Archive for September, 2012

Papercraft Build – Lost Reich (Fat Dragon Games)

Fat Dragon Games released the Lost Reich game and miniatures about 12 months ago. It’s almost impossible for me to not pickup any mech based game so I had to grab this one, although due to the house renovations etc I’ve only just started to build up a few of the models. (Sorry about the rough pictures my camera is really starting to show it’s age and needs to be replaced.)

For those who aren’t familiar with the back story for Lost Reich the Short Fat Dragon spiel sums it up nicely:

LOST REICH is  set in an alternate history, where the Nazis fled to Antarctica at the end of WWII and secretly began rebuilding their armies, patiently waiting for the day their Reich would rise again. Taking place in the near future, armies of Allied and Axis walking mechs battle for territory and resources across the world.

When you pickup the starter it comes bundled with lots of goodies; mechs, rules, terrain and more. But for this post I’ll just cover four of the mech types that I’ve built up so far, two allied and two axis types. Of course I could not resist making some minor alterations when building the mechs which I’ll cover below.

The biggest change I made to the mechs was to build them at 50% of size, which changes them from being 15mm to about 1/210 or 1/220 (approximately z-scale) depending on what scale you consider 15mm to be. I plan on doing a special city game board scaled to z-scale for use with Lost Reich, Axles and Alloys using micromachines (more on that later) and one of the Big Godzilla Monster fighting games. Additionally Z-scale means I can build a large layout which only needs to be 60 cm (2 feet square) or if I really want to push it 90cm ( 3 feet square) but I’ll do a separate post when it’s completed. Other than the scale change the miniatures are pretty much stock. I did add a different number to one mech, played around with adding some art to the side of another a bit like aircraft nose art and lastly added little magnets in there feet so there bases can be removed/swapped easily just in case I wish to try different rules or simply have the bases match the terrain they are being used on.

Panzermech 1 and Sherman Mk 1 (1st Test Photo using the Wifes mobile phone)

Overall the mechs were very easy to assemble, made up of simple-ish geometric shapes and they look good on the table when assembled. Making these at full size would be a snap and I’d say you could easily construct 1-2 a night while watching TV (more if you have a Craftrobo). For myself making them at half size was slightly more challenging but they still came together well and about the only part that caused me real issues were the now teeny tiny gun barrels, but in retrospect I should have just used matchsticks and coloured them in  black or grey with a  sharpie/texta :).

Panzermech 2 (2nd test photo using the wifes mobile phone)

First up two of each of two of the Nazi mechs; The Panzermech 1 (double barreled mech)  and Panzermech 2 (shoulder pods and 1 gun barrel). I like the design of the both these mechs although the Panzermech 2 is my favorite of the pair. I’ll definitely be making a few more of those and when I do I’m tempted to make the shoulder pods magnetic and then do a dual rocket and dual Plasma Gun variant :).

Group shot Panzermechs (using old camera)

Next up 2 of the US mechs, The Sherman MK 1 ( Gun barrel one) and Washington (Rockets only). I made 5 of these in total, I placed some art on the side of one and tested out doing some color edging on that mech but I personally prefer black edging.

 

Group Shot Washingtons and Shermans Mk 1 (Using Old Camera)

Heres a closeup of the front Washington a little more side on so you can see the nose art I placed on the side of the mech, borrowed from a WW2 aircraft. I like the idea of doing this but maybe not for every mech , more the special or one off ones.

For a last little bit of fun I took a picture of the Mechs and then dropped it onto a poppy field picture by glasseyes over on flickr released under CC 2. I picture it as 2 US mechs out on Patrol and they stumble across 3 Panzermechs. The question is can they get out of there and report back before the Panzermechs obliterate them?

Link to full size version

As I finish up more mechs I’ll put up separate posts for those mechs, the next ones I plan to work on are the Scorpion and the Sherman Mk 2. One day I might even get to play the game :).

See you all later.

GIMP – Getting Started with Papercraft Modding/Bashing – One

First up normally when I start talking to people about GIMP they get all nervous looking and edge towards a door, I think they assume I mean these, so to clarify my post is about GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). I wrote this blog post for a few reasons. First I wanted some basic info to go with the Lost Reich posts I’ll be putting up later and as I seem to have posted/sent information like this out a few times to different people I thought others might find it useful.

First up the online Gimp help files are actually helpful and very well written so I would encourage people to have a flick through those. I will admit that for a new user they could seem a little over whelming with the amount of info presented. The full help files can be found here, I suspect most people will want to jump straight to Chapter 3 in that document as that’s were the real meaty help and how to use starts. My post below  is a bit of a shortcut primer to just get you up and running quickly and start hacking some basic mods into an existing paper models  but is no substitute for the full help files and hard won experience.

If your switching across to GIMP from your totally legal and fully purchased copy of photoshop. I would encourage you to stick with GIMP it took me about 3 months to become fully comfortable with GIMP when I switched over from my old copy of photoshop 5/6.  Now I couldn’t live without some features in GIMP such as “Paste as New Image” (suspect photoshop has that now) and the ability to push docks onto my 2nd monitor as separate Windows. I will admit though that sometimes it takes a little longer in GIMP or it takes me time to locate a plugin to do the same job but unless your a high paid commercial graphic designer, GIMP should meet your needs :). Just give it a chance and give your mind a chance to learn (re-learn) where everything is.

* I have assumed with the below that the user has some understanding of terms like “docks”, can install the software and has some basic level of software knowledge. If not drop me a comment and I’ll try and clarify or help further.

Getting GIMP and First Startup

First up download GIMP and install, the version available when I wrote this is 2.8.2, so your success with the below instructions might vary if we are now up to version 4 and/or its the year 2022.  Personally I prefer to use the portable version to the full install version as I tend to run GIMP off my external HDD I carry with me everywhere.

Next up launch Gimp either via the menu item/desktop icon or via the GIMPportable.exe if using the portable version. Now hopefully you’ll end up with something that looks like this on the first launch:

No I’m not a Starwars and Lego Fan..not at all

The first issue most people have is that we have 3 separate windows, if your running dual or more monitors I’d encourage you to leave GIMP in the above configuration. This will let you push the main image window onto one whole screen and manage the docks on your second screen so maximizing space when image editing (be nice if GIMP just treated both screens as 1 big screen..maybe next version).

However if you prefer a single window or have only one monitor, simply place GIMP into Single Window mode by going to the menu item “Windows” and select the bottom Option “Single-Window Mode” (depending on how your OS operates you may need to close and restart GIMP to have single window mode appear). Below are two more Screenshots, one in single window mode and the other how I have Gimp setup on two monitors (I normally have more docks opened out and untabbed):

Personally with dual monitors I find the above restrictive, but everyone has there own preference so use what your most comfortable with.
I wish it looked that clean IRL with no monitor bezels 🙂

On the odd chance someone is missing some of the default docks to get those back simply go to the “Windows” menu item and first check that “Hide Docks” isn’t ticked on if it is untick it or simply hit the tab key. If you still have no luck go to “Windows” menu item again and select the recently closed docks option if there any options under that select them and it should return your docks. Still no good, Okay one more easy solution to try, go to menu item “edit” and select “preferences” then select “Window Management” (2nd last item) on the small screen on the right then select the “reset saved window positions to default values” select ok on the question that pops up and then hit ok and close GIMP and relaunch. Hopefully the default dialogs have reappeared.

Still no luck? You have my sympathies and I have no idea whats happened to your install, maybe best to try a re-install or try the portable version I mention above, but if you want you can rebuild your docks by hand but it is painful. First up hold ctrl and hit b this will return your toolbox you’ll need to re-size it a little as it will probably be long and thin. Next Select the “Windows” menu item again then the  Dockable Dialogs and select the ones you want one by one and drag the docks back together. At a minimum you want Layers, Brushes and Tool Options. However many others are useful such as Channels, Paths and Undo history but you’ll figure out what you use/need over time.

Basic Paper Model Mods

Okay number one rule with anything in GIMP, most stuff can be subject to an undo, as with most programs undo is under the edit menu item or triggered through a ctrl-z, so don’t be afraid to use it :).

Getting the PDF into GIMP

This is actually much easier than you would think, the worst thing is that Gimp can’t handle layered PDF’s so it only imports the default view you get when you first open the PDF. I’ll cover a work around for this in a later post:

First Launch GIMP

Then Go to “File” then “Open” and browse to the PDF you wish to open and select it (I opened One Monks Old Devils-Imps.pdf ), you’ll be presented with the below:

The most important point on this screen is to make sure the resolution is set to 300 (pixels/in – default setting) and then click Import

In the above this was a simple 1 page PDF if I had imported a multi-page (not layered)PDF I would have seen multiple pages (see below) on the selection screen and each page I selected would be given it’s own layer in GIMP – Think of layers like different bits of papers with a different picture/drawing on it.

We now have our Imps inside GIMP seemingly ready to go, however if you simply print the page now from GIMP you’ll notice it comes out a little smaller than out of the PDF. I don’t fully understand why but there appears to be some internal margin in GIMP which forces the document to be shrunk on print out. To get around this we simply shrink the paper (canvas) size a little.
Go to “Image” then select “Canvas Size” (Do not use Scale Image), your canvas will probably be 2550×3300 px, Click on the “px” value (see below) and change it to %, change both values to 92% (optional turn on the little chain-link icon and change just the top value and both will match or very close). Press the “Center” button and then press “Resize” (you may have to play around with the X and Y values to get the robo marks to stay in view)

Okay why did we just do that last step? If you now go to “File” and “Print”, select your normal printer, now see right at the top you have a tab next to “General” called “Image setting” click that (see below). See the Resolution is  set to 300, If you don’t shrink your canvas a little Gimps internal margins kick in and the resolution on this screen will be above 300, normally around 320-325  and hence your print outs are small. Now on the below screen you can select the “ignore margins” button and manually set your resolution back to 300 but I tend to forget and end up wasting ink and paper… feel free to check out the below screen before you shrink the canvas.

One Way of re-colouring

As with most software there are 3-4 different ways of doing something. GIMP is no different and the below is one way you can re-colour in GIMP, the below will however only let you re-colour it wont for example let you apply a different camo texture, but I’ll cover that in a later post. This way is very quick but not without its limitations it will change all instances of that colour/hue to a different colour/hue. So it works best on large single colour critters, Demons, Dragons, Trolls etc.

You have your Image all ready to go:

Next up go to “Colors” and select “Hue and Saturation”, this will launch this screen

I want some Blue Devils, so I select “R” for red as mostly their skin is Red and now I simply adjust the Hue slider until I get a nice Blue shade. If I want a lighter Blue I simply adjust the Lightness and Saturation Sliders (make sure the little Preview box above “help” is ticked on) until I’m happy with the colour. Below are some example re-colours and the settings used to achieve them. In both cases I adjusted both the Red and Magenta channels but have included screen grabs of both.

Blue Frost Demons

How about some Bright Green Forest Demons?

Once your happy with the colour, select ok and the minis will be re-coloured then save your version as an xcf  file and print your document, cut out (or run through your Cameo/Robo) and enjoy your newly coloured minis.

I’ll leave it  there for now as this post is very long, hopefully there is enough above to get you started. I’ll cover a bit more in other posts later this and next week, I have 3 posts part drafted. If you want me to cover something specific feel free to leave a comment asking/requesting it and I’ll try and add it to my next post.

As always have fun

Healthy Vegetable Moussaka

I’ve been making a few recipes out of the veganomicon, although not vegan myself I’ve been been modifying the recipes  and trying to make them a little lower in energy per serving. Below is my modification of the Moussaka recipe on page 165 of the veganomicon which I might say is very tasty in it’s own right but a little to high in energy. Mainly due to the inclusion of pine nuts and about 750g (1.5 pounds) of potato.

First up this is not a quick recipe to make, so far every time I’ve made it, it has taken me a good 2 hours of time. Although not 2 hours solid in the kitchen about an hour on prep and 45 mins to bake. It does however make about 10 servings, so its good for meals for a week or if you’ve got people coming for dinner. If I’m serving it for others we’ll add a simple salad to the side, if it’s just myself and my wife we’ll have just the Moussaka.

Ingredients

Vegetables For Layering

1/8 cup Olive Oil or Spray Olive Oil

1kg (2.2lb) Eggplant (about 2 large)

1kg (2.2lb) Zucchini (6-8 medium size)

1kg (2.2lb) Carrots (Grated/Shredded)

1kg (2.2lb) Butternut pumpkin

500g (1.1lb) Sweet potato

Tomato Sauce Base

3  Cans Crushed Tomato (1.2kg – 2.6lbs)

3 Med Onions (500g – 1.1lbs)

4 Cloves Garlic (minced/grated)

1/3 Cup Veg Stock

4 Teaspoon Oregano

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Dry veg stock

1 Teaspoon Guar Gum (or another thickener)

1/4 Cup Water

White Sauce

4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

600g (1.3lbs) Silken Tofu

1 1/2 Teaspoon Arrowroot Powder

1 Clove Garlic  (minced/grated)

1 Teaspoon Ginger

2 Pinch Fresh Nutmeg

2 Pinch Black Pepper

200g Cottage Cheese

20g Grated Parmesan Cheese

Topping

20g Grated Parmesan Cheese

Getting the Vegetables Ready for Layering

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400F) then cut the tops and bottoms of the eggplant and zucchini and slice them into 1/2 to 3/4 cm (1/4inch) thick slices length ways. Next up peel the pumpkin and sweet potato and cut them into slices about the same thickness as the zucchini and eggplant. Place all the cut vegies on trays on greaseproof/baking paper (saves using oil) and either spray the tops with olive spray oil or brush very lightly with olive oil (1/8 cup). Place these trays in the oven and cook the zucchini and eggplant for 15-20mins and the potato and pumpkin for 20-25mins, try not to over roast them.

Roasted and Ready to go

Make the Tomato Sauce

While the vegetables are roasting you can make the tomato(red) sauce. In a frypan place the 1/4 cup of water, 4 cloves of crushed garlic and onion, gently fry this until the onion is cooked about when all the water is evaporated. Next add the 3 cans of crushed tomato, Oregano, Cinnamon, 1/3 cup veg stock and Guar gum.  Gently simmer all this for 15-20mins until it begins to thicken then add the last teaspoon of dry veg stock and cook for about 5 more mins.  When done simply turn off the heat, don’t forget to check on your vegetables while doing this step 🙂 .

Tomato Sauce Awaiting the layering of the vegetables

Make the White Sauce

I should say slowly add all the ingredients together and mix, but honestly just stick them all in a blender and blend until you have a smooth white sauce.

Pulling it together

Grab a deep roasting pan, mine is 35.5 x 25.5 x 7.5 cms (14 x 10 x 3 inchs) and non-stick. I spray my roasting pan with spray oil just in case then start loading the vegetables in.  The order you want to go in from the bottom of the pan up is:

  • Eggplant
  • Grated Carrot (1/5)
  • Pumpkin
  • Grated Carrot (1/5)
  • Zucchini
  • Half the Tomato Sauce
  • Sweet Potato
  • Eggplant
  • Grated Carrot (1/5)
  • Pumpkin
  • Grated Carrot (1/5)
  • Zucchini (if your out of zucchini save a little Eggplant from the 2nd layer)
  • Grated Carrot (if any left) (1/5)
  • Remains of Tomato Sauce
  • All the White Sauce (spread over with a Spatula)
  • Sprinkle with 20g of Parmessan

Don’t worry to much if you don’t have enough for a full 2nd layer, just layer them the best you can. Next place the roasting pan in the oven on 200 c (400 F) for 40-50 mins until the top starts to go golden brown. Once ready remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 mins and then cut into 8-12 serves.

Just out of the oven

 I roughly calculated the energy and fat in the whole Moussaka which is 13000 kj (3100 cal)  and 80 grams of fat. A 1/10 serve is 1300kj and 8 grams of fat. If you want to drop some of the energy and fat simply ditch the Parmesan cheese this will decrease the overall energy in the total Moussaka by 800kj and 16grams of fat.

Ready to Eat…Hmm needs some salad

Hope you enjoy it, if you make it 🙂


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