Archive for May, 2009

Apartment S

May 30, 2009

DSCF1047Here’s another refurbished building from the ghost town group. Although looking back I notice this one barely made it into the photo on that post. The original base has become the pavement on the larger base, plenty of clamping when gluing was needed. A patchy appliance of lighter grey on the walls, a new roof, plus the lawns and a pair of trees. I wanted bulky trees for this one, so I’ve twisted a pair of those bargain Chinese made model railway trees together.

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Tracks a plenty

May 30, 2009

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First are some GHQ Cromwells, really good fun to work on and the usual razor sharp detail.

DSCF1171 Attaching the crop rows was done after the tank had been fixed to the base, this made it more difficult than it should have been, so if I try this again I’ll do the crops first.

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Shermans of unknown manufacture, easy enough to paint but slightly lacking in the detail I’m rather decadently getting used to with GHQ and CinC.

DSCF1156A trio of GHQ Humber MKII armoured cars. One of the problems with adopting a single standard base size across a microscale army is how smaller pieces like this can look lonely on the base. I may well go back to this one and add some bushes.

DSCF1158A Hummel of unknown brand, with Adler crew added. It’s quite odd to see pictures of these so much larger than the model itself.

DSCF1159Another Hummel, again with Adler crew. I particularly like the way the chap has his hands over his ears, it really brings the piece to life.

DSCF1161A very mixed base here. Another piece from an ebay purchase of unknown parentage in the shape of an 88mm gun, but with a crew of Adler & GHQ, and the nice extra of a box of ammo – a number of which are included in Adler crew sets. This one’s not quite finished so expect me to recycle it in a later post.

Bunker Mentality

May 22, 2009

DSCF1069Bunkers or pillboxes are one of the easiest structures to build, limited only by historical record or for the futuristic modeller imagination. Typically it’s all square and boxy, and no fancy details like glazed windows, roofing nor chimney. I’m going to show you how to make one, in the style of a World War II German bunker such as you might find as part of the Atlantic wall. For this project you’ll need some foamcore board, plasticard, a base board and the usual selection of tools, glues and paints. To start take a pencil and ruler and draw out a plan on the base board similar to the picture above. What I’m after for this bunker is enough room to get two bases inside, one larger weapon such as an 88mm gun plus a smaller support weapon like an HMG. At the plan stage I’ve had one of my standard miniature bases around, I’ve also traced the finished design onto a scrap of paper for making measurements for the later stages.

DSCF1073Next is cutting strips of foam board to the height needed to comfortably allow based pieces to fit inside. On the last bunker I made I used plasticard with an eye to having a bash at getting the texture right. It worked but was a little on the large size, and very slow. In using foam board I’m hoping to get an authentic look but easier, so I’ve scored the card horizontally on the exterior of the walls. You can just about see it in the photo. I’ve made sure I’ve plenty of spare pieces left for later on. Then I’ve marked where the apertures and interior door will be, as well as where the walls need to be cut. I’ve made life a trifle harder by only having a single ninety degree corner. If this is your first effort you might want to stick to square corners.

DSCF1074Cut out the apertures and door before you stick them down. Then I superglued the walls in place, gel is better for this than the liquid variety, let it dry and then used PVA glue to strengthen the joins. The join of the two aperture walls is the only one I bevel cut before before joining, the others I overlapped slightly, and then trimmed. The first embrasure is cut from the spare pieces and rather handily a single piece. It’s important to get these walls set square on the vertical, and this will depend greatly on how square you’ve cut the bottom of the walls. To the right is an embrasure which wraps around a corner and I tried a different approach for it.

DSCF1075Here’s the corner embrasure, which is a sandwich of pieces. To make sure there’s a slight slope to it I’ve cut the first piece to the plan and then just placed that on a piece of foam board and traced around it with a pencil. This makes each piece slightly larger than the previous. When glued together this can be trimmed as a whole. This was time consuming, and I wasn’t happy with the finished result, so although I’ve shown how to do it I’d recommend trying just about any other way. I’ll drone on about this lack of perfection later.

DSCF1076To the left is an embrasure with a better finish, again from scored spare foamboard. I’ve added the stepping to the main weapon port (I got bored with using the word aperture).

DSCF1077Now for the bunker entrance and ammo store. I’m going to have a fixed roof onit so I’ve used scored plasticard for it. Again it’s double glued. There’s an important if near invisible step to the model at this stage, and that’s liberally applying PVA glue to all the exposed foam edges. This is for a number of reasons; mainly it’s to seal it, so when painted it doesn’t just soak up tons of paint like a sponge. It will do this given a chance, then gravity will go about it’s evil way in sucking that down into the very core of the model which may warp the walls, detach the paper on either side and even leaking through any poor joins at the bottom. The PVA glue also protects the foam from materials which might damage it, like green putty, misplaced plastic-weld or some spray paints. It will also prevent the near suicidal or neo- psychotic (depending on your style) episode which result from the experience of finding a near finished model slowly destroying itself. Isn’t PVA glue wonderful?

DSCF1078Here a roof has been put on the extension to the left, and I’ve added a ridge to it. Paints been brushed on to the now PVA’ed foam edges, and most joins. Green putty has been smeared around the base on the exterior to allow purchase for later stages.

DSCF1083Next is the roof, which is two pieces; one being the roof itself cut from foamboard, another being a piece of plasticard to hold the roof in place. Now to measure this from the model is troublesome, but remember how I traced the original plan in the first stage? That’s where you can take your measure from, bear in mind you’ll want the roof to slightly overlap the walls like any good bunker.

DSCF1084Spray undercoat the model, and onto what for me was an experimental stage using a new material – oasis. This is the material used by many florists as a base for flower displays, not the brothers who sing “Wonderwall”. It comes in two colours, green for use with fresh flowers, and brown for dried. I picked some of this up at a pound shop and have been looking for a model making use for it. It’s very light, cheap and can be cut and shaped easily, but it’s insanely delicate, just touching it can produce a dent, and press it hard enough and it becomes paper thin before giving up the ghost and crumbling at your brutality. However this doesn’t mean it’s without use, namely as a type of filler where others would be too costly, heavy, awkward and in drying lead to warppage of your base. So I’ve cut and shaped several slightly oversized pieces to fill where earth would be heaped against the bunker walls. This has then been sealed with lashings of PVA glue, which takes a long time to dry with this material.

DSCF1086Then I’ve mixed some miliput, rolled it really thinly and applied it over the top. This gives it a hard shell which can be sculpted, drilled etc. You could use basetex, any other filler or similar of course.

DSCF1088I’ve spray painted the model in a lighter shade, roughly brushed on a camo pattern, and added the first coat of flock.

DSCF1090It’s a decent piece now, although I’ve yet to add a dirty brown wash and the finishing layers of flock, although for the purposes of this tutorial it’s finished.

DSCF1094Lo and behold plenty of room for two bases inside. I may well add a couple of posters to the interior to make it more interesting. All that remains is a little whinging…

DSCF1097Here’s the main weapon port, you can see the camo is roughly applied which is deliberate as most camo was, plus a dark brown wash will pull it together as well as bring out the detail of the scoring. However the right embrasure is awful, unless you want the look of poorly laid concrete. Discovering a use for oasis has made up for it though.

DSCF1199Here’s a shot of the finished thing with a couple of tiles of British Infantry creeping around in front of it.

Benny Hill

May 13, 2009

DSCF1048If we didn’t have hills where would we be? That’s right Holland. Any game set outside of Holland likely needs a hill or two, and in this tutorial I’ll show you how to make a simple one. My idea for this one is to produce a hill which can only be accessed from one side and offers a good firing point over the surrounding terrain for around three or four bases. To start I’ve cut a long strip of 3mm plasticard (or styrene as our seppo chums call it) about 25mm high. I want a curve to this piece so I’ve bent it around a kitchen jug of suitable size, held it in place with a rubber band, and immersed it for a few minutes in very hot water. Take the plasticard out of the water let it cool and then remove it, lo and behold it holds the shape. Glue this onto your base. Nothing will endear you to your partner or family like taking over the kitchen sink for your hobby like this will so I suggest you try it today.

DSCF1050A little more bending to get the sides which will form the ramp and some supports for the lid. I’ve gone for the belt and braces approach by first supergluing this into place, and once dried coming back and coating those joins with PVA glue. It might be excessive, but should any of this become loose later on you’d be in trouble.

DSCF1052The hill slope has been added, and does look far too regular but this will be dealt with later.

DSCF1054The hill top “lid” has been added with a lip all the way around, and any remaining gaps covered with thin plasticard.

DSCF1055Then, with more thin and easily bent plasticard, a bit of irregularity has been added all the way around. The base is best clamped during drying for every stage from now on, otherwise you can end up with a scenic which looks like a magic fish.

DSCF1057Next is the sloppy walloping on of Basetex. The first coat is best just boshed on with a palette knife, later coats can be more sculptural and get the kind of look you’re after. This part is a near-delirious joy, although contact between Basetex and clothing, carpets or pets may reduce the fun factor.

DSCF1064The hill sides have had more work to them, trees glued on and Basetex added around them, plus the slope up made less regular. Also a few stones have been pushed into the Basetex. I’ve made a couple of trees of a different hue to make it look more realistic, with the Chinese railway trees I’ve twisted two together to make each one, this makes a bushier and older looking tree. This does make the paint on the wire trunks crumble off though. All this was done in smaller sections and the base clamped to the table for drying.

DSCF1080First coat of paint has been applied as well as a darker wash to bring out the detail. Also the tree trunks have been repainted. IF you’re looking for a purely muddy feature this is about as far as you’ll want to go.

DSCF1081The first couple of coats of flock start to bring the hill to life. I’ve used my standard mix flock, some darker green and then some patches of longer summer flock.

DSCF1082A little more flocking to add the finishing touch. The hill is then matt varnished with a spray to remove any shine from visible dried PVA glue. A pleasant and simple feature and one likely to be a nightmare should your enemy get to it first.

Home is where the base is

May 8, 2009

DSCF1004Here’s the result of a bit of an experiment I shared the other day. I only let it sit for around 18 hours, and it had to be eased out gently as it wasn’t completely set. It does look like a hedge, it’s smoothish on three sides so it’ll stand without a worry. The top edge could do with alittle more grit but that’s simple enough. Although I only had a single comment on the original post it was from Mike of Angel Barracks, but given he’s the Richard Branson of 6mm scenery I’m happy to have caught his eye with this idea.

DSCF1011 There were a couple of pleasant side effects to it having not set  fully, the most interesting being it was flexible, so I took one section and curved it and stuck it to a base, making a point of putting the most irregular side on the outside. Given a few more hours to dry it set fully, I added some more grit to the top too and then flocked the whole hedge. The other effect is how it can be cut with clippers.

DSCF1020This is the building from my earlier tutorial on making a simple house. I didn’t like the roof so I’ve added tile texture plasticard, as well as a little detail on the door, then painted the whole thing and finally a gentle dirty wash. This is the building I’ll be putting on this base.

DSCF1021The house will sit in one corner. The outline has been pencilled in, a simple path painted on and a strip of plastic glued on for the placement of a planked wooden fence. A premature dab of superglue marks where a tree will go.

DSCF1022Tree placed, and a quick undercoat of brown to mark the ground.

DSCF1024The start of  a short visit to fidgety city, plastiwelding the three posts for the fence. These are rod plasticstrip about 7mm long, you can use square if you want but it’s only marginally easier.

DSCF1025The horizontals have been added, as well as green putty to break up the overall flatness of the base.

DSCF1036Finally the planking, this is quite time consuming and doing a short 3cm strip like this first is a good way to see how well you can do it but also you can measure the odds of it driving you completely insane. Personally I prefer the irregular look, you can try more regular but don’t try to do it by applying identically sized planks as it’s unlikely to work.  Instead try planks which are too tall, then once dried turn the base on it’s side and trim them to the same length.

DSCF1038The fence has been painted, as well as another coat of brown (a slightly different shade) over the green putty, both allowed to dry and then a coat of watered down PVA glue for the first layer of flock.

DSCF1042A second coat of PVA glue for a second coat of a different flock, and then the house is superglued into place. A welcome addition to 6milphilville.

Good scale guide

May 6, 2009

scale1I’ve been enjoying a few conversations recently about scale scratch building namely concerned with how to get it right, and what to use as source references. Firstly I wouldn’t ever claim to be the master of getting anything right, even if it limits my chances of becoming a cult leader, but I do know how I do things and I’m happy enough to share. Above is a WWII photo from Northern France and it’s a great example of how easy it is to get the scale of a building, as well as the style. There’s a jeep parked right next to the house on the right and it’s a great guide to the size of the building, height of the windows etc. You can make this as easy or as complex as you want, you could just sketch out the building by eye, measure a miniature of a jeep and use that as your guide, or even print out the photo and having secured the actual height of a jeep with the canopy up, divide that down until you’ve got a foot measure relative to the building, draw it all out and divide all measurements by 285 or 300 depending on your preference. Personally I’d go by eye.

scale2Here’s a photo of some very modern looking buildings in Western Russia, and it looks as if the entire street is similar so it’s an easy one to work out how to build. For scaling I’d ignore both tank and truck in favour of the figure between the two, and which is closer to the building than either vehicle. The windows all look the same height, with only the ones on the corner being narrower. This is very common with more modern buildings. However don’t let this lull you into a common mistake, that of defining the size of a feature such as a door or a window and applying it across a range of model buildings. It’s the variety of sizes which adds realism.

scale3This photo shows the above point reasonably well. Sure the street is on a slight slope, but don’t let that distract you. To the left there’s two three-floored buildings and to the right two four-floored buildings, neither pair the same height plus the one far left is about the same height as the one far right, despite there being a storey difference. So if in real life builders ignore any solid definition of scale why not the modeller? Also consider how you could replicate this street reasonably well just by using the window and door layout, without having to put sills and fancy lintels on the whole thing.

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It’s also worth remembering regional differences in style, such as the steeper pitch to the roofing in this German town as well as the mix of arched windows with square set ones on the same structure.  Again the buildings in this could be fairly copied in window and door layout and capture the feel of the real thing. All these pictures were grabbed off the web, which is easy of course. For more specific requirements you should keep an eye out for a good book on the area you’re interested in, especially if it uses the word “Pictorial” somewhere in the title. The third option is to visit one of the history forums I link to and ask the users there if they’ve got any photos they might share, not only will you be flooded with historical images but you’ll also be offered sets taken on more recent battlefield visits. This is incredibly useful as not only does it supply shots no-one thought to bother with back in the day, but also not every eager modeller is able to visit the sites they might wish to.

Box happy

May 6, 2009

dscf1030This find is a healthy mix of “Hey 6mm gamers look at this…” and an attempt to convert those larger scale heathens amongst us. Above is a filing system from mega stationers Staples designed for lugging around sheets of A4 paper, they’re cheapest in a pack which sells for around twelve quid.

dscf1034But wait, what can we see lurking just below the sheen of milky plastic?

dscf1031Aha, it’s the niftiest game storage system ever! With the additional of a few magnetic materials from Trevor each case will comfortably house 35 bases of miniatures, and I use largish 35mm square bases, a total of 175 in the whole thing and incredibly easy to stow away or transport compared to other scales.

Taxi!

May 6, 2009

dscf0936Three CinC Panzer IVs finished a while ago and these pictures sat on my memory card, I thought I’d posted them but I hadn’t, so here they are. I’ve made an effect to strengthen the barrels with a thin coat of superglue. I think I’ve captured the tone and contrast of the camo colour better than ever before. The high detail really helps too, although I may have put the skirts on the wrong way, as I used the photo on CinC’s web site as the reference rather than a real photo. Tut bleeding tut.

dscf0939I’ve become protective of the barrels of the finer models from both CinC and GHQ, for this one I’ve even built a bush in the hope of guarding against in-game damage.

dscf0942This is a much riskier pose, the tearing over a low embankment and ditch look. It looks more dramatic than the photo can show. Pleasant trio though, on a table near me soon!

Bargains at 10 o’clock!

May 5, 2009

dscf1007Those trips to the local Modelzone finally paid off. Usually it involves buying something unexciting like miliput for myself, or something more fun but not 6mm scale for the boy Slug or Stinky. This week I found two models which suit me. Both are Corgi from their BBMF collection. First the Lancaster which is almost spot on for 1/300th, having a wingspan of around 4.25 inches to what should be 4.08 inches by my reckoning. It’s marked as the Dambuster “Phantom of the Ruhr”, has rotating props, gear up and comes with a clear plastic stand. Almost worth renaming the dog for…

dscf1009There’s also a perfectly agreeable Dakota, this is also roughly 4.25 inches in wingspan, which with my reckoning makes it nearly spot on for 1/285th. This one is marked as 267 ‘Pegasus’ Squadron, has rotating props, gear up and a plastic stand. As any 6mm devotee knows it’s quite difficult to get ready made models suitable for the scale, the joy with these two is they’re playable out of the box and at full price cost only £4.99 each.

Lord of the Manor

May 5, 2009

dscf0947In this project we’ll be looking at putting the GHQ buildings “Manor House” and “Bombed-out Manor House” together and basing them. This has turned out to be quite a time consuming project. Not because they’re difficult rather they’re such good models I wanted to base them reasonably well to reflect their quality. I’ll start with a gripe; originally I was going to do identical, before and after versions of the same base, rather like the Hartenstein Hotel at Arnhem. This isn’t possible because as you can see from the picture “Manor House” comes with an additional 13 parts, and the “Bombed-out Manor House” with none.

dscf0949This limits the number of varients to just one, giving both a single bay, which takes more away from the manor house than it adds to the ruin. A shame but not a big problem given the overall quality of the castings.

dscf0950So I decided on two very different bases to make the most of them. The ruin will be set on a country style base, while the manor will be an urban one, but in a way to make it suitable as an embassy, or seat of local government, etc. I take a pencil and ruler and mark off where I want detail, keeping in mind how I want room front and back on the ruin base for a tile of troops, and enough space on the front of the urban one.

dscf0954Starting with the ruin I glue strips of plasticard around the border where I want to have hedges. I make a slightly raised curved driveway with miliput and texture it with the blunt end of a brush before it dries. Inside the driveway I add gravel and PVA glue. I also set a small terrace, or patio, where the rear of the ruin sits.

dscf0958Next I make a very basic and quite rough box wall around the edge using strips of plasticard and plastiweld glue.

dscf0962Then the edges are made even more irregular by sticking on scrap pieces of plasticard, and a little bit of whittling.

dscf0963It really should look rough, although I’ve held back from doing it to the interior to make getting bases in and out that little bit easier. You’ve two choices with the hedge, for a quick finish paint it green, and then flock it, or follow the more complicated method I did. This is the point where I was made aware of a great possibility, the gravel in the drive way looks similar to hedging, so I’ll be gluing some to the walls to see how well it might work.

dscf0967Take great care in not spilling these everywhere just like I didn’t. This method actually took a bit too much time, it takes several coats to get enough grit on all the surfaces, several coats to paint them properly, and a couple of passes in getting the flock on. It takes even longer if you take a photo of every step so I didn’t.

dscf0969Luckily while you’re waiting for each stage of basing to dry you’ve got a couple of buildings to paint. The ruin is well detailed and also quite quick to paint. I’ve made a point of painting the interior walls to show where the walls and floors were, to add a little detail. I’ve also cut a small piece of plasticard to fit inside so I might add an interior and bring this great model to life.

dscf0977This is what I came up with. Much more damage to one end than the other to reflect the original casting, putting a few walls in, a staircase and plenty of planking. This is it undercoated, I did paint individual details in and a very dark wash, you’ll see this towards the end.

dscf0975The Mansion urban base is much simpler. It also features gravel but this time it’s just flock sprayed grey. It’s a much better scale effect than the grit. I’ve also added a plastistrip low wall onto which I’ve glued railing from an N-gauge railway modellers shop. It’s a little tall for scale, and incredibly fragile. The front grey corners are for tree and grass. Although the gravel worked I didn’t like the colour so I went over it with a sandstone colour.

dscf0974The Manor has come along, it’s a joy to paint but quite a lot of time is required to make it look good. I undercoated in grey, and then put extra grey in the windows before I painted it in pieces, varnished them, and then put it altogether with superglue, and varnished twice again. Some of the detail is so fine it really does benefit from plenty of varnish.

dscf1016Having finished the hedges, I’ve super glued in some Irregular Miniatures metal trees, flocked the lawns, added some plants to the front, and taken this rather poor photo of it.

dscf1014I think it’s worked rather well, and it’s got enough room for three bases on it. The gravel has more a look of crazy paving, but it still works even if it’s more as a worn out old piece of country manor paving. I think the house could do with an extra dirty wash and I may add some scattered rubble.

dscf1017A quick peek inside shows the extra detail well.  It also shows how I need to do something to the chimney stacks.

dscf0988Meanwhile the Manor has worked very well. The sandstone gravel works much better than the grey, and the two Irregular Mini’s metal trees added the finishing touch to an incredibly posh base. It’s also one of the heaviest, a factor which I hope won’t work against avoiding any damage ever happening to those fragile plastic railings. I’ll not use such lengths of them again without shortening them or using pillar walls to support it.

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Rather predictably this was my favourite of the two models. It was a joy to paint, simple to build if a trifle fiddly putting the roof windows on. Making both has been fun, if I only had the choice of one of them I’d go for the Manor House, it’s a delightful model with a wealth of possibilities as well as making a good HQ befitting the status of a senior officer.