Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dark Ages animal pen - finished

The animal pen moves on to completion...

The liquid nails has a tight grip on the plastic strip, and the sand scatter is firm. I used dark chocolate brown Rustoleum for the undercoat. It's intended for metal but works nicely with this kind of flexible plastic.

The drying process took longer than the stipulated 24 hours before the smelly volatiles had evaporated and it became touch-dry, such is the cold and damp here this weekend. In fact it's still a little bit whiffy. Once it dried, I applied the first dry brush of buff acrylic, keeping the brush almost parallel to the fence.

The dry brush picked up the weave pattern beautifully. Technically it's bigger than the size wattle-weave would be for this scale, but I'm not choosy, and it does give a good impression from a distance. Also due to the scale, I don't think the vertical posts in the weave would show, so I omitted them rather than mess up my aging eyes in trying to represent them.

Once the buff had dried I went over it again with antique white, applying it sparingly.

The first coat of grass green came next... 

...then a dry-brush of apple green on top.

I left the centre of the pen dark glossy brown like wet mud, since the ground within the enclosure would be gouged-up and trodden down by animal snouts and feet. There wouldn't be a scrap of vegetation left uneaten. A few smudges of buff to give a texture like drying mud to the ground and that's it - finished and ready for livestock.

Splintered Light make suitable pigs and rams in this scale, but I'm wondering if HO-scale railway animals would suit as well for a cheaper price. Dark Age cattle in particular would have been akin to the modern Highland breed, and those are available for railway modellers. Something to research...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dark Ages animal pen

So, having made the basics of a Dark Ages British farm, I need to add some details. First up is a pen for livestock, that staple of both diet and mobile currency of the period. I'll go with a circular form, which appears to have been a common configuration as backed up by archaeological excavations. Stone pens were used where fieldstone was available, and the remains of some of these are still in existence in places like Dartmoor and remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales. I'm going with wattle fencing, since this appears to have been the commonest type.

To begin with I took a battered old CD, and sandwiched it between two discs of card.

The bottom disc is a tad wider than the CD to give a chamfered edge. I covered the edge with PVA and sprinkled sand over it to hide the shiny CD and provide a keyed grip for the liquid nails when I come to it.

The fence itself is made from a strip of plastic packing tape. It has a wattled appearance which, with a bit of paint, dry-brushing and ink will look pretty much like wattling. This material is quite hard to cut widthwise, but is easy to cut lengthwise. It goes with its purpose, really, but it's convenient for me because I needed to cut it to a realistic scale height - enough for a 15mm Dark Age British farmer to look over the top of to check his animals haven't been stolen by a Saxon raider. It also serves for short lengths of general purpose fencing around the farm. Under the Dux Britanniarum rules farms and villages should have at least two of the buildings connected by between 6 to 8 inches of fence.

I washed the strips to remove any and all traces of dirt and fingerprints from the passage through the parcel delivery system. Experience has taught me the material needs some help to take paint at the best of times and a clean surface does this. 

The plastic strip has a natural tendency to curl, so I used that to my advantage. First up, I smeared some liquid nails around the sides of the disc where the fence will go, leaving three gaps equidistant apart for the hot glue. The hot glue will fix the strip in place while the liquid nails dries, which may take some time in the generally damp weather we're having here in Ohio.

The strip is now fixed in place, with the liquid nails smeared again to cover its lower edge. It's slightly off-centre - too much coffee this morning made my coordination a bit off! - but no matter. Two lengths of matchstick form the gateposts. I used the hot glue gun and some strips of trusty pizza box to make short lengths of fencing for the farm/village.

(Those figures at the top-centre of the photo are master models awaiting warmer weather for me to make silicone molds of. Amongst the items are Arab slaver casualties for Colonial games, and a door, window, two recumbent statues and decorative strips for my Hirst Arts-related projects. And yes, I will get to the Doctor Who figures eventually).

Next up will be to spread some liquid nails in a smooth layer around the interior of the enclosure, and more around the outside which will be sprinkled with sand. I'll do the straight fencing the same way. Because the pen is somewhat raised above the table level, I'll build a downward ramp at the gate. Once all that is done and dried, it'll be on to the undercoat using enamel paint. Hopefully the rain will clear up in a day or so allowing me to take it outside to spray.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Four Doctors

My wife and I are big fans of Doctor Who. Like many Americans her 'first Doctor' was the Fourth, played by the great Tom Baker. I go back slightly earlier to the end of the First Doctor in William Hartnell's tenure. We have a number of 28mm figures of the Doctors along with some of the Companions, but lacked four of the Doctor's incarnations along with two familiar recurring characters.

This lack has now been rectified.

From l-r, First, Second, Fifth and Seventh Doctor. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart keeps a wary eye on the sneering Master.
These are Black Tree Designs sculpts. I took advantage of their winter sale to order the four missing Doctors, along with the formidable Brigadier and the dangerous Master. Black Tree's excellent service saw my order taken on Wednesday to arrive on Saturday. Good stuff!

The castings are clean and crisp, with little flash. The sculptor did an excellent job of capturing the faces, from Hartnell's cunning smirk through Troughton's frown, Davidson's cavalier charm and McCoy's inquistiveness. The Brigadier is the essence of Nicholas Courtney's military alter-ego. The Master is perhaps the weakest rendition, looking more like a vampire than Roger Delgado or Anthony Ainley.

I'll clean off what little flash there is, remove the Slotta bases (which I don't like) and give them all a good soak before painting. Once done I'll glue them to bases of clear plastic.

Just before Christmas I took the plunge and ordered the 15mm Romano-British starter army from Splintered Light Miniatures along with a set of twelve villagers. All in all, a busy start to a new painting year.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Yes, the cartoon pretty much sums up my attitude to the old year. Here's to a new and better year full of hope, promise and wargaming goodness!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dark Age houses - completed.

So, with no idea if our house move is going ahead or not, I pressed on with completing the buildings for Dux Britanniarum over the holidays.

The trusty pizza box card came in handy once more to provide bases for the buildings. I fixed them in place with the hot glue gun then smeared liquid nails adhesive over the card before scattering sand on it. I like using the liquid nails as it doesn't soak the card and cause warping, it can be pushed around easily, and when it dries it dries hard. It also takes paint well.

Nearly there...
I used grass green and earth brown craft paints for the bases before dry-brushing apple green over the grassy areas. I may add a bit of vegetation in the shape of small bushes here and there, but basically that's it for these.

And done!
I may add a high-status building for the village, something like this...

A relic of the Empire, it would be the dwelling for an important person such as a local magistrate and his family. Next up after that will be a church and a watchtower.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

A Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah  to all my readers!

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dark Age byre

It appears that making Dark Ages buildings are like peanuts - you can't stop at just one...

Even with things being a bit up in the air due to a potential move, I've still got the urge to make something gaming-related. I thought I'd continue the Dark Ages theme and work on a byre or a lowly cattle shed. Rather appropriate to the time of year!

I made it with one wall open and supported by posts, which seems a common enough configuration with barns and such in this period. The interior was painted dark brown, and I'll put some flock inside to represent straw and dung when I mount it on a base. The roof eaves are made of thinner card than the main part as I aim to get a kind of beveled edge to the thatching.

The bright yellow thatch on the previous house has toned down a lot with a good dose of sepia ink. It's the house nearest the camera in the photo. I might treat the farthest house to the same wash, as it seems a bit bright too. Oddly enough the only thatching I've been happy with from the start is the natural Taco Bell napkin pulp version shown in the middle. Call it a happy accident.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dark Ages houses - and a pause in proceedings

I've finished what will be the last Dark Ages houses for a while.

As an experiment I tried a mix of sepia and yellow ink on the left hand house thatch, and... it's a bit bright. Far too yellow! I'm going to tone it down later, but as things stand these will be the last buildings I make for a while. It looks like a house move is in the offing soon, perhaps even involving a return to the UK. Given the costs and sheer amount of upheaval involved in any house move it's a bloody nuisance all round, especially at this time of year, but these things happen. I really don't want to add to the burden and anxiety by making or buying any more wargames related stuff. So, this is A J signing-off for now...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dark Ages houses - 2

I've made a bit more progress with the Dark Ages British houses for Dux Britanniarum. Under the rules for raiding settlements, farms must have at least three buildings, villages at least four. I'll need to make another house to set up a village, and a barn or similar for a farm.

The first layer of thatching is now on the roofs. My wife and I were returning from a meeting earlier this week when we stopped off at Taco Bell for some quick eats. I noticed their paper napkins had an interesting texture and a similar colour to old thatch, so I grabbed a couple extra. Pulped up with water, Spackle, and a bit of craft paint and PVA, they turned into a nice mush just the right consistency and colour for the job.

These only need another layer or two of thatching and the doors to finish. Once all the buildings are finished I'll base them up in one go so the ground around them will look consistent.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A couple more Dark Ages houses

Today was a bit of a mad cooking day, but I found time to work on another pair of Dark Ages British houses.

The method used is the same as before. The farthest house is the same size as the one I made earlier; the one nearest the camera is smaller. Familiarity with the process means I'm making faster progress on them. Next up will be the paint on the walls and posts and the sand keying on the roofs. After these are done I'll move onto a barn and a church.

A heads up for those who may be interested. Splintered Light Miniatures are having an End of Year sale, with 20% off the order. I'll be placing an order for one or two of their 15mm Dux Britanniarum pieces before too long.


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