Archive for October, 2011

Papercraft Build – Okumarts Darkfast Set Two: Wood Elves

This is the second set in Darkfast series released by Okumarts. As the numbering for the Darkfasts series starts at zero this set is labeled as Set Two: Wood Elves. You can read about the size/scaling and background information in this post to save on repetition.

As you can guess from the title of the set this set contains Wood Elves. Before I proceed any further with build review a little bit of disclosure, I’m a wood elf fan, they are one of my favorite races in any fantasy setting so be warned this review might be a little biased due to my Wood Elf tinted glasses. The Elves are drawn in what I would describe as classic D&D elf style, the elves are slightly shorter and of a thinner build than your average human.  There are a total of 18 unique miniatures in this set broken up into two sets. The first twelve you see when you open the PDF are warriors and these are printable in four colours with white hair; green, red, blue and white with an extra green set with brown hair. The second bonus set of six (turn off the five warrior layers) are available in the one colour however Okumarts has really raised the bar with them, there are four Buck (Deer) Riders and one male & one female wood elf Druid/Mage. Below are photo’s of the various miniatures avaliable in the set in various colours:

Elf Sword (M), Elf Sword (F), Elf Archer (F), Elf Archer (F), Elf Archer (M), Elf Archer (M)
Elf Archer Chainmail(M), Elf Spear (F), Elf Spear (M), Elf Spear (M), Elf Sword Heavy (M), Elf Sword Heavy (F)
Elf Buck Rider Archer (M), Elf Buck Rider Archer (M)
Elf Buck Rider Spear (M), Elf Buck Rider Spear (M)
Elf Druid/Mage (M), Elf Druid/Mage (F)

This set is stunning and extremely versatile, again the colour selections for the miniatures and the dynamic poses Okumarts has selected look really good on the tabletop. I can see a lot of uses for the miniatures in this set:

  • There are six special looking mini’s that would make good PC’s or important NPC’s, Elf Ranger Sword (M), Elf Ranger Sword (F), Elf Sword Heavy (M), Elf Sword Heavy (F), Elf Druid/Mage (M) and Elf Druid/Mage (F).
  • Both male and female variants of every miniature, except the Buck (deer) riders.
  • Extremely dynamic poses.
  • Deer Riders, great idea and well executed.
  • Lots of different troop types.

The outlines on this set are slightly more complex than the previous two with a few deer antlers, cape ends and hair spikes, however overall they are not difficult to cut out. The back to front alignment on the first twelve miniatures and the Druid/Mage is as usual excellent. I did however notice that on a couple of the buck riders there wasn’t quiet enough black border on the rear side, this was easily fixed with a black marker. Do keep that in mind when cutting the miniatures out as you will need to cut out the miniatures from the front side (face side).

The set contains a good number of figures that can be used across an RPG from PC’s, NPC’s down to simple forest border guards. It would be a great set to use to play out an encounter with elven border guards as the PC’s try to enter Wood Elven lands.  Depending on how the initial encounter played out you could have the PC’s being pursued by ardent Buck riders across the rolling plains away from the forest.

There are more than enough figures to make up a very nice and varied Warband for Song of Blades and Heros in fact with the varied figures in the set you could do up themed lists; all mounted, all ground  or a mixed wood elf warband. Elves are contained in the main Song of Blades and Heros book on page 26, I plan on using the stats for heavy cavalry with the Buck Spears and have made a new profile for the Buck Archers (see below). All the other miniatures equate out reasonably well with the stock list, with a few double ups:

  • Elf Warrior (SBH) = Elf Spear
  • Elf Archer (SBH) = Elf Archer
  • Wood Elf Warrior (SBH) = Elf Sword
  • Wood Elf Archer (SBH) = Elf Archer or Elf Archer Chainmail
  • Elf Wizard (SBH) = Elf Druid/Mage
  • Elf Hero (SBH)= Elf Sword Heavy or Elf Archer Chainmail
  • Elf Commander (SBH) = Elf Sword Heavy
  • Wood Elf Commander(SBH) = Elf Sword Heavy
  • Elf Sneak (SBH)= Not really one, Elf Spear (F) is close
  • Elf Cavalry (light) (SBH)= Elf Buck Rider Spear (better fit below)
  • Elf Cavalry (heavy) (SBH)= Elf Buck Rider Spear

Wood Elf Buck Archer (Bow and Riding Buck)
Points 50   Quality 3+  Combat 3
Special Rules Mounted, Shooter (Medium)

Being a bit of Wood Elf Fan I also had a quick look over at Wargames Unlimited – No Quarter and they have a Wood Elf Army list already (cue squeal of delight). There are not enough miniatures in this first set to have a different miniature for each profile avaliable in the wood elf army list. There are however more than enough different miniatures to put a reasonably well rounded fighting force onto the tabletop. I went through the avaliable miniatures and matched them as closely as I could to those avaliable on the list, As there are a number of duplicates don’t forget to use different cloak colours and different hair colours to represent different unit types if you need. I also added a few idea’s from other papercraft manufacturers (all free):

Individuals and Leaders

  • Elven King – none that are really special enough
  • Woodland Noble – Elf Sword Heavy or Elf Sword
  • Clan Leader – Elf Sword Heavy
  • Totem Bearer – none
  • Elven Warlock – Elf Druid/Mage (M)
  • Elven Witch – Elf Druid/Mage (F)
  • Elven Sorceress – Elf Druid/Mage (F)
  • Elven Sorceress on Unicorn – none

Core Units

Elite Units

  • Greater Tree Spirit – none ( Onemonk Halloween set tree  or WorldWorksGames Halloween tree or Eddnic’s Treant or HannesX’s Treeman)
  • Border Gaurd – Buck Riders (Spear or Archer)
  • Levy Nobility – Elf Heavy Sword
  • Woad Warriors – none
  • Eagle Riders – none
  • Huntsfolk – Elf Archer
  • Clansfolk – Elf Sword

Remembering you wont ever field every troop type in every army list that you field for a particular battle. Below I’ve put together some quick army lists as well as the number of times to print a particular page to field the army of that size(2 Okumarts miniatures only, 1 mixed list):

500 point Army

503 points total

Print: 2 of page 1 and 1 of page 2

General

Elven Sorceress (Elf Druid/Mage) – 59 pts

Core Units

Woodfolk x10 (Elf Archer) – 280pts

Elite Units

Border Guard x4 (Buck Rider) – 164pts

1000 Point Army

986 points total

Print: 3 of page 1 and 2 of page 2

General

Clan Leader (Elf Sword Heavy) – 55 pts

Individual

Elven Sorceress (Elf Druid/Mage) – 59 pts

Core Units

Schiltrons x8 (Elf Spear) – 264 pts

Woodfolk x10 (Elf Archer) – 280pts

Elite Units

Border Guard 1 x4 (Buck Rider) – 164pts

Border Guard 2 x4 (Buck Rider) – 164pts

1500 point Army

1485 points total

Print: 4 of page 1 and 2 of page 2 + 1 WWG Halloween tree

General

Woodland Noble (Elf Sword Heavy) – 92 pts

Individual

Elven Witch (Elf Druid/Mage) – 59 pts

Elven Warlock (Elf Druid/Mage) – 59 pts

Core Units

Schiltrons x8 (Elf Spear) – 264 pts

Woodfolk x8 (Elf Archer) – 224pts

Woodfolk x8 (Elf Archer) – 224pts

Fae Lorn x4 (Elf Sword) – 128pts

Elite Units

Border Guard 1 x4 (Buck Rider) – 164pts

Border Guard 2 x4 (Buck Rider) – 164pts

Greater Tree Spirit (WWG Tree) – 107pts

For me this set is a winner, one of my favorite fantasy races and usable across all three types of games I enjoy playing for a very reasonable $2.50 (USD) . I’d recommend  buying the set, no matter what game your going to use it for you will get good use out of the set.

Overall I have been very impressed with the Darkfast series and will pickup any more miniatures that Okumarts releases in this series to add to the ones above.

Have fun gaming

How to Base Paper Miniatures

I’ve been meaning to do a post on how to base paper miniatures, which includes some of the various types of paper miniature basing you can do. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of basing so there is no right or wrong way to base. Most of the various base idea’s below come from the cardboard warrior forums, so feel free to head over and browse through the gallery to see what others have done. Depending on the type of basing you decide on you’ll need to grab some of Onemonks standard bases or I’ve made up a plain base template as a layered PDF (30mb) which includes Onemonks basic textures. Additionally I’ve  included the raw shape png’s at the end of this post so you can overlay them on any texture you like from anyone, sorry no cut files yet.

First you’ll need to choose a base shape. This initially would seem easy to do and if you only game using one set of rules just use whatever they recommend. If however you jump around between rulesets/RPG’s/Wargamming it gets slightly more difficult to pick a shape. If your using one of the removable base types below you can just make different base sets for each rule sets you use although if you have 2-3 armies making all those bases can get tiring. For myself after much deliberation I settled on Octagons, there are several reasons why I choose Octagons:

  1. Most RPG’s don’t care what base’s you use but by some sort of weird default convention most stuff to be used for RPG’s ends up on round bases. Round bases do have their advantages in that you don’t snag base corners on things and they aren’t as easily damaged. Octagons provide a similar level of protection not quiet as good as a circle but very close.
  2. Most War games (fantasy) like you to rank your troops up into units and use movement trays, normally specifying a square base so troops and units fit tightly into a movement tray. Octagon bases can also be ranked up quiet effectively in movement trays.
  3. Some war gaming rules have the concept of facing and it can be quiet important which way your unit is facing. The facing rules can be based on a Hexagon or Octagon. By using the trusty Octagon you can cover facing very easily and disregard two sides if you need to very easily.
  4. There easy to cut out compared to circles 🙂 .

In the end pick the shape that works for you, for me that’s Octagons but if you want heart shaped bases go for your life :). With some of the below base types if you use black foam core you can save yourself a significant amount edging.

My Current Bases

I’ll cover my current basing method first. I use a modification of the slotted Foam board base (see below) and something Afet posted about here. I bought a sheet of 2/3mm Depron, Depron is used in RC plane construction and is pretty much available everywhere (okay I know the US/UK and AUS can get hold of it very easily).

I find these bases are slightly thinner than a 5mm foam core base below and don’t look quiet so odd on the table next to regularly based metal mini’s but provide plenty of stability for the paper mini’s. The mini’s don’t slip out easily during game play and I can remove the mini’s to store them flat at the end of a game so they take up less space. It also gives the illusion of flat basing which I prefer with my miniatures. There are a couple of draw backs: It takes slightly longer to make each base than the stock foam block method. I have to shorten the black base tabs a little bit on each miniature which again uses up time. Eventually the bases take on a permanent bend and wont grip the miniature as well (this takes a lot of use). Below I’ve documented the process for making these bases:

First up Print and Cutout a base of the required size.

Glue the above base to a piece of 2/3mm Depron/Foamboard

Cut around the hexagon and cut the base in half (or just off center if your going to rank troops) and colour all white edges to black using a thick black marker

Stick the two halves back down onto some thin magnetic sheet ( I use the cheap fridge magnet stuff on ebay), Insert a single piece of card between the two halves as you stick them down to make a slight gap.

Trim the magnet to size and the base is ready to use.

When I make bases for larger paper miniatures I do tend to mount them on thicker bases as they look less out of scale.

Flat Slide Bases (Reivaj bases)

Full credit goes to Reivaj for coming up with this basing method. I’m torn at the moment between using my basing method above or slowly moving my miniatures across to this basing method.

This basing method  provides you with a removable bases, the bases are not to thick so your mini’s don’t have a mounted to a plinth look, they are only slightly more difficult to make than my modified foam block bases above and the miniatures once mounted are near impossible to pull out of the base. They do however have a couple of draw backs: When you make your paper miniatures you have to be careful not to glue the black base tabs together so you can bend them outwards later on, sliding the miniatures into the bases can be a little fiddly and if your not careful you can damage the the base (bend it to much) or the miniature (burr over the tabs).

First up print and cut out a standard One Monk base of the required size.

Trim off the square end tabs as they are not required.

Flip over the base and glue some strips/pieces of cardboard inside the base (black spacers in the below image, I’ve been using doubled up 190GSM card to create the spacers), trim to size and edge.

Fold over and glue the top to the bottom

When Gluing your miniatures up make sure you Don’t glue the black tabs as you need to bend those out left and right.

(You can strength the black tabs with a little sticky tape)

Base all finished. When sliding miniatures in and out bend the base upwards slightly.

As an addition I’ve been  sticking  a thin piece of magnetic sheet to the bottom of these bases to add a little extra weight/strength.


Slotted Foam Block Bases

I’m not sure who came up with this basing method but I’ve seen several users on the cardboard warrior forums using this technique . The advantage of these bases is that they are very quick and easy to make. However they are not without their drawbacks. I have had some problems pushing miniatures into the base slots and removing them which can damage the miniatures base tab, if you use standard 5mm foam core for the bases they are also very chunky. I tend to only use these bases in a pinch eg I’ve run out and need to mount some more mini’s for a game I’ll quickly cut some squares  from black foam board and wont worry about adding a ground texture.

First up Print and Cutout a base of the required size. I tend to find with these bases I need one size bigger than I would normally use for the miniature.

Glue the above base to a piece of foam board

Trim the foam board back to the base shape and cut a groove. I use a small steel ruler to help work the groove slightly bigger.

The base is all finished and ready for use

Onemonk Standard Bases

These are the standard Onemonk bases you can download. There are over 50 pre-made bases and textures available in multiple manufacturers textures. These are easy and fairly quick to make. I have found overtime with use that the tab on the base that holds the miniatures slowly loses it’s grippyness, this tends to occur more quickly than with the other base types. You can fix this issue by simply using a short bobby pin or if you prefer permanently gluing your miniature into the base. This of course then removes some of the advantages of paper miniatures as you will no longer be able to store them flat. I’ve included how I assemble them below as it’s slightly different to the PDF guide located here.

First up print and cut out a standard One Monk base of the required size and score along the indicated score lines.

Flip the base over and using a black  marker blacken the end tabs and a strip down the middle of the base

Simply glue the top to the bottom and edge with a black marker

The base is now ready to use

Permanent Flat Bases

With all the options above I no longer use flat basing as a basing method. Although it looks good it removes one of the key benefits of paper miniatures for me and that’s the ability to store a lot of miniatures in a small space. Saying that it is impossible to remove a miniature from a base short of ripping it off so during gaming they are very durable.

First up Print and Cutout a base of the required size.

Glue the base to your preferred basing material and edge. I’ve used magnetic sheet, Matt board and plain cardboard in the past.

Simply cut the black tab off your miniature and glue it to the base using PVA or super glue

Going All Out

There are some really nice based paper skeleton miniatures across on the cardboard warrior forums, although not removable from the bases they look out standing. Using the above bases as a start there is no reason you can’t use more traditional basing materials to really make your miniatures and bases pop. Although fairly labour intensive to make for a whole army, for special miniatures like Hero’s or PC’s these bases really help to make special characters stand out on the table top. Below is one example I’ve assembled but you could use any of the hundreds of regular basing tutorials on the web to create unique looking bases (here, here, here and here).

Fancy Reivaj style base (sorry about the dark base in the photo)

Here’s a picture of the five different base types side by side at the end of the day they will all look good on the table so pick the base that works best for yourself 🙂

Have fun gaming

Plain Base Shapes Layered PDF (30mb recommend right click save as)

Save the below and load in GIMP/Photoshop, they should be 2550×3300 pixels @ 300 pixels an inch

Circle Square Octagon Hexagon
15mm 15mm 15mm 15mm
20mm 20mm 20mm 20mm
25mm 25mm 25mm 25mm
30mm 30mm 30mm 30mm
40mm 40mm 40mm 40mm
50mm 50mm 50mm 50mm
Pill Rectangle Oct-Rectangle
15x30mm 15x30mm 15x30mm
20x40mm 20x40mm 20x40mm
25x50mm 25x50mm 25x50mm
25x75mm 25x75mm

Papercraft Build – Okumarts Darkfast Set One: Orc Tribe

This is the second set in Darkfast series that Okumarts has released. As the numbering for the Darkfasts series starts at zero this set is labeled as Set One: Orc Tribe. I wont repeat the scaling and background information in this post but you can read all about it in the top of this post.

As you can guess from the title of the set this set contains Orcs. The Orcs are drawn more a long the lines of long snouted Orcs (Pig Orcs) slightly different to your Warhammer 40k orc but are a very nice take on the old Pig Orcs.  There are a total of 24 unique miniatures in this set broken up into two lots of twelve. The first twelve you see when you open the PDF are warriors and these are printable in four colours; red, brown, blue and green. The second bonus set of twelve (turn off the four warrior layers) are available in the one colour but consist of various Orc villager types. I’ve included a picture of all 24 miniatures with the warriors printed in various colours (There is a little lens flare/washout in the below photo’s – Sorry):

Orc Axe (M), Orc Mace (M), Orc Sword & Shield (M), Orc Sword (M), Orc Sword & Shield 2 (M), Orc Club and Chicken (M)
Orc Fancy Sword (M), Orc Axe (M), Orc Axe(M), Orc Club (M), Orc Bow & Arrow (M), Orc Bow (M)
Orc Frying Pan (F), Orc Shaman (M), Orc Thief (F), Orc Bucket (F), Orc Old Broom (F), Orc Thief (M)
Orc Boy 1, Orc Boy 2, Orc Boy Wood Sword, Orc Baby (X), Orc Boy Run, Orc Girl w/Bear

I really like this set, you can outfit a whole Orc village if you wanted  to, something I think would be impossible with metal miniatures. This could open up a world of alignment based issues for your players e.g  The PC’s just crashed into the Orc village intent on killing and plundering and find a calm village scene complete with young Orc children running around (Evil GM Grin). Okumarts has added some very nice touches to make this set stand out, such as:

  • Including Orc’s with Axes facing left and right, great as gate guards, the same yet different.
  • The female Orc thief could make for a very nice NPC or even an unusual PC character.
  • The old Shaman need I say more 🙂
  • Female orc with frying pan, reminds me of the Tangled frying pan quote “Frying pans… who knew, right?”
  • The ability to have four colours of the main warriors, you could have four different clans all fighting, with the PC’s trapped in the middle.

Okumarts has kept the outlines fairly simple although if you are cutting by hand there are a few hair, cloak and horn points you’ll need to cut around. The back to front alignment on the set is excellent which can be an issue with front/back paper miniatures. I was a little skeptical of the cloak colours when viewing the PDF on screen, particularly the green, however on print out all four colours look good. The miniatures themselves are bright and have excellent colour toning. Identification of the different miniatures on the tabletop was very easy when looking down at them from a seated position at a table. The PDF’s are not “locked” so editing them for my (or your) own personal use is easy rather than if they had been password protected.

Village Life (Huts by Worldworksgames)

I have no real issues with the set except wishing that the little craftrobo “L’s” (alignment marks) were on the pages. The only other small comment I have is that I would have liked to see a few female warrior types mixed in with males. However this is an area that metal/plastic miniature manufacturers tend to miss so no big issue. Although in the case of Orcs I can understand their military might not be an equal opportunity employer, unlike more open minded races such as Wood Elves.

This set would be great for any GM who’s players are about to invade an Orc stronghold or try and wipe out an Orc village. Print each of the warriors out in two or three different colours and the villagers once and you could set a really nice scene on the tabletop. This set will also make for a nice warband for a skirmish sized wargame (8-10 miniatures per person) such as Song of Blades and Hero’s. At this point in the Darkfast series this set can’t quiet provide enough variety of miniatures on it’s own to start to outfit a full fantasy Pig Orc army using rules such as No Quarter. Saying that you can field three different types of foot units, Hand to Hand, Archers and Polearms although you might see a little repetition in the units, to this you could add a Ballista (link) or Catapult (link or link), use the Old Shaman as a powerful magic user and use the Orc from Set Zero as a Hero, this will leave you short on some form of cavalry and a command type group. Okumarts is a big fantasy fan so I have no doubt that we will see some more Orcs in the future.

Orc Hand to Hand Unit Ready for Battle

This set is a pay set but will only set you back $2.50 USD about 10 cents a model if you don’t count colour options, less if you do. The set is excellent value for money and the artwork is of a very high standard. I’d recommend picking up a set for yourself, if you have any RPG GM’ing in your future or need a few warbands for a skirmish level wargame. However if your only use for this set is more along the lines of needing a full Fantasy Army I’d carefully weight up buying and building what you can now or simply waiting to see if further miniatures are released in the future and then pickup both sets at that point, so you can better field a more complete army to begin with.

For myself  it was no brainer buy and I’m really happy with how the miniatures look on the table. I’ll wait with crossed fingers for more variants in the future to help fill out a more complete army list for Fantasy Wargaming or possibly I’ll just mod some for my own personal use.

Next up Wood Elves.

Orc Ambush

Wargaming Terrain – How to Make Trees (One Single Trunk)

I wanted to try scratch building some tree armatures for wargaming. Two main reasons, one I wanted to see how hard it would be and two I’ve always been pretty disappointed with the way paper trees look, the paper trees are normally to short and/or have that toilet paper tube look. I think in the case of trees paper may not be the best medium.  Below is a bit of a how to on what I did to make my trees. I’ve only done single trunk trees however I am going to try multi-trunk and fruit trees later on. I apologies for the below pictures but it was very difficult to take some decent photos to show the build process. You can see some further photos of the textured trunk at the end of this blog post. The information contained below I’ve picked up in various forums, tutorials and by looking at some commercially available trees over the past decade or so, unfortunately this means I can’t provide any links to anyone place as inspiration, think of the below as an amalgamation of web idea’s plus some of my own all mixed together.

You will need to gather some supplies before you can start making trees:

  • Acrylic Gap Filler (White cheaper, Brown can save painting)
  • 20-30 meters of 1.57mm diameter (14-15 gauge) galvanized tie wire
  • 20-30 meters of .9 mm diameter (19 gauge) galvanized tie wire
  • Coarse art paint brush
  • Wire Cutters
  • Long nosed pliers
  • Hot Glue Gun and/or PVA glue
  • Masking tape 18mm / 3/4 of an inch
  • Disc magnets 15mm x 1mm/ 5/8 x 1/32 inch(optional)
  • 5 min epoxy if your using the magnets and don’t have hot glue
  • Super glue
  • Strong fingers 🙂

If you can’t find the exact tie wire listed above slightly thinner would be better than slightly thicker, make sure it is tie wire and not high tensile fencing wire. In Australia you can get all the above items from your local hardware store,  except for the magnets, the magnets I used are these magnets available from deal extreme. Deal extreme also sells an 18mm x 2mm magnet which would be interesting to experiment with.

Some of the tools

The dimensions etc listed below will make a tree approximately 20cm/8inches tall, at the end I’ve included some dimensions and lengths for a 6inch tall tree. You should be able to expand this method out to make taller trees by simply adding an extra longer length.  The first step is to grab your thicker (1.57mm) tie wire and cut some lengths of wire:

  • 4 x 12.5cm / 5 inches (potentially optional read below)
  • 4 x 20 cm / 8 inches
  • 4 x 26.5cm / 10.5 inches
  • 4 x 30cm / 12 inches

Wire Lengths

Grab two of the same length of wire and twist them together using your fingers and the pliers. Make sure you leave a tail at the end being held by the pliers of about 1.5cm / 3/4 of an inch, later these will become the roots of the tree. Do not twist the wires all the way together leave at least 4cm / 1.5 inches untwisted on each piece. I’ve done a picture and a very short video to try and show what I mean.

Link To Video

For the 5inch lengths there is no need to leave a tail on them as they will be used as extra branches, hopefully you have two of each twisted length something similar to the below.

Twisted wire pairs

Similar to the above process now grab two of the same length twisted wire pairs and twist them together. This is harder to do due the 4 strands of wire, if you need to you can use a second pair of pliers to help with the twisting. Again do not twist the wire pairs all the way together as the end part of the wire becomes the branches. As a rough guide leave at least 10cm / 4inches on the 20cm / 8inch wire pairs, 8cm /3 inches on the 26.5cm / 10.5 inches wire pairs and 6cm / 2 1/2 inches on the 30cm / 12 inches wire pairs. There is no need to twist the two 12.5cm / 5 inch lengths together as these are used later independently.

Now the fun part begins, you need to shape your wire pairs into some semblance of the start of a tree trunk and branches. Basically you just need to bend the untwisted wire parts down, not as far down as 90 degrees but just slightly sloping upwards, try not to bend the two branches exactly opposite each other, stagger one slightly up and the other slightly down. I’ve included a diagram below which shows the approximate lengths to leave prior to doing a bend, don’t take these figures as 100% accurate but use them as a starting guide and then if something looks off adjust it a little. You may end up with a little extra wire at the ends if you do just snip it off, likewise if one branch is turning out a little short don’t worry to much trees don’t seem to when they grow in nature :). Bend your short root ends up at about 90 degrees.

Click to enlarge picture

Hopefully you now have five parts that look something  like the below.

Wire pairs twisted together

This next part is difficult to describe, however hopefully with my description and the pictures below you’ll be able to work out what I mean. Take your Short, Medium and Long trunk/branch segments and fit them together so that the roots at the bottom are lined up flat but pointing out in different directions and the branches poke out in different directions at the top or as different as you can get them. Next take a short length (8-10cm, 3-4 inches) of masking tape and tape the very bottom of your tree just above the roots, tape as  tightly with the masking tape as you can to help hold the three wire pieces together. The three wire trunks will naturally form a sort of triangle down the bottom.

You can really start to see the tree in your wire armature now. To help strength the tree further and hold it together, You will need to wrap masking tape tightly around the trunk under each wire branch pair.

Masking tape around trunk below branches

Your tree should be fairly sturdy now and is hopefully not in any danger of falling back into it’s component parts. However to really help tie the wire together in a more permanent structure. Grab your hot glue gun/ PVA glue and in the gap between your base masking tape and your first branch piece of masking tape push some hot glue or PVA glue into this gap. The advantage with hot glue is that it dries quickly so less waiting around. The below image shows were you should have the glue placed, feel free to use your hot glue on other spots if you feel the armature needs it.

If you like you can stop there and call your tree miniature armature done and not worry about adding a few extra branches. I’ve done a few trees with just opposite branches and it does have some advantages, you use less Acrylic gap filler, less branches means less “leaf” (ok sponge material) that you have to glue and use on the tree, quicker to paint and most importantly the trees will still look good.  If you do wish to use the two extra branches they are pretty easy to use, basically bend what would be the root end down about 1.5cm / 1/2 inch. Select a location for your branch and size it to about the same length as the other two branches located near it. You want your branches to be evenly spaced around your tree so you will need to bend the other two like sized branches back towards each other ie the angle between your three complimentary sized branches will be approximately 120 degrees. Now using your hot glue gun glue the branch to the side of your tree. While the hot glue is drying wrap some masking tape around the tree trunk and the branch tail to help hold it in place (the tape is very important if you use PVA glue). Unfortunately I couldn’t get a picture of myself covered in strands of hot glue and wincing in pain as it stuck to my hands, but hopefully the two pictures below and the description above give you a rough idea of what to do.

Deciding on position


All Glued and Taped in place

Once you have your branches added on, next is to add a short top to the tree. I use the 0.9mm wire and just twiddle a bit around the the top of the trunk and extend it upwards about 3.75 cm / 1.5 inches and then have small branches pulled down on each side of about the same length (you may need to glue/tape it in place). I’ve circled the topper in blue in the below photo and the extra branches in red.

Extra branches and topper

Topper ready for use

I’ve put magnets in to the base of my tree so that they magnetize down onto the terrain to help stabilize the trees when they are being used during gaming but can be easily lifted out of the way if needed. I’ll need to do a post later on detailing how I make my hills etc with grab points. If you prefer to permanently affix your trees to your terrain you can skip this step. If you look at the base of your tree you’ll notice the roots are all crisscrossed over one and other, what you want to do is untwist and pull these out flat. The picture below shows a base I’ve sorted and  flattened out. You want your root ends at this point to be pointing slightly upwards (Yes my roots are slightly longer than needed).

Take two of your 15mm magnets and super glue them together, next temporarily stick your magnets to the base of the tree and stand the tree on a flat surface check in all dimensions that the tree trunk is approximately vertical and isn’t laying over in one direction or the other. If the tree trunk is laying over re-bend your roots to help flatten it out. If it looks good simply hot glue or epoxy glue the magnets in place.

Next trim your roots to the length about 18mm / 1/2 an inch long. Once they are all trimmed down you want to bend the roots down so that the tips of each root are level with the base of the magnet. I find the best way to do this is to bend them down to about where I think they need to be and then check them by standing the tree on a tabletop and bend any up and down that need adjusting. The roots will seem to curve down over the magnet which is the effect we are after. You can also see in the below picture were I built up the base with a bit of hot glue.

  Lastly before we apply the acrylic you can further bandage the tree in masking tape. I have made trees with and without masking tape bandaging. A quick pro’s and con’s for bandaging:

Pros

Cons

Use less acrylic filler Time taken to bandage tree in masking tape
Easier to cover the wire with filler
Quicker when using acrylic filler

From the above it would appear the best thing to do is to masking tape the armatures however this does add significant time and is reasonably fiddly as I’ve had to cut the masking tape in half length wise to tape the branches. Saying that at the moment I do lean towards bandaging the trees in masking tape. If you do use masking tape make sure to try and respect basic tree anatomy, ie thinner towards the ends of branches and top of the tree.  I also do a last pruning at this stage to check I don’t have any to long branches or branches pointing in the wrong direction, basically just try to give the tree reasonable symmetry. The two pictures below show a bandaged tree and an un-bandaged tree ready for painting with acrylic gap filler.

Bandaged Tree

Un-Bandaged Tree

I tend to stockpile 5-6 armatures before I paint them with a coat or two of acrylic gap filler (If you want to permanently fix your trees to your terrain now is the time to glue them in position on the terrain). Take one of your armatures and put a drop of super glue onto the magnet on the underside and try to get a dot on the end of each root, now place the tree down on a piece of thin writing paper so the magnet and root tips glue to the paper, to get a good smooth bond use a metal surface (old computer case wall for example).

I find I get a better bark texture if I squeeze out some gap filler into a small bowl and then add a few drops of water and mix it in so the gap filler is slightly less goopy. The more water you add the smoother your bark will appear once the gap filler dries, this is a good way to show different types of tree barks.  Next just grab your coarse paint brush (I use a cheap art 1/2 brush) and paint the gap filler onto the armature. When you brush the gap filler onto the armature brush the gap filler on the trunk in an up and down direction and paint a long the branches (red arrows). Try to build up a sort of triangular shaped wedge on the underside of the branches were they join the trunk (Green triangles), Don’t paint to much on the branch wire ends just a thin layer to cover the silver wire.


Painting Gap Filler Flow Diagram

Don’t worry to much if you think the texture looks wrong as you paint it on, even some really weird lumpy textures look very bark like when you get them dry brushed. Below I took are two pictures one shows a group of trees dried after being painted with brown acrylic gap filler and the second a close up of the base and bark texture.

Four 8 inch trees and One 6 inch tree

Close up of base and bark texture

Once the acrylic filler dries about 12-24 hours trim the base to a roundish circle using the wire root ends as a guide. Next  paint the underside of the base with some PVA glue, don’t worry that the base is a little wrinkly, the important thing is that the magnet and the wire tips provide the contact points with the ground and these wont be wrinkly. After I’ve done the coat of PVA glue I then paint the the underside of the base black. You now have three options

  1. You can use the trees as is or
  2. Give the tree a quick dry brush with a lighter colour to bring out the ridges or
  3. Fully paint them with a mid colour,  dark wash and a dry brush.

If you used white gap filler you’ll have to do a full paint or at least a base coat. I’ve been doing the last option as it really helps to bring out the texture of the bark and makes the tree look good on the table. My colour choices for bark have been burnt sienna as the base coat, darkened burnt umber as a wash and Bilious brown as the dry brush highlight. Below are a  couple of pictures of a finished tree armature, in the below picture you can see were I’ve missed the dark brown wash in a few spots as the wood appears redder (most noticeable on branch tips which will eventually be covered in clumping foam).

Single Tree Closeup

Group Shot Finished

Last step is to just add your preferred type of tree leaf material. I’ve been using Woodland Scenics clumping foam stuck on with super glue so they are really durable for wargaming. There are a few ways of making your own tree leaf material but I’ve found the clumping foam to be the best compromise between cost and durability.  The below finished tree isn’t one of the above but it is one of my first prototypes which I painted in a slightly different colour scheme, however as an unexpected bonus the colouring works better when photographed.

For a six inch tree you want to cut wire to the below lengths from .9 mm diameter (19 gauge) wire:

  • 4 x 7.5cm / 3 inches (extra branches)
  • 4 x 12.5 cm / 5 inches
  • 4 x 17.5cm / 7 inches
  • 4 x 22.5cm / 9 inches

Using those as a starting point you should be able to assemble a six inch high tree using the above guide and these wire lengths as a starting point. In the off chance someone would like to read this as a PDF later on I put one together available here (3mb).

Have fun with your trees 🙂

Papercraft Build – Okumarts Darkfast Set Zero: Basic Adventure

Okumarts has been releasing paper mini sets for about 12 months now. It’s great to see another really talented professional artist get into the paper mini field and I hope he continues to expand his range, especially as Onemonk has hung up his pencil. I decided to build up the first of Okumarts Darkfast Classic Fantasy series (Set Zero: Basic Adventure). I’m currently building sets One and Two and will put posts up about those shortly.

Okumarts has a very distinctive style which aligns most closely with the manga drawing/image style. I personally really have an affinity for his style, if you prefer your paper mini’s more ultra realistic I wouldn’t recommend these. Okumarts has however incorporated a lot of the great features that Onemonk used on his paper mini’s that made them stand out so uniquely, this includes:

  • Tabbed basing for easy mounting
  • Back and front colour art
  • Black border around the outside of the mini to help it pop
  • Close cutting of the mini’s. No fold up triangles here.

The above make Okumarts paper mini’s very compatible with several other artists and let you reuse some of your already existing bases. Although the unique style will mean you can mix and match Okumarts and other artisits mini’s on a table for an RPG, if you try to mix and match them inside the same wargaming army unit it will look at little odd as the styles will clash. This however is not a big drawback as you can’t really mix and match different metal miniatures from different manufacturers in the same unit. As with the metal miniature world there are some issues with scale in the paper miniature world. The advantage with paper is that if you want something a particular scale you can scale it up or down prior to printing. I’ve put together a quick image below which shows one of Okumarts miniatures from this set side by side with a Human from Onemonk and a Human from Sanity Studios, Okumarts miniatures align most closely with Onemonks work however they have a less exaggerated head to body ratio:

Approximate Conversion

Scale Up Sanity Studio’s, print at:  118 – 120%

Shrink Onemonk/Okumarts, print at: 83 – 85%

This is the first set in the Darkfast series Set Zero: Basic Adventure and is a free download. The set contains 10 unique miniatures which can be printed in two different colour schemes, this is achieved by using a layered PDF. The mini’s are split into  Five “Good Guys” and Five “Bad Guys”. If you were just starting out with D&D or another fantasy RPG, this set would give a you the basic figures to get your campaign running for 1-2nd maybe up to 3rd level characters. This set can also be used to give you some quick starter figures for two different warbands for Song of Blades and Hero’s or some other skirmish sized fantasy game. Okumarts didn’t specifically name each of his mini’s but I’ll do my best below:

Dwarf Fighter (M), Human Monk/Druid (M), Human Fighter (M) , Human Wizard (M) , Elven Archer (F)
Bugbear Fighter (M), Gnoll Fighter (M), Goblin Fighter (M), Pig Orc Fighter (M), Hobgoblin Fighter (M)

The colour options for each miniature are:

  1. Dwarf Fighter: Yellow/Brown and Blue/Brown
  2. Human Monk/Druid: Grey/Brown and Green/Green
  3. Human Fighter: Blue and Yellow/Gold
  4. Human Wizard: Mauve and Green
  5. Elven Archer: Natural Green’s and Bright Green/Yellow
  6. Bugbear Fighter: Green/Grey and Red
  7. Gnoll Fighter: Light Brown and Light Green (loincloth)
  8. Goblin Fighter: Light Brown and Dark brown
  9.  Pig Orc Fighter: Burnt Orange and Aqua Blue
  10.  Hobgoblin Fighter: Red and Green

For a free set this set is excellent value for money and the artwork and options are great, the weakest miniature in the set to me is the Bugbear he sort of looks startled rather than aggressive. Okumarts has kept the outlines fairly simple without to many little pointy area’s to cut out (the ones above were cut out by my craftrobo), I test cut out one by hand in 3-4 mins.  The back to front alignment is excellent this can be an issue with front/back paper miniatures not always aligning well. The colours print out very well and the miniatures don’t appear muted or dull. I could easily tell which miniature was which when looking down at them from a seated position at a table. The PDF’s are not “locked” so editing them for my (or your) own personal use is easy rather than if they had been password protected.

Scene One for Fun

I do have  two minor quibbles with the set although as this set is free the word minor should be bolded and underlined. Normally you want 1-2 of each hero and 5-6 of each monster/critter. As the two are tied together on the one page this means to get 5-6 of each monster you end up with 5-6 of each hero as well, not particular useful and a waste of paper and ink. This could have been overcome by making better use of the PDF layering so that you can switch the hero’s “off” and have an extra row of monsters underneath. The second issue is the lack of craftrobo registration marks. I don’t expect every paper mini set to come with a set of GSD’s however it would have been nice if the little craftrobo “L’s” (alignment marks)  had been placed in each corner then it would have been 5-10 min’s work for me (or anyone) to put a set of GSD’s together. Without the L’s I have to export the files to GIMP re-lay them out and then reproduce them which also breaks the layered PDF and makes it impossible to share the GSD’s with anyone.

Scene Two for Fun

I really like this set and as it is free go and grab it now . The minor issues are nothing and can be overcome by spending 10-20 mins with the miniatures in GIMP, something you may like to do anyway so as to get a whole sheet of Hobgoblins etc. This is a great way to get that RPG or skirmish game off the ground with a few miniatures as decoration that wont cost you anything but a little time, some paper and ink.

Have fun with them, I know I will 🙂

Scene Three for Fun


Project Status


WWII Project First Release

80%


B-tech Buildings Five

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Design Victorian era City

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Something Different

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