Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Some time to think, planning future projects... Frostgrave!

This summer has proved to be a very difficult one for my model making projects. Earlier in the year we went through some family health issues which led to a bereavement. While dealing with that I found it impossible to concentrate on any model making or sculpting work. Due to this I had to back out of a sculpting job that I had been really enjoying, and that would almost certainly have led on to more work.

On top of that, in my day job we have just moved to a new building, which has meant creating a whole new model making workshop and also taking on a new guy to help me out... The move is more or less complete, however we are still waiting for all the new workshop machinery, which will hopefully arrive in the next couple of weeks.

Stepping back from the sculpting work gave me a chance to consider where I want to concentrate my sculpting. I have decided that I am going to restrict myself to personal projects that I have been planning for some time and not take on any sculpting commissions for a while (although I am still taking on commercial model making work). I have a couple of ideas that I have been working on and it is about time I took them in to 3D. I can't reveal what these projects are at the moment as I want to get several pieces sculpted before I do the big reveal, consequently I doubt that I will be doing many sculpting articles for a while, so the focus of this blog will be on my model making, for a bit.

On a personal level, once my gaming pals and I have finished our Star Trek: Attack Wing campaign,  we are planning to start playing Frostgrave (from Osprey Publishing) and this has inspired me to start a new terrain building project. I have gone through the rulebook and listed all the terrain needed for the scenarios. This is the starting point for the project as I want to make terrain  that can be used for these, but will also be useful for more generic games too.

As a terrain heavy game that will have wizards and their followers fighting through the ruins of a long dead city, it means anyone running the game is going to need a fair bit of terrain. I hope to be able to show that this is not too daunting a task, and that you can put together a lot of reasonably good looking terrain quite quickly and without spending a fortune!

I have started the project by cutting a series of boards that will be used for the bases for the terrain pieces. I cut and sanded a number of 20cm x 20cm pieces and also several 20cm x 40cm pieces. Each base will hold an individual ruin and once they are all brought together they should give the feel of a ruined city. Also by using this modular system it should be possible to generate different tables every time we play!

In my next post I will look at the first ruin I am building, A wizards tower!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Laser Cut Shipping Container Build

Last year I designed a shipping container kit so that I could build some terrain for my Across The Dead Earth games.

I know there are already plenty of companies out there that produce shipping container kits, but none of them really worked for me. some are far too simplistic, others are too sci-fi, I wanted plenty of detail and containers that can reasonablypass for 20th century onwards...

This is how the kit goes together...

 Asyou can see there are quite a few parts, for what is basically a box...

The first part of construction is putting together the sides and the top. The two square frames go at either end and basically hold the whole thing together.

Once I had glued the two sides on I immediately glued the top in place.

 Once the top is settled in I used a couple of rubber bands to hold the structure together while the glue dried.

 Next up I glued the inner walls into place.

These clamps were pretty much essential throughout the build.

 Once the sides had dried I glued the inner roof in place.

 For the back of the container it proved easier to glue the two parts of the wall together before assembly.

I made the back wall a simple push fit. Simply run a little glue around the inside of the frame.

 A snug fit in the back frame.

Next I glued the base of the container in place.

This completes the main structural build, only leaving the doors to finish off.

Each door is made up of four parts.

Firstly you need to glue the two door plates together. I found running glue across the doors like this to be the best way.

When the two pieces go together it is important to line up the holes. Turn the doors over and insert the two small U shaped pieces, there should be enough glue already in the holes to retain them.

Then put them aside to let the glue set.

At this point I found I can put the doors in position on the containers and they will stay in place quite nicely. They are designed to be positioned either open or closed. I assume that most will be glued shut, but it is nice to have the option of an open container...

Once the doors are in place, take two cocktail sticks and side them though. Mark the length with a pencil.

Cutting the sticks can be done in several ways. If you are in a hurry, a pair of sprue cutters (wire cutters) will do the job reasonably well, otherwise a fine saw or even a sharp knife will do...

When I designed the kit I left the handles in a small frame as they are so small they are easily lost.

Cut them out with a sharp knife.

Glue them in position as you see fit...

That's it the container is finished. I could have made them simpler to assemble but I wanted to get a reasonably accurate 3D effect with the walls and also the doors, so this seems like a fair compromise.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Step By Step Sculpt Part 06!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5,

Before I cook the clay for the second time I have decided that I want to do some work on the feet.

The first thing to do is bulk them out to get a reasonable idea of size. It is very easy to sculpt hands and feet out of scale, put in a lot of work and then realise that they are too large or too small, and have to scrap them. When working on 28mm wargames miniatures there is a bit more tolerance on this as many wargames figures have developed their own style which has led to heads, hand and feet being oversized quite a bit. When working on this larger scale miniature though it is very important that the whole figure is in proportion.

I plan to work on the soles of the boots later on (after baking), so I have just roughly built them.
Initially I started work on the left boot. Getting it basically boot shaped and building up the cuff around the ankle.

I was building the ankle part into quite an open style, however I wasn't very happy with that, so I will change it later.

Overall I am happy that it looks like a left boot, and is the correct scale for the figure.

I tightened up the cuff and brought it in around the ankle, then started work on the front detailing.

The clients drawing shows detail down the front of the boot that looks like a similar plate design to that on the figures left side and right shoulder. However, with the positioning and the small scale of the detail I am concerned that it looks like he has lace up boots. I don't feel that this is very in keeping with the high-tech design, so I may add a strap across the ankle later on. Also, I felt that the boot needed more of a definite division between it, and the trousers, so I am trying a rib around the top of the boot.

I didn't want to get to far ahead with the left boot without doing the right one. So I have started to build that one up too. I have found that while I add clay to the right foot I have caught the left foot once or twice with the sculpting tool. It is annoying to damage finished areas while working on other pieces close by, so I can see i am going to have to bake it soon...

Monday, 16 March 2015

Star Trek Attack Wing Vs. X-Wing

As a quick break from the sculpting posts I am going to look at Star Trek Attack Wing and it's sister game X-Wing.

I initially resisted jump on to either Star Trek Attack Wing (STAW) or X-Wing, as I felt the cost of building a meaningful fleet was prohibitive. However, due to my gaming pals having picked up those games it seemed only right to give them a try. We tried STAW first, and the simplicity and effectiveness of the system really caught our attention. I do have Wings of Glory, or to be more precise Wings of War, it's predecessor, which is the origin of the system and is a World War One fighter game. So the basic concept wasn't that new, but the execution in this instance is very well done.

I have played a few different star ship combat systems over the years, and I must admit that they usually leave me cold. They are either far too complex or have nonsensical rules that just don't attract me. However with STAW I found it gave a reasonably quick game that had a enough complexity to be interesting, but didn't get bogged down in endless tricky rules. The thing that really struck us was the effective way that the rules gave the feel of large capital ships taking on each other in a slugging match.

X-Wing on the other hand, using very similar rules, give the feel of fighter, or small ship combat, very well.

At this point I had pretty much about faced and decided I wanted to break into one of these games. Now, it has been a long time since I considered myself to be either a Trekkie or a Star Wars fan, so I didn't have any particular reason to swing either way. I had to decide on other grounds. The first consideration was factions. With X-Wing, realistically there are only two factions, The Empire and the Rebels, whereas with STAW there are many, many different races and factions, and there are the options for alliances too! This would mean that my gaming group would be able to build up our own forces without too much overlap.

Also I personally preferred the larger ship combat system rather than the fighter combat, not for any particular reason, just the way I would prefer to go!

So as you have probably already guessed I have plumped to Star Trek Attack Wing. I have picked up three Romulan ships so far. Jeff has jumped in with both and has growing fleets of most factions, but he ignored the Romulans (and the Borg to some extent). Del has gone with the Borg. It is my birthday next month and so I will be getting the basic game then. I quite fancy picking up a few Klingon ships at some point, and I am not too familiar with some of the later races from DS9 (I lost interest in the Star Trek universe when Babylon 5 started and captured my interest, oh for a B5 version of this game)...

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Step by Step Sculpt Part 05!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Slow and steady with the detail. It makes for fairly boring posts but it is what really takes the time...

 I have worked up some detail on the right arm, building up the fabric with some bunching and folds. I have also started work on the "plates" over the right shoulder. I have scored in the divisions between the plates and once I have cooked the clay I will sand them down to achieve a more "plate-like" feel to the area.

 As I rotate the figure, I often jump back to parts that I had worked on previously. Slowly refining the detail on the fabric, or smoothing out areas. This is one of the great advantages with the polymer clay, as until it is cooked I can keep returning to the same area over and over again.

I have also done some work on the coat under the  right arm. Adding some folds into the fabric. The brief from the client (Wild House Models), has allowed me some creative input, letting me take the design sketches and develop them into the 3D form with some flourishes of my own. So I have added some more extra flow to the fabric, and broken up the smooth lines a little, I feel that this adds to the overall detail of the figure, and add some realism, without removing it too much from the original concept...

Next up I started to work on the fabric where it is fastened at the front of the coat. Adding littll stresses in the fabric, where concealed fastenings are pulling at it...

 I have also started to add the seams to the left side of the coat.

In these photos they are at a very early stage, literally just scored into the soft clay.

At this stage it is relatively easy to correct errors, if I get the lines in the wrong place... However, I am reasonably happy with the positioning, and I will move on to smoothing them and shaping them a little more next.

I am aiming to cook the figure again very soon, to set the new work in place, but before I do that I will do some more work on the coat and probably add some detail to the left arm.

The brief also requires that figure to have two alternate heads. So once I have cooked and set the existing work I will remove the head stump and work on the neck locating joint. Removing this part could be quite tricky as the the core of hard epoxy and copper wire may be difficult to cut through. I want to do it at this stage so that I don't damage the figure after I have added to much detail around the neck...

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Step by Step Sculpt Part 04!

Part 01, Part 02, Part 03.

Not much progress in the last few days, I have had a few health issues and they have meant I haven't done much sculpting.

I have done some more work on the doctors coat, which is starting to take shape quite nicely. I have also started to work on the arms, but more on them in the next post.

I am not totally happy with the smoothing of the polymer clay, and I have read that a soft brush and some oil (possibly baby oil) is good for this. I am going to have to do some more research before I try this as I don't want to ruin the work already done.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Step by Step Sculpt Part 03!

Part 01Part 2

The first bake seemed to go OK, the legs have set well and it means I can hold them while I work on the upper torso.

I started off by filling out the torso to get the anatomy more or less correct. Then moved on to adding the doctors coat. It sits at a jaunty angle, and initially I was a bit concerned that it would look out of place on a male figure. However, I think that this will be resolved once I get more of the outfit in place.

I also felt it was time that I added some supporting epoxy putty (ProCreate) to the head area.

 As I approach the shoulders it is apparent that I need to get the arms in position so that I can work on the fabric around the shoulders. Using my scale template I cut the arm wires to length and belt them at the elbow joints. Once again, I applied some ProCreate to the arms to bulk them out a bit and give a surface for the polymer clay (Super Sculpey) to adhere to...

I have also done some more work to the doctors coat and added some of the armour like plates down his left leg.

As my confidence grows with the polymer clay I have decided to leave further bakings at this stage as I am finding  I am happy working on the miniature in it's soft state at the moment.

It is interesting to see how the polymer clay tales details, I had really considered using ProCreate for the plates on his leg, but the Super Sculpey is working well at the moment.

Just as a side point, I usually sculpt at a couple of different places and carry my tools and sculpts with me. This has never been a problem as I could just drop my set sculpts into a plastic box and they would be safe. However, with the change to polymer clay I have to carry un-set sculpts, and rattling around inside a plastic box is liable to destroy all the detail before I can bake it.

However I have manage to get around this by using some foam to secure the figure, so that it is suspended within the box and is securely protected during transport...

Look for another post over the next week or so, as the figure moves on, and I hope to start approaching some more of the detail!
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