Monday, October 31, 2011

Base Re-design.

Hey All!

Having started terrain boards for Russia - specifically the battles toward Stalingrad, I came across a website with many great modern pictures of the areas I am planning to model. The site is here:

Its a great collection of pictures that show the terrain and building of many areas I am trying to replicate. One drawback of this was that I realized that the current basing of my Grenadiers is off. I was never really happy with them anyway and thus began what most people would consider a serious waste of time! I removed all the basing on 30 plus stands and started again...Luckily, I used PVA in the original basing so a simple soak in plain water softened the material up enough to remove with little effort. I was worried that the minis themselves would begin to lose their paintjobs so kept the bath time short!

Pictured below is somewhat what I am trying to represent. It is a picture of a gully near modern Spartanovka  from Tony Gillhams site...

Ignore the gully bottom grass and look to the right. This is what I am looking to represent. What I came up with to replace the original is, in my opinion, better representitive of the silty, grassy steppes characteristic of the areas around Spartanovka and Stalingrad. Its a mix of blond-colored static grass and Silflor 'Buffalo Grass' which is a very expensive product but looks great!

I applied the blond static grass using my home-made Ion generator (cost about 5 buck) instead of the Noch $200 dollar job. It works pretty good but Im sure the extra 195.00 would be worth the difference -ya right!

I used the late summer version of Buffalo Grass but felt it was too dark so I finished up by drybrushing the ends to get the proper lighter two-tone effect I wanted.

As well, pictured above are the finished tree bases. The originals were a quick fix and were pretty boring looking so I spruced (lol) them up with sloped sides and a mossy, rocky ground cover.

Three down, 27 to go!



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Building Based.

Hey All!

Finished the first piece of modular terrain for my Ost front boards last night; its a Russian farmhouse and garden.

The piece is based on a 6" x 8" 4mm hardboard covered with tile grout/pva for soil and various flocking materials for vegetation. I used a chunk of indoor/outdoor carpet for the base of the garden and cut-up bamboo skewers for the fence pieces (still have to wash and drybrush). The bamboo is surprisingly strong even when split. The building is made from cut-up coffee stir sticks and is based on pictures of Russian WWII-era farmhouses (although a thatch roof would be more correct).

I spaced the terrain features to allow a medium base to fit on any side of the building to ease miniature placement. A simple idea could be to allow any miniature placed on the terrain base to benefit from that terrain type thus no need to balance the minis on top.

I will be working on some roads and other buildings next.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ost Front boards and BF Quality.

Hey All!

I have been busy reworking the boards and am feeling a little better after the effort. The original idea was too uneven and I decided to add a layer of river sand over the original surface. I still feel that a larger grain sand would have been better as the texture isn't as prominent as I wanted but I want to move on to the modular pieces so decided to leave good enough alone (so unlike me...).

I painted the new PVA/sand layer once dry and washed with dark brown ink. I then drybrushed the original color. On came a sparse flock layer to represent Eastern front muddy, dusty Russian steppes. Eventually I will be building a gully board, and maybe a stream. Roads, wheatfields, villages, and forests will be modular overlays.  Really very easy, the only time consuming part is the waiting for each step to dry!

The color difference in these pictures is with/without the flash.

I think the main issue with creating a playing surface is that it still has to be just that, playable. I really like the look of those non-modular boards (think Shawn's Terrain) that represent a specific chunk of the real world but can you game on them? I imagine trying to place infantry in and on the terrain would be trouble. As well, you are limited to gaming the same terrain over and over again (unless you have lots of time to make LOTS of terrain).  

Placing miniatures can be a challenge. Some terrain features can be easily overcome (removable trees and the like) but rubble and buildings are not so easy.  Ultimately, I would like to do some Red Barricade/Stalingrad boards but still have to decide how to make them playable. Perhaps a removable building footprint that can be occupied with infantry?

A comment from 'TT' on the blog entry WFT! got me to thinking about the recent Battlefront figures/models. I did get a letter back from BF regarding their poor EW stuff but it did not address the issue of quality. Instead only promise's to impress me with new Evan Allen sculpts. True, there have been some great looking new sculpts most notably GE742 Schützen Platoon (Afrika) and Matt Bickley's GE832 Gebirgsjager Platoon (in a word - WoW!) but we are still left with VERY poor EW sculpts. Anton Ducrot  (who designed the disastrous EW figures) new casualties figures are a contradiction; face detail is good, scale, pose and everything else are not! It is such a shame to EW gamers/collectors that our period suffers the honing for his skills. Battlefront should re-do the EW sculpts. Period.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Three Muddy Boards

Hey All!

Work continues on the terrain boards...

I decided to make the boards 18x36" instead of 24x48" as this allowed me to both transport the boards easier and clean up the edges of the 4x8' sheet once cut - it was getting beat up in the garage! Also the smaller size didn't require any center support. I added 2" strips of 3/4" plywood to the edges and joined everything with 3/4" brads and carpenders glue. The boards are super sturdy and have zero warp. I think the 24x48 boards would have been better for the larger games but I can see making a river board, a major hill board and the like so there will eventually be a bunch more boards to make big maps.

I then covered the surface with my mixture of tile grout, sand, PVA, brown house paint and a bit of water. I found this was very durable when dry. I used a roller to apply a thin coat of the mixture to the entire board. Once dry (1 day) I added a dark brown wash made with ink and water. Once this dried (again 1 day) I drybrushed all the boards with the original brown paint. I created a few dusty areas by working in extra paint (see top photo).

The texture is pretty rough but as most of this will be under the flocking, I am not too worried. One issue with terrain I struggle with is that the better looking your terrain is, the harder it is to play on. As well, when adding modular terrain on top, you want the base surface to be flat - VERY flat. For that reason, I will probably NOT add grass tufts or rock piles to these boards but instead will add these features to the modular pieces.