Having spent my holiday hobby time back in the summer building the kit (which can be broken down into various sections and therefore configured in a number of ways), I recently went back and finished the painting. It’s worth noting that the model could double as many different sorts of sub on the table top from World War 2 U boats to more modern types. One of the sections contains a set of missle tubes (which you would probably drop if using this for WW2), likewise the section which mounts a deck gun is probably specific to an earlier era boat.
I wanted to maintain the generic nature and usability of the model across different time periods and games in the way I painted it too. A black undercoat was applied using matt black primer from a spray can, followed by a dark grey spray and this was then sealed using a top coat spray (the currently incredibly hard to find in the UK Testors Dullcote).
Next up were decals. Again I wanted to keep it generic, but the more I looked at the painted model the more I felt it deserved some extra treatment with the decals in order to break up the monotony of black. I’ve got lots of decal sheets left over from my long since departed Dust Tactics collection, many of which were generic warning signs and symbols, which would do nicely to a certain degree. However I then came across a set of Soviet decals for Dust with some nice big red stars that would really stand out. These were applied over a gloss varnish and then sealed again with the same before another dullcote layer.
The final step was to apply some airbrush highlighting using some lighter grey from the Vallejo Air range. (I’ve purposely left the deck gun off at the moment as I wasn’t happy with the build, I’m planning on maybe looking to 3D printing for a replacement.)
At some point in the future I will go back and add some weathering, but at present I’m happy to get this to the table.
I’ve said it before, but it is worth reiterating – patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to 3D printing. Over the last few months I’ve made some great inroads into ‘dialling my settings in’ and getting some great results for scenery pieces and larger models. I’ve done something I’ve never done before – stripping electrics and re-wiring when a key component broke and I’ve also discovered some fantastic digital sculptors pushing their wares on Patreon.
So a reminder, I am running a Creality CR-10S which is a larger bed (meaning larger print sizes) FDM printer. FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modeling, this is the most traditional style of 3D printer on the market and basically works by layering down melted plastic filament to build up a model. The material I am using is PLA – this is an odourless plastic based on corn starch (so biodegrable). Having played around with different brands (which does make a difference) I have settled on eSun PLA+ (in a rather splendid yellow). PLA+ seems to be a slightly more dense version of PLA (possible with extra additives) and I have found it produces stronger models that are easier to work with both in terms of modelling and painting post-printing.
One of the key challenges with printing miniatures in particular is getting the ‘supports’ right. Supports are the removable parts of the print, which you’ve guessed it, support parts of the model which overhang and would otherwise have to print in mid-air (as a famous guide book once said – this is of course impossible). There are plenty of miniature designs out there in the 3D printing universe which have been specially designed to print without supports (more on these in a bit). The real issue when you are using them is to get them so they provide enough ‘support’ for the model while also being relatively easy to remove without snapping off those important bits that should remain in place.
Supports can be tricky to remove
Supports visible from the rear of this model
It can be a messy job
When taking this into account there are all sorts of different variables and pieces of advice out there. Most of these relate to how you process the STL file prior to printing in your ‘slicing software’, but many also relate to the physical setup of your machine, brand and even colour of filament used and so on. Lots of trial and error, lots of visiting Facebook groups, checking YouTube and reading forums – so again patience is a virtue. For information I am using a piece of software called Cura to process (slice) the files before printing. Learning and tweaking the settings in here is all part of the fun!
In the end I have got this about right I think and some of the results I am getting for larger miniatures both with and without supports are really pleasing.
But where I am getting the files from to print? Thingiverse is a great resource – a community of designers and printers and a place to find stuff that is free. There are specific groups and collections of files on there which are aimed at tabletop gamers. However there is also a growing trend for digital sculptors and designers to use the Patreon funding platform to market and distribute work.
I currently support two Patreon campaigns, where for a monthly charge I get access to a number of STL files each month. Duncan ‘shadow’ Louca is well worth checking out. I first came across his work as part of a Kickstarter campaign which was creating tanks and armoured vehicle files for a ‘grimdark’ setting. However he has since branched out into miniatures which are primarily aimed at the fantasy roleplaying game market. Duncan is extremely prolific and the level of funding he is achieving each month is quite staggering. It is worth saying that the quality of the prints I have been getting from his files have been excellent as well. So both quantity and quality – winner!
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Another Patreon I have also recently started supported is run by Rocket Pig Games. They again focus on fantasy monsters and creatures primarily for role playing (but for me ideal for planning out a Saga Age of Magic army). The big selling point of their models is the aforementioned lack of supports. Well worth checking out. They also run a seperate Patreon campaign which focuses more on Lovecraftian ‘cosmic horror’ style miniatures.
Astral Lurker (Rocket Pig Games)
Filbolg (Rocket Pig Games)
The thing that connects everything I have covered so far is that I am printing big models. In addition thanks to some recent Kickstarer campaigns and the wealth of treasures on Thingiverse I have been printing lots of scenery. Again, although often detailed, this is big chunky stuff. For the most part the models produced are sturdy and where supports are necessary they are relatively easy to remove.
What about normal sized 28mm scale miniatures though? I recently volunteered to print our some models that a friend had designed and purchased on HeroForge. This is a great site where you can design character miniatures for your games and then either get them printed and shipped out to you or receive the STL files for printing out yourself. It is here that I’ve noticed that you are really stretching the capabilities of a FDM printer. As you are effectively layering up a model by depositing thin layers of plastic you do get some lines on flat surfaces. For larger models these can be easily filed or treated post-printing (with plastic putty for example). Settings can again be tweaked in slicing software to increase the resolution of a print (by reducing the layer height, but thus increasing print times); combined with the ability to swap out nozzles of different diameters this can lead to some stunning results. Of course on smaller models even with a high resolution setting and a smaller nozzle size these lines do become more visible. Combine this with the issue of removing supports and you do start to get some problems with bits snapping off that shouldn’t or obsfucation of detail.
This very much became apparent when I was trying to print off these models – many came out well, but there were a few where the detail was just too fine and the oft mentioned patience became somewhat stretched.
There is some light on the horizon though. SLA (Stereolithography) printers are becoming much more affordable. These work in a slightly different way and although they tend to have a smaller print size and are somewhat messier (they use light to harden liquid resin that is contained in a reservoir to create the desired 3D shape), they are ideal for printing smaller more detailed minaitures.
For an ‘Aliens obsessed’ friend I recently completed printing, assembling and painting the iconic Colonial Marines Armoured Personnel Carrier.
There were no shortage of models available to browse and download on Thingiverse. The once I settled on, based on being both pre-scaled and available to print almost in one piece (a big advantage of the large print bed the CR-10S gives me) was this by Iava808.
Overall print time was long! The chassis alone took nearly a day, however the resulting model was well worth it.
Using a base of PSC German Field Grey from a can and a bit of drybrush highlighting followed by a wash of Citadel Athonian Camoshade did the job nicely.
As the nice gentleman said: “Game over man, game over…”.
I’ve always been kind of fascinated by North Sea Oil Rigs. There is something brutal, impossible and imposing about these behemoths. They just kind of look impossible (and a bit frightening).
From a gaming perspective I’ve never really been into sea based or naval wargaming, but having an oil rig/platform to play on brings to mind such inspiration as Bond (Diamonds are Forever) and the classic (in my eyes) North Sea Hijack! Of course the ideal game for such a setting is my go to favourite, 7TV.
So a few months ago I made up my mind that I was going to build an oil rig as a gaming table. The objective of this project would be to produce something that looked kind of realistic, was easy to game on and was modular and therefore easy to transport. I also felt that I wanted to have a go at scratch building much of this from household bits and pieces wherever possible. So just after Christmas I put the call out to friends and colleagues for any spare coffee and sweet tins. Because of the season I managed to get a huge variety of Roses, Miniatures Heroes, Celebrations and Roses tins in various shapes and sizes. At the time I wasn’t quite sure of my design but felt these would provide a good basis for legs or supports.
Likewise for coffee tins, but I found these a bit harder to come by. I will admit at this point that I resorted to eBay and actually bought a job lot of empty Illy coffee tins (who know there was such a market for such a thing online?). Once these arrived my design began to take shape and these seemed like an obvious choice for my legs.
I got about 12 of these in total
The cap screws on, but also has a recess to allow them to sstack – this proved very useful
The actual playing surface itself was a bit of a cheat (and not at all based on recycling household items). Many years ago when running the shop I had stocked some modular plastic gaming tiles from Secret Weapon Miniatures. I still have four of these that were originally designed for Mantic’s Deadzone. As these were 1 foot square they would allow me to build the rig in four parts, each supported by a coffee tin leg with a chocolate tin as the concrete ‘boot’ or foundations.
Extending the modular idea, each quarter tile would be built in such a way that they could be put together in any order. I decided that each tile would also have a different purpose and I divided them as follows:
crew quarters / offices / command deck (I’m not entirely sure if on an Oil Rig you refer to a ‘bridge’
refinery (an industrial looking bit)
crane / cargo area
helicopter landing pad
I’d also aim to have some form of removable central structure that would be higher than the other parts of the rig and maybe culminate in some form of radar mast or communications array.
I’m going to cover the individual area builds in some future blog entries, but for the time being, with the weather being good and some free time on my hands this weekend I’ve cracked on with the super-structure!
First off, the coffee tins proved to be really spot on for the purpose I had in mind. Each was the same size and came with a screw on lid. By affixing one lid to the bottom of each platform tile I have been able to easily implement a system for taking the rig apart for transport and storage. I decided on a ‘two tin’ height for each leg. By gluing the top of one tin to the bottom of another I could further disassemble each leg into two parts, again meeting the modular objective.
Top leg section screwed on
Bottom leg section screwed on
Flipped the correct way up – utilising the screw lids this can then be easily taken apart again
Four matching plastic chocolate ‘tins’ (Cadbury’s Miniature Heroes for those of you who are interested) were chosen as the ‘concrete’ foundations for each leg. These were inverted so the lid was at the bottom and a coffee tin sized hole was cut in each for the main leg to slot into and provide stability. I decided not to glue the lids of chocolate tins together as they had a good seal and I want the ability to add ballast to these if necessary in future.
The tiles themselves come with a system of clips which link them together, so these would provide some extra stability and stop the sections moving independently.
Paint was applied to ‘legs’ and ‘boot’s next. Black car primer for the undercoat followed by a cheap Nato green spray for the legs and my old favourite textured stone paint for the ‘boots’.
I’ve covered the use of textured stone paint in a previous blog entry, but needless to say the same principles applied – lots of coats and considerable drying time between each. I started off using a mid-tone stone, but soon ran out so ended up with subsequent coats of a lighter ‘bleached stone’. Once this is weathered down I don’t think it will look too bad, and certainly from the off it gives a great representation of concrete.
Once I’d taken advantage of the decent weather to dry these components outdoors, it was time for a test build.
Et voila, so far, so good.
Size wise on it’s own this gives a 2′ by 2′ playing surface which is ideal for a small skirmish game, but plonk this on a bigger layout (maybe on a blue ‘sea’ cloth) with a few strategically placed boats and you could have for some quite interesting scenarios.
Next up will be to work on some the individual tiles. For the refinery I will be using a Pegasus/Conflix/Tehnolog ‘Chemical Plant’ kit with some Games Workshop and Mantic additions. The crane and containers will be an MDF kit, as will the living quarters, while for the helicopter pad I will be sticking with the coffee tin / confectionery container approach.
I’ve been making some in roads into the huge lead pile that arrived as part of the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter. In true ‘hobby butterfly’ style I’ve just been picking stuff up to paint that I fancy the look of, rather than having any particular plan.
It goes without saying that the figures are as always with Crooked Dice lovely sculpts, with next to no clean up required. For the majority of these I’ve chosen a grey or white undercoat as a base.
In addition to the figures I’ve also been adding in some vehicles to the mix. I got an extra Interceptor in my pledge and have gone for a basic, but what I think is quite effective black colour scheme for this. It was also my first time using the Citadel technical/dry paint rust effect (I forget it’s actual name). Although this looks VERY orange in the pot once dry brushed on it gives a really subtle effect that could pass for both rust and dust.
Finally I’ve completed the conversion of the 1/43rd Teamsterz toy car I have been working on. Post apocalypse Penny has finally got her Compact Pussycat – although I feel to be properly PA we should refer to this as the Kompakt Puzzycat!
Next on the apocalypse painting production line – Science Division Hazmat troopers.
But I might be about to get distracted by dinosaurs!
More work on the post-apocalyptic motor pool as I prepare for my first full game of 7TV Apocalypse.
Never one to start one new project, when I could do two in parallel, I’ve embarked on building the Crooked Dice V8 Interceptor resin kit and also a conversion of a die cast toy. The latter is going to be the wheels for my PA ‘Penelope Pitstop’ figure which along with the Interceptor I picked up as part of the recent Kickstarter.
The (second to) last of the V8 Interceptors
So first off the Interceptor kit. I originally got hold of one of these when they were released last year and made sure I included another in my Kickstarter pledge. This is a really nice, crisply cast resin model with loads of accessories. Taking it’s inspiration from the Mad Max films, the extra bits and pieces allow it to be built in a number of configurations.
I had previously built and painted this as a ‘Main Force Patrol’ police pursuit car from the original Mad Max. Looking back I wasn’t too keen on paint job I’d done, so the chance to built another one and make a better fist of it wasn’t to be passed up.
I’ve decided to go with a much more wastelands ‘last of the V8s’ look for this one, with the addition of the massive rear shield (which puts me in mind of the Death Race remakes of recent years).
Following a soak in warm soapy water and using pound shop superglue the pieces went together really well (with minimal clean up required). I was also left with plenty of accessories left over to use on other kits and conversions.
The Compact Pussycat (with claws)
Despite having a huge pile of figures to paint up from the Kickstarter all of which are excellent, there are a couple that stuck out that I really wanted to get to the top of the queue. One of these was the aforementioned Penny. Now of course, Penny needs a ride for the ‘wacky wasteland races’, so off the the big pile of unused Teamsterz cars it was then.
Using some of the left over Interceptor bits and bits from the stowage set I’ve come up with my own interpretation of the ‘Compact Pussycat’ (only this time with guns)!
Paint job has yet to be finalised, and as I have now got the full boxed set of rules through for 7TV Apocalypse I shall also be shortly stating up this motor.
Having recently taken delivery of both the rules and a huge set of miniatures from the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter I decided I should probably finish off some of my incomplete PA projects before diving into any new stuff.
Back at the Wargames Illustrated 7TV day last summer I came away with a 1/48 scale Tamiya kit from the prize pool. This was a World War II SS-100 aircraft tractor, but I immediately saw the opportunity for some conversion work to make this suitable for the wastelands.
The build of the basic kit was fairly straightforward and I cut some corners in terms of the detail (for example leaving out the interior and some of the smaller body work bits) to make it both more suitable for conversion and more sturdy as a gaming piece.
Using some of the conversion parts made available by Crooked Dice and a few bits and pieces from the spares box (including some 1:1 scale car body mesh) I gave it a suitably shabby and cobbled together PA look.
I completed the build last year and it has sat on my hobby work bench ever since. Inspired by the arrival of lots of lovely figures from the Kickstarter I was spurred on to finish painting and weathering it.
Basecoat was a from a spray can (Plastic Soldier Company Olive Drab) with a few suitably muted block colours used for stowage. The exception being the fuel tanks on both the original kit and the conversion parts which I picked out in red.
Weathering was completed using a thinned down wash of Army Painter Strong Tone wash and chipping was done using a dark brown using the sponge technique (a cross between dry brushing and stippling using a piece of foam). The gunner was picked out in blacks and greys – the gas mask giving him an almost SAS look.
All in all I’m pretty please with the overall result. It was quite a quick, but I think effective paint job. I’m also thinking that this vehicle would go really well with the ‘Mutant Hill Mob’ cast, so I think they are going to move close to the top of my 7TV Apocalypse to-do list.