Tool Time

Here are a few of my favorite odd tools. These are mostly just stuff I grabbed of a moment, but have come to rely upon in my hobbying.

From the top we have:

1) Micron pen. I like pens as small as I can get them, and manga-style pens are the best I’ve found. .005 Sakura is my weapon of choice. I don’t really know what .005 refers to, as the nib is 0.2mm thick. Even if you only use them for (TOP TIP) dotting pupils, they’re solid gold.

2) Forceps. My brother and I are anglers (too rarely!), so I grabbed these one time when I needed a locking grip on a small object. Great tool when you need it.

3) Bend rule. Sits nice & steady for precise work.

4) Silicon tweezers. They both resist sticking and spring apart when you release tension. Extremely useful for many applications.

5) And this is my favorite tool of all. It’s a crappy old pair of needle-nosed pliers that somehow became extremely tight. So tight, in fact, that it can be used almost as a handheld vice. I can’t tell you how to make one, but, like many lucky accidents, when they failed, I found a use for them. I use these all the time!

Give me a comment below and let me know what weird tools you find yourself reaching for on your hobby bench!

Boost Your Bases!

When I decided to start a team of Dark Angels about half a year ago I was hoping for cool, realistic poses with my conversions and a very gritty, kick-ass look. I started with a plasma gunner and…

…well, I couldn’t resist the joke. I wanted the figures to look very grimdark at first glance, but I’m not really that grimdark of a guy. So I gave a zombie head some plasma-glowing eyes and glued it on there.

This gave me the idea of doing bases on the figures representing the various foes the team had defeated. I have a somewhat developed backstory for the Eremoi (Hermits), which I may share at some point when I need a break from fantasy town.

These are gaming figures, so the tiny dioramas had to be both tight enough to fit on a normal tactical marine base and sturdy enough to withstand (minimal!) abuse.

Some are very simple. A cool hand holding a bloodthirster head led to the inclusion of the bronze Khorne symbol lying in the dirt. A skull, a bit of wire, and a little plastic cutting adds some more 40k atmosphere.

Sometimes I like to break off the base a touch, using the black rim as a cheeky little zone for scenery. The plague zombie’s arm does protrude a bit, but the stout metal I-beam gives it a pretty safe nook to hide in.

Sometimes it’s as easy as painting something funny onto an unaltered base. It’s hard to read in a static shot (it’s easier if you can turn it in your hand), but the barrel says ‘KRILL.’ I thought it would be appropriate if the suffering millions of the 41st Millenium ate… tiny little gross shrimp and stuff.

This guy’s a real go-getter, so he’s bounding over a half-buried jug of Guilliman’s X-Treme Ultra-Ade. I think Ultramarines are pretty stupid, and I think the ridiculous names of sports/energy drinks are pretty stupid, too. Seemed like a good fit.

Sometimes the base & the figure are one! This was a really fun challenge. I had to fit a whole prone tactical marine onto his base. The key was to use plenty of nubbins to cover up the parts that would shatter the illusion.

This is definitely one of my favorites. Again, the challenge was getting the right arrangement of goblin parts beneath the foot that’s squashing him as he crawls out from some hole in the ground.

My brother-in-law Will, whom you’ve met in numerous battle reports, started his Kill Team collection with T’au. Well, he had to be trolled, didn’t he?!

This one uses the rim, features a nice bit of chopchop to create the casualty pose, and sneaks quite a bit of scenic ‘information’ onto the base.

But why stop there? A little Greenstuff easily gives a lolling tongue on a dead T’au. It doesn’t really matter if the head looks almost like a hood ornament for the model, it looks cool and the goal is storytelling, not verisimilitude.

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Thanks for taking a look at these fun little mini-scenes that live on the bases of my Eremoi. I have a lot of fun solving the puzzle of building a complex, ‘readable’ scene on such a tiny surface, and I’ll bet you will too!

Garden of Contemplation

I whipped up a quick scene for shots of my philosopher bums and others in the Garden of Contemplation.

Dip your brush into your coffee. This step is entirely optional. Try it and see if you like the results.

Basic colors applied. I used my cheap hobby paints and mixed them for a bit of variety on different stuff. Don’t be fussy about it. You actually want some crappiness, since the plaster is old, moldy, dilapidated, etc. Slap it on there, don’t aim for even coverage, and know that you can fix anything later if you hate it.

I wanted the fragment of the statue & the tree to be the key features, obviously, so I went for a pretty crazy marble texture. Lots of lines of greys & cool greens, followed by thin washes of grey to create depth. I’m mixing in gloss medium on some passes, but not all around.

Preliminary painting of the tree. On top of brown I’ve used a swampy yellow-green, highlighted with a light yellow-brown.

Washes on the wall. This is pretty over-the-top, I’ll admit! I used Secret Weapon Baby Poop, one of my favorites. It’s much more green than the website would have you believe.

Paint again after washes. The tree was highlighted up to cream colors, the ferns were picked out, and some definition added back onto the marble.

I forgot to take the picture before I began the moss, but you get the idea.

TOP TIP: Coolest part of the piece is the iridescent medium I’ve used, along with gloss medium, to create sparkle & shimmer within the layers of the marble. I love the stuff. You can get it cheap at an art store.

Ready for action!

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If you need help with the basics, I’ve got a tutorial on dirt & grass here. Feel free to comment with any questions, etc.

How to Feed Orphans

Well, at least how to make a decent lunch that will impress yourself and your friends.

These sandwiches just take a minute, they’re cheap, and they’re unusual & delicious.

1) Get good bread. This is the most important part. You need bread with a nice crust on it, a non-crumbly texture, and great flavor.

Awesome bread is getting easier to find in the US all the time, as more and more young people embrace traditional arts like farming and baking. Many other parts of the world have always demanded good bread.

Sourdough rolls work perfectly, though I got mini baguettes from our neighborhood baker (a Frenchman) today.

2) Put cheese on each half of your rolls. These are open-faced sandwiches.

My favorite cheese for this is probably fresh chèvre (goat cheese), and that’s what Mills & Gramm ate the first day they came to ToadChapel. Since I didn’t have any, I just used some Brie with peppercorns in it.

3) Toast it under a broiler or in your toaster oven (faster & less hassle) and drizzle with honey. My honey is quite pale, so it’s hard to see, but it tasted delicious, I assure you.

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And that’s it! Almost no work, made with stuff you can get easily or keep on hand, and – most importantly – delmarvelous!

As you can see, ingredients are easily substituted to fit what you have on hand.

I first encountered these sandwiches in Amsterdam after my mother & I had our minds blown by the Rijksmuseum, which had on display the largest exhibit in history of Dutch masterpieces from all over the world.

There’s no reason to claim complete incompetence in the kitchen. Get yourself a handful of reliable, easy recipes that you can make yourself and your friends and get cooking!

Let There Be Dirt!

ToadChapel needs some rock, soil, and life upon which to grow.

Let’s learn how to make it.

This is a method I use when I want groundwork that looks genuinely good, but doesn’t take an eternity. You wouldn’t necessarily want to use this method for, say, a 3′ x 3′ skirmish wargaming board…

[Casper provided for scale]

~ STEP-BY-STEP ~

Begin by gluing good old dirt to something thin & flat. I don’t actually sift the dirt beyond the biggest and most obvious foreign objects. Instead, I sort of pan it and get the right mix of sizes to suit my needs. Make sure to crush any large clods or they’ll collapse later in the process and screw something up.

Here you can see wood glue thinned with water applied heavily over the top of the dirt. I use the same wood glue underneath, let it dry overnight, then cement it down the next day.

Prime in black.

These are the paints I’m using for the earth & rocks. I’m using cheap hobby paints because I’m going to need a lot and this is very rough work. Don’t use your model paints! These big bottles cost fifty cents each.

These are the stages of the painting process, beginning at the top.

12:00 Paint the whole tile brown.

3:00 Drybrush with light brown.

6:00 Pick out the rocks with medium grey. Basically, the more you do the better, and rockier, it’s going to look. I’ve also highlighted the larger rocks with a light grey.

7:30 Apply some washes

I start with some water just to help things flow more naturally and thin out any real obvious ink stains.

Merrily slop some of your favorite washes all around. I like a mix of colors, warm & cold, dark & light. These are Secret Weapon Baby Poop and Flesh Wash, with a few dots of black ink.

Quite fun to paint these thin colors across the tiles using a Japanese style watercolor brush.

To soften and blend all these subtle colors, use your breath to give them their final shape.

9:00 Time for some vegetation!

Wood glue & water daubed over the ugliest parts of the base. I try to surround some nice rocks with moss, carefully avoiding the rocks themselves. Taking pains to achieve these little details makes a lot of difference, to my eye.

A heavy baking dish makes a great indoor flocking station.

This is the base after two applications of moss. It might take more than one pass to cover up the parts you want and build up a little volume in the deeper patches. Take your time and don’t lay it on too thick just to finish in one go.

A layer of lighter flock on top softens the look and creates the appearance of volume

Now it’s time to apply a few painted highlights and finish these pieces off.

My favorite highlight color for moss, for multiple reasons. I think fluorescent green gives the most natural looking moss, at least as I envision it in ToadChapel.

There is a problem, though: the flouro paint fades. As you can see, the huge board above needs to be highlighted again, as the highlights have all but vanished when viewed from from tabletop distance. I ain’t looking forward to it, I can tell you!

To take the highlight one level higher and help hedge my bets against the fading, I’m using a very pale yellowish green.

There is it. It looks good from a distance and it holds up under scrutiny. It’s not painted so loudly that it detracts from the figures and scenic elements around it.

Trouble headed to ToadChapel by the Woodland Road!

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As with the washes, there are all sorts of ways to incorporate hidden connections into the modular pieces. Not only do these little diversions make the creative process more fun, they could also come in handy later when creating a scene.

Wood glue. Best stuff ever.

Abstract art.

And that’s it! Hope you found something useful or interesting in this tutorial. I gave you a picture of a cat, so you can’t complain too loudly.

Leave a comment below if you have any tips or questions for me. Happy hobbying.

Crazy ‘Bout Corrosion!

You’d imagine it would be hard to get excited about simple molded plastic walls. Totally wrong.

Comp

Here’s a side-by-side shot of the RYZA ruins before and after applying Nihilakh Oxide.  Worth the trouble, I think.

Big terrain pieces give you a good opportunity to try out different ways of using stuff, figure out what works best, and not worry too much if it doesn’t all look absolutely perfect.  I certainly got better at using the patina technical paint working with it for an hour.

RYZA.jpg

Finished!  Can’t wait to get a game in with these on the table.

Hope you’re getting your game on this weekend, too!

How to Make Yourself Crazy II

Finished these today. Might add a touch of patina to the bronze, but otherwise I am happy to be done. Process was swift enough that I didn’t get bored with the project and I’m stoked by the results I got in two days (after the basecoat with the airbrush).

Every rivet & nut got highlighted, then the silver metals got pinwashed with a rusty brown.

Very slight retouch of the red base color on the outer edges of the rims, plus an orange highlight.

The crazy maker… but it does start looking cool!

Every decent sized bit of dark rust on the grey walls got a red-brown center, and every bit of surrounding paint got a highlight with the pale grey base color. It takes a while.