Thursday, August 26, 2010

Out to launch

Here are the first steps on the way to Africa Station, center of scenarios and mini-campaigns in my Daftest Africa setting. Since the settlement is situated on the mighty Ukrazi River, there's a need for some kind of jetty to handle boat traffic - and a need for a boat to go with the jetty.

Messing about on the river.

The jetty is constructed from Woodsies craft sticks cut into short 1.25" lengths, with 1" uprights from bamboo kabob skewers cross-tied with basswood strips. The boardwalk itself is 3/4" above table level. Ordinary craft glue was used throughout.

I made a few deliberate gaps in between the boards to give the impression of a rough-and-ready frontier structure. Acrylic craft paints were used on the lower ends of the supports and areas of planking to give the slimy appearance found on all wooden structures in wet areas. Since the jetty is new, I used a wash of brown ink to darken the wood instead of painting it bleached gray-brown.

The steam launch construction followed the excellent guidelines given on the Major-General's website. Essentially, it's a boat shape cut from two pieces of thin card using a template and sandwiched together for strength. The sides are two more sandwiches of thin card, again cut using a template for consistency. Her boiler is made of a hoop of thin card covered with a strip of the thick tinfoil used as freshness seals on jars of peanuts. Rivets were punched into the foil from the other side before it was glued into place with impact adhesive.

The funnel is a length of drinking straw with paper rolled around it for additional stiffness and because it takes paint better than plastic. Rope fenders came from the short lengths of string attached to individual tea-bags. They're ideal for this scale! A short length of tube from a coffee-stirrer makes a holder for flag staffs, enabling the gamer to swap-out flags depending on the nationality of the launch's crew.

Every part got an undercoat of Necrotic Flesh from The Army Painter and the outer hull was finished off with Craft Smart acrylic paints. A coat of Pledge/Future/ Klear sealed everything, and a wash of India ink over the boiler and funnel gave them a suitably grimy look. I did add a few splotches of pale green-gray paint to give the impression of verdigris on the boiler but it doesn't show up well on the photos.

Like everything else I make, the majority of component parts come from recycled materials.

So here we have it, a smart little steam launch ready to take intrepid adventurers in search of the unknown!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Amy and the Sunflowers

For those aficionados of the British classic sci-fi series Doctor Who, here's a few shots of a diorama I made recently. You make recognize it from the episode Vincent and the Doctor, which aired earlier this year. A customer over on my Etsy emporium commissioned me to make this particular scene where Amy Pond is surrounded by sunflowers, thus inspiring Vincent van Gogh to paint his famous picture. The figure is by Heresy Miniatures, who make a number of characters not a million miles removed from those of the Time Lord and his friends and enemies. I hope you enjoy, and if anyone wants a similar diorama made, let me know!

Friday, August 13, 2010

An interesting find

On our stopping by Michaels hobby store yesterday evening, Cindy discovered this fine little piece sitting alone on a shelf. It's one of those wooden birdhouse blanks people buy and decorate to their own taste. I'm not sure if it can withstand outdoor conditions as an actual birdhouse without a lot of weatherproofing, but at a price of less than $5, I can spot a wargaming bargain when I see one!

"I say gentlemen, it's a jolly long way down..."

It measures a shade under five inches square at the base by a shade under eight inches tall. The top platform is three inches square; big enough for nine 25/28mm figures based on pennies or fender washers. It has a small footprint, which is valuable on the limited space of a wargaming table, while its height makes it really stand out from the crowd.

On the minus side the lower parapet is too narrow for figures, and it has just the one door in the base and one window. As a birdhouse it works fine, of course, but it'll need a little work to make it into a wargaming model.

To my mind it has a vaguely Arab-style appearance, which will go well with my Daftest African settlement idea.

At the moment I don't think I'll tamper with the parapet. It's in proportion to the rest of the structure and it'll work as a decorative feature. I'm also less than inclined to make the top level removable. I will add more windows of the narrow variety found on such towers, and fit a heavy door on the ground level. The stone work I'll cover with tissue paper soaked in PVA and give it a skim of spackle to make it appear more like natural stone. Some groundwork around the base will be needed, of course. To finish, I'll install a short length of tube on the battlements to take an interchangeable flagpole - for those satisfying gaming moments when the tower changes hands!

All this to come, once I clear my table of other projects!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

On the street where you live

I've taken a leaf from Major General Tremorden-Rederring's book and made some Arab-style houses. Each is between 2.25 to 2.5 inches square and 1.75 inches high, with a couple like the mosque/tomb and house with steps somewhat larger. Construction is based on foam-core shells plastered with spackle then painted following the Major General's guidelines. The flat roofs are made of a double-thickness of card.

The photo above shows another neat idea from the Major General's school of architecture, where one building sits atop another to make a two-storey structure.

Commander Hugh R. Hardleigh-Worthit, District Commissioner Carstairs
and the Colonel take in the local scene.
These buildings are really just to try out the ideas for myself. They'll probably go up for sale on eBay and I'll build another set with some walls for my Daftest African settlement-to-be.

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