Tuesday, December 31, 2013

15mm Soviet security forces

And so draws to a close, this 15mm WW2 commission. The last unit is a group of Soviet troops who switched sides (can't recall the technical term for the unit) and will now provide some security for the artillery and pioneers.

These are 15mm Battlefront figures and they are notable thinner in sculpt than the German (perhaps bad Soviet logistics triggered their change of heart?).

Some nice sculpts, though. I'm particularly taken with the left-hand fellow below which is changing out a drum magazine on his SMG.

Up next: Speaking of drum mags, I am working my way through 52 1/72-scale gangsters, thugs and coppers from the '30s and several have Capone-style Thompsons. I hope to have these guys done early in the new year. My painting hope for next year is 100 figures a month--we'll see how quickly I can build up a lead on that target.

Monday, December 30, 2013

15mm pioneers with Goliath

Today we have a mess of 15mm WW2 German pioneers. There are nine bases of rifleman carrying demolition gear and whatnot.

This has always been among my favourite MG poses. Not very good for Fritz-on-the-bottom's hearing but a nice poses. One of the first sets of metal WW2 figures (20mm from somewhere in Europe in 1986) that I got had a standing version of this pose.

The engineering gear is interesting, with mines, demolition charges and satchels. Again with the vertical trees trunk.

I also finished off the three bases of panzerschrek that I needed for the infantry company.

I'm pretty happy with the how the camo turned out and how the wash brought up some of the details of the weapons.

Up next: Some 15mm Russians to finish off this commission.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

15mm German Artillery

I'm almost at the end of this 15mm WW2 German commission and today I have pushed some artillery out the door.

These are Battlefront models, with four guns in the unit. I've been experimenting with a bit more vertical in my basing (hence the tree trunk on the base below) to add some additional relief.

There are a couple of nice pieces with this set. Below there is a motorcycle with sidecar. Total pain in the butt to assemble but a nice enough piece.

There is also a base of forward observers.

The nice piece, though, is the staff base below, where Opa has gathered his kin folk around the table to plot a barrage. There is a radio guy, a fellow taking steno and a vaguely disinterested rifleman. Plus a command base.

Up next: Tomorrow some 15mm pioneers and then some 15mm Russians for New Years Eve. After that, I'm working my through 1/72 scale cops and robbers.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

CCN Waterloo

I braved the snow and ice yesterday to swing out to Scott's place for a little CCN. We played the Waterloo scenario twice, with the French winning both times!

Here in game 1 you can see the French cavalry ran up the right flank (as well as up the left-middle), cleaned out a bunch of units and then got in behind the British lines. This pretty much tipped the game for the French/

The second game saw the french advance on the left (right in the picture below) and clean out a bunch of British units. And then the grind the middle began. Again, a bunch of cavalry charges were the key to the French victory.

I have no idea how to win this for the British so a couple of more runs through the game are likely in order. Obviously shooting the key, but getting in position to shoot is tricky.

Up next: I'm putting the finishing touches on a bunch of 15mm Germans and Russians and (before winter returned) I primered a bunch of 1/72 cops and robbers.

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 wrap-up

A quick look on my BoardGameGeek account shows I had a good year of gaming, despite largely taking the summer off.

I managed 24 games in the Borg family (mostly CCA and CCN). Added to this were another six Worthington games using a hex grid. There were also a small number of one-off games at the club and Bruce’s house and at home.

What strikes me most is that I have clearly forsaken traditional dice and measuring gaming (excepting perhaps Maurice with its lovely card-driven activation). I was surprised that I didn’t even play a single game of DBA or HoTT this year. And, you know, I don’t miss it at all.

This makes me wonder if we’re seeing a generational shift in tabletop rules. I’m not predicting the end of dice-and-measures rules. This approach has lots of momentum and adherents—just like desktop computers do… .

But the ease of teaching and play and opportunity to flavour rules that come with card-driven mechanics (and, to a lesser degree, hex-based playing surfaces) is hard to deny.

In terms of painting, I expect I'll crest about 1300 figures this year. Not bad given the summer and autumn painting doldrums.

I’m planning to go back to finish an HO-scale town I started last winter. To kick this along, I’ll also be doing up some 1/72-scale cops and robbers. But the big project will be a 1/72-scale Persian army I picked up at the MayDay auction.

I also have some more 1/72-scale Germans and some Greeks to attend to and I’llstart rebasing my AWI and War of 1812 guys. I also have a few things to thin out of my collection. And if I get time, I plan to pain my Battlelore playing pieces. And I have a few commissions I’ve agreed to take on.

Games-wise, likely more CCA, CCN and perhaps more on my Riel Rebellion game.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

15mm buildings

The two 15mm jadgpanthers I recently painted each came with a building as an ambush site. These are handily little generic buildings: being plaster over brick, they could be used almost anywhere in Europe.

I did a quick bit of block painting and a wash. To try and jazz them up a bit, I found some 15mm WW2 posters on line and printed some out to affix to the walls.

Look at the pictures, these buildings could use just a tiny hint of dead grass at the base of the walls (where the rubble is piled) to make them "sit" in the landscape and I may go downstairs and add a few blades here and there.

Up next: I have a bunch more 15mm WW2 underway--just finishing up the camo on the jackets and helmets. Then onto flesh, webbing and weapons. Depending on how the days go, these should show up sometime before New Years Eve.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

88mm ATG battery

Some more 15mm Battlefront figures for a commission. This time a battery of 88s with crews and transport acountrements.

These were quite nice kits. They are actually DAK figures so there are a couple of paint conversions of guys in shorts. There was also a guy in shorts and shirtless that I decided to leave off the base (it was already crowded with crew) because the figure was distinctly unmilitary in its look.

I followed the same camo patterns as for yesterday's infantry. It is hard to get a good shot of 15mm camo! Overall, these turned out quite nicely--the shading put in some nice shadows and highlights.

Up next: In a few days I should have some more 15mm WW2. Likely a better of howitzers, some Soviet security troops and a bunch of pioneers. That should finish off this commission and then back to some 1/72 ancients.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

15mm WW2 German infantry

With work demands lightening up, I finished off about 100 15mm WW2 Germans from Battlefront. these are part of a commission that will occupy much of my holiday painting time.

There are three companies like the one above, each with a command stand and six bases of foot. Each will also have a panzerschrek team attached--just finishing those now. And a couple of bases got drafted to fill out a pioneer company that will come before New Year's.

The figures were generally nice. I find the "oblong base in a round hole" disconnect in Battlefront sets slightly off-putting as it adds to the basing demands.

One of the requests was that I do half the guys in plane tree and half the guys in oak leaf camo. While technically possible, that kind of detail is at (and perhaps beyond!) the limits of my skills in 15mm. So I picked two slightly different colour scheme and put the paint down in different sequences to get two distinct camo patterns. I also left a few guy with grey bits (odd-ball hats, helmets and trousers reflecting  company in the field).

When I finished painting there were two clear patterns that approximated the differences in camo style. Then I washed them to add in shadows and they all kind of looked the same at the end! Below you can see the starkest contrast I could fine between the darker and the lighter versions of the camo. Most guys fall in between the two extremes and it is hard to tell the patterns apart.

Up next: A battery of 8mm ATGs and then onto some more 15mm pioneers, light artillery and some Soviets who had a "change of heart" during the war.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Jadgpanthers with hunting stripes

A few more 15mm Battlefront WW2 tanks. Tonight a pair of Jadgpanthers in traditional hunting stripes for Normandy.

The lighting obscures the pattern a bit, but it is thick olive stripes with a brown border over mustard.

The tanks come with these handy little houses to ambush from. I'm not sure how I will deal with the houses year. Likely a base colour, dry brush highlight and wash with a tiny bit of flock to anchor them in nature/

Up next: After a week of pre-Xmas sickness, I'm back at the painting table with a lot of 15mm WW2 German infantry. Trying to replicate two different camo patterns (in 15mm!). Plus a couple of 88mm ATGs. Then maybe a break with some 1/72s and then back to the rest of the 15mm Germans.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Diffuse camo without an airbrush

Last week I posted some pictures of some 15mm WW2 tanks that I'd done for a commission. Some of them had a three-colour camo scheme and Chen asked me how I'd done it without an airbrush. So here is a step-by-step using a couple of Jadgpanthers that I'm presently working one.

Before we start, I want to be clear that I don't consider myself a great painter--I'm competent but I'm always looking for ways to produce an effect using as little effort as possible. I'm also a fan of impressionistic painters so that drives my approach.

For these tanks, I built them, spray-primed them black and then sprayed on full-strength mustard (I think this was a model-master spray can--whatever the local hobby shop had). In the past I have used a white primer and washed on the base colour. But two shots with a spraycan was way easier. After that dried, I then mixed up the camo colours. I use acrylic paints in one-ounce squeeze bottles from Michaels (e.g., Applebarrel).

For this scheme, I chose burnt sienna and English ivy green. I then diluted them with straight Future floor wax at about a 1:20 ratio. The Future thins and enhances the flow so that the paints become a bit translucent. This mimics the colour shift that your eye needs to make small things look believable (i.e., far away and subject to atmospheric refraction). 

If you thin the paint too much it will be a bit runny and tend to puddle at the bottom of vertical surfaces but you can wick it off with a brush. You can see that happening in the second-from-the-right (still wet) boogie in the picture below. You can fix the puddling by adding a bit more paint to the mix and using less on your brush. This takes a bit of practice but is easy when you get the hang of it.

I then painted them onto the tanks in an erratic pattern. Airbrushes do a lovely job of making diffuse borders. You can mimic that by putting very little paint on your brush, making the general shape you want on the tank and then drawing or pushing the paint out from the general shape to make a rough edge. This gets rid of the sharp "water-mark" edge that will otherwise occur. Between the shaping and the thinned paint, you basically get a a set of irregular-shaped stains on the tank.

Obviously this is not perfect, but bear with me. I then block in the details (e.g., treads) and paint details (e.g., crew, shovel handles). I tend to half ass this as the last wash (below) will cover many mistakes. Then I might add a dot-camo effect to further disrupt the visuals (I've done one tank with and one without in the photo below).

Note the battle damage--both tax came out of separate boxes with part of the front fender on the left side knocked off. This meant no way to neatly attach the skirts. So I took this to battle damage, cut back the skirts on each (depth varied) and left it as is. Anyhow, back to the painting.

At this point, they still look kind of lame (washed out and cartoonish to my eye). But now comes the magic dip. The magic dip is basically a brown/black wash (using Future to thin and carry the paint) which puts some depth and shadow back in the tank. It also seals the tank. I like my minis shiny but you can easily spray a dull coat overtop. 

You have to mind the puddling with the magic dip--pay attention and wick off excess or you'll have a dark rim at the bottom of vertical surfaces. You can see a bit of this on the skirt of the left tank towards the front.

I then decal, seal the decals with more Future and done. In a batch of 10 tanks, I'd think we're talking about 20 minutes a tank (excluding building and decaling and drying in between steps). If you didn't do the dots, you could likely get that down to 15-minutes a tank. Mono-colour tanks are maybe 10 minutes. I know that sound alike I'm flying through the camo process--I am. A certain amount of "I don't care" helps with the randomness of the camo.

Friday, December 13, 2013

1/72-scale Romans by Strelets

I've just finished up 50 1/72-scale imperial Romans to flesh out the orbits for the re-release of Expansions 2 and 3 of Commands and Colors Ancients in the new year.

These are Strelets' Extra-Heavy Roman Legionnaires and are different from their regular box because they additional armour. The 6 standing poses are pretty decent. I think I have missed a pose in the photo (guy standing with sword point forward at waist height) but you get the idea. The sculpts are chunky like metals and they paint up very easily.

There are also four action poses. These are pretty good, although the pose on the left (and below) is very awkward. It actually looks better in the picture than in real life. My only complaint about this set (like most of Strelet's sets) is that the weapons do not fit well in the ring hands (I ended up cutting the rings open and gluing). Some of that likely has to do with the tolerances of the Strelet's casts, but some is also a design issue (e.g., making the sword pommel 50% bigger than the opening it must ass through).

Up next: The final club night is next Tuesday. In the meantime, I will be working on some 15mm WW2 German foot. Trying to replicate (and differentiate) oak leaf and splinter camo in 15mm has been an interesting technical challenge, but I think I have a system that works. I also owe Chen a tutorial on replicating airbrush diffusion with a paint brush.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

15mm V-1 launch site

I've finally finished off one of the two 15mm WW2 commissions I have right now. This is a V-1 launch site which serves as an objective in Flames of War.

This was an all-plastic kit that went together very nicely. There was one piece of the launcher that wasn't really intuitive but the rest was fine. The size meant I had to fashion a custom base for it. If there are some left-over German crosses I will decal the wings. The Devil Brigade box came up a bit short on those.

Up next: Some 1/72-scale heavy Romans from Strelets.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

CCN: Russians v French

Bruce hosted me for a game of CCN last night, as a retreating Russian army turned on the French (don't recall the name of the battle). The challenge for the French is difficult deployment while the Russians have a lot of terrain objectives (denoted with blue cubes) to protect.

We played the game twice, with the Russians winning both times. A well timed cavalry charge with what seemed like hordes of Cossacks was key to the Russian victories. I'd certainly try to clean those bastards out early next time!

Both French advances failed as they ran out of steam and into a real meat grinder. I think the strategy should be an advance up one side (towards the river) followed by a cresting of the hill to put a bunch of casualties on the Russians to gain the 10 banners needed for victory. Of course, what actually happens is driven by the cards to a large degree!

Up next: A 15mm V-1 objective for Flames of War is drying and then I am finishing the basing of 50 1/72-scale Strelet's heavy Roman legionnaires. Then maybe back to some 15mm WW2 to finish off a commission before Xmas.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

15mm King Tiger

Almost through with this bunch of 15mm WW2 armour. This is a King Tiger with riders. A nice enough model but the metal treads were a bit of a chore.

 Up next: Some 1/72-scale heavy Roman Legionnaires and some CCN with Bruce. And maybe a V-1 launcher in 15mm.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bailed-out 15mm tanks as objectives markers

Part of this 15mm WW2 commission was a pair of tanks that were bailed out as objective markers. Battefront does a nice job with these (all resin, virtually no assembly required).

This panther appears to have rolled snake-eyes on a bog check while moving through a destroyed building. You can't really see it in the picture but there is some brickwork on the front plate.

This Panzer 4 has some battle damage. Perhaps it bogged in the wet glue? I dunno.

Up next: A couple more 15mm WW2 pieces. A King Tiger with riders (drying) and a V-1 launch site as an objective (awaiting warmer weather for a shot of spray paint). I'm also working on some 1/72 heavy Roman legionnaires (block painting flesh and fabric) and have some CCN scheduled with Bruce on Tuesday.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

15mm Panthers

Some more 15mm WW3 Battefront minis for a commission. These four Panthers are painted in a darker, more full-bodied scheme with a dot pattern over top. They look nicer in person than in these pictures.

The fellow below is Peiper. Interestingly the decals on the Devil's Brigade pictures don't match the decals they provide in the box. Oh well.

Up next: I have a few more 15mm pieces--a King Tiger that I need to paint the riders for and three objectives, including a V-1 launch site. Then onto some 1/72 Romans before returning to 15mm WW2.