May 22, 2015

Quindia Studios Guide to Modular Terrain Boards, Part One

I have covered these techniques on this blog before, but had a request to publish the original articles as well so here goes. Again, I have added a specific tag, Modular Terrain Boards, to make it easy to pull up all of these posts at once...

My short article on the desert boards left a lot to be desired as far as a comprehensive "how to" feature so I'm going to try and do this one properly. This is only the first of many installments that will chronicle this project and I will attempt to detail not only how I go about things, but why!

The first thing to touch on is why bother? After all, we've all played enjoyable games on humble grass mats or the even less ostentatious green felt. For me there are two answers. The first is I simply enjoy building terrain. It is just another aspect of a hobby that takes up an obscene amount of my free time. It's actually much more relaxing than painstakingly painting buttons on a regiment of 30 infantry! The second answer is related to my models. I spend a lot of time painting and basing my armies to a decent standard and I want the battlefield to be part of the showcase when I host a game - my local players can stop laughing - we will get some games in soon... why do you think I'm building the boards (edit: I still rarely get the time to play these damn games - sigh)?

Anyway, the first step deciding on the battlefield you want to build and then create a plan to fulfill your vision! I want some boards that will represent a typical European countryside for my ECW and Napoleonic games (as well as Warhammer, etc). Besides grassy meadows, I want a couple of boards that have water features and modeled hills on them. I've also decided to model roads onto my board which will make designing them tricky since I want to maximize the number of layouts.

After scribbling pages of sketches, I have decided on the following six boards:

At first glance, this may seem restrictive because of the need for the roads and rivers to line up and the large hill on the bottom left board will always need to be on a table edge. This is where the scribbling paid off! Take a look at all of the possible combinations you can get by using three of these boards to make a 4x6' table!

To add further variety, rivers can either be classified as impassible and thus become the focus of the game as armies try to secure the bridges/fords to cross or they can be shallow streams that do little more than slow a unit down for a round as it crosses. Of course, I'll also be using loose terrain in conjunction with these boards so there will be forests, fields, villages, etc. Leaving some open areas on modular terrain is important to allow the inclusion of such features!

The next article will examine the process and materials I use to frame the boards and build the boring foundation for all of the creative work that follows.

May 20, 2015

Boromite Overseer Team

Here is the finished Overseer Team...

The members of the Overseer Team are armed with Plasma Carbines and Reflex Armour and the leader has a Tractor Maul, a development of a mining sampler tool that is extremely effective as a close combat weapon. They are accompanied by a Spotter Drone. Presumably there will be more options when the army lists are developed further, but these will do for now!

I haven't done much work on the fluff for my Guild as there isn't much information yet available. The Beta rule book sums up the Boromites in this manner...

Although they are spread throughout Antarean space, Boromites maintain strong contacts with each other via the trading networks of the Freeborn. Boromite labour gangs are but one of the many human services traded by the Vardos. Occasionally, Guilds will band together to fight, most likely to secure some mineral rich planet or scavenge some lucrative wreck or abandoned facility. Boromite forces are based upon their work gangs, generally speaking extended families, which belong to competing labour Guilds. Guilds are organised for self-protection and held together by insoluble ties of honour and obligation. The leaders of these Guilds, the secret core at the heart of the extended clan, are aged and much feared matriarchs. 

Amongst Boromites it is the womenfolk who head up the families and whose word is law. In some respects Boromite Guilds have all the hallmarks of organised criminal gangs, and are behind many of the subversive activities throughout Antarean space. Rival Guilds sometimes get involved in turf wars. Vendettas between old enemies can last for generations, but all will close ranks in the face of a common foe – which is pretty much everyone else as far as the Boromites are concerned. Their hardiness and determination make them highly valued mercenary fighters. 

Boromite gangers can be armed in almost any fashion, but they uniquely make use of weapons developed from mining tools including mass compactors and frag borers. Reflex shielding is common and the metallic nodes that support the reflex armour field are often fixed directly into the wearer’s thick hide.

I'm going to play up the organized crime angle with a Guild that supplements it's legit mine labor and mercenary work with smuggling. More Boromite forces are on the way. My speed at painting them has increased since I worked out the process and have a couple of models under my belt.

May 19, 2015

May 17, 2015

Boromite Overseer

So I settled on a color scheme...

I tried a couple of different schemes. I like the studio version, but decided I wanted to make my Guild unique. Rick Priestly goes out of his way to mention that in the future universe of Antares, gene splicing is a common practice, even for cosmetic purposes (giving you the license to paint your models any way you like). The Boromites in particular use technology to alter their natural appearances to mark themselves as a member of a particular Guild or family.

Here are the paints I used (all Wargames Foundry except where noted)...

Skin - Terracotta (37A-C), wash of GW Carroburg Crimson after A, final highlight of Native American Flesh Light (120C)
Rocky Scales - Granite (31A-C), wash of GW Nuln Oil after A
Eyes - Bright Green (25B and 25C)
Armour - Ochre (4A-C), wash of Casandora Yellow after A
Accents - Bright Green (25A-C) and British Red Coat (68A-C)
Metal - Slate Grey (32A-C) with spot highlights of White (33C)
Pouches - Storm Green (27A-C) and Conker Brown (54A-C)
Black - Black (34A and 34B)

This model was a lot of fun to paint, but it took me longer than usual. I think the main thing was simply a lack of familiarity with the subject. I had to repaint various areas more than once as I figured out what type of gear they might be. Hopefully, that will not be an obstacle going forward. The other thing is the model is full of detail and the details are TINY. I had to resort to smaller brushes than usual. Some of the third stage highlights are pin pricks!

Anyway, I like how this guy turned out and am looking forward to working my way through the rest of the starter army, beginning with the other two models and spotter drone of the Overseer Team...

May 15, 2015

Boromite Color Roughs

My first Antares models arrived in the post yesterday and I've been kicking around a few ideas for painting them...

Number One is the 'official' studio version, as is number six with a different weapon and armour color. Two and five keep the same skin color, but change the rocky bits to a red or orange - both would be more toward earth tones than the bright colors they appear here. Version five looks like a member of the Fantastic Four. Three and four shift the rocky texture to a more neutral grey and add color to the skin tone - again these are brighter than they would be on the models.

While this was a useful exercise, I will probably just have to sit down and paint a few before I decide!

May 13, 2015

Quindia Studios Guide to Desert Terrain Boards, Part Two

Moving on to painting...

After letting all of the texture dry, the next day, I dumped the excess sand off of the board, fixed a few patches I may have missed, and spray painted all three boards black. I used five layers over the black. Although I used quarts of paint purchsed from my DIY store, they matched the following GW colors (these are now long gone, but a web search will match them to the new colors - I added the new names below): Scorched Brown, Dark Flesh, Bestial Brown, Bubonic Brown, and Bleached Bone. The first was brushed on liberally and as each color was used, painting gave way more and more to dry brushing. I allowed each color to dry completely between coats so this took me a couple more days, but the results were worth it!

Scorched Brown (Rhinox Hide)

Dark Flesh (Doombull Brown)

Bestial Brown (Mournfang Brown)

Bubonic Brown (Zamesi Desert) Note - the pic below has always seemed overly yellow to me... the actually color was a bit more subtle.

Bleached Bone (Ushabti Bone)

I wanted a little additional texture to break things up (and to cover a few areas where brush strokes were too obvious) so I added some small patches of dull green static grass. This time I used white glue and spread it small random patches, again working only on one small section at a time. When this was dry, I used a hand-vac (as always be VERY carefully when employing any vacuum around the house least your significant other get any ideas) to pick up the excess grass, I lightly dry-brushed it with yellow ochre and I was finished!

My last step  is to spray a light coat of matt varnish to add further protection to the boards so they will hold up to game play.

Hope this helps! Terrain building is really much easier than painting wee little soldiers and you should not feel intimidated if you are thinking of starting a project like this. If anything is unclear or you have any questions, please feel free to ask! Next week I will start on another series of terrain boards from the old site...

May 11, 2015

Cropredy Bridge, Parlimentarian Commanders

I already posted William Waller, but here is again for the sake of completeness...

Lt. General John Middleton was William Waller's second in command and seems to have led the main attack at Cropredy Bridge.

Sir Arthur Heselrigge, commander of the famous Cuirassier regiment nicknamed "Heselrigge's Lobsters". I have found no less than a dozen spellings for this gentleman's name...

Next week I'll have some parting shots with this collection in action...

May 6, 2015

Quindia Studios Guide to Desert Terrain Boards, Part One

As I mentioned before, I pulled down my old web site. Since then I've had quite a few requests to recycle some of the articles, so over the next few weeks Wednesday will be all about terrain - starting with my desert terrain boards. To make it easy to find them all, I've added a specific Desert Terrain tag so it will be easy to pull them up all at once!

Let's get started! These were designed for my 15mm Flames of War armies, but will work equally well for any scale!

All of the terrain boards I build start life as MDF boards. These take lots of paint and glue without warping. Thedrawback is they are heavy, but as I rarely (read never) travel with them and the storage closet is five feet from my game table, it's not a problem for me. I usually glue a layer of foam on top of the board so I can carve out rivers and such, but decided I didn't need to do that with this project, so I worked directly on the MDF.

The first step was to make a plan. I wanted three modular boards that I could rearrange to make different layouts. I plan to make some loose terrain pieces (a few small hills, an oasis, a village or two) to add further variety.

One of my boards was to be flat so I sat that aside. On the others I want to model a pair of rocky ridges forming a gully between on one and a pair of small hills on the other. This is where the foam came in. I used pink half-inch insulation foam from my local DIY store. After cutting out the shapes with a craft knife, I shaped the sides into gentle slopes with a hot-foam-cutter. Then I took my hills outside and sanded off any remaining sharp edges. I tested the slopes with a metal 28mm model to make sure it would stand without toppling over and when I was satisfied, I glued the hills to my MDF, weighted them with books, and left them to dry overnight.

The next afternoon I started on the gully. The rocks are the most frequently asked about feature of the terrain and they are absolutely the easiest part of the whole thing. They are quite simply pine bark mulch chips, stacked on top of each other and secured via a hot-glue gun. I scattered smaller sections of these "boulders" on the other two boards to tie them all together visually.

Then I used a dry-wall repair compound to hide the joins between the foam and the table and blend in pine bark stacks into the hills behind them. Unfortunately, this had to be left to sit overnight again. The next day, more sanding ensued until the hills blended smoothly into the table.

I glued patches of rough texture in scattered areas (I use coffee grounds - I don't know why, but I have for years) and then covered each board with fine sand. The trick to this is working in sections. I spread wood glue, thinned with a little water, on a patch about 1'x1' and then sprinkle fine sand over the area. Again, I left everything to dry overnight.

Next week we'll paint these boards...