Tuesday, 23 September 2014

On the Workbench - Bolt Action Weapon Teams

Having got the Bolt Action bug quite hard now, I've started in on the Desert Rats I reviewed way back when. A few people who have seen them commented on the way I do the weapon team bases so I thought I'd share (given that I'd bought a machine gun to back them up).

They don't look like much there I know, the bit people have liked is the split in the base to allow the teams to be removed as individual casualties. It is a simple idea, but one that allows you to have a nicely modelled mini-diorama that suits these teams while still permitting casualties without tiresome tokens littering the table. Like I say, simple idea but I've come up with a fairly foolproof way of doing this though so share I shall.

Having completed all the cleanup and basic assembly I dry fit the models together on the base to get the distribution right. You can't just chop the thing clean down the middle as they won't be pleasingly centred. Once happy, I picked off the loader and used a strip of masking tape (self adhesive straight edge see) to mark where I needed the cut.

There's no reason that you can't break out a nice sharp scalpel and a steel ruler but as I've got one of those brilliant Chopper II contraptions, it seemed rude not to. Handily with the way the chopper works all I had to do was line up the masking tape with the centre-line, chop half way, flip it round and do the other. Perfect cut. 10 Seconds.

Next, take that handy tape, unstick it from the top and use it to join the two halves from underneath. This stops the base from jiffling around while you glue on the figures.

In this case, the easiest way was dry fit everyone back on the base, glue the loader, then the firer (is that a word?). I left the gun unglued for now as it would only get in the way while painting.

And there you have it. Easy but useful. Better aesthetics, cleaner gaming. Win all round as far as I'm concerned. No reason you can't do this with the Imperial Guard (astra whatever) weapons teams too. I'll obviously post pictures once painted. One last tip. Tape the bases back together when you get to texturing, makes sure you don't get a gap in the texture that would show up the cut. Makes it all the more "as if by magic" when you separate them.

More soon!


Saturday, 13 September 2014

T-34-85, Za Rodinu!

Privet Tovarishchi! Our glorious red army has received a powerful new armoured ally to help crush the fascists! Za Rodinu!

Yep, I've been painting more Bolt Action soviet gear, this time the awesome HobbyBoss T-34-85. I was going to write a bit about the T-34 but there is just so much on this legendary armoured vehicle that I'm going to wimp out and just direct you to Wikipedia. Now, a few things before we go on: First, that is a 1:48 scale vehicle, not the 1:56 scale "normally" associated with 28mm gaming. There are some historical gamers out there already burning me in effigy but bear with me. While tanks are actually always a little smaller (and much more cramped) than you imagine, there is a problem with "true" 28mm scale vehicles looking almost comically small alongside 28mm figs. The main reasons for this are: 1) the proportions, 28mm figs tend to be wider ("chunkier") than their height should indicate. 2) the base, even thin ones like Bolt Action use, raise up the infantry models even taller while the tanks lie on the table directly. So in order to make the game "feel right", Maisey (of the Beard Bunker) and I decided to use 1:48 as our preferred vehicle scale. The other advantage is that 1:48's are made for the scale modelling community and thus are incredibly well detailed.

If you've never made any historical figures the vehicles the scale modellers work with are epic in the level of detail they work in. This can mean some painfully fiddly work at times, my fumble fingered efforts with the tracks for example, but mean that all the tiny details are represented. There is even a complete interior, impossible to see unless the hatches are open. I didn't bother with the innards, keeping them for conversions, especially the stunning engine, every bit is modelled. Dozens of parts going to make up a proper, real looking engine. Destined for an Ork I think.

Before I break into the painting proper I should note a modelling consideration. It's easiest to paint these tanks with exposed running gear in sub assemblies. The wheels and sprockets pressed on to the suspension arms and the track run glued together (leave one link unglued to bend open) then disassemble it all for easy painting and (as shown here) weathering behind the road wheels.

Painting wise, Russian armour is one of the least interesting in terms of colour scheme. To paraphrase a Henry Ford quote: "Any colour as long as it's green!". In this case Val Cam Olive Green. Seriously. Almost all of this tank is simply painted in the one colour. I helped the contrasts a little with two drybrushed highlights, both a mix of Val Cam Olive Green and Val Green Grey increasing the amount of Green Grey for the second highlight. Then, seeing a need to further define the shadows, I added some black to the Val Cam Olive Green , thinned it with water and some Lahmian Medium and then ran this into the panel lines, vents, creases and shadows of the tank. The tracks got airbrushed with a Ammo Track Rust (appropriate huh?) and once dry, the contact areas all got a drybrush of AP Gunmetal. Contact areas mean the outer bits of the tracks, where the wheels run on the inside and the guide horns (those sticky-up bits on the inside of the tracks that keep them on the wheels), anywhere the tracks rub against stuff. Then it was slogan time:

my slogans came from propaganda posters found on this site
One of the more "rustic" aspects of Soviet armour in the second world war is that, unlike the fine precision of stencilled markings you see on every other army in the world at the time, they just got the crews to paint on the numbers by hand in their bestest, neatest handwriting. Thus you see a range of positioning, "fonts" and sizes. You also saw a lot of motivational slogans painted on their vehicles. This was common to most armies, you named your tanks. But the Soviets had commissars who were looking for "zeal", so zeal they got. On this tank the slogans read "I vow to destroy the enemy" and "be a hero!" both cribbed from propaganda posters of the time. These were simply hand painted on in Ceramite White as neatly as I could. For once, looking hand done would not be a problem for freehand.

Finally, in order to give the tank that "model not toy" thing and to break up an almost literal sea of green I broke out the weathering. Starting with mud build up on the running gear and tracks I used various mixes of AK Interactive/Mig Ammo enamels. Mostly Earth Effects, Fresh Mud and Dark Mud. These were loaded onto brushes and then blown off in spatters with bursts of air from the airbrush, sometimes I added dry pigments to thicken it up and make the mud more, well, muddy. This achieved I attached the running gear and moved on to putting the layers of dust and grime on the upper surfaces. A mix of AK Kursk Earth and Earth Effects was the right colour for what I had in mind. I sprayed odourless turps over the model to dampen it first then applied the enamel mix to the creases, flat surfaces and anywhere else dust would gather. As I gently dried off the result with the hair dryer I added little streaks and rainmarks with a brush, dragging it through the drying enamel to streak it. Finally I used some Streaking Grime to the upper edges of the turret to make with the muck and allowed a thin mix of the Earth Effects and Kursk Earth to pool in the fenders. Some drybrushed black near the exhausts and the gun barrel and job done.

So, do I like the result? Hell yes. I really loved the research and recreation elements (it's what draws me to historical gaming in the first place), the model is stunningly detailed for what is a (relatively) very cheap kit - I got mine for £18. With Warlord releasing Tank Wars recently as a Bolt Action supplement I foresee rather a lot of treadhead glee in my future. I'll let you know how it fares once I get it on the table.

Until next time folks


Thursday, 11 September 2014

A strangely familiar Inquisitor...

Whoa, so then three weeks went by without a blog post. I ain'nt ded honest! There was just a week long LRP event followed by a week helping my in laws move/prep sister-in-laws wedding (yes, at the same time) and so on and time rather slips away... But here we are again! Today we have, the very last commission model PVP is doing *sniff* and of course, it's an Inquisitor.

To readers with long memories this chap might seem a little familiar. This is because I have already made and painted one just like him. The client liked Inquisitor Vandemar and asked me to make another just like him. Obviously I couldn't paint him exactly alike, my brain would have rebelled, so I went with a different scheme. Still muted and subtle though, someone this baroque doesn't need bright colours and in fact the grandeur of some of his kit contrasts nicely with the matter-of-fact colouring and style. As though this is normal, everyday wear for him.

As his retinue includes the mechanicum servitors and the urban troopers, he needed a practical edge with a splash or two of red to bind him to his various aides. The dark brown leather coat (Val Chocolate Brown shaded with Agrax and highlighted with added Val Deck Tan) forms the main body of the colour. The red trousers would stand out too much if I hadn't thrown some more in as spot colours on the hat, purity seal etc. Had a musing about the coat lining, eventually went with black to balance the black hat (mark of all of the Inquisitors in the Inq28 commission) and to draw out the black slashes in the red fabric. Val Liquid Metal Copper with Runelord Brass detailing gave a nice warm metal for the staff and fastenings.

And with that he was done. Along with the commercial arm of PVP. Really, it's been closed for some time, just needed to finish off the stuff I'd been pre-paid for. Doubtless the blog will go through some experimental fiddling to find it's way as a "just my stuff" site. Keeping content varied is one of the challenges. Hopefully it'll keep growing and getting better but who can say? I'll have the other two parts of "What I learned as a commission painter" soon too. Think I've got what I want to say sorted out. Until then.