December 30, 2015

Looking Back at 2015

One of the best things about having a blog is the ability to look back through what you've done. Here are a sample selection from my projects this year (I actually managed to accomplish a little of what I planned last January).

The year started strong with a pile of U.S. Airborne in January and February (though I never did get around to painting the damn Sherman I needed to finish the force - maybe  next year).

Much of the early part of the year was spent nostalgically working on my Oldhammer and Rogue Trader collections over at my new blog Stro'Knor Macekiller. Between February and May, I averaged 22 posts a month, mostly single figures, but I always presented unit shots when they were ready!

I also painted a bunch of Rogue Trader era minis and built a converted shuttle/lancer for my Rogue Trader games.

I also painted a pile of new sci-fi models this year for Beyond the Gates of Antares...

Finally I managed a few more units for my Battle of the Boyne project and started plans to attend Historicon next year...

Besides models, there were lots of articles on building terrain and a pile of photos that used to reside on my website which I pulled down this year. I'd like to replace it, but for now the blog is an easier tool for keeping track of all my hobby stuff. I also managed to add a few flag sheets to the Warfare catalog.

I also started a new game (yeah, like I needed that) with Frostgrave. I managed to rope all of my friends in by giving them Frostgrave rule books and a box of soldiers for Christmas and everyone is busily working on their own warbands (more on that next year). I started a new set of terrain for the game, which will also be useful for Mordheim and Donnybrook.

Of course, regular visitors know I also lost my wonderful wife, Sara, in June. It was unexpected and I had some very rough days this summer. Things are better, but not great. Not a day goes by that I don't miss her and I still have some rough days, but I am trying my best. Sara always encouraged my hobbies and my work in the industry. Though I don't think life will ever be the same, painting and modeling - something I've done all my life - goes a long way to making it seem more normal.

All told I managed 312 models this year which works out to six per week! I have lots more to come and I'll take about my plans for the new year... err... in the new year! Thanks for continuing to visit and best wishes to everyone in 2016.

December 29, 2015

Frostgrave Board, Part Four

Right! So this is nearing completion. I wanted to add some variation in the color, while still maintaining the overall grey stone. The effect is actually a little more subtle, but the flash seems to have reacted strangely with the oil paint. I'll some properly lit photos once everything is finished.

I used oil paints and thinner to add a bit of grunge to the board. It's basically the same technique military modelers use to weather vehicles. You apply small random dots of oil paint to your model and then use a brush loaded with thinner to create a wash. Then use paper towels to soak up the excess and any bits that might pool up. The random effects give a very realistic finish. This is super easy. You really can't mess this up. If you think there is too much color, just keeping going over it with thinner. You can even work back into areas several hours later.

Here you see a good before and after. The painting is done (minus painting the edges a neutral grey) and the final step will be adding snow. I'm going to add small drifts in corners and on ledges and add scattered snow flock. I don't want to cover the board so this will be done sparingly and in several layers so I can build up the effect gradually. I am also going to scatter some icicles around the walls as well.

It's getting exciting now!

December 27, 2015

Frostgrave Game Board, Part Three

I managed to make quite a bit a progress over the last few days on this project...

The thing that took the longest was getting the roof sections to fit snuggly - there was a lot of math and a little bit of cursing involved...

I also used balsa wood to trim out most of the balustrades and add a little extra detail on the largest walls. Finally I cut out about a jillion (well, it seemed like that anyway) card rectangles to add the illusion of stone bricks.

Then I covered the entire board in a mid-grey (matched GW Dawnstone in a quart from the hardware store) mixed with a small amount of sand to add texture.

Finally I drybrushed and stippled a light grey (matched to GW Administratium) to bring out the texture and details. I'm only going to do one highlight layer because I want a fairly monchrome appearance to the structure which I think helps create a moody, cold landscape.

I plan on painting the edges of the board the same color as the initial coat, but I wanted them smooth so I skipped them when I did the base coat. The next step is adding a bit of weathering with oils and mineral spirits which I may to get to later today. I'm not going to do as much as I might if this were to be a 'normal' city ruin (see above about the monochromatic effect), but I want to add a little variation.

Finally, I decided to go all in on Frostgrave and add snow and ice, but I'll talk more about that when I get there...

December 22, 2015

Lieutenant General Richard Hamilton

I took a break from painting rank and file to complete an officer that's been half finished on my desk for weeks.

This will be Lieutenant General Richard Hamilton for my Jacobite Boyne army, but will also serve as a brigade commander for my Historicon project, the Battle of Penny Burn Mill. Of course, the model is from Warfare Miniatures.

December 20, 2015

Frostgrave Game Board, Part Two

I thought I'd share my progress so far. The initial steps were to painstakingly transfer my designs to the foam core that will make up the walls of the structure. The process saw me break out a freaking compass which is a tool I don't think I've used since the 90's!

The basic structure takes shape...

My cat, Napoleon, has come to help...

These stairs took longer than anything else on the board because of the angles. The scale is a little funny for steps, but I compromised realism for game play - each is broad enough to allow models to be placed without worrying they will tumble down.

So far I've got around 14 hours into this, including the sketches and initial design work. The next step is to add the floors and I'll probably be able to finish that stage tomorrow.

December 17, 2015

Frostgrave Game Board, Part One

I am going to build a new board for Frostgrave (which I can also use for Donnybrook and Mordheim). The recommended game size is 36x36", but I am going to make a 40x30" board which is nearly equal in square inches. The reason for this is I can use a single 1/2" piece of foam core as the base.

When starting any kind of project like this, I always start with a sketch. It doesn't have to be perfectly to scale - the main goal is to capture the feel I want for the design. In this case, it is a multi-level street with lots of staircases, while leaving plenty of room for buildings, ruins, etc.

After I have a concept I like, I make a scale model in Google SketchUp (free 3D software). I prefer to render my designs in a sketch style (they have photo texture fills, etc. but they always strike me as very 1980's Atari, and aren't really necessary for what I need).

There will be much more detail, but this helps me get the frame built. Goggle SketchUp has a measuring tape tool that lets me determine exactly how long each wall section needs to be, the height of stair cases, etc. I can even print out perfect side views so I can cut out the outer walls from a single piece of foam core. There will certainly be changes once I start cutting foam core, but without these diagrams it would be much more difficult to make this concept reality.

Assuming this goes well, I will probably build a second board as Mordheim and Donnybrook work better on 48x48" (mine would then be 40x60").

It may be a few weeks before I'm able to show much progress with the holidays looming, but I'll post more pics as I get on!

December 16, 2015

Sir Maurice Eustace's Regiment of Foot WIP

I started another regiment for Beneath the Lily Banners this week. Rather than a second battalion for the Irish Royal Foot, I switched gears to focus on Historicon 2016. One of the units I need is Sir Maurice Eustace's regiment of foot from the army of King James II.

For the Battle of Penny Burn Mill, the regiment will be 18 models plus a pike stand.

Of course, the unit is NOT in my plan for the Battle of the Boyne, but I always planned to collect beyond the handful of battalions I needed for that anyway. Eustace's regiment was present at most of the other major battles including Aughrim. Besides, red coats with yellow cuffs is a very common uniform and could also be used for many others with a flag swap...

Irish - O'Brien/Clare and Galmoy
Dutch - Fagel and Friesen
English - Trelawney, Beaumont, Churchill, Hasting, Douglas, and Erle

Not to mention one of the dozen's of regiments we know nothing about!

I'm nearly done with the second stand and hope to have them up in a few days...

December 14, 2015


Amidst the frozen ruins of an ancient city, wizards battle in the hopes of discovering the treasures of a fallen empire. In this fantasy skirmish wargame, each player takes on the role of a wizard from one of ten schools of magic, and builds his band of followers. The wizard's apprentice will usually accompany his master, and more than a dozen other henchman types are available for hire, from lowly thugs to heavily armoured knights and stealthy thieves.

I've been wanting to start a Frostgrave project ever since the game was released. The rules are fast and fun which is a requirement in a wargame for me these days, but the real seller was the minis designed by Mark Copplestone, Mike Owen, Mark Sims, Nick Collier and more. A few weeks ago I ordered four packs of wizards and ALL of the soldiers and monsters - yes, I have hundreds of fantasy models, but did you see the list of sculptors? I'm sure other models will find their way into warbands and random encounters, but I wanted to start with a core of 'official' models.

This weekend I finished my first wizard, the Chronomancer Marko Copperstone and his apprentice Aleeya. Potentially the most powerful of all wizards, Chronomancers use magic to manipulate time itself. As the youngest branch of magic, it is less developed, and less understood than any of the others, and is thus potentially more dangerous.

The details on these models are well defined and they were a joy to paint. I haven't decided if I want to add snow to the bases yet so I left them relatively plain. I'm going to collect a small set of arctic terrain and build a dedicated snowscape board so I probably will...

I haven't decided exactly on the composition of my first warband (or even if I'm going to include the apprentice - advice on a forum was for beginners to avoid the second spellcaster in lieu of more swords to start with) and will likely simply paint the henchmen models that appeal to me first. I'll fill out the points with a few extra thugs/wardogs/etc. after that.

Stay tuned...

December 13, 2015

New Flag Sheet

There is a slow trickle of new flag sheets on the way from Quindia Studios, starting with some new English regiments: the Royal Fuzileers, Scots Fuzileers, and Sir William Clifton's, circa 1686...

Available in the LoA shop here.