June 27, 2015

Sara Dohner-Harrison, July 15, 1959 - June 27, 2015

I lost my wife of eight years today - We were together for over twenty. She has been struggling with multiple health issues her whole life, but the last year has been extremely difficult. Still her passing was completely unexpected. Though I could never get her to paint 'little men' as she called them she was an amazing artist...

She did help me build terrain, would listen to endless prattle about the difference between dragoons and cuirassiers, and never asked why I ordered a pile of Napoleonic cavalry when all these Orks were scattered around the house. We moved several times over the years and she always made sure one room in our home was designated as the 'game room'. She was absurdly proud of my work Beneath the Lily Banners, Republic to Empire, and Donnybrook and never begrudged the hours I spent tucked away in my office working on these books or painting models.

She was truly my best friend and I have no idea how life goes forward. I am suspending posting for a time, but I will be back. I suspect this hobby will become an even bigger part of my life and Sara would want it that way...

June 26, 2015

Quindia Studios Guide to Modular Terrain Boards, Part Six

Before we get back to the roads, I'm going to take a few minutes to add some large stones to my landscape. Rather than use rocks, or carve boulders out of foam (either of which would work fine), I'm going to use pine bark. Take a few minutes to hop over to my Desert Terrain Boards posts (Part One and Part Two) to see what these things look like when they are painted. I'll wait for you...

The main areas I want these rocks is around the river, but I added a couple of small bits along the edge of the roads on each board to tie them together visually. In the future, I intend to add a modular board dominated by a large, rugged hill and part of the slope will be made into a cliff by using these bark chips, but for now, I only want to place them sparsely. I'm going to add more rubble soon, but for now this will do. I attached these using a hot glue gun, but other glues will work fine. I picked the hot glue gun because it dries instantly.

Ok, back to the roads. The purpose of this step is to blend the roads and riverbanks back into the landscape and get rid of the precision line where they meet the grass areas. Not only will this step give your roads a nice base for adding texture, it will also seal the edges of the grass mats and hide any gaps between the wood battens and foam at the exposed edges of the roads and rivers. I use a wallboard joint compound, but there are lots of ready mix filler compounds that work well. You want to find one that claims not to shrink when it dries.

The trick of applying this for our purposes is to place a... ummm... lump? Pile? Clunk? Anyway, put the stuff in the center of the road and use the putty knife to drag the filler across the roadway and up onto the grass mat. Work from the center out toward the grass, first one one side and then the other. If you feel like you pulled too much filler onto the grass, don't sweat it - you can cover this up in later stages with any of a variety of textures, including adding grass flocking back onto the board to narrow the road!

Then pull the knife gently along the direction of the road. If you like, you could drag a paint brush handle through the filler to simulate ruts in the roads. I want to be able to use my boards for different scales and the ruts would lend a definite sense of scale to the terrain so I opted not to do this.

Once the roads are done, you can break out a larger putty knife and work on the river banks. I use the same technique, basically putting down some filler along the bank and then blending it out toward the grass. There is no need to try and completely cover the foam since we're going to be adding yet more texture and paint. Just blend the filler as smooth as possible. You will always be able to hide any unsightly spots during the next step where we add rubble or you can sand out any rough spots if you prefer.. Avoid getting any of the filler on the river unless you want to model rapids!

Follow the directions on what ever filler you use as far as drying time is concerned, but remember that we've applied it thicker than it is designed to be used and it may take additional time to dry. The next step is adding additional texture. These things will really start to look cool after that!

June 25, 2015

Back to the Boromites

Well, not exactly, but I finally had the chance to set up some pics on terrain...

Boromite Overseer Team

Boromite Lavamites

Boromite Gang Fighters

Boromite Work Gang

Boromite Team with X-Launcher

June 24, 2015

Concord Strike Command Team

Here's the full command team for my Beyond the Gates of Antares Concord army...

More Concord troops next week...

June 23, 2015

Quindia Studios Guide to Modular Terrain Boards, Part Five

Sorry I missed last week... I'll post two articles this week!

The adventure continues. This post will show how I start down the road to add... errr... roads! Since these boards are designed to fit together which each other in as many combinations as possible, I can't just start drawing anywhere. Referring back to my trusty diagram (from article one), I locate the only flat board I have planned and check the pattern of the road. All of my roads will be two inches wide which will allow most of my collections to fit in march columns. The roads may vary on the board, but they must be consistent at the edge to minimize noticing the join between boards. All of the roads must also enter from a consistent spot, in this case, eighteen inches from a corner. If you refer back to article one, you can see that even though this sounds very limiting, the combinations available are substantial.

Using a ruler to mark the entry points and my trusty diagram for the general layout, I use my trusty Sharpie to mark the roads on the boards.

Back to the sharp knives! After drawing the roads, I trade in the pen for a knife and carefully cut just to the outside of my marker lines.

You want to be sure you cut all the way through the mat. Don't worry if you cut into the foam. We're going to be adding texture to these roads that will hide any small cuts. Press down on the part of the grass mat that's supposed to stay on the board and carefully peel away a corner of the section to be removed. You will find if you were careful about cutting through the mat, you can lift off a section despite the glue. When we add texture to these areas, the roads will have a nice sunken contour. The texture will also blur the edges so the roads are no so neat.

Now we're going to fix the river banks as I mentioned last time. I want to add some variety to the boards with other textures and although I intend to scatter small patches of bare earth on all of the boards, the rivers are a great place to feature more detail. There is no set pattern for this step, but you want your bank areas to make a smooth transition to your roads. After drawing everything out, I break out the knife again and follow the same procedure I used for the roads. Again, if you find loose sections when you peel these areas away, it's easy to apply a little extra glue under the mat, but in the next article we will be adding enough filler, glue and flocking to seal off an rebellious sections.

Notice how the bare areas of the bank narrow at the edge of the board? That again is to make sure it will match up well with any river board that joins with it. The next article will be all about adding texture and detail to the landscape. Only two or three more articles and these boards will be ready to game on!

June 22, 2015

Concord Strike Commander

With little information on the heraldry or insignia of the Concord forces, I decided to stick to my plan of making it up! I wanted my command units to stand out from the normal troopers... yes, it is goofy in a military sense as it makes them great targets, but great on the colorful tabletop where your opponent likely knows your command unit anyway! I chose red helmets and a red knee pad to denote the status of the command squad. I may add more details as they emerge in the game.

This is one of my favorite Concord models so far. He has an x-launcher on his gauntlet that you can't see in the pic which makes him a little like Boba Fett!

I'm finishing the bases on the rest of the unit and will post them in a couple of days.

June 18, 2015

Concord Strike Squad

The first unit of my Concord Starter Army for Beyond the Gates of Antares!

Really enjoying painting these models! My next unit on the way will be the three-man command squad and should be finished by this weekend.

June 10, 2015

Quindia Studios Guide to Modular Terrain Boards, Part Four

Ok, we are going to start to make these things look more like terrain this time. There are lots of ways to add texture to your game boards, but the way that I have found to be the best and quickest (quick is big with me), is to glue a grass mat to the board. There are lots of different styles and you could use any one you choose, but you want one with a cloth or felt backing rather than a paper one, for reasons that will become obvious as we go through this article.

You need to cut the mat into sections slightly larger than your boards. For the river sections, the cuts don't have to be perfect along the banks. Just make sure they come near the edge of the foam. We're going to trim to perfection later...

Ok, guys. This is an iron. Get your wife or girlfriend to show you how to use this, but be careful that you don't display too much proficiency this this thing or you might find yourself with new chores. If you are really smooth, you can get her to iron the mats for you... like I did. You can see above that the mat has lots of creases from it's packaging. If you manage to find a grass mat that comes rolled on a tube (lucky you) you can skip this step. Just choose a low setting and only iron the felt side. We're not going to get all of the creases out this way, but the main thing is to make them less noticeable.

Back to the boards. In the last post, I mentioned sanding the foam to get rid of the sharp edges. I used a fine sandpaper block to smooth out the slopes. It's hard to see from this photo, but it shows up better farther along (I'll point this out when we get there). This type of foam sands very easily and it is only the work of a few minutes to turn the sharp ridge into a gentle slope. This is an important step as the grass mat will fit better on smooth curves.

Ok, the reason for the glue is obvious. White glue will work just as well, but I used the carpenter's glue because that's what I had on hand. A bucket with a little water, an old brush, and a spray bottle filled with water are the only other things we need to continue.

You're going to want to do this next step outside or in your garage. I suppose you could use your tub, but a new grass mat flakes quite a bit and you're going to end up with a mess! What I'm doing here is spraying the back of the mat (the felt side - same one we ironed) with water. We just want the material damp, not dripping. There are several reasons for this. In the first place, it will add weight to the material and help keep it tight against the board/foam. This is important since you can't set books or things on top of your terrain if you have hills or river beds. The water also makes the material stretch a little and it forms well to the previously mentioned hills, etc. Finally, it helps reduce the wrinkles we couldn't get out with the iron!

After wetting the mat, turn to your board. The mat won't dry out too quickly so you have time as long as you only work on one board at a time. I start on the outside and place a thin bead of glue along the wood frame. It is important that the mat forms a solid bond around the edges. Then I basically lay out more glue in a spiral pattern and take a wet brush and smooth the glue as evenly as possible on the board.

I don't try to put the glue all the way down the banks to the wood, because I'm going to trim the grass back as I mentioned before. Just leave an inch or two of foam glueless (hmm... is that even a word?). Hey, this is the photo I mentioned earlier where you can see how smooth the slope if the river is!

Place the mat onto the sticky foam and press it down. With the felt damp, you should be able to smooth out any remaining wrinkles. Then set the board aside to let it dry and start on another one!

Fast forward... this is important... I let the board dry for three or four hours before moving to this next step. With a sharp blade (I used a new blade for each board) trim away the extra mat. This is easier than it looks if you use the edge of the wood to guide your knife. Make sure to take you time to get neat edges and avoid losing a finger!

If there are any edges where the mat seems to be loose, it is an easy task to add a little extra glue along the edge. Next time I'm going to show you how to add roads and riverbanks...