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Archive for March, 2008

Added a few photos

March 25th, 2008 2 comments

I suddenly realized that I could put more pictures on here.  So I put up some pictures of the current incarnation of my modular dungeon in a sample layout.  They're older so none of the coolness like the fountain have been incorporated yet.

They're down and to the right.

Down and to the right.

Down and to the right.

Sorry, channeling Oliver Stone there for a moment.

Edit – Look for Collections.  Those are where the pictures are.

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Colored bottles, an exercise in varnish

March 24th, 2008 No comments

A fella on the Hirst Arts forum was showing off his latest projects and he had these wonderful bottles on the crates.  So I pestered the heck out of him until he gave me all the details.

In a nutshell:

  1. Glue beads onto a straight pin
  2. Base with white acrylic
  3. Paint with ink
  4. Varnish

Well, I've got beads.  The trick is finding the correct size and shape to look like bottles.  Luckily I had been working on trying to make bottles much earlier in the project and had a bunch of beads from the local dollar store.

For whatever reason superglue isn't liking me these days.  I just can't get it to work.  I think the house is too dry for it to adhere so I may have to experiment with that but not right now.  So I used regular tacky glue.  While this fills in the gaps between the beads so they look more cohesive it takes longer to dry and I seem to end up with crooked bottles.  Those are going in the back.

Two coats of white craft paint make the proto-bottles a nice smooth white.  It also reinforces the glue bond and fills in the spaces even more.  Since I'm trying to look like they're one unit this is a good thing.

On to the ink.  I do have Reaper inks and haven't really had a chance to use them much.  This was a great opportunity.  It took two coats to get it looking smooth.  I probably could have done a third coat but didn't for two reasons.

  1. I didn't want the color to look too opaque
  2. I'm lazy

I let those dry really well.  Because I had other things to do.

On to the last step – varnish.  The originator used three coats of Future Floor Wax.  If you haven't used this stuff in your terrain and other miniature making adventures you're really missing out.  Great gloss finish and tough as nails.  Downside is that it is really thin so if you're looking for something to stick on the surface you're going to have some issues.

So begins the Great Varnish Experiment.  The idea is to give the bottles a decently thick layer of clear so the eye is fooled into thinking the bottle itself is clear.  I decided to try out the layers of Future vs. straight acrylic craft varnish (gloss).  The craft varnish is much, much thicker so it sticks to the surface and leaves a thicker result.  At least, that's my hypotheses.

Without further ado, here's the current state of the experiment:


Let's go left to right.

That bottle is actually painted with two coats of Reaper Clear Plum.  The Clears are pigment in a clear base.  So I thought I would give it a try.  That's with one coat of the acrylic varnish.

The odd blue-green bottle is two coats of Reaper Clear Viridian and again, one coat of acrylic varnish.

The deeper green bottle is two coats of Reaper Green Ink and one coat of acrylic varnish.

The lighter purple bottle to the right is two coats of Reaper Purple Ink and two coats of Future.

Personally I like the hard gloss of the Future.  But the acrylic varnish gives a thicker clear coat.  So I think I'm going to combine the best of both worlds and do two coats in the future:  one of the acrylic and one of Future.

I was wondering how the Reaper Clear colors would turn out.  They're much more opaque than the inks but have a richness that will work for more pottery-like bottles.  They still have enough of a clear feel that they might work nicely.

So tonight I'll hit everything on the board with one last coat of Future.  Then I get to start painting caps and such.

The glossy surface is also just crying out for me to try out decals as well.

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I’m working on it, honestly

March 19th, 2008 No comments

I was finally able to get back into the swing of painting last night.

My exchange mini is pretty much done except for the darklining and some cleanup work.

The floor tiles for my colored fieldstone tutorial are ready for their last bit of paint.  Then I can take the larger one and figure out how to paint an oil spill, which was my original intention for painting up a few extra tiles after I decided to have a lantern with spilled oil.

I made a few bottles for the magic shop and they're all base coated.  I put the first coat of ink on some of them last night.  I'm going to work on those as time permits.

I prepped and primed the four figures I'm painting as part of an army painting 'round robin'.  So those are just waiting for paint.  And I slipped a troll into the bunch to be primed because I could.

And lastly I did get the parts from Reaper to start making the display base.  I need to make some templates to get started but I have the initial measurements and will be refining them as I work on the design.

Somewhere in there I get to go to work.  I wonder when…

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Magic Shop Cabinets Are Done!

March 11th, 2008 No comments

Finally I sat down and finished these things.  I know I could have used colored paper and not painted the drawers in place but I like how the base coat of paint unifies things.  Otherwise it would have really looked like pieces of card stuck to a piece of wood.

I have a 'price chart' for the things in the cabinet where each color is a different price.  That will go up when the whole shop is assembled.

Now I need to make a balance scale for the counter, since I have things that need to be weighed out.

And I'm making bottles.  Every mage needs empty potion bottles!

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Cake Mix Cookie Recipe

March 9th, 2008 1 comment

Witterquick is posting his recipes, so I thought I would post one I've been using lately.

1 box cake mix (any flavor) *
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, margarine, or butter flavored shortening **, softened
2 TB water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients ***.  Drop by rounded teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheets 2 inches apart.  Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, let sit 2 minutes before removing to racks.

You can add 1/2 cup of chips, nuts, etc after everything is mixed.

Frost if desired.

* Note.  The 'butter flavor' recipe of cake mix didn't turn out so good.  It really spread out during baking.

** Note.  Alton Brown recommends the butter flavored shortening for baking and who am I to disagree?

*** Note.  I used my cheap hand mixer for this and it really complained about mixing this stuff near the end.  Be aware of that or use a good mixer.  Next time I'm making more than one batch I'll suck it up and pull out the stand mounted KitchenAid mixer.

Edit – Oh yeah.  The stand mixer makes all the difference.  I don't know what I was thinking when I pulled out the hand mixer but never again.

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Not going to cross post this time

March 8th, 2008 No comments

Howdy!  I haven't introduced myself yet because I haven't had anything to show.

I just posted a big ol' post on my blog about my latest project.  It has pictures and everything.

Here's a teaser:

To give you an idea of scale.  The stone piece is a 3 inch diameter circle.  The figure is in what they call '28mm scale' which means it is supposed to be 28mm from feet to eyes.  A quarter will come to about the middle of his chest, if that.  So it is kind of 1:60 scale.

I do like working in 1:12 and 1:6 but right now I'm doing a lot in the 1:60 size.  Pretty much all of my current projects are on my blog but I hope to get back to the larger stuff in the near future so I can share it here.

FYI – the stonework is from molds by a company called Hirst Arts (and/or Castlemolds).  They're like Lego for castles.  Way addicting.  And the miniatures (both wizard and Mr. Rat) are from Reaper Miniatures.  Wonderful products and the best bunch of people you could hope to meet.

So I hope I've introduced myself properly and showed off the latest projects.

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Another quick update

March 8th, 2008 No comments

No pictures – the camera isn't here right now.  Yes I know.  Lame excuse.

My painting has been put off to the side due to some vision problems.  Some very, very annoying vision problems.  But they seem to be clearing up so that's good.

I did take the time to put the drawer fronts and knobs on the cabinet units that are going behind the counter in my magic shop.  Three units, 15 drawers each.  I'm still not quite sure how the final painting is going to go but I did the cabinet base color as 'goose feather'.  It's a kind of tan.  Everything goes with tan.

I just picked up a media player last week or so and have been trying to see if I can use it to watch/listen to movies while working on my craft table.  Overall it seems possible but I have to find a way to keep the player at the right angle so I can actually see the movies when I look up.  Probably another Hirst Arts build in my near future.

My buddy James over at Skullcrafts sent me a box of basing goodness that showed up at my door this week.  I took the 'Mystery Box' with me to paint night (it was delivered that day) and we all got to dig through the packing peanuts to see what was inside.  There was quite an interesting selection of supplies.  My mind is churning through how I'm going to use them for my next project.  Well, and for any of my projects.

I didn't want to sit idle because I couldn't paint minis so I finally started painting a Hirst Arts gothic arena that I'm sending off to a friend.  I have about 2/3 of the thing built but none of it painted.  So I put the base coat on about 10 pieces.  The base coat always takes the longest since I keep finding white spots that need paint.  Eventually I just give up and try not to see them any more.  I'm at that stage now.

I'm making the decorative arena pieces for him.  He already has the basic arena so these will add to his set.  That means painting in the same colors as his first set.  I'm using craft paints instead of my normal latex but it isn't turning out too badly for me.  I actually like the base color he has (pewter grey – kind of a greenish-grey) and may have a quart mixed up using color matching.  I used that on a small fieldstone piece and really liked the effect.

Ooo!  I can show you something!

I'm part of a miniature exchange on the Reaper forums.  An exchange works like this:

  1. Someone decides to coordinate an exchange.
  2. People sign up to paint a mini for someone else.
  3. Coordinator sends out assignments.
  4. Paint the mini, send it to your victim partner.

You don't know who is painting for you since it isn't the same person you're painting for.  Very fun stuff.

Well, these darn vision problems have kept me from finishing the mini for my partner.  I messaged her and she's good with holding off until I can finish it decently.  She only really has display minis (I like to check out what my partner posts on the forums so I can decide what mini to paint) so I decided to make a display base for her mini.  That's beyond the requirement but I thought it would be cool.

She took me up on the offer to see the work in progress shots I have.  Currently I've shown them off to a few people but haven't posted them for general consumption.   Now I can post them here.

You can see under the winding stairway to the sacks and Mr. Rat having a snack here.  Stair support is just scribed balsa stained with Reaper Pro Paint Wood Shading Ink.  Very handy stuff.

You can see the stairway here with the view of Mr. Rat.

And finally here's the mini temporarily tacked into place just so I could take a picture.  This mini has been nothing but a pain in my, err, side.  I needed to remove him from his base so he would fit on the stairs.  He lost a foot in the first attempt.  A friend of mine took pity and sent me one with the base removed.  And then his staff broke just in front of his hand while I was painting.  I wasn't even being particularly mean to him!  Got that fixed then my eyes went.

What's not showing here is a lantern on the floor in a puddle of oil.  And a lantern hanger on the center column.  Kind of setting the scene.  My feeling is that Mr. Rat is going to get zotted in very short order.

That's the fieldstone I painted in that pewter grey.  Then I did more to it so I could get the colored fieldstone.  I'm 2/3 done with a tutorial for that.

Overall I'm pleased with the composition of the mini.  I think it tells a story when you look at it as a whole.

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Thoughts on isolation

March 3rd, 2008 No comments

I've always been a kind of a snob when it comes to people with their personal media players.  Some of that might be because I didn't have one but mostly it was because I saw it as a way that they could isolate themselves from the people around them.  I've got issues when it comes to individuals as opposed to communities, but I digress.

I finally caved in and picked up a personal media player.  Music, video and an FM receiver and 6GB of storage.  All for about fifty bucks.  I couldn't resist.

Today was my first time attempting to use this in public.  Sunday is grocery shopping time in the Rastl household.  The store I happen to frequent is also the largest grocery store in the state.  Typically the store is full of people who are completely lost, parents inflicting their undisciplined children on an unsuspecting world, agonizing people who need to analyze the contents of every can before settling on a brand of bean, old comrades who haven't seen each other in years and need to cross carts and catch up on everything that has happened in the mean time, young couples who have never shopped in their lives, and just plain rude folks.  You know, like everywhere else in the civilized world.

So before I walk into the store I spend some time figuring out how to wear the earbuds. (Bring the cord up behind your head, wrap each individual cord up and around your ear, and put the earbud in with the stalk facing up.)  Hit the shuffle for the music, lock the unit, and drop it in my pocket.

I will say I was careful to have the volume set so I could still hear what was going on around me.  Once in the store I did have to turn it up a tad because of ambient noise.

And I was off.  Having the music as the primary thing I heard was surprisingly good.  It wasn't enough noise that I was in my own little world but it was enough that the most annoying surrounding noise was minimized.  As always when listening to my music I find myself mouthing the words but I figure as long as I don't add noise I'm just going to be a harmless idiot.

When I reached the register I turned off the music and removed the earbuds.  Since I was now in a socially interactive situation with the cashier that was my primary focus and having the music playing would have been wrong.  She and I had a nice chat about how other people don't seem to feel that way and yap on their cellphones or keep the music loud the entire time.

My summary?  I can see using this at times when I want to be removed from an impersonal situation.  Shopping at large chains counts as impersonal.  Waiting for an appointment counts as impersonal.  Waiting for an airplane is extremely impersonal. Essentially any time when I am not in a situation where social interaction is expected I think it will be appropriate to use the media player.  And when I'm at home doing chores I think this is going to be wonderful once I get the armband and can keep the cord out of the way.

As with any new technology I think people are still figuring out the 'rules' on how to use it.  They haven't even come close to mastering cell phones yet so I'm guessing this one is a while off as well.

As for me, I'm good.  I have 87 songs, 5 music videos and 4 movies loaded.  I think this will keep me amused for a while.

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