Posts Tagged 'D&D'

Papercraft Build – Inked Adventures Dungeon Cut-Up Basic

Inked Adventures Dungeon 4 (S01)I have a real soft spot for nostalgic themed games, papercraft or artwork, this little build fills two of those. Ever since Inked Adventures released their basic Dungeon cup setup I’ve been wanting to build enough for a dungeon layout. So I put some time aside over the past few weeks  and have now built enough tiles to populate a fairly decent sized dungeon, I can see I need to create a few more tiles but for the most part I’m done. As you can tell by the release date it’s taken me a fair bit of time to get around to building these, some of this relates to me trying to find a good material to mount tiles to but I’ll mention more below on that.

All Inked adventure tiles are hand drawn which I find a very nice look. There are 41 pages of dungeon goodness contained in this pack; rooms, corridors, stairs, trap tiles, 2d doors and 3d standup doors multiple versions of both. The beauty of the Dungeon Cut-Up set is even if your not into altering dungeon segments using GIMP/Photoshop, Billiam from Inked Adventures  has created this set so you can use a pair of scissors and glue to create your own custom tiles. There are 4 pages of “extra” bits which you can use to either decorate your tiles permanently by sticking them down directly to the tiles or by turning them into loose tiles you can add mid game.

Inked Adventures Dungeon 3 (S01)Layout Example – From an angle

For my set I stuck with components that are multiples of 2inches, 3inches or 6 inches. This will make it simpler to use for Dungeon plungin and Basic fantasy, although I might make a few special rooms that don’t conform to these sizes later on. For the moment I’ve created 8 – 6×6 rooms, 8- 6×2 corridors, 2 – 6×1 corridors, 4 L and T junctions, 2 X junctions, 4 dead ends, 14 small doors, 2 double doors, 2 double joiners, 4 double rockfalls and 2 large pit traps.

Inked Adventures Dungeon 1 (S01)Bits created so far laid out

The rooms I created from the parts supplied by Billiam although I did a fair chunk of altering in Gimp to make them fit a 6×6 square. Other than the room with blue squares you could replicate most of the room designs with a pair of scissors, glue and  a little ingenuity or simply use the ones that come with the bundle (12 rooms included).

Inked Adventures Dungeon 2 (S01)Example Layout – Top Down

I mentioned at the top I’d been putting of creating these as I’ve never really found a suitable substrate for mounting tiles to. I’ve tested quiet a number of crazy ideas in my time from rubber carpet tiles to magnetic sheet. Not sure if it’s just the extreme weather down under but I’ve found all glues that are easy to use for tile creation (read spray glue even the good 3m stuff) do eventually fail, 3m takes the longest at around the 1-2 year mark.

Inked Adventures Dungeon 6 (S01)Kitchen mat backing, simply double sided taped on

After years I’ve finally narrowed it down to two methods, the first I mentioned in my city build thread 8mm PVC foamboard. A little heavy duty for this application plus chews up extra storage space so I’ve simply used grey boxboard 1400gsm (basically what commercial game boards are made from) and printed directly to sticker sheet, stuck the tiles down then cut around the whole lot giving a nice neat tile. To prevent slipping on smooth tables I used double sided tape to a fix non-slip kitchen mat to the backs. Nothing to out of the ordinary and it’s been done before but I’ve found this one of the better solutions for DIY tiles; No spray glue mess, No warping from glue, No lifting , Reasonably slip proof on a table and lastly they don’t take up to much room to store. My current dungeon tiles fill about 1/3 of an  A4 document box. To give the doors some weight I stuck them down to some thick (2mm) magnetic sheet, this will also let me stick them to the inside of the lid of the storage box later on to protect them during storage.

Inked Adventures Dungeon 5 (S01)I’ll add some dividers etc later on but just to give an idea on storage

If your not sure you like the style of the tiles or simply want to give them a try there is a free sampler pack which should give you an idea of what to expect. I did this myself while experimenting with tile mounting techniques, once I had a solution I grabbed the full set and haven’t been disappointed. I even grabbed the square tile version although I haven’t used them. I should probably mention that Inked Adventures has released some freebies for this set so grab those as well as they’ll give you more options.

Inked Adventures Dungeon 4 (S01)The whole example layout – yep missed a door on the right

As always have fun building and gaming and I hope to get some more posts up shortly, I have 6 projects 90% complete….I should probably focus on one project at a time rather than starting six at once :).

Papercraft Build – Dave Graffam/Thomas Weaver Observatory

I’ve spent the last week working on Dave/Tommyguns Observatory model.  This is a free model but it is full of character and is unique as far as I have found in papercraft terrain. I did make some slight modifications to the model as I was building it, primarily I increased the size of the model by 145%, added an inside and tried my hand at adding some extra detailing to the model. I plan on giving this model to a friend to use as part of his warmachine table layout and I think it should fit in well with the steampunky feel of the Warmachine universe. I added the extra details to the model so it can be used as an objective in a scenario and look a little more special.

Due to the extensive changes I have made to the model I can’t really give you a step by step on what to print and how to replicate what I’ve done but hopefully the below pictures of the model and the comments I’ve made will help if you do wish to try. I will say edge under absolutely everything in black before gluing things in place as this will help cover up miss alignments and small gaps.

First up the telescope it’s self , I cut the end out of the telescope and glued a glass bead into the end of the telescope, I glued the blue end I’d cut out to the bottom of the bead to give a deep blue effect otherwise when you look at the bead you would have just seen the black inside the tube. Other than the clear acetate windows this is the only part I’ve added to the model which is not paper. I did try to make several domed paper parts but they looked terrible. I also printed out the parts twice and cut out bands of wood (doubled up 2 layers of 220 gsm) and glued these around the tubes to add some extra detail, the very end one I increased in width by 100% to add a shroud effect around the glass bead lens.

Under Construction

Completed and Mounted

Next up the base: In GIMP I split the lower walls from the upper dome on the lower side of the metal flange. I then increased the wall height by 6mm (1/4 inch) so I could insert a foam floor later on. Next I added wood texture across the entire inside base. It was a simple matter to print out the lower walls floor and pretty much assemble as normal. Although I cut a dodecagon of foamboard to insert into the floor first and glued the walls to this (triangles on the underside)then dropped in and glued the textured floor on top of this.  I also cut out the windows and doors to enable me to fit them back later on. Once the outside was assembled I cut small segments of foamboard and glued these along the inside of the wall for strength and thickness. I then modified the external plaster texture to fit on the inside of the model to become the inner walls (102% height 90% width). Before gluing the inside in place I cut the window and door holes into the foam inserts then test fit the inside insert and marked were the door and windows would be and cut these out, the inside was then glued in place. I next added some flex steel (turned out to be un-needed) around the top edge and glued it in place and then covered this with a special dodecagon wall topper I made up in GIMP. Last step was to add some acetate windows, hinged door, framed star charts for the inside and window frames on the outside and the base was done.

Outer Walls and Floor in Background

Floor Glued in and Inner Foam Support Added

Finished Base

Next up was the top inside and out, this was a right pain in the neck as I had to design a telescope end and eye piece inside the Observatory. In the end I got a design that fit although I did make one piece slightly to long if I make a second one I will shorten the 2nd main bend a little. Sorry getting a little ahead of myself, assembling the outside was fairly easy, once again I cut out the windows before assembly. I then glued a foamboard dodecagon piece to the inside of the base of the dome approximately matching up with the steel flange graphic on the outside and about 6mmx6mm square (1/4 of an inch). Once this was in place I glued the top together in pairs to keep it symmetrical then glued the pairs into fours and so on until it was glued into the dome shape. I next added some detailing to the top (all double thickness 220gsm card) such as the horizontal wooden beams, the window frames and a cap to the top of the roof to help finish it off. At this point I also glued the acetate windows onto the inside of the dome top.

Outside Glue Up

Finished Outside Top

Onto the dome inside. As I wanted the wooden dome to be thinner than the masonry walls I kept the dome as only a double card thickness. To line it I simply printed the outside again and cut these into individual triangles, reverse scored them cut the windows out and glued them into place, there is a slight bulge on the inside were they cover up the windows. Next I added 6 small (5mm square) magnets to the foam flange and then reprinted the wall topper from the base and glued this to the under side of my foam flange. I likewise duplicated the outside texture and glued this to the inside of the foam flange. I didn’t bother to detail the inside of the dome as it’s almost impossible for someone to look up into the dome while gaming without removing the top and then your focused on the bottom. I did add an inside tube and eye piece to the telescope as mentioned this was a right pain but I finally got the geometry worked out on my third test build.  Unfortunately due to the small windows it’s very difficult to see from the outside but it looks nice when you pull the top of the model. To help hold the top to the bottom and cover any small miss alignments I made up a double wide metal textured piece and glued this on the bottom of the dome, this slides over the base and is a very tight fit (magnets seem to do nothing) if I was to redo the flange I’d put a thickness of card behind the card flange to give a little more play. On the plus side pulling the model apart requires some force so accidentally knocking it apart during gaming would be impossible.

Inside Top Lining

Finished Inside Top

Overall I’m very happy with how the model turned out, it let me try my hand at detailing in paper which although fiddly is no worse than scratch building in traditional materials except no painting and as an added bonus the model is extremely durable/strong due to the added bracing. The extra detail helps make the model pop on the table from a distance.

So why not go and grab some of Dave’s models or Tommygun’s and either build them stock or try detailing one up as a special terrain piece.

Finished and Assembled

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

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 🙂

Wargaming Terrain – How to Make Creeping Vines

As promised I thought I’d do some quick instructions on how I made the green creepy vine on the rocks. I picked up some push molds from the mold hut on ebay, the vines are specifically mold number F112 I’d recommend getting at least two it will speed up production. The mold hut has a heap of molds which would be handy for decorative bits on scratch built terrain, some others I picked up are G113, A115 and F147 but there are literally 10+ others which look handy, just have a browse:

Molds from the Mold Hut

The problem with vines is that they are traditionally bendy and conform to the shape of the object they grow around and over. I’m sure there is some ultra expensive bendy specialized rubbery molding agent. However as I was looking for a cheap solution I tried a few different Gooey type sealants I had laying around the house. As it turned out the cheapest one was the best, it doesn’t stick to the silicon mold once dry (no special release agent required), after doing 20 or so molds of the vine I’m not seeing any mold degradation so it appears to be silicon safe.

The only drawback is it needs at least 4 hours to dry before you try and remove the vine from the mold, this however isn’t to much of an issue if you have two molds you set them up before going to work/school then pop them out on return, set them up again pop them out just before bed and set them up again and pop them out in the morning. So you can do about 3 cycles a day and on a weekends if your around the house you can do 5 or 6 cycles producing between 6-12 vine segments. The goo in question is the cheapest Acrylic gap filler you can buy in those long tubes, downunder it costs $2 per tube although you do need gun to squeeze it out ($6-$10) most people probably already have the gun laying around the house. You can also buy the stuff coloured but this more than doubles the cost to about $5 a tube, I also couldn’t find a nice green (brown in below pic).  This is not a Silicon based gap sealant you will have terrible problems painting the vines if you use a silicon based sealant it has to be a plain acrylic gap filler:

Acrylic Gap Filler

Now the easy part grab some of your Acrylic gap filler you only need a tiny amount less than half a teaspoon full per vine mold. If you squeeze to much out simply wrap it up in some kitchen cling wrap/film which stops it from setting and you can then use it later to fill a mold.  If you have the plain white gap filler you can colour it at this stage with a small amount of paint or green ink just mix it in well. Try as much as you can to push the sealer into the mold to fill in all the gaps. Once your happy that you’ve squished the sealant in as much as you can hold a toothpick on either end and run it across the surface of the mold. You’ll need to push down reasonably hard, however if you push down to much you’ll scoop the acrylic right out of the mold, if this happens just push some more gap filler back into the mold and re-scrap with your toothpick. Whatever you do make sure you scrap fairly quickly otherwise a skin will form and you wont be able to scrap. Additionally don’t worry if the surface facing you is not perfectly smooth it’s the glue side:

Molds Filled and Scraped

I timed my test piece at night in late winter early autumn (about 18C or 64F) and 4 hours seemed to let the acrylic set enough for removal. However leaving it as long as 24-36 hours only made it easier to remove. To remove the vine simply bend the mold away from the vine and then gently lift it out remember to be gentle some parts of the vine are very thin. If you do happen to break the vine in half or pull a  piece off all is not lost either save those two bits for when you need a short piece of vine or use a tiny amount of acrylic gap sealer to join them back together. You will notice a little bit of flashing around the edges of the vine, as far as I can tell that’s pretty normal I think a combination of the type of mold and using acrylic goo as a casting material are not exactly optimal:

Vines demolded (left-front, right-back)

Leave the vine to dry for another few hours or overnight if you can and then simply trim any unwanted bits hanging of the edges away with a pair of nail scissors. I’d recommend buying your own pair rather than stealing borrowing your other halves or parents as all hell will be raised when they find bits of gooey acrylic gap sealer all over their nail scissors. Your handy $2 shop/Golo type establishment should have nail scissors for $3-$4 a pair. If your hobby table is anything like mine, it is some form of mimic hobby table that eats tools and so I’d recommend buying two pairs. Two nice trimmed vine segment:

Vines Trimmed

Next up paint the vine segments in the base green  colour (or any other colour you like), it’s easier to give the vines a base coat while they are not glued to your piece of terrain. If you found a nice coloured green acrylic goo or dyed your acrylic with paint or ink you wont need to worry about this step unless it’s not to your taste. Here are a couple of my vine segments painted green and ready to be used on my next piece of terrain.

Vines Base Coated

At this point I tend to stockpile vine parts ready to be used in a small jar. I have about a dozen in the jar ready to go, a dozen segments gos a long way the two rock terrain pieces used 5 and 4.5 vine segments each so it stretches a reasonable distance.  To use them simply mock the segments up were you’d like them to go a long your piece of terrain (Paint the terrain first). You will need to trim off the odd leaf (save them they do come in handy) and clip the top and bottoms so they fit together and align.

Mockup showing One and Half Vines

I’ve used both super glue and white PVA glue to glue the vine segments in place, I prefer the PVA as it gives me slightly more time to adjust the position of the vines. When you place your first piece make sure it’s about 5mm (1/8 inch) up from ground level, then simply glue the additional vine pieces in place. The small gaps and the missing base stem simply fill/build up with a small amount of acrylic gap filler and once dry paint green to match. Next I simply painted on some thin white lines as leaf veins and then lightly washed and highlighted the leaves with a lighter green paint:

Vines Glued and Detailed

You can use the above acrylic gap filler in other molds just remember if the piece is thicker or more dense it will take longer to dry before you can demold the piece.

Tutorial – How to Build a Solar System

This is a little deviation from my usual project posts. Instead of showing a project I’ve finished I’ll run through a bit of a Tutorial/How to on designing your own Fantasy/Sci-Fi World Solar system. This is the process I used to design the Sarilo system in the previous post. In looking for this kind of information on the WWW, I pretty much came up blank -everything was either very high level or assumed your world was an earth clone except for the continental layout :). A word of caution: I’m no expert mathematician or physicists so I may have made some liberal assumptions with some of the formulas and maths below, if your reading this blog post for some sort of school project (unless it’s “Build a Fantasy/Sci-fi Solar system”), turn back now.

Jaw Dropping Picture for your Players

First up you’ll need to design  a Solar System layout, how many planets what types etc. If you’re going to all this trouble at some point your going to want to casually insert some kind of picture into your gaming session so the players can go “coooool”. So behold I have assembled the ultimate in solar system development tools, I’m possible over selling it a little. Below is a link to a very basic drag and drop solar system assembly page best viewed at 1280×1024 (+). It uses only CSS and Javascript to run no fancy flash around here :). I checked and it seems to function best in IE7 and 8 (just say yes to allowing active content if your asked). It functions tolerably well in Firefox although changing label names is irritating,  right click them first and then it’ll let you adjust the label name. Go forth and design a Solar System using the below or if your so inclined use Photoshop,  GIMP or something else:

Link to Builder

Link to Builder

Hopefully your back with a semi-pretty Solar system picture to throw at your players. Now we need to flesh out some of the details, how far is each planet from the sun how long does it take to orbit the sun etc. Now if you’ve stuck your habitable planet way out near where Pluto normally sits, now would be a good time to adjust it to somewhere closer to the sun rings 2-4 (possibly 5)are the best places for habitable planets. However it’s your Solar system so feel free to keep it that way but you’ll see the interesting impacts below.

Specify Planet Distance in AU

Don’t get to hung up on how far an AU is.  Just be aware a good range for Terrestrial (Earth like) planets is approximately 0.8 AU’s to 2 AU’s. Earth in our Solar System sits at 1 AU from the sun, Pluto hangs way out at 39 AU and Mercury at a toasty .4 AU’s. Now Assign each planet an AU Distance from the Solar System Star. The planets don’t have to be as spread out as much as our Solar System but do be aware big planets to close to each other could in reality have interesting effects on each others orbits, Feel free to play around with this Solar System builder. I punched in an approximation of the Sarilo System and ran it for a 100000 years (about 4-5 days) with no problem.  It’s interesting to try to create a stable solar system with one planet on an elliptical orbit that doesn’t wipe out your other planets, I have no idea why a comet hasn’t run into Earth yet :).

A little bit of Math

This bit is fairly glossed over, if you want to get into the full workings and understanding feel free to check out  Keplers Laws, for me I’m happy with the below. Basically grab your AU distance for your first planet and place it to the power 3/2, basically 1.5 and you’ll get the orbit of your planet in equivalent earth years. An example My primary planet Etena is 1.24 AU from the Star Ravi, 1.24 to the power of 1.5 equals 1.381 earth years or 504 earth days:

To make things super simple here is an Orbit calculator online (right at the very bottom of the page)or use this spreadsheet I assembled . Using the above does assume certain similarities between our Solar System and the fantasy one but unless you really want to get into some heavy math just live with the above :).

A little bit more Maths

So now you’ve got your planets and you know how many earth days it is to year for each planet. You can just see all your NPC’s running complex mathematical conversions every time they try to calculate what season it is. Time to give your planets unique day lengths etc. I’ll admit I stuck with an hour being 60mins for all the calculations I’m just not that dedicated to make up whole new time system. For each of your planets allocate the number of hours in a day, before giving your earth like planet a 500 hour day, think what impacts this would have on your planets society. I’d recommend to keep your earth like planets hours in a day between 20-30 for easier game play.

Once you have the number of hours in day for a planet  simply take your number of earth days in a year x by twenty four then divide by the number of hours in your planets days, this is the number of the planets days in a year, as an example Etena has 504 earth days in an orbit and 26 hours in a day. 504 x 24 = 12096 hours then 12096/26= 465.2. So there are 465 Etena days in a Year. If you like you can do the above calculation for all your planets. My handy spreadsheet will do these calculations for you :).

Adding the detail from the above

So you now have a Custom Year Calander for your planet which will if you need it to stand up to at least cursory mathematical checking. But what are some of the impacts gamewise? Below is a bit of dot point list of things to consider:

  • If your year is very long (in earth days), the seasons will be longer, more food might need to be stored for winter or a double cropping season might be carried out, plants might mature slower.
  • If your year is shorter (in earth days), plants might mature quicker, as winter is shorter less food needs to be stored.
  • Longer/Shorter Day length could impact working day length etc (shop opening hours)
  • People’s ages will be different younger or older depending on shorter or longer years, maybe you age by each season instead.
  • Certain events could be more or less important, ie if spring comes around every 100 days it’s going to seem less important to celebrate, however if winter is 250 days long your definitely going to have a big party when that’s over.  (or if your planets out by Pluto your whole life might be lived in “winter”)
  • Is your habitable planet closer or further to the sun, this could make it hotter or colder.

Basically think about how things would impact you if the days and years were of different lengths. Now that you know how many days are in your planets year you can design up a calendar for your players to use. Remember to include seasons, approximately one per each quarter of the year.

Hope this information is useful to other people building up a campaign world.

Orbit Calculator – Spreadsheet

Solar System Builder

Bugbears (Onemonk bash) – Paper Miniatures

I needed a little bit of a rest from drawing as I was getting a little bit frustrated with my current attempts at drawing my next paper miniatures. I really like Onemonks bugbears but unfortunately their is only one miniature. Bugbears are one of my favorite fantasy monsters so I decided to do a little bit of modification to the existing miniature to come up with four new ones.

I’m not going to detail exactly what I did as it would take to long a post 🙂 . I worked on each variant for about 1-2 hours each trying to make sure I hadn’t corrupted Onemonks artwork to badly and that the fronts and backs still aligned. I ended up with a Gimp file over 2gig in size when open and something around 200 layers for the 4 miniatures , the old computer was really starting to chug at the end. I constructed a:

  • Spiked stick club version, the club was borrowed from a troll,
  • A round mace version taken from Onemonks weapons sheet,
  • A dual weilding axe bugbear, existing axe plus one from the weapon sheet,
  • And a longbow wielding bugbear, I’m unsure if bugbears use bows but it looks good.

I had fun making these as I find bashing and modding much more relaxing than drawing, probably the most disappointing piece is the rear of the shield arm it just looks a little odd, but overall they look okay and the edits are hopefully not to obvious. A picture of the finished  bugbears:

Once again a big thanks to Onemonk for allowing us to mod his figures and change them around. I’ll definitely be putting these into Onemonk’s hoards once they are back up and running.

The GSD and PDF are below, As usual if you save the GSD rename it to .gsd rather than .odt:

Paper Miniature Bugbear(Onemonk mod) – PDF

Bugbear – GSD

Have fun with them.


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