Challenge accepted!

Back in June Dave over at Wargames Terrain Workshop threw down the challenge gauntlet for terrain building in July and August. I had already started a larger (for me) terrain piece and thought this would be the perfect kick to get it done. I find challenges extremely useful to shame me into actually concentrating on a single project. I have a dozen or more in progress at any one time, because i need to feel a project to have motivation to work on it.

I have WFB, 28mm and 15mm WW2, 40K, SAGA, 15mm Ancients and Wild West minis and terrain pieces stashed around my work bench. All in various stages of progress from de-flashing to mid-paint. Then the Boxes of Shame conceal even more minis still on sprues or in blisters. A couple plastic totes hide terrain pieces i lost interest in, for now. A challenge is public shaming (in a good way) for unfinished projects. It adds a little motivation to finishing a particular thing.

Dave’s challenge came at a perfect time. I had started a windmill built or card, basswood, foam blocks and various other materials. I had a clear idea of what i wanted it to look like. I had a decent start to the base. But I was kinda stuck in a rut. Challenge accepted Dave, challenge accepted.

Just to consolidate a bit, I will re-post a couple pics of the whole project. The core of the base came from a set of nesting round cardboard boxes. Covered in foam blocks I cut on my then-new Proxxon, it looked like this:

I built the next portion from some wood craft sticks. I am not even sure what wood they are. Its not balsa, for sure. It doesn’t seem to be basswood either. Bit, it takes textures nicely and cuts easily. I found this at our local grocery/department store in the craft aisle and really like the wood. Unlike the round end craft sticks, these are squared off. No wasted material! Its the Simply Art line from Loew-Cornell. Give them a try, they might be something uyou can use in your terrain builds. I did get panicky. The store i bought them in didn’t have them for a while (thanks C19) and then moved them. I finally located the new spot and restocked for my current build.

Then on to paint before building the upper portion.

The upper portion, holding the axle for the sails, ended up being the most difficult portion. Version #1 was started on a pair of cardboard disks to which i glued more craft sticks.  It was a complete disaster. As hard as I tried, it wasn’t even or level. It was so ugly i didn’t both to take a picture. I was only half finished when I tore it apart to recycle the precious craft sticks.

Version #2 came out much better. I used the smallest of the nesting boxes as a core. It had straight and level sides. It was sturdy. All i had to do was construct a fiddly conical roof for it. And then attach it securely to the rest of the mill to support the weight of the sails.

following Mel the Terrain Tutor’s video on making shingles, the roof went together. Its suitably rough and weathered even without paint. But… Something was off. Dave commented on it, and there was something in his tone that told me my gut feeling was right. Version #2 wasn’t it.

So Version #3 came to be. I used the top of the smallest box as a core, to again give it strength and solid lines. I built a brace to hold the axle and for a brief moment of madness thought about adding a mechanism to turn the sails. I’ve detailed my mishap with the sails here, so i won’t go into it again. Suffice it to say, those also had multiple versions. I crafted more shingles, and got to roofing the top.



And it was done.


I took it outside for some bright sun pics. And, well, I like it. The sails need weathering. The roof doesn’t match really, but maybe it just got new shingles and they haven’t weathered yet. All in all, I am pleased. Its the biggest terrain piece i have even attempted and it was built from materials I hadn’t used much before. It is magnetized, so all three major parts separate. I had a magnet from a hard drive that is strong enough to support the sails.

Oh, and much to my surprise. The sails turned in the wind. To say I was giddy is an understatement. I haven’t ponied up for WordPress yet, so I had to upload the video to YouTube. Here it is if you care to check it out. Windmill 

I was also able to build and paint a Wild West building to use with Dead Man’s Hand, It was going to be an lawyer’s office and apartment named for a good friend of mine. But, i a moment of haste I painted it in the colors of his rival college… It would not do to have a solid Michigan man working out of an office painted in the colors of that other school. so in homage to my daughter’s love of literature I grabbed a name from her favorite series and made it the offices for some freighters in town.

The roof is standing seam metal from Evergreen Plastics. It looks fantastic. The lettering on the sign was down with dry rub transfers. It came out ok. Not great, but kinda has a old feel to it. Like it was more hand painted. I had smaller letters to add more to it, but the were so old they disintegrated when i tried to use them. New in the package, decades old on the shelf.

Thanks Dave, for the push! Two projects completed. Go to his blog and look at all the really cool pieces created by the the other participants. The Summer of Scenery was a big success!


Thanks for stopping by, and I would love to hear what you think, so drop me a comment below.

BG out

Weekly Updates?

Since blog article topics don’t always come easily to me, I have decided to do some shorter articles in between the lengthier hobby musings. There is always something on my hobby desk, either models in progress from parts to finished, or sitting in the actual paint queue. I am lucky enough to have a second hobby area for terrain builds. Any number of half-painted or incomplete terrain build lurk over there. Both piles of unfinished things mock me, the mountains of projects laughing at my despair.

Some weeks the progress is measured in single wash coats over a set of models. Some weeks I am a hobby machine, churning out whole units of Saga or WFB or 40K miniatures. The past two weeks have been mixed. I did punch out 18 Empire spear men for WFB. I used one of the Games Workshop Contrast paints for the first time. I’ll talk a bit about that in a second. Last week I started and mostly finished a High elf dragon and lord. I also put the contrast paint on another 6 spear men. I feel like I got less done, though the dragon was a fair amount of work.

One coat of Blood Angels Red contrast. Finished dragon.

I still need to paint the reins, shield, sword and head for the lord. The dragon needs a matte varnish, but since its been raining for two days straight here, I am going to hold off spraying the model and potentially ruining all the work so far. The dragon was painted for Monster May(hem) (there ya go Roger!) over at Dead Dick’s Tavern. When an Angry Piper asks for volunteers, well, ya just gotta get to work!

The dragon was languishing in an unbuilt state at the bottom of a pile of boxes of minis. I have had the model for at least 4 years, but the task of painting a dragon seemed beyond my abilities for so long, it sat there. last month I finally attacked a metal wood Elf dragon since metal is so much easier to strip paint from, I figured I couldn’t screw it up too bad. It turned out better than i hoped even though i rushed it a bit.


Finished Wood Elf dragon.

I apologize again for my pictures. Adding a light box was not enough. I still need more light. And an actual camera. I can’t find one with a decent macro feature for under $300 (the max price as set by the CFO and my limit for such a limited-use object).

Games Workshop came out with a line paints to speed up army painting. Since I primarily paint with Vallejo paints, I paid very little attention.  Lately though, I have seen a few YouTube videos and noticed a few bloggers using the contrast paints. I had a pile of 6th edition WFB plastic spear men for my Empire army that needed paint. I had already decided to paint them in the blue and white of Middenheim to go along with my Middenland themed army. Since white was half the paint, i decided to use a white primer (i typically prime light or dark grey) and give a contrast blue a try. Luckily my FLGS had just opened back up for curbside service and still had the blue i needed in stock. With Talassar Blue in hand, i used the one piece of advice i wish i could attribute correctly. Use the paint carefully, don’t just splash it on.  The pigment load is extremely heavy, and if you let it pool it will create very dark splotches.

One coat did not give me the color i wanted. In fact, i wasn’t sure i liked it initially. It is much brighter than many of the colors i use. Probably because of the white under coat, but also because GW changed the color tones for the Empire some time ago. The duller, darker colors of 7th edition changed for 8th and beyond, becoming much brighter and more vivid. A second coat changed the tone a bit and was more where I wanted to be. I let it sit for a day or two to see if it was something i could live with. Since this unit is to be large (48 modles) and a named unit (The Wolf Guard), i felt that a bright color might work. As an elite unit, the regiment would be mindful of their appearance and use newer cloth and uniforms, maintaining a fresh, bright appearance.  I’ve finished 18 models so far.

18 finished Wolf Guard spears. Two coats of Talassar Blue contrast over white.

I’ll be honest, the two contrast paints i used blew me away. I haven’t inked or highlighted either the blue or red, and i like how they turned out. If you wanted stronger highlights (i don’t care for extreme highlights) those would be easy to add. I will definitely be using blue and green contrast paints on my Lizardmen. I’ll be looking for places i can use other colors in the future as well. The paints are pricey, I think i paid $7.80 a bottle. Being able to one coat a model is completely worth it.

I added another tool to the modeling arsenal in the last month or so.  After wanting one for more than a year, i finally broke down and bought a Proxxon Thermocut hot wire tool.  Jeremy over at Black Magic Craft has been using one as long as i have been watching his channel.  The ability to create blocks, and consistent sizes,  from XPS foam is incredibly useful. I’ve cut blocks and built some terrain, but XPS foam is hard on blades, and a dull blade tears the foam versus cutting. A hot wire zips right through it. Its magic. I’ve sat and just cut and cut, its kinda satisfying in a weird way. I love this tool!

In about an hour and a half i went from a 24″ x 48″ piece of XPS to a box full of stones or bricks or pieces. A box full of raw material to build with. I can use these to clad foam core buildings and structures, or i can build with the foam blocks. Endless possibilities. I definitely want some of the extra tools Gerard over at Shifting Lands has created. Ripping taller pieces, creating circles and consistent angles are just some of the things the templates and tools let you create out of XPS foam.

New tools and techniques will hopefully allow me to be more productive. Sitting here typing isn’t the productive that gets models done, so off I go!

Forgotten Heroes- Finished!

June ended up being a bit busier than I expected. And my hunt for a suitable model to represent a Jack Russel Terrier took a bit longer than I hoped. So, despite jumping the gun before June arrived, I just finished modeling and painting my two models on Thursday, the 28th.

From the beginning my plan was to model and paint Jake Cutter and his best pal Jack from the TV show Tales of the Gold Monkey. Jake the pilot was oft depicted in a Flying Tigers leather jacket. And wouldn’t you know, I found a model in a Flying Tigers jacket. Or a least a jacket with a modeled area on the back to paint the blood chit.

The before:


This model is wearing trousers and shoes. And his hat is bit spiffy and new. Plus, there is no dog in sight. Alas, I failed to take a picture of the pre-Jack the dog model. Here is the pic from Sally 4th’s site, where i ordered him form:


Funny thing… I ordered these from Sally 4th. I’m pretty sure Pulp Alley is in the U.S. Unnecessary international postage anyone?

Anyways, the little guy sitting down seemed like a suitable Jack.

Here is the after pics:



And the two pals together:



I shaved and sanded Jake’s trousers into boots. Then I shaped his cap by shaving and sanding it to flatten the cap some, and added the floppy sides of a well-used pilot’s cap. It doesn’t show well in my crummy photos, but it looks floppy up close.

Jack just need his ears sanded a bit pointier and his famous eye patch added.

Once the sculpting, the little i could manage, was done, they were painted in my usual way. Primed grey. Painted using Vallejo Model and Game colors. Army Painter Soft Tone wash was applied. A few highlights were brought back up after the wash on Jake. Jack looked fine to me.

And complete!  My first Forgotten Heroes Challenge. I appreciate the invitation from Jez and Roger. This was a fun way to stretch and add a couple minis I might never have built and painted. I think Jake and Jack might have escaped the Japanese advance in the Pacific in time to fly for the OSS in Europe. Now to find a 1:56 scale Grumman Goose…

BG out!