Monday, March 17, 2014

The Warder of Wyrd

                                    And last there comes the Warder of the Wyrd
                                    Across the acrid fields and heaps of teeth,
                                    Before, the cries from throats of worms are heard,
                                    Behind, the prancing of his dwimmer-beasts;
                                    Might he vanish North and pass with peace?
                                    As lief he would unmake the very word.

Gorish the Gaveler

When passing in weald and wold, waste and wild, there is no better implement for maintaining order than a very large hammer.

The Creeping Scyther

                                    Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
                                    not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your
                                    gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment,
                                    that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
                                    now, to mock your own grinning?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Drendolfin Indoomiel

Indoomiel is another one among those ancient pilgrims to Helmrood, who longs only to find the bridge that spanned the bitterbreach of old, and to find the road that winds among the cairns and howes of unknown heritage...

...and thence to come to the Groaning Vale and to mount the stair to the needlesheets, and to see the towers of opal and onyx, of iron and rust, surmounted overall by Direspike, the Mountain of Asps.

Like all those who seek the Hidden Fastness, the mind of Indoomiel is sunk in the darkness of knowing that he will never find his home, for the icy northern sun can attest that it was lost long ago. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stone Walls: A Quick Tutorial

Today I would just like to share a quick method for building stone walls out of foamcore. It'll be a short tutorial, because the method is similar to that used in my Hard-Core Foamcore series, but with one KEY difference: I now know how to effectively peel the paper off of foamcore. 

Before, I had to use the paper to draw the template on and use it as a cutting guide before pain-stakingly peeling the paper off a little at a time so I could carve the foam underneath. But then I found this video, and it changed everything. 

For those who don't want to watch the video, the essence is this: You take a full sheet of cheap foamcore. You turn your shower on really hot. You soak the board under the shower, thoroughly. Flexing it around a little helps, but not too much otherwise it will snap. Then you peel the paper off in one or two gratifyingly massive sheets.

The whole thing takes maybe fifteen minutes, and you're left with a sheet of thin, easily cuttable, easily scribe-able foam.

How did I ever do without it?

So the first things I decided to make were some fieldstone walls. I layed out two layers of foam, one on top of the other, and cut them both to shape at the same time. Then I glued them together.

Once the glue was dry, I went in with a dull pencil and drew some stones. I added some texture using my fancy rock texturizer (a rock. From the ground) and slapped them on some plasticard bases. (While I was cutting the bases I also had the realization that you can use scissors to cut plasticard! Easiest terrain ever!)

Finally, I gave these guys a coat of watered down PVA so I could safely use spray primer. Total time spent building these could not have been more than a half hour.

Have you come across any simple techniques that have revolutionized your hobby process? If so, don't share them. Hoard the secrets to yourself; guard them jealously; allow them to come between you and your loved ones; take them to your grave.

Or write about them in the comments below.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Clodgy Fern

It is rumored that the Banditry of Hunchymen recruit their number from those of the Fulgent Desmesnes who are thrust into exhile upon the Wold for the cutting of too many purses...or throats... 

...the which hearsay only darkens the already rank reputation of Laird Bilebroke's Ready Men.

In truth, however, it is most often the mendicants and starvlings who take up the art of highwaymanship...

...for there is no greater motivation on the Wyrdwold than hunger tempered with fear.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Scratch Building Trees: the Leaves and the Lichens

Continuing on from Monday’s post on sculpting roots and base details, today I want to share my new approaches to painting up and adding the foliage to our scratch built trees. 

I started out by priming gray, which saves a little bit of time because then I don't have to worry too much about coverage when I go to paint the tree boles. But any old primer will do, of course. 

The ground gets a treatment of chocolate brown, and the trees are base coated in a mixture of brown, green, and black. The ratio is something like 2:2:1, though I wasn't precise at all. I just mixed and added until I got a coolish, darkish, brownish green. The rocks, I just leave primer grey.

Now it's dry-brushing time. For this, I just add white incrementally to the base coats and give diminishing layers of zenithal highlights. You know, the usual.

When I know I have a lot of drybrushing of which I will inevitably get bored, I make sure to have some prep-work handy to rest my hand with:

After the drybrushing, it is now time for the mushrooms. I start by mixing an orangy kind of brown, similar to a flesh base.

I then highlight using thinned paints in layers up to a creamy yellowish white.

Once the mushrooms are done, I go in on the puddles. I've been using purples for these, which I understand may seem like a weird choice. The idea is that the puddles are reflecting a roiling, stormy sky - the kind which hangs over the Wyrdwold more and more during these days of the Derkening. But you should use whatever colors/methods fit your theme.

You can see above on the right how I start with a base of lightened purple. Then on the left you can see how, while the base is still wet, I go in with a couple of even lighter purples (I have them pre-mixed on the wet palette) and swirl them around a little to represent the roiling clouds. It only takes a light touch. It's important not to overwork the paint because then you'll just mix it all into a uniform purple and lose the swirls.

To finish off the puddles, I hit them with a little of the old Winsor & Newton Ultramarine ink (above). Then after varnishing, to complete the liquid effect, I will add some Triple Thick Gloss Glaze over the top. This stuff is magical, and great for any kind of shallow water effect. It doesn't flow the way a lot of water effects do, which means you don't need to worry about it running everywhere. You just brush it on. Not too pricey either, especially if you're the kind of person who gets coupons from Michael's (I do. It's where I get the craft paints I use for everything.)

Finally, I add some green and yellow washes, applied irregularly, to finish off the base. I've found here that it looks best to apply the green first, and then go and apply the yellow in the middle of the wet puddle of green. It will spread naturally in a very visually satisfying way.

Now I promised foliage, so you will have foliage. If you are anything like me, this is the whole reason you are here. It is easily the most difficult part of the tree making process, and this method is no exception. It is sticky and difficult and awkward. So much so that I couldn't take any pictures of the process. But don't worry, it's pretty straight forward and definitely worth it. But also sticky.

To represent the masses of tiny branches, I used a packet of assorted dried lichens I got from Michael's for about $4. These came in green and white. If I were to do it again, I would get the packet of all green lichens, because I find them more convincing now that they're actually on the tree. You want to select the biggest clumps with the smallest branchings so that you can 'skewer' it on the desired branch.

For the foliage, I decided to abandon my home-made, tea leaf variety. This tough decision was made in about .5 seconds when I saw that the local art supply store (Blick) carries packets of woodland scenics ground foam for about $3 each. I got one light green, one dark green and called it a day.

You want to use the tackiest glue you have, because you will need a lot of it and a lot of hold, and you don't want it to drip. I didn't have any tacky glue, so I had to settle for spot-gluing the lichens to the branches with superglue, prying my stupid fingers off the tree while praying not to take any paint with them, and then going back in with loads of PVA. You can avoid this mess by having a really tacky glue. Or, better yet, you cold use a hot glue gun to tack the lichens in place before going back in with some tacky glue.

Once the lichens are in place, let them dry. I mean DON'T TOUCH THEM. Just walk away, it's not worth the heartbreak. Believe me.

Once they are fully dry, I just dip each lichen clump a bit at a time into some watered down PVA, and then dip them in a little pile of mixed ground foam. Shake off the extra, and let dry again.

Finally, go back and brush some more pva over the foliage clusters, for extra hold. Once that's dry, varnish them and you're done! Throw 'em on the table with some Wealdsy-Aelfs and have a game.

That's that. I hope people find this even more helpful than my original tutorial series on the subject. Let me know whether you do in the comments below. I recommend tacking your comments in there with some hot glue and then slathering the whole thing in PVA. It's almost easier to just grow the damn things.

Monday, March 3, 2014

An Update on Scratch Building Trees: the Roots and the Rocks

Welcome to another chapter on what might fairly be called my obsession with scratch-built trees. Some of the most popular posts on this blog are the ones I did on building cheap, realistic trees.

I've updated my method since first writing those posts. For one thing, I noticed how good lichens look when used for foliage when I found Asslessman's Leadplague blog. For another, I started experimenting with Aves Apoxie Sculpt for making terrain. So what follows is a two part tutorial on those two changes in my process. First, we'll cover using the apoxie sculpt to make the root systems and other details on the base.

The tools: a size 0 color shaper, a homemade paperclip spatula, and a large, stiff-bristled brush. If you have none of these, a plain old pencil will do just fine.
In my previous tutorial, I recommended using gardening twine and glue to make the roots - but that method doesn't give the kind of bulky, looming tree boles I decided I wanted. It's also very very sticky. So out came the Apoxie Sculpt and a few tools.

The nice thing about apoxie sculpt is that its water-soluble and works a lot like clay, so all you need to keep it from sticking to you is a little water. I keep some in a jar while I work. I just roughed-in and smoothed the putty with my dampened fingers  until I had the general shape of the root mass around the base of the tree. Having such big wads of root-mass has the added benefit of stabilizing the trunk. Apoxie sculpt cures hard, so the end result is quite sturdy.

Next I went in with my color shaper. I pressed in with the point to make the crotch of the root, and then dragged down to make the space between. I cleaned up the ends with the spatula tool. Finally, I used the stiff bristled brush in gentle strokes to make a barky texture. Again, if you're at budget on this project after buying the putty, then using a normal pencil will get you pretty much the same results.

I had some extra putty and some extra space on the CD, so I decided to add some rocks. This was as easy as smoothing the lumps of putty with my fingers and then texturizing with my highly specialized texturizing tool (a rock I found).

Finally (after the roots and rocks had cured), I added some mushrooms. I decided that I could go pretty crazy with these, as I imagine mushrooms are the only things that can really  thrive on the wyrdwold. I used green stuff because I had it and it's what I'm used to, but the Apoxie Sculpt will work for these too.

That's pretty much it for the roots. You can get as fancy or as simple as you want with them. Add mosses, ivies, skullz, the legs of rapidly-vanishing hobbitses, angry tree faces, whatever you'd like. You can see above I've added sand and some rocks, and I decided to leave some areas bare to become puddles later on.

Stay tuned next time for the painting and all the leafy bits. And let me know what you think below...if a keyboard is out of your budget, then a normal pencil will get you practically the same results, with the added benefit of personalizing your computer monitor.