Thursday, 31 March 2016

A Happy Bunny

Our wee rabbit, Spot, has been living inside for the past few months. He's been very poorly, but my brother has diligently nursed him back to health. However, he has been getting a bit stir-crazy at having to stay inside. Rabbits can be forgiven for failing to comprehend weather forecasts given in human, I submit. Anyway, today it has been rather sunny, if still a bit chilly. So twice I took him outside. We have a small run in the garden, and I sat with him for c.20 minutes before I had to go to work, and, after I returned from work, c.45 minutes. He had a lovely time, digging for roots, eating some dandelion leaves, and standing on bits of me in an effort to find out why his path was obstructed. The answer to that last part is that I'm fat, and my brother, who usually takes him out there, is thin. :D Here he is - the bunny, not the brother:

Terrain Tutorial: "Glass" Windows

I am using these for my "Mosque", but they can work in any building. Find yourself an old transparent CD case, then get yourself a sharp knife, a ruler, some pliers and some strong glue (I used Evo-Stik Impact; having experimented with superglue and drawn a blank). It is usually easiest to trim the raised bits off the CD case, so you have a nice, flat piece of plastic. Measure how much plastic you need to cover your window area. If you have several windows to cover, you may find it easier, as I have here, to cut one big piece for them all. Check your plastic is flat by carefully running the edge of your blade around the perimeter of your piece. Do be careful. Apply glue to the model, and lower the glass onto it. Take care not to get glue onto your window. Weigh it down and wait for the glue to dry. Note that I intend to apply some printed paper to the inside of the window panes, simulating leaded glass. If you're going to have open windows, be sure to have something inside to look at. If you are going to make the interior accessible, then you should also hide the window mounting. I may do a further tutorial on that, but not today.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Walling off the World

I spent the other evening scribing the foamcard on the outside of the walls to resemble courses of stonework. When you're making six feet of the stuff, it takes forever. I've added a little chipping to the surface so far, and pressed a couple of blocks in as though they were slightly misaligned or the wrong size, but the main thing since then has been applying 2mm foam to the back of the walls. Once that's dry, I shall scribe it. Then I just need to thicken up the battlements and add flagstones, and I can finally get to texturing and painting.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Happy Easter and a ravine!

I hope you're all enjoying the day. The weather here has been far too bleak to do anything outdoorsy, so I have been working on things. I have pinned and glued foam to walls, partly dug out a hillside pathway, glued windows into a mosque, and glued a plastic demi-egg shape onto a scrap of base. Today, have a gander at the ravine/pathway. My initial plan is to make three 2' (60cm) lengths  (6"/15cm deep, 5"/12.5cm tall) of ravine, one with a pathway to the top, and the other two just steep hillsides. This will in time be added to.

So I cut bits of MDF to form the back and sides, bits of timber to form supports for them, and help to ensure a semblance of right angles. I glued these in place (Fig. e1), weighted them with some spare lumps of metal, (Fig. e2) and left them to dry. Once they were secure, I cut up a spot of my old mattress foam, and glued it in place (Fig. e3). Once dry I began carving and plucking chunks from it until a semblance of a pathway began to appear. I'd like it to seem feasible for some vehicles to traverse the pathway, so I will be smoothing it further. I don't want heavy tanks trundling up the hill, mind, so I aim to keep it about 3" wide.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Passion and Tedium

As part of my reevaluation of myself, I have been thinking about what I enjoy. I have a tendency either to suppress them or at least discussion of them. They are niche interests, and society looks down on them. For most of my life it has not been practical (or even possible) to go about seeking like-minded people. For instance, while there must be wargamers hereabouts, as the newsagent in town stocks WI, MW&BG, Soldiers and Strategy and White Dwarf, there are some big obstacles to actually meeting them.

I'm a naturally retiring person, so I don't really want to go and meet new people. I am very sensitive to odours, and I am in person polite (though you might not infer that from the bluntness with which I write), so if any were to turn out to be smokers, I would simultaneously be in discomfort from the physical pain they would be causing me and unable to ask them to take steps to mitigate the problem. I used to go out to clubs with friends back before the smoking ban, and after being in a noxious environment for a while, my throat and nasal passages felt for the next 12-24 hours as though they had been sandpapered. Importantly, autistic people also lack cognitive empathy, so we're easily exploited by those who gain our trust. This has happened to me rather too often, and, like the brokenhearted, it becomes easier not to put oneself in that position again. In case you haven't clicked that link, don't mistakenly assume that autistic people don't feel for other beings; if you try to hurt my brother or my rabbit, I will break your arm if that's the way to stop you.

Aside from practical considerations about actually doing things, even discussing interests is something I have often avoided, suppressed or diminished. Partly that is politeness, but I wonder if it is also perilously inauthentic. That sentence reads oddly, so here is what I mean. If I am not telling you about what I like, and am instead nodding along as you burble merrily about football, have you actually met me? Are you just interacting with a facsimile of a human I have crafted to protect my true self? If that's the case, as that article notes people like me wonder, would you even like me? Then, of course, one wonders if people who do like you actually do or just the shell. It's a surprisingly thoughtful article for Cracked, that one.

It only misses the part where I feel I have changed who I am repeatedly through life as a survival mechanism or response to trauma. Play the part long enough, and you may become the character, for good or ill. So now I am wondering whether I am that version of me any more or a different one? After all, I have found myself considerably more boring when doing fewer things I am interested in. Whither with that, though? It is hardly as though one can go up to random people in a bar, and introduce oneself with, "Hey, I'm making a pretty nifty scale ravine for wargaming purposes. How about you?" I don't understand much about social conventions, but I know for a fact you're not allowed to be interested in oddities.

Of course, the last time I did strike up a conversation with a lady in a bar, it was the other way round. The conversation trailed off as she bored the pants off me by a) refusing to discuss what she did, declaring it boring, b) not having any literary topics to discuss, and c) listing as possible topics soap operas and football. In the unlikely event you're reading this, Scooby, your job doing something in an office for the council involving tarmac repairs for roads, while not terribly interesting, was head and shoulders above those two options. She did excellent work on being memorable, though, having that nickname, and wearing a brilliant lime green t-shirt, evoking the imagery of Shaggy from Scooby Doo. That was either attention to detail of the first water or a baffling coincidence.

So this boils down to two things. Who am I? To what extent can I be myself (whoever that is) while acquiring/having friends? This is going to take me a while to figure out.

P.S. I have often made use of having a wide range of possible topics of conversation, from my enjoyment of classic pin-ups to what may seem my bewildering support for contemporary feminism, but some just don't get the airing they deserve.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Walls with a view

The product of several hours' labour last night: five and a half feet of walls to add to the extant six inches. Gateways and the like are still to follow. I took the foamcard, cut it to shape, and glued it to the front of the walls. Now we let it set.

Monday, 21 March 2016

March/April Plans

Note: I wrote this before my last post, so don't be confused if it seems retrograde.

I have a few projects on the go at the minute. I am almost at the end of building the village, I think. The "Mosque", a small building, and a couple of large ones will round it out nicely, bringing the total of buildings, including what I think of as the Hacienda to a lucky total of thirteen structures. A ruin or two, and perhaps a few other things, may follow in due course, but for a while, that will be it.

I have three areas I want to focus on now. First, the Baccus BEF Infantry division alluded to on Monday. I'm very happy with the colour scheme for the guns, and am feeling confident about the infantry colour scheme. I should have finished it tonight, but I am too tired for sleeping, having got up early to drive almost to Hull for a friend's little boy's christening. Lovely time, but I'm shattered.

Since I'm too tired to paint I am, of course, cutting things up with sharp knives. Wisdom is for the wakeful! This is work on the second thing I shall be working on: a modular castle. I have posted ere now a teaser for one of several towers I am building. That is nicely advanced, and will fit in with a collection of walls I am at work on. I mean to have a good 6' of straight bits, and then have a think about a gateway, angled bits of walls and so on. Again, sleepiness currently impedes thinking and detailed planning.

Finally, I long ago decided to build a set of three connecting trench boards for 40K. Now, I haven't played 40K in years, and have no intention of going back to it, but I wouldn't be averse to some Great War trench action. I'd need to cover up a few oddities, which I shall. So the first step has been undercoating the old boards so I can get a good idea of what work needs to be done to start bringing them up to code.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Being Me and Building Walls

I incline toward the introspective and I have an excellent memory for many things. Combined, these two elements often produce unfortunate results. I consider at excruciating length what could have gone better had I done this rather than that, why I failed to perceive then what is so blindingly obvious now, and so forth. In terms of this blog, I have spent quite a while wondering what to do to interest people in reading it. However, I had an unrelated eureka moment the other day, and am now minded to kick out all that I had thought up. Instead, I shall be popping up photographs as and when I do things, so long as I have the time. Quite a lot is under way.

I am making a modular castle wall at the minute. I have a clear picture of most of the construction in my head. The body of the wall (on which models will stand) is 4" tall, made of thick polystyrene foam. A facing element (5.5" tall) will be glued to the outside, made of foamcard, the paper front removed, and the foam inscribed with blocks in courses. The rear of the wall will be of black foam, scribed again to produce courses of stones. Details of the battlements are still uncertain in my mind. I want them a bit thicker than they are at present, but I am unsure how much thicker. Flagstones of dark foam will sit on the battlements' floor, if you take my meaning. Some walls will have flights of steps so as to allow models access to the walls.

Here is what I am on about. I dropped the connector for my digital camera into my orange juice, so while that dries, have some pictures taken on my telephone.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Great War Teaser

A 28mm Renegade 18-pdr gun with its 6mm counterpart from Baccus. Guess where this is going!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Hypersleep Chambers

I picked up a pack of hypersleep/cryosleep chambers from Antenociti the other week. They should add a nice Alien vibe to my on-again, off-again spaceship board project. Lovely size they are, and nice detailing without being over-ornamented. Nifty things with a broad variety of potential uses.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Terrain Tutorial: Build your own village

Nothing could be simpler than knocking up an adobe village. Even better, provided you minimise the detailing, they're suitable for all sorts of locations: the Middle East, Mexico and the south-easterly portions of the USA, even the desert planet Tatooine.

Long pins
PVA glue
Balsa wood
Sharp knife
Suitable paints
Paintbrushes, including a quite large one (a 1" brush is a good size)

Decide how large you want your buildings to be. I decided to give most of mine a 3" (76mm) by 3" footprint on the table, and then make a few slightly larger ones for variety. I drew some 1:1 plans on an A4 pad (Fig. 1) and set to work. I carved out all the side pieces (leaving out the roofs for now), including doors, which I decided would be an inch (25mm) wide and an inch and a half (38mm) high. Owing to the size of the buildings, I elected to have windows on doors on different walls. I also marked out one inch from the top of the walls so I could place the roof there later (Figs. 2-4). After construction, I ran across another tutorial which recommended carving out a 5mm strip at the end of the wall, allowing pieces to abut very tidily. I have since tried it and commend it to you. It means less work when applying filler to hide the joins later.

When carving out your doors and windows, do not throw away the offcuts. Retain them. Line up your corners, painting some PVA on the adjoining segments, and then pin them together. Do not worry if the pieces are of slightly different heights, but do your best to ensure that the bottoms of the walls are level so that the completed dwellings will sit flat on your table. Once the walls are pinned together, take those offcuts you saved, and pin them into three corners of every four, where they will support the floor you will add later (Figs. 5 & 6).

I chose to make two slightly larger and different buildings here to add to the character of the settlement. I gave one a 4" (102mm) long back wall, and the other a 4" (102mm) long front and 5" (127mm) long back wall. In both cases I cut a strip of 1" (25mm) wide foamcard and then cut it into pieces to form an external staircase. I recommend decreasing the strips of steps as they are stacked by 1/4" (6mm) for a good appearance, e.g. if the lowest strip was 76mm long, the second should be 70mm, and so on. As before, apply PVA glue and secure the pieces with pins (Figs.7 & 8).

Let everything dry overnight, then remove the pins. Twist them through a complete circle in order to break the glue's hold on them so you can remove them easily. Round off the sharp edges of the buildings with a sharp knife. Create some damaged sections for verisimilitude. Remove some of the paper covering, and carve bricks into the exposed foam. Make some roofs to fit the buildings, and carve a 20mm by 20mm square close to one corner unless the building has an external staircase. As before, glue and pin in place, leave to dry, and remove the pins when dry (Figs. 9-11).

Mark on balsa sheet your doors, windows. Remember to make them large enough to overlap the door-frames and windows. Using a ruler and pencil, score them to suggest planking (you may need to repeat this after staining), then dye them with diluted paints. This gives an initial suggestion that the wood is sun-bleached (Fig. 12). I chose to stain each building's wood differently. Do not worry if some pieces are more strongly stained than others as it is what happens in reality. Once dry drybrush with a colour to suggest the wood is weather-beaten. I used a cream.

Mix up some filler and apply it with the large brush across the building to provide some texture, taking care not to obscure the brick detail you have scribed in place. Once this has dried, repeat the procedure, applying the filler only on the pieces of wall not scribed with brickwork. Wait for this to dry, then paint the buildings in your choice of colours. I mixed a brown with a cream, and used that for my base coat. I applied a heavy drybrush of cream over that, and a final lighter drybrush of white. Some of the filler had dripped into the buildings, so I carefully removed that at that point. Then I applied superglue around the insides of the doorways, windows and roof hatches, and glued the differently stained and drybrushed woods in place.

And you're done! Enjoy your village. Note in Figs. 9-11 the larger building with the domed roof. Look out for a feature on that building shortly. The general principles are similar to these buildings.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Terrain: sprucing up the ol' homestead

To go with the adobe village I'm working on, I decided to spruce up a larger building I had mostly finished a while back. I'd never got round to finishing off the ground, so with a few coats of brown, a bit of a drybrush, and some greenery, it's all done, and ready to await the completion of the rest of the village. A Great War Miniatures BEF officer is present for scale. I've gone with a slightly darker palette for the village proper, but since this would be the home of someone important, its different colour is not unreasonable. Any justification to save on repainting, eh? :D

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