Terrain Talk Pt. 16 – Makin’ Rocks In The Hot Sun

Carrying on from our discovery of how you can use old CDs as basing material for scatter terrain, I’ve been occupied with upcycling ALL of our trees.. this is what lockdowns are good for, folks! But to keep myself sane I decided to vary things a little and create some rocky clusters after checking out an old battle report that GW put online recently. Catching a bit of classic 90s flava and updating it to fit the look of our table – and to be fair, this is a really simple and effective build.

So, as before, take your CDs and put them in a bowl. Boil the kettle, pour the water into the bowl, leave for about ten minutes or so. This will soften the plastic enough that a normal pair of kitchen scissors will be able to cut through it – it’s a bit of an art but you’ll get the hang of it. I cut random curved lozenge shapes out of it – you don’t want to make anything too recognisable as a geometric shape like a circle or oval. It won’t look natural, it’ll distract the eye and bug you like hell.

Well, it would me.

Anyway, next step was a couple of nicely sized and shaped stones from the garden – I disinfected them (can’t be too careful these days), and glued them onto the CD base using a generic “No More Nails” knockoff (something like acrylic caulk or hot glue would probably work just as well). I pressed some cat litter into the excess glue splodges around the big rocks for some extra detail, then stippled home made texture paste (PVA, filler powder, sand, water and black paint) onto the “ground” of the piece (not the rocks themselves though).

After all that, the whole thing got primed with cheap black spray paint and the “ground” areas got a drybrush with burnt umber, brown and then a final drybrush with bone craft paints. I painted the rocks with Granite Dust house paint from a tester pot I got a few years back:

It begins…

Next up – leopard spotting! This involves daubing on first a yellow wash:

Oooerrr.. THAT doesn’t look right

Followed by a brown wash:

Ooooooooeeeeeeooooeeerrrrrrr…. that REALLY doesn’t look right!

Followed by a black wash:

Oh… OK, I see where this is going

And then a bone drybrush to bring everything together:

Oh, NOW I get this!

Finally, flock! We’re both sworn adherents of Mel The Terrain Tutor’s 3 tone flocking technique, with the addition of Jarvis JTF 1 as a cover tone and Garage Floor Dust (TM) drizzled on as a final touch. Then it was out to the shed for sealing – two coats of PVA thinned 10 parts water to 1 art glue (or thereabouts).

And finally, pics of the finished article in situ!

On it’s own..
With friends around…
And finally, in a scrap! The Hazzard People’s Front take on Da Skooderia..

And there we go folks, a nice quick, cheap, easy build! I’ve got five more stands of trees to do so I’ll be banging out some more rocks to help keep myself sane during the build process… at the very least, when this lockdown lifts we’ll have a VERY pretty to scuffle over…

Till next time, stay safe, stay thrifty, someday soon this will all be a memory…

Terrain Talk Pt. 15 – Next Gen Trees

Spurred into action by my compatriots ridiculous ingenuity! Seeing as lockdown has left me with custody of most of our gaming terrain, I thought I’d take the opportunity to “upcycle” some terrain pieces that had been bugging me for a while – the woods.

Now, these were just model trees meant for railway picked up off eBay some years ago and glued to some thick cardstock which was painted dark brown and flocked. And it looked, y’know, OK... for a while..

But cardboard warps. And monotone flock, with no ground texture.. Oh no. That doesn’t cut it any more. And after discovering a new basing material from a fellow blogger, I got to work…

The magical new basing material? CDs! Turns out that if you soak them in boiling water for 5-10 minutes or so, you can cut them with common or garden kitchen scissors – and once you’ve got your shape cut out you’ve got a perfectly stable, warp-free base. Now, this may be old news for some of you out there, but it was a revelation to me! First under the scissors, a disc of drivers for a printer that died in about 2014. I put it in a bowl, boiled the kettle, left it for five minutes, came back and got stuck in cutting bendy irregular shapes out of it.

Next up, I pulled the trees from their original cardboard bases and hot glued them in place on the CDs- this can be a bit fiddle, you need a big dob of hot glue on the CD and another generous glob on the tree, hold them in place until they set…

Trees on their new home

Once that was done, out to the shed and stipple on some home made texture paint (black craft paint, mixed with PVA, sand and filler powder).

Texture paste added

Once this was dry I sprayed the whole thing black.

With this stage done, on to painting and flocking! I started with a “wetbrush” of dark brown (specifically Folk Art 476 Asphaltum, looking at the bottle), before a drybrush with Americana Honey Brown and a further drybrush with Americana Buttermilk.

For flocking, we’re subscribed to the Terrain Tutor and his 3 tone flock system, with the added drizzle of Garage Floor Dust (TM) – the trees got painted with PVA and dunked in Jarvis clump foliage flock. So, to the pics!

The old…
The new!
And some friends…
And a blast from the past.. a DIY tree from 2009, pipe cleaners and pan scourers!

When we do finally get to share a table again, at the very least we should be able to show y’alls some good pics 😉 stay safe, stay thrifty out there, we’ll see you soon!

DIY Epic Infantry – Yes, You Read That Right.

Right, that’s it, Seven weeks into lockdown and every single surface in my house and garden has now been painted. I’m now allowed to down paintbrush and have some hobby time. So what’s a Dan do now he’s at a loose end?

I know, I’ll paint something.

I wound up with custody of our DIY Epic Imperial Guard contingent when lockdown hit and for a while I was wondering what to do about the infantry contingent – I mean you can’t have the Guard without Guardsmen, right? Massed ranks of lasguns just battering the enemy into submission through sheer force of numbers? I checked out Onslaught, Vanguard, Brigade, Ground Zero Games.. some lovely stuff out there, light years removed from the old 90s GW stuff (which you can still find on eBay, but truth be told, you’re better off hiring a for-real mercenary company for the prices they go for).

And then I chanced upon this guy.

And, forgive me, but I fell in love. For those who can’t/ won’t click the link, this is an utterly brilliant concept called Granny Grating Armies – basically, you cut little shapes from plastic mesh to represent different types of soldier, and you rely on the paint job to carry the illusion. It’s incredibly ingenious, and incredibly cheap, and I absolutely love it. Links to some other projects:

Lord Of The Rings Isengard army

More of the same.

So, I came, I saw, I fell hard. As luck would have it, I still have most of a sheet of granny grating in the store cupboard (Find some here for those of you who have no idea what this stuff is or where to get it). Following the instructions in the YouTube video, I cut out what is basically a cross shape with an extra horizontal layer at the bottom (watch the video, this is som much easier shown than described) and hot glued them to a 20mm x 20mm square of cardstock cut from the back of a notepad (this stuff is called chipboard by our transatlantic cousins.. hello, Wyloch!). A Guard infantry company in 2nd Ed Space Marine has three platoons of ten stands each, plus a command section of two stands and a Rhino – yes, we had Rhinos back then. At five guardsmen to a stand, that’s 160 granny grating soldiers…

…Barely even touched the sides. With more than ¾ of my A4 sheet of granny grating still intact, I chopped out a couple of poles and glued them to the command stands to represent battle standards, and then out to the shed for a quick coat of black primer – no special reason for black other than that’s all I’ve got at the moment.

I spent a few minutes pondering the paint scheme and was suddenly hit by a brainwave – I’ve still got those little tester pots of Wilkinsons’ emulsion that I use for terrain, and amidst them was a very light grey called “Granite Dust”which would serve as a base coat. Splodge on with a big brush all over all the lads, followed by a tan coat with craft paint, Vallejo German Grey dotted on over the chest to represent flak armour, silver on the upper horizontal to represent the lasgun, and a thin black wash. Then a dab of flesh tone on the “faces” and “hands”, with a light wash of Vallejo Skin Wash, and a dab of either red, blue or yellow craft paint to the helmet to mark out which platoon was which, and that’s pretty much it.

For basing, I painted burnt umber craft paint over the black primer, and when dry, a coat of PVA. Drizzle a little flock over it, followed by just a pinch of Garage Floor Dust (TM) and we’re done. All told, about three evenings, an hour or so a time – result, one full strength Imperial Guard Infantry company, cost £0. THAT’s how you keep to a budget.

Epic experts will know there’s still the Rhinos to build, but that’s basically the same as how we did the Vindicators last year, plus every Guard company also comes with a Commissar (and his own Rhino) to keep the lads in order, but they’re coming….

Meanwhile, pics:

“J” company on parade!
Even up close they’re not too bad..
Commissar and Rhino
With GW Marine stand for scale – it’s pretty close!
The full force so far

I love these little buggers. Are they a patch on any of the outrageously beautiful and detailed 6mm masterpieces makers like Onslaught or Vanguard offer? Hell no. They’re not even close to the old GW stuff. But from 2 feet away, who cares? They scale well, and you can make hundreds of them for about £5 in materials! Jim, you’re going to love these… and oh, yeah, that’s the third paintjob on the vehicles, that same Granite Dust with first a green, then a brown, and finally a black wash with just a little drybrushing. Never let it be said I’m indecisive.

Granny Grating Armies is a real thing, check out some links here and here – even if you don’t want to make the models, you’ve got to love the ingenuity.. and it’s surprising how you start seeing the world in grid patterns after you’ve been doing this for a while! Up next, Commissars, a Heavy Company and some Rough Riders! Till then, stay safe, stay thrifty, see you soon.