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I built stuff

May 8th, 2012 3 comments

Yes, I built stuff.  And I painted stuff last weekend too.

I have a gothic arena that I started back in 2009, I think.  It may have been 2010.  Whatever.  It was a while ago and it has been sitting, rather forlorn, in a box.  I needed to feel productive so I pulled it out to paint.  I also have some additional pieces for my modular dungeon that I built almost a year ago and never painted.

While I was painting I found some of the arena pieces weren’t as well constructed as I would have liked and some had been damaged in the moves.  Tonight I dug out the bins of appropriate bricks and built not only the replacements but a couple of new ones.  I’m mixing the basic and advanced arenas so eventually I need to figure out what’s left to build.  I think I have all the basic pieces.

Here’s proof I built.

It takes a heck of a lot more glue than you would think to build this stuff.  I probably should have thrown that out before taking the picture.

I do a lot of building on my homemade magnet board.  That’s a steel baking pan sitting on a piece of countertop.  (I used to be able to buy the sink cutouts – fantastic for solid surfaces).  The pieces of wood have magnets glued into holes – you can see one of them upside down in the upper right.  I can’t remember where I found the instructions to do that.  I do remember the time it took to align the radial arm saw to as close to a perfect 90 degree cut as possible.  That took a while but it’s worth it.

I also build using my Lego as braces and alignment blocks.  To be honest mine are Brix Blocks, the Sears equivalent to Lego.  I’ve had them since I was a kid and I’m still playing with them.

I’ll let these dry for a few days and then probably put paint on them this weekend when I do the touchups on the pieces I already base coated.  And the touchups on the pieces I touched up when I painted last weekend.  At some point I do move beyond the base coat.  Really.

Painting has begun, floors left to build

December 16th, 2010 2 comments

I had a post earlier but it looks like the blog ate it.

The painting has begun now that I actually have the paint.  I thinned it into a nice glass jar and have been merrily painting away.

As you can see I have no kitchen counter to do food things with any more.

You can see the progress along with some of the completed arena pieces.  I’d like to get 2 projects done at the same time and the arena just needs the same paint as the game board/modular dungeon.  So it all works out.

Base coating is messy fun!

December 15th, 2010 No comments

I can’t base coat terrain without making a fun mess. I’m using thinned latex paints and have to put the base coat on heavy so it soaks into all the details, nooks and crannies. So I end up with a lot of paint on my hands both from the pieces themselves and the painting process. Luckily it’s latex paint so it just scrapes off.

I’m probably going to paint the pieces completely and then varnish them rather than move them around during the process. Otherwise I’d have to do even more touch up painting than I do now. Yes, I go back over the pieces with a small brush and fill in all the spaces the base coat missed. I’m just that way.

I’m also painting the arena I finally finished building. I know it has nothing to do with the game board but it’s a project well on its way to completion and I’d really like to have it done. If nothing else it makes sense to paint it while I have the paints out and it’s just sitting there in the way.

The game board pieces can all be base coated in one step. That’s great! The arena pieces will take more than that but eventually will get paint on all the sides. I’ve learned to take my time and paint in sections when there’s no easy way to hold the piece without taking the paint off in fingerprint size pieces.

Putting the paint in a glass jar works great. I can close it up and shake it to remix as needed and it should stay useful far longer than in plastic. The dry brush colors should probably also be moved to glass jars but I’m not sure where I can get those in time. The plastic I have now should work as a short term solution.

I can easily paint 25 wall sections in the space I have and probably add at least 10 corners. The arena is taking up space but it’s been doing that for a while now. Eventually I can move it off to the side. Once it has all its stone painted.

Tomorrow I’m back to casting floor tiles. I need them for the corridors and I’m using up what I have making the room floor frames. My friend is sending me a whole lot of casts but they’re ever so slightly smaller than my casts so I need to mix up how I build them into the corridor pieces so everything lines up. Now that I know it I can adapt. They’re smaller due to variations in plaster mixes and shrinkage. Yes, these things matter.

Quick update with numbers

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

I can’t count the rooms complete until they get their border of cracked floor tiles to match the rest of the dungeon but I do have 4 of the 6 small room inserts done.

99 wall sections are done and waiting for paint.  That leaves 58 to be glued to floors.  That’s 12 casts of the floor tile mold.

I’m still at 5 corner sections since I was focusing on the wall sections so there’s no floors for them.  I do have more built, just not finished.  I have a out-of-production mold coming that will speed up casting for this considerably.

I have most of the doorframes cast and built.  And I think I have the complete design finished.  I need to count up the rest of the pieces and see what needs to be cast.  It’s annoying to cast one brick out of a mold simply because of the limited casting space I have.

I have 21 of 23 doors complete.  That means 4 more casts of that mold and it can be moved out of the casting area.  Making room for the fieldstone wall mold, probably.  There’s always another project to finish.

And I’ve stopped casting other decorative floor molds since I have all the tiles I need right now.  I replaced that one with the mold to make the advanced gothic arena pieces I’ll use to expand my basic arena.

Obviously I haven’t started on any of the corridor sections.  I want these walls,corners and doorframes done before I start using floor tiles for, well, floors.

It’s getting there

November 27th, 2010 No comments

40 casts later and I think I’m good for the walls. I didn’t take into account the 2″ brick block (say that three times fast) which I can use instead of 2 1″ bricks so that means I really need fewer of the 1″ than listed. Then when building I found out that the 1/2″ bricks are a bottleneck but I can build the same size wall using 1″ bricks and that actually matches up the style with the corners so it looks good. Thereby using up the “extra” 1″ bricks I cast.

Confusing, isn’t it?

Yesterday I was able to build using the bricks I cast on Wednesday. I’m letting them dry for 2 days before using them. And since these are small and simple pieces I was able to build and let set during each cast. I used up everything I cast on Wednesday into everything I could build. So I’ve got a huge stack of walls waiting for floors.

I’m down to casting floors and individual pieces needed to make doorways and corners. A friend of mine is selling one of the out-of-production Hirst molds that makes nothing but the 3/4″ brick and I told him I’d buy it. Very special use but now that I’ve found a way to use that brick and there’s an advanced version of this game I know I’ll be building onto the set I have. So it’s a good investment all around. And it’s out of production so it’s one of those ‘get it while you can’ things.

I’m also finishing up my basic arena build. I have the 2 most complex pieces in construction and will work on the other 8 pieces while building the game board. Most of it is simple wall building, just larger and with a few decorative bits. Once the arena is done I’ll paint it and all the finished game board pieces. I get my paint mixed up in quarts so I know everything will match. Then I can smile and show that I’ve made progress. And if I’m smart enough I’ll also have a few floors done so I can do the fancy painting in good time.

Oh yeah. And I have to paint up the miniatures too.

Some DungeonBash in process shots

November 8th, 2010 No comments

I don’t *need* this until the convention in February so I’m finally being kind of responsible and not rushing at the end.  I planned it using Sketchup and need to tweak the ‘official’ pieces to match adding in wall segments.  That’s easy.  A few sections need to be enlarged a bit to accommodate the walls and corners.  It won’t matter in game play so I’m not worried.  That and that DungeonBash seems to be a dead game since the publisher isn’t available any more.  Sad.  I would have liked to have shown him the game board.

Yep.  I use my off-brand Legos from when I was a kid as building frames.  Still playing with toys.  There’s a couple of gothic arena pieces tucked in this construction set.

Here’s a nice stack of wall and corner sections.  There’s also a stack of wall bases on top.  I need to use my True Sander to smooth the bottom edge of the walls and then I’ll epoxy them in place.  One thing I’ve learned is that I can use wood glue on almost all of the construction but when attaching walls to floors for pieces that will be handled I have to use epoxy or they snap off.  Easier to just attach them correctly in the first place.

I prepped these tonight and will GENTLY reposition them tomorrow before priming so they’re a little more dynamic.  Reposing skellies is tricky since they can break easily.  I can probably pin the arms back on if needed but would prefer not to do so.  Heck, if they seem weak I’ll probably put in a small pin just to make them more durable.  Looks like the bases on this set will be sand painted similar colors to the dungeon itself.  It’s a cheat but if you’re not cheating, you’re not painting.

By the way – I need two sets of every encounter since there’s a chance that if there’s two random encounters going the second one can be the same as the one that’s in progress.  That’s the luck of the dice.  So not only do I have to paint twice the number of minis I want to distinguish them so each encounter is visibly different.  In the case of the skellies I’ll do different color glowing eyes and different colors on the shields and weapons.  And I’ll be numbering the back of the bases to make record keeping easier.

Well that was a waste

September 20th, 2009 No comments

I'm currently working on painting the Dragon Turtle and pretty much everything I painted today is going to get repainted.  In short I picked the wrong colors and I was trying to do too much.

Longer story.

He's got plating on his arms, legs, neck, tail, etc.  I had already painted the skin to match the guy down below and was working on the underside of the shell, the plates under the tail and all those other places I just detailed.  And some around the face.  All those other places I was going to use the same tans as on the body wrap of the grunt so that the shell would stand out more.  And I was trying a new technique that suggested taking the base coat a shade darker to make the effect really pop.

I did all that and it just didn't work.  The colors were completely wrong against the bright skin.  I should know better than to pick colors when I'm in an unhappy mood.

A friend gave me links to his painted figure.  His has the plating the same color as the skin.  Only the shell, underneath the shell and the plates under the tail are a different color.  That looked much better.  So I pulled out the skin colors and painted over all the stuff I did.  And yes, it looks much better.  I still need to highlight it and I'll probably pull the highlights one shade higher than on the rest of the models just so he pops more.

I also prepped 2 more minis that I need for this demo army.  I'll be pulling out the epoxy tomorrow and these guys need to have their arms attached.  Since I'll have epoxy mixed I'll use it wisely.

Oh – I put the base coat on some new arena pieces.

I'm doing all this in preparation for doing Warlord demos at Oshcon next month.  With the new rules and datacards I need to make sure my armies balance.  I did get new models for new armies so I really need to get painting.  I need 4 demo armies that balance.  I need to check my Crusaders to make sure those are the same and then work up 2 more.  I don't think they'll take as long as these since they're not nearly as complicated.

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Ah, the smell of craft paint

June 7th, 2009 No comments

The smell of craft paint always reminds me of school.  That evocative smell of cheap acrylic paint that we used in so many projects.

And that's what I'm using on the arena I'm painting up.  Well, not completely cheap paint but it all kind of has the same smell.  I'm painting roof and other large sections so there's a lot of wet paint at once, hence the aroma.  In the smaller amounts and in drybrushing you don't get that.

I was able to repair the piece that broke when I dropped it (sorry Froggy – you won't even notice) and a piece that broke when I was painting it (see previous note).  I had epoxy out to work on something else so I made it even stronger.  I really need to start using more epoxy in my builds where there's going to be butt joins and other weak areas.

So all the last pieces have their stonework painted and I've gotten a good start on the detail work.  There's always touchups but those are minor compared to the actual painting.

Whoops.  Forgot the final white highlights on the stonework because I don't put them on my own stuff.  I'll do that tomorrow before going back to the detail painting.

I'll be happy to finally get these pieces done and off to their rightful owner.  I have another 'project for trade' in the wings and that one will be more complicated since I'm still designing as I go.  I also think I need to cast a lot more bricks since I need a lot of a particular one that has one per mold.  Lovely.  I know I should make a mold so I can just cast those but after this project I don't know how much I'll need those in quantity.

Finally Mr. Rastl was very kind and did a project for me.  I now have new figure holders for those models that have the slotta base.  I was using binder clips but had issues with finding places to put them so the paint didn't touch anything.  Now I've got nice stable wood pieces with thick wire holding up alligator clips.  They're weighty enough to stand up nicely, the wire is flexible so I can reach everything on the piece, and the alligator clip should hold the figure securely without getting in the way.  I only had him make 4 of them because: a) I generally only paint at most 4 models at a time and b) the alligator clips came in packs of 4.  We've got enough material to make more if I need them but this should be plenty.

I used my epoxy wisely as I assembled the figure holders, filled in some gaps on the dragon turtle and fixed the terrain pieces.

What I didn't post yesterday because I didn't feel it was worth a post was that I got the heads attached to the Reptus figures.  I used CA (superglue) but didn't get as solid of a bond as I would like.  I re-glued the offending and now detached heads then used the epoxy from the final dragon turtle assemby to seal the seams.  I've done that with other figures and it works quite well.  I'll do the same thing when I attach the shields.  CA to get them in place, epoxy to make sure they stay there.

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I promise, pictures this weekend

April 11th, 2009 No comments

The undead pirates all have the sand on their bases.  That still means primer, paint and vegetation but it's better than nothing.  I know the last post had 'everyone except the monster' but now it's just everyone.  Yay everyone!

The bear riders have the bears finished and varnished and the riders are primed.  So I can work on painting the riders without as much worry about scraping/wearing the paint off the bears.  When I get them done the entire figure will get a coat of varnish so the bears get a double helping.

This weekend was supposed to be very, very busy but now it's just very busy.  It looks like the only time I'll have for hobbies is Sunday night.  And I'll try to be good and finish up the base coat on the arena pieces then so that project is ready for finishing.

I will try to get pictures this weekend so you can see how things look.  I've been talking about them a lot but it's really cool to actually see them.

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Yeah, yeah

April 10th, 2009 1 comment

A quick update on various and sundry things.

The hankie/lace issue hasn't been resolved.  I need some time on the couch without too many distractions and that hasn't happened in the last few days.  It's on the list.

The undead pirates are painted, varnished, and have the sand on the bases.  The monster is one step behind because he needed to be attached using epoxy and I was waiting for another project to get to the epoxy state as well.  That has been achieved.

I'm also painting one of my personal armies to bring to ReaperCon so I've been working on those as well.  5 dwarf bear riders are well underway.  The bears are painted except for a couple of touchups where they were lying down and are currently letting their epoxy set as well.  See above for 'another project'.  This was it.

The bear riders need to be painted yet but now that I will be able to handle the model without fear of damaging the paint it will go much easier.

I also have 3 mancatcher models (nasty models with reach) that I started at paint night so those are the next ones up to be done.  I'd say they're close to 1/4 done already.  I'm such an optimist.

Terrain-wise I did get the final arena-in-trade pieces base coated but they need the touchups.  I'm hoping to get those done over the weekend even though it's a busy one.  That's looking for the holes and seams where the paint didn't get so it's kind of a finishing thing.  The drybrushing goes really quickly and his decorative painting is easy.

Also regarding terrain I'm stealing a really good idea from a friend and making mold masters for village houses.  The masters are completed walls with knuckle joints so I can pour an entire house in just a few pieces and assemble them quickly.  It's an easy way to build a village.  I'm currently making pieces in 4, 5 and 6 inch wall lengths so I can make some real variety.  I'm out of the 30 degree blocks that are great for the roof angles so I'll need to cast some of those to make the roof sections.  Gee, me having to cast more blocks to complete a project.  Who would have thought it?

Maybe pictures this weekend, maybe not.

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