Sunday, September 24, 2017

A River Runs Through It


One of the final tasks on this forest and hills terrain board is to add the water effects to the river!

I tried to make sure that some of the flock made it "inside" the river to represent plat life, moss and other things growing in the water.  The focus was on the brownish colors, because they will turn much darker when the water effects hits them.  This will create a false 'depth" in the river, as the darker colors will make it seem much deeper!


I had Secret Weapon Water Effects on hand, so I will be using that.  Be sure not to shake the bottles... a habit we try to break by writing that on the bottle itself :-)


I don't get too crazy with the first application of water effects.  The goal is to get the effects into all the foliage and crevices at the start.  Later on in the subsequent layers, I will try to make it look like deeper water.


The Secret Weapon effects dry crystal clear, and don't take as long as the Woodland Scenics or Vallejo effects. The rocks that I placed in the river bed will also create waves by default, something that I learned on the Barbarossa board.


Once this first layer (or even a second if you wish) of water effects has dried, it is time to add some actual waves!


This Liquitex Heavy Gloss Gel is fantastic for many effects, and creating waves is certainly one of them.  A few of the #8 round craft brushes will do the trick.


You can see how heavy and thick that the gel is.  Always remember that it will dry very clear, but large piles of it will take a while to dry all the way through!


I concentrate on all of the places where something is protruding from the water.  For various reasons, I made a lot of stuff sticking out of this river. 

First, it helps to create that false sense of depth, second, I can use more of the heavy gel for water effects, thus saving on the number Secret Weapon Water Effects pours.

Finally, there are more obstacles to show why wheeled vehicles and infantry cannot cross this without the aid of bridges and boats...


You have to determine which way you want your river to flow, and be sure to follow that flow on every single object.  This image shows how the water "piles up" on the leading edge of the obstacle, and then flow around and behind it.  Keep in mind, the thicker you apply it, the longer it will take top dry!


This shot really demonstrates how important it is to keep that uniform flow of the current.  Another reminder... all of the white tones will go away as the water dries.  Eventually I will do a final layer with some paint added to make those white caps.


Once this layer of gel dried, I added a few more.  I will get you some images of what the river looked like after the final layers have dried, and the white caps added.

Stay tuned!


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Flora and Fauna


Continuing the flocking process on the large hills was a challenge, as I mentioned in the last post.  I discovered that it is best to work in smaller areas at once, even though the spray adhesive doesn't "dry" per se.  

I started out with the fine dark brown flock, concentrating on natural shadow areas such as under the logs and bushes.  I then placed the heavier, green flock, working out from the larger moss clumps.

This is how I approach placing rocks on my bases and terrain, starting with the biggest and working down to the finest sand.


It was very difficult to get "in progress" images, since my hands were covered in glue and flock!  Hopefully this image helps.  It is my hope to be able to create facebook live sessions for these, now that I have gone through the testing stages.

The larger the terrain piece, the more crucial it is to vary the tones, colors and textures.  This will keep them from looking bland, but also make for some great close up shots as your infantry crosses it as well.


A few images of the nearly completed hill.  The bright lights have burned out a bit of the color, but you will see nicer images later...


This overview looks a lot different than the images from the last post... no more brown wasteland!

I did end up adding a few mats of flowers on each slope, since I had discovered a package of vine/flowers.  Those are in the butter container on the lower right hand side of the picture.


They can be pulled apart and separated, and are handy for making large sections of wildflowers.  This is a lot less expensive than trying to use the pricey flower tufts!  Wildflowers usually grow in large patches anyway.  Once again, it is all about textures and colors.


Here are all the newly flocked pieces arrayed on the table.  I can't wait for the TableWar mats to arrive, since they will make a fantastic setting for this woodland terrain.


As you can see, there are many types of trees, different heights, and the stands are shaped in different patterns too.  I have already arranged these in dozens of different ways, which means that each game/table will bring an entirely new experience.

This is the main difference between the set piece Barbarossa board and something made entirely from Scatter terrain.  While we could use most, if not all of these on the other board, I have infinite options available this way, and some easier storage/portability options.


I will also be painting a new backdrop for these types of ground level images.  My original plan was to do a bed sheet, but I think that I can create something more elaborate and interesting out of spare cardboard.  If possible, I will do a step by step on that for you as well.


This was the original vision that I had for the board well over a year ago.  Using all the things I have learned since, and all the new materials discovered, I was able to make that dream come alive!


I could not resist tossing out a few carts and wagons.  The big wagon was for our Western games, so we will stick with the carts for Bolt Action...


They might be hard to spot, but the walls are in here too.  I was very happy with how those turned out, and I look forward to using them with the buildings that I am constructing..


And now for a preview of the next post!!!  Getting water into the river.  Stay tuned!!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Green Man


Once I had the large clumps of moss in place, and the glue had a chance to dry for a bit, I could continue with the rest of the process.  I mentioned that the tops of the hills were kept as clear as possible for other types of scatter terrain, in this case one of the smaller tree stands.

The clumps on the flanks of the hills were meant to provide potential cover for troops advancing up the hill, or vice versa.


This wider angle shot illustrates how I did this on each section, sometimes with some fallen trees.  I will also make some additional pieces of terrain which will be angled to fit on the slopes too.


To ensure that the clumps would be large enough to cover a squad, I had a few figures on hand of each primary type of pose... kneeling, standing, etc., to make sure that they could actually see over the tops of the bushes, and that at least 10 could count as being in cover.  

Since only the majority of figures must be in cover,  I think that ten could easily find a bit of refuge behind this clump, even from multiple angles.


Hopefully this image gives a sense of how large these hills are.  Previously, the larger hill sections that I had constructed were simple "stair step" pieces, made from thick insulation foam.  While they looked OK, they were all the same kind of hard, cliff face, with no slope at all.

While that was OK for various fantasy and sci-fi games, I needed something more realistic for Bolt Action.  I ran across the same thing with the foliage for my basing techniques, which had to be changed once a "real" figure was standing on the base!


I also mentioned that the clumps of bushes was meant to provide obstacles and cover for infantry and even small transports.  Here's an example of a squad taking over on the side of the river.


This is an image that I have seen so many times as I looked at the banks of most rivers... trees and bushes practically in the river itself.  Also, they would help to hide the edges that had to be created to allow for water effects.  

While I loved the "dug in" river of the Barbarossa board, it is set in place forever, and each game will have to revolve around it.  I needed something that could be removed if necessary, and work with the new mats from TableWar!


Here's the array of new products, all from Woodland Scenics.  There is not only a difference in color, but also texture.  There's a heavier, thicker type in a rich green and a brown, super fine in tan and very dark brown, and medium flock in a variety of greens.


Here's an example of what they look like right out of the package.  It is handy to have containers like this when you want to apply the flock.  You can gold the piece right over the container, which means you will save on a bit of mess and catch more of the excess too!


I used the spray adhesive for all of the flocking process.  You can see that I am trying to get as wide a variety as possible in colors and textures, starting off with the banks of the river.  I will tackle the bushes later.


Once the banks of the river have their flock texture, I started to apply that to the moss clumps as well.  I am still amazed at how much the flock transforms the very obvious moss clumps into trees!  More of the heavy green flock was used on the banks to mask the regular shape that was created.

In the future I will try to make rivers with a more irregular bank, but this was a first attempt, and it was a lot faster to make the raised edges of the banks this way.

Be sure to have lots of newspaper on hand, because each time to spray the glue, you will have a very sticky surface.


The same process was followed on the smaller tree stands, and you can see the difference between the two in this image.  It is stunning to see how those non descript clumps suddenly look so real.


My larger trees were equally satisfying.  I used as wide a variety of colors and shades as I could so that the trees would look larger.


Meanwhile, I was also trying out the stands which were made with the Poly Fiber.  Don't be too freaked out by the white residue left by the spray adhesive.  That is all covered up by the flock!

I did like the Poly Fiber material, as it is very light, and very strong.  A little can go a long way as I discovered.  It is ideal for the tops of very tall trees, so that they are less top heavy.


The large hills were a challenge, but I managed to get the same kid of variety on them as well.  I will cover that more in the next episode, so stay tuned!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Great Outdoors


This set of terrain is very different from the "set piece" Barbarossa board, even though the vast majority of it is forested.  I needed to create hills that were much larger than anything I had done before, which meant taller and broader.

That would present a very different set of challenges than the board we had been working on, where I could create depth very easily by carving into the thick foam.

You will recognize many of the materials from that previous board, such as the moss, wood glue and spray glue.  However, a few new options presented themselves when I was moving some stuff around to make room for this gaming table.  Over the next few episodes, I will try to show how I used them.


These are the only images that I have of the hills and rivers prior to painting and flocking.  They were made mostly from the same thin pink foam that was used on the buildings.  The tiles are roughly 12 inches square, so that gives you a sense of how large these pieces are!

I tried out a sculpting plaster for the first time, which I needed to create a more gentle slope on the hills.  If that was too steep, the figures would simply keep rolling down these hills!  I wanted something that would not just block line of sight, but be a terrain piece which would interact with the figures.


Once all that dried, I used a watered down glue glaze with various ballast scattered over the top.  I used Badger airbrush paints to get a few quick layers of browns, greys and even a few greens.

As you can see, there were a few tree stands as well as the rivers and hills.  This time around, I wanted to see if I could make larger shrubs and bushes out of the moss.  After seeing countless tables where moss was used as scatter terrain, I thought that I could utilize the moss to create what I have seen over and over again in nature... lots of small trees and bushes growing right on the banks of rivers and streams.


The first task was to glue those in place with wood glue.  That took longer to set, so I did that on all the pieces first.  After setting one clump in place, I tried to surround it and support it with smaller pieces around its edge.

These were made large enough to both impede the progress to infantry and vehicles and offer them adequate cover/line of sight blocking.


Hopefully you can see that I tried to make as many of the clumps as possible hang over the edge.  The main reason I did this was to "hide" the fact that this was just a strip of pink foam placed on a table, as opposed to the dug in river of the Barbarossa board.

They would also be a more impressive obstacle to those vehicles and infantry that I mentioned earlier.


I did the same thing on the larger hills, although I had to be careful not to put too many of those on each hill.  I wanted to have the option of placing buildings, tree stands, gun emplacements and other objects on or near the tops of each piece.


Here's an example of that, where one of the larger tree stands is in place.  It would look very odd if there were suddenly a group of larger trees without even a shrub nearby!  Later I will show you some images of how I used a squad of infantry to judge how big to make them, and where they should be placed.


I made a set of walls to go along with my village houses from the previous set of how to posts, using a few simple strips of the thin pink foam.  After watching many episodes of Midsomer Murders, I had gotten very used to seeing these stone fences overgrown with vegetation!

Much smaller clumps of moss were glued to the fences.


Here's the first of the new materials.  Lo and behold, I had a few bags of the Poly Fiber from Woodland Scenics, something which I had been intending to purchase.  While I love to use the moss for trees, it can sometimes be difficult to use on trees which I make from natural branches.

It there are not enough supporting 'branches', the moss has a tough time staying in place.  The poly fiber is designed to stretch out over such surfaces.  It is also much lighter, so far less glue is needed.  I decided to use the poly fiber to support my smaller clumps of moss.


There was also another material (the packaging was gone so I don't know what it is called) which was similar to the poly fiber, but covered with rough foliage.  It could be stretched out just like the poly fiber, so I used it to create an additional layer of texture on that stand, and as extra support for the sections of moss on another stand.  That is the image in the upper right.


I think this was also intended to be used as vines or ground cover, so I gave it a try on my walls too.  It definitely created a bit of an ivy look...


These larger Woodland Scenics plastic trees had plenty of supporting branches, so I could use my normal spray glue and moss technique.


You can see how each clump is draped over those branches, giving them plenty of support.  Once these were in place, I sprayed them with the adhesive and then dropped a variety of flock over the tops.  Some of it had a heavier texture, as well as different tones and shades.


Here's one of those trees ready for the final colors and textures of flock!  I will cover that in the next episode, so stay tuned!!!