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...

June 8, 2015

Concord Strike Trooper

Here is my first Concord Strike Trooper for my second Starter Army in Beyond the Gates of Antares...

Again, there is precious little to go on for what may be considered 'correct'. We only have one example with the studio army. My initial inclination was all units equipped by the vast resources of the Concord Combined Command (C3) would be uniform, like Stormtroopers from the Star Wars universe. However, like the Boromites, I decided to make the army mine and choose my own color scheme.

All paints are Games Workshop unless otherwise noted...

Green Armour and Weapon Muzzle - Caliban Green (Base), Biel-Tan Green (Shade), Warpstone Glow (Layer), and Moot Green (Layer)
Bone Armour - Zandri Dust (Base), Seraphim Sepia (Shade), Ushabti Bone (Layer), and Screaming Skull (Layer)
Metal - Wargames Foundry Slate Grey (32 A-C) with spot highlights of Ceramite White (Base)
Red - Mephiston Red (Base), Carroburg Crimson (Shade), Evil Sunz Scarlet (Layer), and Wild Rider Red (Layer)
Pouches (Grenades? I'm not sure, but I painted them as pouches) - Mournfang Brown (Base), Agrax Earthshade (Shade), Skrag Brown (Layer), and Deathclaw Brown (Layer)
Black - Abaddon Black (Base), Dark Reaper (Layer), and Thunderhawk Blue (Layer), plus the visor has sharp highlights of Ceramite White (Base)

These may come along a bit slower than the Boromites because I have a lot going on this summer, but they will be in the mix...

June 4, 2015

Boromite Lavamites

... and the last unit from the Starter Army...

I'm thinking I need more of these ugly brutes to make them effective. Close combat in Beyond the Gates of Antares can be brutal because the phase starts with both sides pouring missile fire at each other at point blank range AND fighting a round of melee. I have yet to play an actual game, but I've run some simulations on paper and even the victor of such an encounter can suffer horribly. However, I think one of the keys to close combat lies in burying your target in Pin Markers before charging. Pin Makers give a -1 penalty to shooting per marker, making it more likely to survive the point blank shooting. Pin Markers have no effect on the melee portion of the phase, but if can avoid casualties on the way in and whittle down the opposition before making contact, you have an obvious advantage of coming out on top!

Anyway, I think they need more models to survive the approach and carry a charge home.

I'll try to make time soon to set up the entire army for a triumphant group shot!

June 3, 2015

Quindia Studios Guide to Modular Terrain Boards, Part Three

After building our frames, it's time to add the foam. I use 1/2" pink insulation foam. You might remember, I used 5/8" batten to build the frame... carpenters will know that wood is never the actual size listed - it's always slightly smaller. It matches up pretty close to the 1/2" foam. This stuff is sandwiched between two thin plastic films that you want to remove. It makes cutting much easier and I prefer that the glue I'm going to be using later adheres to the foam and not the plastic.

I carefully cut the foam so it fits tightly into my frame and then I drag out my plan and a marker. The first three boards I am going to make include tho river boards and one plain board. Using the precut edges as a guide, I draw out my river, including marking the 45-degree angles on the edges. You don't have to get this step perfect except at the edges where it meets the frame. If your river seems to have wandered off course, just redraw the offending part. We're going to cover all of this up later.

After I was satisfied with my drawing, I cut the river out of the board with a craft knife and angled the blade to produce a beveled edge. The t-square had nothing to do with this step. It was apparently upset that I left it out of the earlier stage when I trimmed the board to fit the frame and chose to leap into this shot. If you would prefer your river to have steep banks, you can leave them this way and skip down to the part where we glue them down. Keep the cut out scraps because we are going to use them on a later board.

The tools of the trade. Starting on the left, we have an x-acto knife, next a craft knife (which I used to cut the initial river shape), then a serrated knife, and finally a hot wire cutter. The hot wire cutter uses electricity to heat up a thin strand of metal wire that cuts through foam like butter. This particular model has an on/off switch on the handle which makes it safer to use because the wire cools almost instantly when you trigger it off.

The next step I want to do is give my riverbanks a more gentle slope (everywhere except near the edges - we want those to stay 45-degrees to match up with the battens). The serrated knife with it's long blade is ideal for this... except for the mess it makes! The hot wire cutter does a much cleaner job and it's the tool I use. I just thought I'd show the other option in case you don't have a hot wire cutter. They are kind of expensive and the knife will do an admirable job, but make sure you have a vacuum handy! Both of these tools should be used in a well ventilated room - you don't want to breathe in too much of this stuff. The knife puts particles everywhere while the hot wire cutter creates fumes as you carve through the foam.

Use a model to check the grade of your slopes to make sure they will be able to stand with out tipping over!

Finally, I use an x-acto knife to trim any remaining rough spots. If you really want to go to town on this, you can sand the foam with fine sand paper to get rid of any sharp edges (like the ridgeline behind the model above). This something again you'll want to do in a well ventilated area. I intend to take my boards outside and sand off the rough spots, but I skipped the step for this article because of the photography. You can always sand up the rough parts after you glue them down.

Speaking of gluing them down... I use woodglue, but I'm sure a dozen other adhesives would work just as well. You don't have to cover the entire surface. The wooden frame will protect the outside edges and for our river boards, we are going to be gluing some texture along the banks that will add more stability to the exposed edges. The glue will expand as you push it down against the wood.

Weight the foam down with books and leave them to dry overnight. In the next post, these things will start to look more like terrain and less like lumber!