Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Harker - planning and preparation

Here starts 1st platoon, a group of hardened veterans who get the job done. It seems fitting that I start a project with something special, and so I'm going to start this one with Veteran Sgt Harker. I picked up the GW model as part of my first months rewards for quitting smoking, but to be honest, I don't like him that much. I don't want to use a different model as I don't think the current cadians or catachens really work as Harker but I do want to do some work on the existing model to make him a bit different.

The problem is that he's a bit too beef cake and not enough professional soldier. First off, I just don't see a bare chested guy fitting into a city fight army, a beach volleyball team yes, an urban combat army no. So, I'm going to cover him up a bit and give him a t-shirt. Next up is the fact that he can infiltrate and has stealth and yet there's nothing on the model to convey these attributes, so I'll be giving him a camo cloak. Finally is his mohican haircut, it just doesn't fit the feel of a veteran sgt, and so I'm going to give him a beret as that has more of a special forces feel than just a bald head. Before I can do any of that, I needed to do a bit of work on him, mainly removing the pouch and strap that run over his chest and down his back. After 5 minutes with a pair of clippers and my dremel, I was left with ....

It's a bit rough but that's not a problem as it's going to be covered by the green stuff t-shirt, which is my next job. So now it's time to give my new sculpting tools and a clay shapers a go, more on Harker coming soon guys.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Review - Masters brush soap

I've seen this Masters brush soap mentioned in a few places around the web, and so when I was picking up some sculpting supplies and I needed to make up a minimum order, I decided to add it to the basket. A small tub only costs around £2.50 and after using it, I figure it's going to last me at least a year or two, so there's no worries about the cost factor.

I'd never used it before and so I decided to hit up the guys on Google Buzz and see if any of them knew how you used the soap (Buzz is great for getting quick tips and feedback, if you haven't already tried it, you really should). Green Stuff Sculpting came back with a couple of links to these Youtube tutorials ....
Once I was up to speed on how you used it, it was time to give it a challenge and I had just the right brush to really test this stuff. Bring on my base coat and washes brush, I've been using it for over a year, loading it up with chaos black and devlan mud. To say it was matted and stained would be an understatement! It had solid paint for about 3mm past the edge of the ferrule and everytime I wanted to use it, I'd have to soak it in water  to break the stiffened bristles. If you look at the pic, the one on the top is my basecoat brush, the one under it is the same type of brush that hasn't been used yet.

I got stuck right in, building up a lather and then rinsing time and time again. In total I did it six times, although I could have continued because paint was still coming out at that point. After the six washes, I was left with ....

OK, it's not back to brand new but it's a hell of a lot better than it was before. I've got to say that if Masters brush soap can do this with my basecoat brush which was just abused for a year, then it's going to have no problem looking after my regular brushes.

I'd highly recommend this stuff to anyone who puts paint on their models, and not just serious painters. Anything that can extend the life of our brushes has got to good, especially considering how expensive they are. I just wish I'd got some years ago, it'd have saved me a fortune!

Friday, 26 March 2010

A Guide to Going Green

As part of my ongoing adventures in learning how to sculpt with green stuff, I've been trawling the interweb looking for tutorials. I've gathered quite a few together and so I thought I'd share the links with my fellow bloggers. 

First off, we've got Dverning's excellent set of tutorials .....
More articles from around the interweb ....
Really good forum threads ......
I'm going to link to this post in the sidebar and update it as I find new tutorials. If you have any links you think I'd like, then just add them in the comments guys.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Scenery tutorial - Making heavy foliage

I thought I'd share with you a tutorial that I've posted recently over on From The Warp on making heavy foliage terrain pieces.I want to make it clear that this tutorial isn't a masterclasses, more simple guide to making effective scenery both in looks and playability for the least amount of time, effort and money. If you're looking for masterclasses, then the net has plenty to offer.


Much like collecting an army, building scenery requires you to build up a set of tools and materials. Quite a lot of these things, you'll find that you already have as scenery building often requires some of the same tools and materials as building an army, some you'll find around the house like tools and scratch building materials, and some you're just going to have to buy.

Much like building an army, over time you'll build up a collection of tools and materials, so don't worry if you don't have something right now, if you're serious about building scenery, you'll get these things over time. For this project, there a few things that are essential.
  • Cake bases for the area terrain pieces.
  • Small bases for the foliage pieces
  • Modelling gravel for the bases 
  • Finally, your actual foliage. (We'll be looking at the different types of foliage you can use later in the tutorial)


First off, we're going to make up some area terrain bases. I have a ton of these as they make defining area terrain really easy. My main material I use for making these are cake bases. Yep, that's right, those silver things you see wedding cakes on. Cake bases come in many different shapes and sizes, virtually all supermarkets stock them and they're really easy to work with. They're basically a rough fibre board, so it's important you wear a mask when working with them.

First, peel off the silver foil, don't worry about the odd bit of white paper left on, but it's important to get all the silver off. If you get a stubborn bit, just use a bit of sand paper to sand it off. Once that's done, mark out your basic shape with marker pen. For this project, I'm doing two corner pieces as I have quite a few round and oval shapes already.

Next, cut your pieces out, and remember to wear that mask as this stuff produces lots of little fibres that you don't want in your lungs. I use a coping saw to cut mine but you can use a hobby saw or even a steak knife. You'll see that cake bases are really easy to work with.

Then you need to bevel the edges so they look right on the tabletop and don't end up looking like step. I actually use a steak knife to make the initial cuts and then sandpaper to smooth it down. Once you're done, it should look like the one on the right.

Next, cover the whole top of the piece with pva glue and then modelling gravel. Leave it to dry for a couple of hours and once it is, shake off the excess.

Once you're sure there's no excess gravel, coat the piece in watered down pva. I use a mix of 1 pva to 4 water, which looks a bit like milk once it's mixed. I find sitting the pieces on top of some paint pots on a piece of cardboard works well for stopping to pieces getting glued to your working surface as well as soaking up any excess watered down pva.

Leave it overnight to dry completely and once it is, paint it up. I normally paint my pieces with chaos black (best to use a spray can), then an overbrush of scorched brown, then a drybrush of graveyard earth and then a final drybrush of bleached bone.

Once you've got it painted up, flock it as you would your models making sure that you use a flock that'll match your gaming table.

That's the bases done, and as you can see, it's really easy to tell where the borders of the area terrain are.

Next up, we've actually got to do the terrain pieces to put on our area bases. I tend to make lots of little round terrain pieces that I can move about as I need to rather than one big one. I find it gives me flexibility on the tabletop and makes it easier to store them after the game. In the rest of this tutorial, I'm going to show you how I make jungle, woodland and alien pieces.


There's nothing more evocative than the image of soldiers moving through thick jungle, much like the photo at the start of this tutorial. You don't really see much jungle terrain on the tabletop which is a shame as it's really easy to put together.

First off, start with some 60mm flat bases, or any sort of base really, I've used large flying bases and even cut my own out of plasticard in the past. Avoid cardboard at all costs as it's prone to warping. In this example, I've added some milliput so that my bases don't look flat but this isn't essential.

Next gravel and seal them in exactly the same way as the area terrain pieces and leave them to dry overnight.

Once they're completely dry, paint them up in the same way as well.

Then, brush glue around the edges of the bases and then cover them in static grass. Make sure you put something underneath them to catch the overspill so you can put it back into the tub once they're dry.

When they've completely dried, you'll be left with something like these.

Next up, you're going to need some jungle plants. You can buy these from GW but I highly suggest you head down to your local pet shop. Pet shops stock all sorts of handy stuff for hobbyists, from various types of gravel to plastic plants, which is what we need for this project. These are a few packets of plastic plants I picked up from my local pet shop, I got quite a lot for a lot less than the GW plants.

Get your plastic plants and then cut them up into individual plants.

Then, simply glue the individual plastic plants onto your bases and leave them to dry. Once dry, you'll have something like this.

Once you've got your area terrain pieces and foliage bases together, throw them down on the table, add some models and you're ready to go.


By far the most common foliage feature on the tabletop is the wood, whether it's the GW plastic woods or ones made from various hobby trees, or even scratch built ones. I'll be covering how to build your own trees in the future, for this tutorial we'll look at how to base hobby trees as GW plastic ones already come with their own bases.

First off, simply glue the tree to a round base, in this case a 60mm sentinel base, using some pva glue.

Then simply cover the base in gravel and paint it up in the same way as we did the jungle bases.

Next, you're going to need some scenic material such as static grass and clump foliage. Clump foliage comes in various colours and I find a mix of colours works best.

Glue the static grass around the edges of the bases like we did with the jungle pieces. Once it's dry, add some clump foliage at the base of the trees using pva.

Once it's dry, you'll have some very simple but very effective tree bases to use to make woodland area terrain for your games. Once on the table, they'll give you a great looking woodland scene.


It's quite common to see woodlands on tabletops and even jungles but the one rarity is alien terrain which is quite strange considering 40k is a science fiction game. Making alien terrain pieces isn't that hard, you just need to find the right materials.

As a starting point, I highly recommend pot pourri, yep, that smelly stuff the women folk like to scatter around the house, it's perfect for alien terrain.

First, pick out some interesting pieces that you think would work well together. It's best to get more than you need, so you've plenty to experiment with when putting together the terrain bases.

Once you've got a good selection, dip them in your watered down pva and then leave them to dry. This will give them a protective coating, stop them smelling and help with any painting you want to do.

Once they're dry, gravel some bases as described with the jungle pieces and then glue them on.

Once they're completely dry, paint up the bases and add some static grass. You'll also find that since they were dipped in pva, you can quite easily paint the pot pourri if you like.

As you can see, even on the typical green grass tabletop, they do have a real alien feel to them.

And there you have it, a simple guide to creating heavy foliage terrain for your tabletop. I hope you've found this tutorial useful and I hope it inspires you to create some of your own.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Going green

I'm a great believer in pushing yourself, whether it's in your studies, your work or even the hobby. I mean, what's the point in spending a fortune on models, ages painting them and then not trying to improve them? So, over the past few months I've been dipping my toes into sculpting with green stuff.

Now, I'm no Col. Gravis or Dverning and I don't think I'm going to be sculpting figures anytime soon but I do think with a bit of work, I'm going to be able to do stuff that'll make my models more individual. This is what I've done so far and where I am with my sculpting skills .....

My very first bit of sculpting was my snipers cloaks, at the time I was really proud of them but looking back now, they were pretty basic and I can see loads on them that I could improve.

Next up was Marbo's cloak which was slightly better than the snipers as the folds were sharper but I'm still disappointed with the folds of the cloak as they go over his shoulder and the hood. At least I learned to get the folds sharper this time.

Next comes Doc Butcher, my first non cloak sculpt, although it was a bit chunk, I'm still pretty chuffed with how he came out, especially the arm cuffs. The one thing that lets him down are the sleeves as they're too flat, in hindsight, I really wished that I'd put some ridges on them to help the drybrushing, another lesson learned.

Finally, we have Doc Butchers victi .... patient. Now this one I'm really please with, ironically, not for the wound or surgical sheet but for the drip bag. It was the first really small detailed item I did and it was the first that I did in stages, letting the first part cure completely before moving on to the next.

And that's where I am now, all of these were done with a clay shaper and I haven't used metal tools yet. So at Dvernings suggestion, I picked up a set of twelve from ebay last night along with some different clay shapers. Add this to the fact that a friend is setting up a sculpting supplies business and I'm helping him with some marketing, so I'm hoping I'll have access to some cheap green stuff.

2010 could be the year of sculpting, so expect more sculpting related posts coming soon. Here's to pushing yourself and going green!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

A commentary on commenting

I've recently started listening to the Gamers Lounge podcast, which I've got to say is really good and I'm enjoying it greatly. If you haven't heard of it, I'd really suggest checking them out. In the first episode HuronBH gave my blog a shout out and said one of the reasons he likes my blog is the fact that I reply to comments, and it got me thinking about commenting in general.

I've really got into blogging, and I especially like the community that we've got going here on the blogosphere. Like many of you, I'm a refugee from the various forums and so when I found the blogging community, it was a really refreshing change to find somewhere where everyone was so friendly and supportive. The only downside to blogging is that there's a lot less interaction between people than on forums. I often see lots of blogs that go without comment, and it's a shame as I think not getting comments is one of the biggest reasons people stop blogging.

I consider myself lucky, people seem to like what I do and I'm blessed with a lot of regular commenter's but I do follow a hell of a lot of other blogs and being a big believer in Karma, I like to do my best to comment on other blogs as well. Each night if possible, I checkout FTW and my google reader and open up all the blogs that have posted something that day that I'm interested in reading. I have a quick scan and if it looks interesting, I leave it open and if not, I close it.

Once I've got all the ones I'm interested in, I slowly start going through them and at the end, I ALWAYS comment, even if it's only a 'they're really nice mate', just to let the poster know that someone's read it and liked it. At the end of the day, if you can take the time to read it, you can take 30 seconds to say thanks for posting. I'm not saying that people comment on my blog because I comment on theirs, but I do think it has something to do with it. So, next time you read a blog, consider clicking that 'post comment' link before moving on to the next blog, it only takes a mo!

Also, if someone takes the time to comment one of my post, then I take the time to reply. Personally, I think it's just good manners. Normally I'll leave a post for a day to give people a chance to comment and then I'll reply to everyone in one go. It does take a little time, but normally it's only 5 minutes and if I can spend an hour typing a blog, I can spend 5 minutes replying to all those who've taken the time to comment. Occasionally, if people post after that day, they slip through the net but it the main, I'll reply to everyone who posts.

So, that's how I handle comments and commenting, how do you handle it?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Stretcher bearers finished

I've been pretty busy lately with various projects but I managed to finish up the stretcher bearers for 462 Field Ambulance. Soz the pics arn't brilliant, the light here has just be horrendous and these were the best I could do after an hour of trying to take some decent ones. I'm really going to have to invest in a lightbox, if anyone has any good recommendations on where I can buy one in the UK, please let me know.

Anyway, back to the pics ........

All that's left to do is to make up and paint the treatment tent, which I'll be starting this weekend, so expect pics soon. Once that's done, it'll be another project finished and time to move on to 1st (Vet) platoon, which means having a play with Harker and some green stuff. I think I'm going to have to get my hands on some plastic catachens as the metal ones I've got arn't going to be up to conversion job I want to do.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

New Podcast - Gamers Lounge

I've just finished listening to the second episode of a new podcast going by the name of Gamers Lounge. I've got to say, it's a cracking podcast and well worth checking out. What I didn't realise is that it's actually two FTW bloggers doing the show.

So, here's a big shout out to HuronBH from Blood and Blades, and Nix from The Dead Tau Project. Cracking show guys, keep up the good work.

Check it out guys at Gamers Lounge, it's well worth it, just forgive them for the jazz :-)