Light Box and Backdrops

Landsknechts show off their mortar in the rolling hills of Italy.

Light Box and Backdrops: Backstage Pass

So I got a new small light box, which so far has been totally worth the $19 I paid for it. It came with  black and white "craft foam" back drops, but I wanted to see if I could build out more for my worlds. having made several backdrops for my other shots, I thought I'd give it a shot.
lightbox exterior. You can see the LED strip and boundary edges

I took another piece of craft foam and hit it with the paint. The trick to making these types of backdrops is fast and loose.  I paint down the sky first then bring the terrain up to match, using the same colors of paint I use for my bases and gaming mats. Then, like basing, I added course pumice gel with paint mixed for some texture on the foreground, and dry brushed it with cadmium yellow after it dried. 

Backdrop Materials- what works?

This is something I keep experimenting with, and am finding different results based upon the needs and requirements. Here's a few thoughts.

Support stand not included...

All paint here is done like watercolors.

Paper:  Paper, especially a quality paper like Rives BFK  comes in large sizes ( 30x 40 inches)  and costs under $10 per sheet. It's thick quality rag paper made to be rolled up and painted upon. I use this to make my larger backdrops that can be taken to conventions, and is great as the "hold it up" for any game shots.

Canvas:  Only slightly more expensive, canvas is also designed to be painted upon. This is what I use for my game mats, so the idea just translates to canvas very easily. Canvas can be rolled, folded, stuffed, etc and is very travel friendly. It is less stiff than paper, so needs to be supported when taking the shot. The nice part about canvas is that you can let it "roll down to make a smooth transition from sky to ground. Kind of the whole set up instead of just a backdrop.
Wasteland terrain backdrop that matches my game mat.
Canvas impromptu photoshoot.
  I actually like that you can see the texture of the canvas in some of the close up shots. It gives it a neat look.; not realistic, but painterly.

Foam:  Craft foam is cheap ($1 per sheet)  comes in a bajillion colors and is super easy to cut. I've found that it takes paint very well, although check the texture. I've gotten a slightly porous foam which is great for painting, and a smooth foam which is more resistant- or at least can leave brush strokes more readily.
Foam sheet textured and painted for the light box
Like the canvas it bends easily and can be transported. This is what I am currently using for my new light box. The limiting issue with craft foam is size, which standardizes in 12" x 18". Great for the single figure, but can be a challenge shooting units.

 Right- that's all for now. I am actually in the process of making more backdrops, including some "stage sets" to go with them. more soon.

In the mean time, I'd love to know what you do for backdrops, or have any suggestions on what more you'd like to see.



Warmaster: Romans are not quite Legion

I've totally forgotten which legion shield I did here...

10mm Romans

So... I actually bought these beautiful minis from Steve Barber when he came to an Origins show in California, around the time my son was 2. This month my son turns 11... ahem... and started painting this particular unit around that time.

After finishing up a few cars for Mad Maximilian I was looking for another 1 weekend and done king of project. Browsing the Face books, I saw Saxon Dog was back to painting Romans, and my mind clicked.  I'll finally restart doing my Warmaster ancients armies!

Legionary and Auxillia that I painted in... October? 

These will be used with Warmaster, which should surprise no one that has read my blog. I'm basing them a bit differently; instead of traditional 20 x 40mm bases, I'm using 30 x 40mm. This allows me to be a bit more "diorama" with the models. Romans will be more ranked up, whereas my Briton/Celts will have a more open horde look.

Bases are color coded for clarity.

I really love painting these Steve Barber minis- they have way too much detail for 10mm figures, and I am compelled to match the work that the sculptor put into them.

Next on my painting table are two units of Celts, for parity. Eghad 10mm tartan!



Mad Maximilian: Captain Terror rides again!

 Captain Terror:

Just completed my second vehicle and driver for Mad Maximilian.
This one is an homage to one of Speed Racer's chief nemisis-es... and the leader of the race car acrobatic team, Captain Terror.

One mean dude

When building the car, I reflected upon Terror's visage, and the guy looks like a burn victim, with that rictus grin, so the car had to have flamers!

My pal McGraw, when seeing that I had laid out all my parts for the car and had flamers, Double Dog dared me to make them forward facing. Well evil can't just pass up a dare like that- so I made them 180 to fool everyone (and probably burn myself up during a race at some point).

The Captain! 

The making of a race car villian:

This project started as a Stuts Benz, that I scored off of Ebay for a decent price. I took it apart and stripped it down using Jasco paint stripper- the exact same stuff we use in my family to strip paint off of big cars. Caution when using it- wear two pairs of rubber gloves and glasses- you don't want to actually look like Captain Terror.

Fresh off the factory floor.

the original "DIP"

Ready for a rebuild.

  With the spare tires removed, there was a built in set of ports on each side. I ran a brass wire through them and bent it at 90 degree angles. These would be the pipes for the flamers.

 Once I had the car ready to rock, I watched a few episodes of Speed Racer (I heart Youtube) and did some research. This toy car is a good replica of the Cptn's vehicle. I used it as my inspiration. Those pipes "do" look like flamers...

  After I figured out the car and how I wanted the flamers to work , and had color scheme, I needed a driver.  Taking the body from the Eureka driver I had, I took a head from one of my Triumph of Death minis, and did my best to sculpt a cape. The feather was from a mordheim plastic sprue of days gone by.

I love the way Eureka built the big period steering wheels onto their drivers

What's Next?

 I've already made turn templates to lasercut, and worked with McGraw to create track templates, from which to lay out tracks to test. I've got a couple more vehicles already started, but need drivers- so keep posted race fans!



Anglo Dutch Wars ship Prototypting

3rd rate Anglo Dutch Wars ship

 Meanwhile in Fosslington ship yards...

I've had some time this week to do more prototyping on a project I started last year- 1/300th scale (6mm-ish) Anglo Dutch Wars ships
larboard side showing parts

Starboard side and parts, as well as base
 My goal for this round of prototyping was to figure out how many parts the model will be, how they separate and assemble, and then the thing I've been kind of dreading, the masts and yard arms. 

I'm going to call this a half victory, as the masts are all in the wrong place, and the yard arms are not working the way I want, and would be quite fiddly and fragile.
After building this out, I've got a cunning plan to change them. I have some other projects that take priority, but it was great to get a day to keep pushing this idea. 

Painted Lady

Why make these ships? Two reasons- I've been working on rules for fighting this era, and they are basically giant floating bling cakes! So much fun to paint. Here's an example of the larboard and stern castle. 


Galleys Guns and Glory!: Turk and Malta

Knights of Malta and Turkish galleys

I am in the middle of several projects at the moment, non ready for camera- or that I can reveal. I was digging through some older folders and found these pictures of a commission I did last year. These ships were done for On Military Matters, a book and game store on the East coast that carries my Galleys Guns and Glory! line of ships and rules.
Turkish galley with crew markers
Knights of Malta galley, showing smoke marker and crew markers

Nothing fancy here, just good examples on how a few colors and the flags, awnings and a bit of rigging can produce a handsome gaming model.

 Lastly I took this image to show how to paint up crew markers. I always give you extra for each ship, because I lose things. Also a great way to experiment on different color choices. Or new buttons for your favorite gaming shirt.


Warmaster: Empire Halberdiers

Middenheim lads
Unit close ups: Halberdiers, the Empire's backbone

 Any good Warmaster Empire army has a minimum requirement of halberdiers. This is fine as they are pretty decent troops with a save of 6, and not too pricey, being found all over the Empire.
Boys of Hochland

The sculpts themselves (I wish I could remember who sculptor was) are really clean with lots of personality.
Altdorf- they have to fight over their name a lot!

Talabecland. My most decorated of halberdier units.
Warmaster is my one go to game that I enjoy playing over and over with different armies and lots of folks. It has spectacle, tactics, some skill, and a push your luck system that makes for a good game.

Altdforf halberds with Nordland crossbow
Do you play Warmaster? If so, what armies?


Changing of the Guard

The changing of the guard for a new campaign season

 New Brush love, old brush love

 When I was in the UK this September, I spent all my pocket money on new brushes at the famed L. Cornelessin &  Son. 

curiously not on diagon alley. Actually a few blocks down from the British Museum

They have drawers of brushes behind the counter, and it is like being in a wand store from Harry Potter, except for artists. It truly is a magical place and should be on everyone's bucket list.

Woodens and metals excited to be finish with the new guys
 with the start of my painting campaign season coming to a start, I decided it was time to bring out the big guns and open up some of these guys, retire others. I kind of rotate my brushes from minis/ art work to the garage-shop where they get used in art and terrain work.  I'm super tough on brushes although I do clean them and store them properly. Series 7 brushes have never let me down and are, in my mind always worth the investment.


Mad Maximillian: The Marmon Meteor

Guido Veloce in his Marmon Meteor 500.

 Like squirrels on crack, my game group has fallen in love with yet another game. This time it's Mad Maximillian, published by Mana Press and sold through Eureka Miniatures.

May I present Guido Veloce,driving his Marmon Meteor 500,equipped with a Big 8-125 horsepower engine. And light auto cannon- and ram blades. Standard stuff in Mad Maximillian. 
light auto cannon to clear the track

spinning blade ram plates, because homage's need to be filled.

I had to jump in on the action, so scored a car on ebay and went to work. Before I hit that buy button, I knew what theme I wanted to do- one of my favorite shows as a kid was Speed Racer. It had to be done!
Zeppelin eye view

This is the view you should get used to!
 Historical Context
(from Wikipedia)
Marmon Motor Car Company was an American automobile manufacturer founded by Howard Carpenter Marmon and owned by Nordyke Marmon & Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, US. It was established in 1902 and was merged and renamed in 1933. They produced cars under the Marmon brand. It was succeeded by Marmon-Herrington and later the Marmon Motor Company of Denton, Texas. The name currently survives through the Marmon Group of Chicago, Illinois.

the 1911 Wasp
Marmon won the first ever Indianapolis 500 with the Wasp. They were also the first car company to have rear view mirrors on their cars. Quite a bit of cool history