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27
Jul

My Journey to the Spring of Darga One Eye

Some of the most fun I have ever had wargaming involved a multiple year Warhammer campaign.  As I had chosen to run a Dwarf host and had a fair number of units already painted I wanted to work on some themed terrain pieces.  One of my favorite units is my “old school” Ironbreakers that look like knights and decided the first piece I would attempt would be the Sacred Spring of Darga One Eye (the legendary Slayer but more on Dwarf history another time) which these doughty templars seek.  Following is the tale of my own quest to find the spring, foibles and successes both as it really is all about the journey after all.

Guardians of the Spring
“When at first you don’t succeed…” is cliche’ because it is true.  How very frustrating setbacks can be so this is part of my attempt to focus on lessons learned rather than time and materials lost.  Taking a preformed, plastic play set (in this case a Trilobite habitat) and converting it to a water feature suitable for a war-games table seemed a simple matter of “Paint (see above) and Pour”.  Ah how naive and far away that view seems now.  The first lesson learned was that Games Workshop Water Effects ages on the shelf, badly.  The bottle I used was two years old, previously opened and partially used all of which added to the complications that beset me.  Following the directions it took over twice as long for the material to reach solidity and transparency.  That should have been a warning but I am ever so good at hoping for the best.

Ah, such potential...

Ah, such potential…

The next lesson to be gleaned from the chaff was that different brands of synthetic water effects DO NOT mix well.  Heck, you can’t even layer them.  Running low on Games Workshop Water Effects and patience I decided to use Woodland Scenics Water Effects for the remainder of the project as I had always had good results with it.  True to experience the WS’s material cured quickly and clearly with the luxury that it can be poured in deeper layers than the GW.  Unfortunately it also softened the original GW layer turning it white.  This would have been great for a chemical plant or murky swamp (make a note for later experiments) but undermined much of what I hoped to achieve.  I had hoped it would turn clear again but once the changed density of the under layer caused cracks in the upper it was time to pull it all out and try again.  Not surprising, it ripped up the layers of texture and paint requiring me to reseal, re-prime and repaint.  Sigh

First Fish(c)

Hmm, something not working right...

Hmm, something not working right…

After they were glued in and half submerged in Water Effects I liked the Sculpy fish I had created then painted less and less.  Initially force of habit had me using the standard beige clay and adding the silver body and blue details in paint after baking.  The more I looked at them the more they looked like balloons of cartoon fish, like something from a Japanese festival.  Since they had become permanent parts of the water material I dug out I was forced to redo them from scratch anyway.

2ndsculptFish(d)

I have discovered that using silver clay and focusing on the shape rather than details of a fish produces a much better result.  The lack of detail actually lends a sense of motion, which in turn adds to the illusion that these are real fish.

2ndPainting(e)

Ready to try pouring water effects, again.

I glued in a mix of grasses along the shallows but wanted to keep the plant life to a minimum as it would be an underground spring in many battles.  I also added more fish than the first run and an eel mostly because I was enjoying sculpting them so much

First pour for the second time.

First pour for the second time.

These close ups nicely show the depth of the water, plant life and even the submerged skeleton of the long deceased dragon slain by Darga.

FinalClose2

FinalClose1

When the water had reached proper depth it was time to add the spring and ripples.  After experimenting with numerous materials in the end the Liquitex Gloss Heavy Gel seemed the best suited for my bubbling water flow.   It sculpts nicely, holds a shape fairly well and dries completely clear plus being transparent, thick paint, it is easy to move around with a brush.  I am now tempted to get my old fountains and watering troughs out to add a little water using the gel medium but that direction lies madness.

Freshly applied ripples

Freshly applied ripples

An unfortunate and annoying air bubble near the base of the spring (at least I assume that’s what it is) was most distracting until I applied the ripples of gel over it thus rendering it invisible.  I used a putty knife to apply the gel to the surface of the “cone” and a well watered brush to shape it into flowing water.  I tried to keep the layers thin to guarantee quick drying as well as transparency.

The waterfall "dry"

The waterfall “dry”

As I am so very fond of the final deepwater effect I have kept the surface ripples to a minimum.  Despite setbacks and frustration I am actually looking toward stream and river sections with eddies and depth as my next water features.  Perhaps there is a masochistic streak in me after all.  Might be best to get to the Dwarven Brewery next.  It is, after all, why they were looking for the spring in the first place and it is half finished. Here are another couple shots of the proud dwarfs.

Guardians of the Spring

Thane Mingolshade and his command squad.

Thane Mingolshade and his command squad.

27
Jul

…and so it begins

I’ve been collecting and painting miniatures since I discovered Airfix World War 2  1/72 scale figures looked great with my HO scale German village railroad models, sometime around fifth grade if memory serves.  In the beginning it was purely out of a love of creating another world as well as the joy of improved skills that I took brush to plastic.  Wanting to get the details right I found myself immersed in my father’s library and was soon hooked, wanting to learn more about any aspect of the war long after my specific questions had been addressed.  Thus began the connection between play and lifelong learning.  Since then my interests have been many and varied but creating tiny worlds were almost always at the heart of it.  It wasn’t until I reached college that my room mate (one Necron99 to whom I simultaneously thank and curse-lol) introduced me to the concept of Wargaming (units of painted tiny soldiers moving across fields and town to use dice to do battle with one another) and I was hooked.  Since we both came from Role Playing backgrounds, where each figure represents a unique individual, we began painting each and every figure to the highest level we could.  It was sometime before we both figured out how to paint blocks of minis efficiently.  While I do paint some miniatures to my very best ability, even entering the odd competition, it is bulk units, playing pieces that represent the majority of my efforts.  I truly enjoy the creative process and challenges they represent and want to share some of that joy.  In addition, I know a lot of folks who can’t comprehend how they could ever tackle the pile of toy soldiers they have acquired.  To those, I hope to offer some inspiration or at least the sense that “you aren’t alone, it can be done and it is worth it”. So, in that spirit I present my first attempt.  It is actually a couple of years old but finally seeing the light of the internet.

The 2010 KublaCon Speed Painting tables (props Wayne and gang!) answered the problem my refusal to store any more unpainted miniatures had presented. Having picked up a full set of Mantic Skeleton sprues at the con I set myself the challenge of painting them in a day. After three hours of assembly I had a solid block of twenty-two skeletons (one being that of a warhound) and primed them white. The pictured practice or prototype figure took between 20-30 minutes.

ManticProto

 

Here are the first layers going down. I also limited myself to eight colors in order to speed any decision making and force more color mixing (another personal goal).  I use a sharp #1 or #2 brush to base coat as they hold plenty of paint (though never past halfway up the bristles;-)) and the sharp point helps me control where said paint goes.  I try to keep my application neat, hating continual touch-up.  I start with my lighter colors, work toward the darker and end by cleaning up the white areas

MantUnit1 MantUnit2 MantUnit3

The next stage was to carefully wash the entire unit in alternating sepia and mud color stains (would be Gryphon Sepia and Agrax Earthshade washes by Games Workshop now).  When they dried I did minimum highlighting, based the unit in mixed flock and added snippets of twine as tufts of dead grass.

Having primed the unit the night before, I sat down first thing in the morning with my coffee and paintbrush. With limited breaks for snacks and DVD changes the Brotherhood of Widows’ Tears was complete in about 7 hours. The white surrounding the tufts of grass is fresh glue as I took the picture as soon as I had completed the work (they dried clear). There is only the matter of a paper standard, that has yet to be designed, but they are ready to make more 28mm widows and orphans.

Ready to make more Widows and Orphans!

Ready to make more Widows and Orphans!

With the Horde rules in Warhammer 8th edition my Vampire Counts have been glad for the reinforcements.

8
Jul

Charting course

I have loved learning and playing games my entire life.  How closely they are related was never clear to me until after I had become an educator. Through repeated conversations with friends and colleagues I realized this was universal.  I also began to wonder if there was a way to connect all of us lifelong learners, a place to exchange information, edification and inspiration, a forum where we could come together to see we aren’t alone in our belief that play encourages learning.  A place to find support.  Always one to rise to a challenge, and learn new skills I decided to attempt to create such a place.  So here it is, The Tactical Simulation Gaming Society.

It is my hope this can become a place were many folks can post works in progress, inspired lessons, cool Lego creations, after school programs, datafiles, blueprints, whatever inspires us to play, learn or create more.   So whether you’re an educator, student, gamer, painter, or just a lifelong learner please join us in building The Society into something entertaining and inspiring.