Here’s a resin Orthodox church I finished on the weekend. I’ve given you both the ‘natural lighting’ version and the ‘computer adjusted’ lighting version of the two photos.

It’s a single piece, made of resin and very well cast…I didn’t have to sand back or file off anything at all.

Initially I delayed painting it, as it seemed a bit daunting. I had some colour photographs of wooden Orthodox churches (and a wooden Viking-age church) and the variations in wood colour and weathering of the wood made me feel like no matter what I did, it wouldn’t look true to life. But once the Scorched Earth went on the walls and the Bestial Brown went on the roof tiles/roof shingles, my confidence was restored and the piece was done in a couple of short bursts over a couple of nights. It looks all right!

I could have done it as white walls, and photos often show the majority of them as stone/brick/whitewashed plaster walls.

But this is terrain that could have been for two reasons:

  1. This is only for 15mm gaming, not 20mm (1/72 or 1/76), so it’s the wrong scale. Put one of my tanks or bases of infantry next to it and you’d see the difference.
  2. This is to be used for wargaming a period 750-1000 years earlier than World War Two! Back then, there was only one stone church in all of Russia, The Church of the Tithes in Kiev. The rest of them were all in wood. So churches like this are far more representative of the time.

I suppose a future project would be to make something similar in 20mm scale using sheet styrene and foamcore board? Then I could have a small stone Orthodox church in a village..whether or not it is being used as a church or a storehouse would depend on what month I’m gaming, as Stalin had to permit churches to re-open once the Great Patriotic War was identified as the major war it was going to be and faith in religion (and not blind faith in Stalin) was permitted in order to bolster the people’s morale and will to fight.

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A report on Friday’s game is still being written. It’s nearly done and it will be the next post on this blog.

I pledged yesterday that today I would start painting water on the sheet styrene, caulk and Heki & Woodland Scenics’ terrain materials river sections come what may. Well, I fulfilled my pledge.

Beginning here – – undercoated sections, I started meeting my pledge by shaking up the two pots of paint I would need for today’s work, those pots being Orkhide Shade and Knarloc Green. I had already decided to start by painting on the deepest water, which for now was going to be pure Orkhide Shade. I commenced and made sure to make sure the deepest parts followed the logical flow of water. For straight sections, I ran mostly directly down the middle. For curved sections, the deepest water had to flow into and hard against the outer riverbank: .                                                                         Those trips fishing for trout at Bright and around Country Victoria were really useful in assisting me to visualise rivers and streams and where the water goes, how it scours into the ground and how it reacts to barriers. I translated all this easily with the #3 Francheville brush I was using. All I had to do was control the brushstrokes.

It didn’t take long to finish , although I did make a small error on the smaller of the ford sections. That was corrected with Kayak Brown.

I then allowed an hour for the Orkhide Shade to dry. It was a cool day here – even so, it dried fairly quickly.

Now I was at the most difficult stage – mixing the two colours. It involves painting on some watered down of the original colour, painting on the next green you wish to use beside it (in this case, Knarloc Green), then mixing the two using a third brush. Nikolas Lloyd’s painting technique is: “The river itself I painted with mid green near the edges, where the water is slow and green stuff may grow; then had a band of pale brown and pale green for the shallows; then in the centre, more mid green, lots of dark green, and streaks of very dark brown, to represent the deeper faster moving water. All of these colours I painted on quickly, with watery paint, and I was happy to see them mingle while still wet.”. I aim for a variation of this – I want the wet paints to mix but in a streaky and uneven fashion. I want them to naturally mix and create an equal mix inbetween them so that the end result is the first darker colour (pure Orkhide Shade), then a ‘band’ of the two colours blended together with streaks of both on both sides, then the second colour (pure Knarloc Green).

This took some time and patience. Even with time, patience, inspiring music and a big mug of tea, I still made mistakes. Here I am, a few sections done and happy with my work:  then a section or two bucked the trend and just wouldn’t behave  . This one in particular  is going to require some serious alterations when it’s dry.

They were nearly all done by dinner and the remainder were quick to do after a good feed.

It had taken an hour longer than I’d intended, but this stage of making the river sections was finished . I looked over the dry and nearly dry sections – they had overall turned out pretty well, as you can see here  and here  . Some need some extra paint like this one and you’ve already seen one particular miscreant who needs some intensive correction. However, the corrective & extra work stage shouldn’t take as much time as this stage has. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow – we’ll see what the ANZAC Day public holiday brings.

Just before Christmas 2009 I sat down with the remaining large pieces of my sheet styrene supply and my trusty Olfa cutter and cut and shaped all the pieces I wanted to use in making my first wargaming river. I talked and showed you about it here. I then put that project aside while I busied myself with Revell Panthers and some other things. Having completed the Panthers on Thursday night (photos tomorrow) I was free again to tackle the river. I checked the weather report and it said we are in for 7 days of sun and a temperature of 29 degrees each day…in other words,  perfect conditions and I would be foolish to do something else and waste such an opportunity, especially as we are now in Autumn. I took the box that the river sections were in and prepared my work area. Here’s how my work are looked:

What you can see in that photo: caulk gun, Fuller’s Caulk in Colours, leftover sticks from Magnum icecreams, the aforementioned river sections cut from sheet styrene, two plastic jars filled with different grades of Woodland Scenics’ Talus, Woodland Scenics’ Modelling grass and lastly real pieces of sticks and twigs that I have collected. At this point I was ready to continue my learning and practicing of Nikolas Lloyd’s modelling tips, this lesson being in making rivers.

First, I squeezed the caulk onto the river section: . When you do this, the caulk will pull along a little as you squeeze it onto the section – meaning that if you commenced flush with the edge, it will get no longer be so at the end of application as it will have pulled off the edge in the direction you are squeezing and you’ll have to go back and add a little bit so that it is flush again. This became very annoying very quickly so I would commence squeezing over the edge of the river section and then lay it onto the section and along. This solved the need to go back. I may need to cut off the excess hanging off the edge, but that’s fine – you have to do this at the other end of the section anyway! So I wasted a little bit of caulk, but the amount is negligible and an ‘equal’ or ‘balanced’ section of river was made each time as a result.

Second, you need to flatten and shape the caulk. I did this using the wooden sticks from Magnum icecreams – they became my trowels. As you can see from the photo, the caulk comes out as a rounded tube shape and will stay like that unless you shape it. I’ve begun to flatten the sides down so they look like natural river banks or levee banks on the outer side of the river section. Something that you didn’t see in the first photo was a roll of paper towelling. This was necessary to wipe excess caulk from my wooden icecream stick-trowel.

This shaping and smoothing takes up the vast majority of the time spent on the project as a whole. You don’t want the banks to look unnatural and you also don’t want ‘holes’ or ‘pockets’ being exposed in the caulk bank as you shape it. I went back and corrected areas many times. I’ll give you a warning now…this part of making rivers is not easily completed! Don’t start, thinking that you’ll have it done in an hour! More about this later.

Here I’ve finished shaping and smooting: . Nikolas Lloyd then brushed caulk along the length of each section in order to create ripples and other detail effects on the river’s surface. I opted not to do this with caulk but will do it later with PVA glue, where I can use a brush that won’t end up clogged with caulk. I also don’t want the same amount of water surface detail that he does.

I added extra details to selected sections, just as Mr Lloyd did. Here I’ve added modelling grasses and talus to a section: . The grasses were cut in half to get a better size (in the packet they are about 4 inches long) and then securely and firmly stuck them into the wet caulk. I would then check their free-standing position and adjust any clumps that were not more or less vertical. This sometimes required pulling them back upwards a millimetre or two. I’ve also stuck some talus here, to represent where stones and pebbles are visible after erosion.

I needed some river crossing areas. I chose to make fords. Here’s one: . I’ve tried to represent where the river widens a little and is a little shallower, hence the muddy wheel tracks and wheel ruts showing where everyone else has succesfully forded the river. I’m happy with this and especially the effects I got in shaping the caulk, but paint will really help in conveying water depth and so on and complete the picture in my (and hopefully anyone else’s) mind’s eye.

At the end of the session, all river sections were completed: as was a swampy section of river, a seperate free-standing swamp or bog and a lake!

I commenced at 3pm and finished at 7.30pm. I had a couple of five minute breaks, sure, but ultimately all this took four and a half hours. Most of that was spent shaping the caulk. Doing things like the talus and the grasses took very little time overall – probably 90% or more was spent in all the shaping, smoothing and adjusting of the caulk. A warning then to all of you – make sure you have a whole afternoon or a good few hours if you want to do this yourself! Also remember this – Mr Lloyd added all that extra caulk and shaped it to create water ripples and riffles – if I had also done that, maybe I would have needed another 2-3 hours?

Anyway, this caulk needs a full seven days to be fully cured – so it can sit on the spare table and enjoy this weeks’ Autumn warmth.

Panthers tomorrow.

My apologies to Eily Beadell and Nell Tollerton!

I started by making a stream/small river, about 45m wide in scale (including banks). A bigger river will be a later project, maybe next summer.

For today, I first took stock of what sheet styrene I had left, which was just going to be enough: . You can see the trusty Olfa cutter there – one of the greatest wargaming terrain/wargaming scenery-making tools you can own.

Next, I had to make two sets of measurements. First, I had to make sure that the lengths I was cutting would fit comfortably in their intended receptacle and then second I had to make sure the river was the right width. These were done by 1) measuring cut lengths against the box that will hold them and 2) using a based infantry team for width. An infantry team is on a 40mm base, which is 40m on the wargaming table. If they cross at a ford, where they can Walk (not Wade), they should be able to get over in one turn. Both of those measurements are being made here: . Ah yes, the A3 Reflex copy paper box. I’d be very inconvenienced without them! They hold my hills, my trees, my buildings, my roads and very soon, my rivers.

Where possible, I used offcuts and previously-cut pieces as templates or “cookie-cutters” to speed up cutting: In that photo, I’m about to use an off-cut from the perfect straight edge to do the cutting for the other bank of the river piece, which is then snapped off as a complete piece. Then that completed whole piece can be laid on the sheet styrene, cut around and snapped off as a second seperate but complete piece! Etc., etc.

As well as straight pieces of different lengths, I made a narrow man-made ford section, a natural ford section, a Y-intersection, curving sections and ‘wobbly’ sections as well as a section that opens into a small swamp or bog before becoming a stream/river again: . Those two at the bottom – the left is meant to be a separate swamp or bog, the right will become a large pond or small/medium lake.

Last, check once again they fit in your receptacle: .

That’s it for today. Tomorrow I’ll get another tube of caulk.

Following on from the previous post, once you’ve cut up your sheet styrene or whatever you will use for a base to put the caulk on, then prepare your work area and get everything ready.

step-1 Step 1:  I’ve prepared my work space. I’ve got the caulk and caulk gun ready, plus a lid to screw onto the caulk gun in between applications to stop the caulk drying in the tube.  I’ve also got ready a wooden ice cream stick to smear and smooth the caulk, plus a bamboo skewer as another tool, to make impressions in the caulk of things like tyre tracks (I tried yesterday using wheels left over from model kits, but the caulk adhered to them, resulting in the opposite of the desired effect!). My tools are resting on a plastic tub (needed for scraping unwanted caulk into).

step-2 Step 2: apply the caulk to the section of road. For Leningrad roads during “Operation Barbarossa”, you want a convex shape.

step-3 Step 3a: using the wooden ice cream stick (or whatever you use to spread and smear the caulk with), spread the caulk widthways.

step-4 Step 3b: make sure you spread it equally onto both sides.

step-5 Step 4: now smear and spread lengthways. This is where you’ll want to spend a good amount of time, making sure application is fairly even and still maintaining a convex shape. Your technique in spreading and smearing will improve with practice, too. Remember, everything is travelling lengthways along roads, so you can even begin to add detail like pot-holes, wash-outs and tyre tracks now if you wish.

step-6 Step 5: really work on any details you want to have. If you click on the thumbnail and open up the photo here, you’ll see a pair of tyre tracks that have swerved from one lane to another and have left deep ruts in the road. When it comes to the painting and flocking stage, I’ll be using inks in washes to really help bring that bit of detailing out.

end-of-steps Step 6: when you’ve finished, make sure you have a warm room so the caulk can begin curing/hardening/drying as soon as possible. The summer sun in this photo was keeping this room at a nice warm temperature (once I closed up the windows – watch out for fumes!) at the conclusion of today’s efforts.

You’ll note in Step 6 that you can see crossroads and T-intersections. I’ve put tyre tracks going through and also turning on these! Have variety in your pieces, though…you won’t want all your pieces to look like a whole Army or Division just went over them. Only three pieces ended up with pot-holes. I didn’t do any wash-outs…

Now to leave these for a week to fully harden.

So begins one of my summer terrain projects – making up lots of Russian roads for the Eastern Front.

This is following the techniques publicised by Mr Nikolas Lloyd, for whom I have great respect.

First of all, gather what’s needed: starting-tools

Sheet styrene; an Olfa cutting blade; measuring tape (not shown); caulk and caulk gun; some sprues of extra truck wheels, to inprint “realistic” tyre tracks in the surface.

Second, begin cutting the lengths and then the widths with the cutting blade: getting-road-widths-right-using-a-jagdpanther

I’ve used a Jagdpanther to get the widths correct. The roads around Leningrad during Operation Barbarossa seemed to be about 1.5 Tiger tanks wide, so making these roads about 1.5 Jagdpanthers wide should be fine.

Third, make sure what you want will fit in the carrying boxes – this is something you can easily forget about as it’s easy to get carried away while cutting/carving/shaping… can-it-fit

I’ve ensured the maximum length still has at least 1cm clearance for the smallest size box I use for carrying/storing terrain (pictured on left, with those unfinished Tigers living in them). I’ve also done three different length…while fixing up and shaping the sides later, I made a fourth length. Not everything will fit on the table.

I also made two different crossroads, two different t-intersections and two different curves/bends.

Now I need lots of caulk, so it’s time to put this aside for a day or two.

Of ponds and Panzers

October 12, 2008

The caulk-and-styrene pond is half-complete. It was undercoated with that household acrylic (“Kayak”) that you’ve heard about so many times, and then flocked with both coarse flock (to represent weeds) from Heki and fine Green Blend flock (for grass) from Woodland Scenics. You can see the result here:

Now I’ve started painting in the water depths, following Nikolas Lloyd’s advice and recalling my successes and failures when I have followed his advice with previous pieces of water terrain. Using Citadel’s Dark Angels Green, Goblin Green, Snot Green and some water, so far the result is satisfactory. I’ll wait until it properly dries before I pass final judgement.

The sides and bottoms of the Tiger hulls have nearly had all basic painting completed. Then on will go the mudguards and I can work on the upper hulls and turrets and hopefully can have a platoon of Tigers ready for gaming in November. There are some renovations at the Mitcham venue of NWA that is somewhat affecting gaming there, so I’ve set myself a reasonable rather than ambitious deadline.

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The current world financial situation has caused our Aussie Dollar to fall way, way back against the British Pound and the US Dollar in the last three weeks. Good thing that I ordered and received a few boxes of two certain model kits that is sure to flesh out this German force I’m building up…more in another post, soon.

Camouflage and styrene

August 17, 2008

Here’s the completed schwimmwagen:

I gave it a whimsical camouflage scheme, almost child-like, of bushes. The bushes have brown trunks and branches, with green ‘blobby’ masses of leaves. This schwimmwagen is an officer’s vehicle, so I decided that no-one was going to complain about how they would camouflage their own transport! It uses the standard dark green and red-brown. Kommando Khaki was drybrushed onto the upper surfaces to represent dust…but the tyres and lower half (which were submerged during schwimming) are clean and fresh, representing that this vehicle has just recently forded some sort of water course.

I’m getting lots of practice in painting my own GrossDeutschland ‘stalhelms’, as you can see. It’s not easy – if I get it fairly right then I leave it, as trying to go back and improve or correct what I’ve done usually results in me botching what I had and having to start from scratch. I could readily buy decals for the ‘stalhelms’ – but don’t want to. Practice makes perfect, no?

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The styrene sheet that I cut up and shaped for the thickets is readily available. I bought mine directly from a factory because I needed bulk (in a few weeks’ time I’m going to embark on making up my own roads, rivers and creeks), however I started off using pre-packaged sheet styrene from Evergreen Scale Models.

I’ve bought and still see their sheet styrene and other modelling products in hobby shops, model railroad shops, model kit shops and the like. Their clear/transparent sheet styrene is great for quickly making streams and ponds!

The Devil is in the detail; time consumption is in painting detail. My wisdom for you all – you’re welcome to it. It explains why those Opel Maultiers are crawling along; the tarpaulins were given a fantastic-looking finish yesterday and today the bogies and suspension were being carefully painted. Once that’s done, I can do the chassis and undercarriage and all that mostly unseen stuff, with my home-made blend of Vehicle Undercarriage, which is really just some Brown ink, Boltgun Metal and Chaos Black all mixed together.

Yesterday, those Revell Tiger 1 E’s and an Italeri StuG III G were undercoated with Chaos Black spraypaint (not as thickly, this time – I’m trying an experiment. Next time I’ll use even less). Tankoberg was all set to start production again and I was going to begin glueing all of them together. I decided not to, though. I want those Opel Maultiers off my table, and that Schwimmwagen too. So, the StuG began production. What a lovely kit it is to work with. It’s been reviewed fairly favourably, although there has been some comment that too much is already moulded on. While I agree that a lot has been moulded on, at least it’s been done extremely well! I’m looking forward to the finished product. The tracks and wheels are causing a little consternation – I’m not sure about the return rollers and their position in relation to everything else. I guess I’ll see when I commence track assembly.

The little Schwimmwagen is getting close to having all it’s basics and details done, so that I can finish it by applying the three-colour camouflage pattern. Again, it’s time-consuming detail that I was working on. I also consulted my books for information about the grills to the rear of the unit, and how the canvas folding roof worked. The driver is long finished. He’ll go in, then the steering wheel; touch up the paint for the steering wheel, then camouflage, then done.

The SdKfz 11 had the first stage of an extensive dust coating applied.

Being in a productive mood this weekend, I also decided to begin making some more terrain / scenery. I prefer the term terrain rather than scenery…for me, scenery is what you make for a model railway – something static. Terrain is what you make for wargaming – it’s practical and gets used. I carved up some sheet styrene into a small thicket, a big thicket with room for a fallen tree trunk, a duckpond/village pond and lastly a larger pond/small lake. I used an Olfa cutter for this. Since I make my terrain to be modular, the thickets are two layered – if a unit moves onto the terrain, I take the first layer off, so they don’t damage the lichen or whatever I have stuck there. I’ve got bags and bags of lichen, so it’s time to get some more of it onto the wargaming table. I undercoated the smaller thicket with some basic house acrylic in brown and then gave up for the weekend.

Yesterday those two Fujimi houses had individual bricks picked out using pure Terracotta. The result was great – giving a reasonable imitation of brick houses at Oradour-sur-Glane.