strings from individual tea bags – I cut them into four pieces of approximately the right length, coated them in PVA glue and placed them at each corner of the flag, connecting them to the flag and to the mudguard. When all was dry, the tag was painted thickly with Skull White. When the paint was dry, a decal of the swastika flag was applied over the top. When that was dry, Blood Red was used to paint over any remaining white. Brown Ink at 50% strength was used to darken the strings so they looked like hemp rope. Done!

The UM Hetzers received their final bodywork in Tankoberg this morning and were photographed (when the bodywork was dry) at lunch. Here they are: . I’m very happy with them – just disappointed that it took me so long to finish them.

This is UM Models’ kit #UM 356, which is a Commander’s vehicle. I didn’t include the second radio mount which sits on the left side of the vehicle; I did utilise the remote-control MG and it’s shield which mercifully is included in the kit box, so you can build this kit either way.

As this vehicle began to leave Skoda and BMM (the two manufacturers) in midsummer 1944, I figured to paint it as a muddy vehicle, thus allowing it to represent the 3 seasons it was used in.

I attached the shadow/outline-disrupting foliage with ordinary PVA glue this time. My thinking was that I didn’t want to use plastic glue for it and certainly didn’t want to use any cyanoacrylate glue, as cyanoacrylate discolours surrounding paintwork meaning you have to paint the area where you use it again. PVA dries matt clear and, with the spray of Dullcote to seal & protect it, should disappear from view completely. I’m happy with the result.

I have so many tank hunter units now, more than normal tanks! I have Jagdpanthers, Marder III(h)’s, these Hetzers…I should really try to concentrate on normal Panzer III’s & IV’s, but they haven’t turned up at Swap & Sells this year! I don’t have enough of either III’s or IV’s for a platoon and don’t want to pay full price for kits either. Have to keep watching Ebay, I guess.

Back in the middle of February I brought to your attention Andy from Terragenesis’ assessment of Woodland Scenics’ scenery-making products. I mentioned that I would try his suggestion of attaching foliage clumps to tree armatures using superglue instead of Hob-e-tac.

On Sunday I found some time inbetween glueing individual track links onto the Hetzers to have a go at doing this with one of the many armatures I won on an Ebay auction back during Summer.

I used Zap-A-Gap Medium thickness as my superglue (it’s the only one I have, anyway). It’s not too viscuous, it’s like a liquid. I’ve used a rival brand’s Thick thickness superglue before, and it was more like a putty. I was using the same clump foliage as I’ve used before to make trees.

The Zap-a-gap flowed and ran too freely over the armatures which resulted in some on my fingers – I had to work quickly to stop my fingers sticking together. The fumes were very strong – not only was the smell almost overpowering but my eyes were temporarily ‘stung’ too. The foliage could move around quite freely for maybe a whole minute as the Zap-a-gap didn’t instantaneously ‘grip’ and bond the foliage clumps – because I didn’t want my fingers becoming permanently stuck to things due to the superglue, I didn’t make any real effort to pick up and hold fallen clumps in place until they adhered. With Hob-e-tac, you can hold in place – it’s a powerful glue but doesn’t stick skin to skin together in five seconds like superglue does.

24 hours later I inspected the final product (such as it was). Limb ends were exposed when they should be covered with foliage; foliage wasn’t so well placed; because I hadn’t been able to hold some clumps in place, many clumps were only stuck on by the tiniest amount of their surface – some  dangled like Christmas tree baubles! There was also white discolouration where the glue had run down the limb or trunk and had not had anything stuck to it.

My assessment of this was that it was not worth the effort. The fumes stopped me using the Hobby Room for anything else for the rest of the night; coverage of the clumps onto the armature were poorly placed and not too well adhered; the white discolouration would require me to repaint and drybrush which is an unreasonable use of my time.

Re-reading Andy’s article showed me that one part of this could be alleviated by using thick viscuous superglue (which is what he’d done) but my thoughts are that it’s still not worth the effort. I’d rather apply Hob-e-tac twice and then spray very thickly with watered-down PVA glue to get a permanent, tough bonded product that can be based and used fairly quickly, rather than having to add extra steps of painting the tree to cover up white discolourations and THEN basing it etc.

I’m glad I tried, though – I need to re-flock some small pine trees I have and had pencilled in superglue for it. I’ll do them with straight PVA or Hob-e-tac.

Today was warmer than I expected and as I didn’t have any major duties to attend to, I worked on those wargaming hills (or mountains, as I proposed in an earlier post) because of the favourable weather.

Here’s how you too can complete this stage of hill-making:

  1. Prepare the area where you’ll be working by laying down lots of newspaper to catch dripping glue and all the modelling materials that won’t stick to the hill(s). If you don’t do this, you’ll have small rocks, flock and other stuff going everywhere. I like to use the Weekend Australian (once I’ve finished reading it, of course): 1 Prepare workspace
  2. Apply PVA glue/woodworking glue. The majority of your brush strokes should be from the middle of the hill to its base or rim: 2 Apply glue vertically and you should also make sure the coat completely covers the whole hill (except underneath);  fills every nook and crevice and lastly is not too thin (I like to apply a thick coat, personally): 3 Coat entirely and thickly – it can smooth out hard edges or sharp corners and also plug gaps where polystyrene spheres have popped out during carving or shaping.
  3. If you want to have any exposed rocks or gravel, now’s the time to do it. First I sprinkle on larger rocks (Woodland Scenics’ Talus): 4 Larger talus then the smaller ones: 5 Smaller talus . If any bounce off or fail to stick, then gather them up from the newspaper and sprinkle them on again or press them gently into place with your fingers.
  4. To give the hill/mountain the appearance of having been scoured by the winds, I’m going to apply Earth flock to the top. Not too much, though: 6 Wind-scoured top
  5. Then it’s time for my grasses, so on goes a thick coating of Green flock: 7 Flock . If you look closely, you can see that the edge of the base (or rim) hasn’t had any flock stick to the glue. I pick the hill up in my hand and shake on more flock, so that it does get coated by flock. Then I press down with my hands onto the hill, forcing everything into the glue and making sure everything sticks that can. Some flock and some rocks/Talus may be dislodged by this, so get the Green flock and liberally coat the hill one final time. Then leave it to dry.

The bigger hill, which had one big peak and one smaller peak was done a little differently. Its features allowed more detail to be applied.

  1. On goes the two different sizes of rocks/Talus: 14 All talus
  2. There is a gully betweenthe two peaks. As water would naturally gather there, I emphasise this feature by gluing some bushes there (Woodland Scenics’ Bushes): 15 Bushes in gully
  3. For wind-scouring, it’s time for Earth flock: 16 Wind-scouring
  4. Being a bigger hill or mountain, I can model thicker grasses etc. around the lower altitude by using a blend of coarse turf: 17 Coarse turf
  5. Lastly, the finer grasses – Green flock: 18 Flock
  6. Make sure that the rim gets covered in flock; press down with hands; a final coating of Green flock and then leave it to dry.

I’m going to give them 24 hours to completely dry or cure…24 hours is my usual for nearly everything with modelling, except when doing fine painting.

Many modellers and wargamers will tell you that you don’t have to use all the things I’ve used, and I agree with them. Some people use fishtank gravel or cat litter or stones they’ve found out in Nature – if you also want to do that, do it! It’s your hill and your imagination. If you want to stick on some twigs you’ve found to represent fallen branches or logs, do it! I’ve done that with both my Russian and German infantry bases, to give particulr troops some extra cover. If you want to apply some ashes to represent burn-off or scorching, you could.

I’ve used Woodland Scenics products exclusively today (apart from the PVA glue, which is made locally by Selleys). The particular products I used were:

  • Blended Turfs
  • Talus
  • Bushes
  • Coarse Turf