Monday, June 23, 2014

DIY Grass Flock: an Updated Tutorial

So a while ago I posted a tutorial on how to make your own DIY static grass. Well, technically it's grass flock; I don't believe it would do the whole magical-static-grass-stand-uppy-thing if you were to use an applicator. (Though it might. I haven't tested it because I don't own one of those doohickeys).

Since making that tutorial, I've stumbled across a few ways to make the process of cutting and dyeing the flock a little easier. So I thought I'd put them in the form of a mini-tutorial/update here.

The first discovery I made is the above-pictured fine mesh strainer. But first an explanation: in my previous tutorial, I recommended dyeing the Jute (gardener's twine) with watered down paint before cutting it up. I've changed my mind on that, though. For one thing, dyeing with pigmented paints can make the twine tougher to cut, because the acrylic binder stiffens the fibers and causes them to stick together.

So now I would recommend cutting the twine first. You will still have the problem of the fibers tangling together, which the process of pre-dyeing was originally meant to eliminate, but the half-hour of chopping up twine with a pair of scissors will be much easier on your hand.

And getting rid of those tangled fibers is where the strainer comes in. Dump the chopped up jute into the strainer basket and shake it around over a plate or some other collecting surface. The shortest fibers will fall through onto the plate, leaving the snarls of tangle-causing larger fibers in the basket.

From here you have a choice: you can either dye the cut flock before applying it to your terrain piece, or you can dye it after you've glued the grass down.

In either case, you'll want to use the second innovation: a watered down non-pigmented coloring medium. Something like say, I don't know, Winsor & Newton acrylic ink. Because the stuff does not have pigment, it also does not have binder. It therefore will not cause your grass to clump when dry the way regular acrylics do.

Whether or not the flock clumps, though, it still really helps to have a way to apply it evenly. That's where that strainer and plate setup comes back again. I put my terrain piece on the plate with PVA glue in the areas that I want the grass to stick, and I shook it through the strainer again. This layered down grass in a nice, even blanket. I then allowed it to dry before turning the piece upside down, tapping off all the extra, and brushing away any stubborn fibers with a clean, dry brush.

Now, if you dyed the grass beforehand, you're done! If not, now is the time to apply some color.

As you can see above, I decided to go with applying the uncolored brown flock and then dying it on the piece. To do the actual dyeing, I just mixed up and watered down a couple of shades of green and greenish-yellows, and then used an eye dropper to drop them in random patterns on the piece. It took a while to dry, but came out looking pretty nice.

Here's a nice teaser shot of the in-progress howes and barrows. I'll have the finished pictures for you to grock on next time. For the nonce, why not filter your thoughts through a fine mesh strainer into the comments box. Coat it in a lovely, soft layer of thought-colored flocking. Leave the tangles and knots in your head.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vildeburg & the Lands of Qaarra

Just a quick post today to let you know that this week might be somewhat light on posts.

Here's why:

Yes, I'm about to embark on my first CSW summer campaingn for SoBH. You should check it out. Pat has put together a really nice, fluffy background that is very much in my wheelhouse. The only thing is that means I've got six more riders to paint for my warband in the space of two evenings. So blogging might fall back a little bit.

Above is a map that I drew of the Lands of Qaarra, as devised by Pat. I couldn't resist trying my hand at it, especially after I spent some time reading the tutorials section of the fantasticmaps blog.

I'll try and post at least once more this week, but no promises. But after this week? Well, there will be some kick-ass new characters for my campaign warband that I'm really excited to show off, as well as several exciting battle reports, I'm sure.

In the meantime, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments box located South by Southwest. Don't get lost.

W<   0    >E 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Brittleghast the Cut-Pate

                                                 Beware the cut-pate's jovial axe.
                                                 It furrows brows with hilarious tracks,
                                                 vexes crowns with giggling seams,
                                                 lights Brittleghast's eyes with a mawkish gleam.

                                                 While stricken, bleeding onlookers drool,
                                                 he juggles his axe like a glorious fool
                                                 And - rather than ruin this act with a grin - 
                                                 lets the arc of his axe tell the story for him.

                                                 Sweating with mirth and convulsed with delight,
                                                 To watch Brittleghast work is a wonderful fright.
                                                 He shows us the thrill of such exquisite dread;
                                                 He shows us the joke in a well-cloven head;

                                                 Shows us how masters work only in red
                                                 Long after more reasonable colors have fled;

                                                 Heaps jest upon jest with the sweep of his axe.
                                                 ... Oh God help us, he's at it again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dice Pillars & Awards

A couple of items of business. First, here's a pic of the painted dice pillars. I posted the WIP shots a while back. I got (took) the idea from King's Minis.

Second, I've been Liebstered again since Asslessman kindly nominated me. Three times in fact.

Now since the whole Liebster process, while fun, is rather tiring, I've decided that instead of filling out three separate new Liebster posts I'm just going to go through the questions offered and answer the most interesting ones, while shouting out to those bloggers who nominated me. Short and sweet. How's that sound?

First up is the estimable Randroid of the excellent Drinkin' and Modelin' blog. Not only does he make great beer recommendations, but he is also like at least seven types of fun to game with. We met at the Chaos Cup 2013, and man was that game a blast. Even though he trounced me.

Next is the nomination of Barks from Wargaming With Barks. We are both newcomers to each other's blogs, so I look forward to exploring your awesome blog further!

And finally is Sean, from Sean's Wargames Corner. He's been a follower for a long time here with many kind words and interesting things to contribute. Cheers, Sean!

Here are the questions I felt like answering:

  1. If you could change one thing about the wargaming hobby, what would it be? I guess I'd try and change the culture of competitive games in pre-packaged gaming worlds. For me, this hobby is most fun when you aren't just playing a game with someone, but you are actively experiencing the workings of their imaginiation in the act of creation...and contributing, also, with your own. I don't mean any disrespect for people who like those established kind of games though. After all, that's how I started. It's your hobby, and so long as you enjoy it then that's cool.
  2. What is best in life? Stories, I think. Even though I can be pretty crap at making them, I always love hearing them. Couple that with jokes and mild intoxicants and I think you'd be pretty close to the best. (Barks and I quite agree on this point, it turns out.)
  3. What miniature are you most proud of having painted? This is almost always the last miniature that I painted. Unless that one came out crap. Then it's the one before that. (Just wait until Friday. You'll see one I'm quite proud of.)
  4. Why is a raven like a writing desk? They both croak disturbing things to me while I'm drifting off to sleep, and they both steal the shiny objects from around my room.
  5. Or Sean suggests as a less perplexing question: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Either a secoya (for the view) or a mangrove (for the fish nibbling at my gnarly toes).

Hope you enjoyed that. Thanks to all you gents for the awards. I really appreciate that you appreciate what I do here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monstrosities of Stone

Here's the thing with the Wyrdwold: it's the kind of place where you aren't really sure if what you're seeing is real. It's so chock full of strangeness and danger that after spending only a short period of time there, it becomes easier to assume you are having a nightmare than to try and repair your damaged reality principle. After spending a long period of time there, the immediate terror fades into lasting dread, then despair, then, eventually, derangement.

This is not to say that communities cannot live or even, in a limited capacity, thrive on the 'wold, but they would have to do so at the cost of high levels of paranoia and willful ignorance. Outsiders are shunned. Curfews are strictly enforced. Misdemeanor against the community is swiftly punished...or otherwise brought to a close.

Because even within the illusion of relative safety brought on by the herding instinct, it is never far from the minds of the god-fearing (and god-hating) 'wold peasantry that they live on the cusp of a realm of strangeness that neither fears nor hates them. It is, in fact, uncaring. It acts according to codes that are either ancient or arbitrary, and in either case bear no earthly relation to the pacts of civilization maintained, under the jealous eye of the Magnifex, in the Fulgent Demesnes.

It is difficult for the wretched-in-exile to forget that the Wyrdwold is home to powers which may do what they like, heedless of - or perhaps delighting in - the harm and madness they cause. This is the ever-present fact which defines the wold-folk's hurried, furtive, usually brief existences.

But should the poor dirt farmer ever forget this, he need only walk over yonder hill - past the last fence of the farthest field of the loneliest holding at the edge of their miserable hame - to witness the monstrosities of stone, and to be reminded that their world is composed more of nightmare than of reason.


People seemed to really like the WIP shots of these that I posted a couple weeks ago, so I'm really pleased to present the finished versions here now. For the most part it was pretty simple. Once they were carved and primed, it was just a matter of dry brushing and some final touches.

One such touch included tinting some cheapo triple-thick gloss glaze with a few drops of Windsor & Newton's deep red ink to create the kind of red puddles caused by minerals leeched from clay-heavy soils, and which bring the mind unpleasantly to dwell on blood.

For the graffiti-carven stone, I also decided to add on a white-washed 'ace of dread' logo. This is because if/when the next edition of Skulldred comes out there will be a war band competition, and in order for a war band to be eligible, the photo must include the Skulldred logo somewhere. I prepared this one against that eventuality.

Do let me know what you think in the comments below. Bonus points for responses which test my reality principle.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stadium Renovation Pt. III

Welcome to the final installment of my DIY whiteboard Bloodbowl pitch tutorial.

Do you think there are enough searchable keywords in there? Here are a few more: it's also custom, and scratchbuilt, and cheap.

But here's the best part, and the one thing that sets my board apart from any that I've seen: this sucker hangs.

So here's what I did to finish off the board. I went to the hardware store and got some rubber feet, the kind you might put on some furniture to keep it from scratching the floor. Find the ones with the shortest screws, since they'll be going straight through the whiteboard frame and you don't want them to come out the other side.

These feet have a couple of nice benefits:

  • First, they prevent the board from scratching the table - almost as if they were designed to do so...
  • Second, they fasten from one side of the frame, through the whiteboard layer, and into the other side of the frame, greatly increasing the soldity of the whole.
  • Third, they give you a convenient place to attach some picture hanging wire, which, if you like to sculpt, you probably have around.

I attached the bottom two feet first, mostly to make sure it would work properly. If you're smart, you'll drill some pilot holes...I didn't, and fortunately nothing went wrong.

Then, before drilling the top two feet on, I twisted the ends of the picture wire into loops that I then set the screw through, resulting in a solid mount for hanging.

Does this look crooked to you?

All that was left was to bang a picture hook into the nearest wall stud, then step back and admire. Now your pitch can hang on the wall like the piece of art that it (almost, kind of) is.

I hope you've enjoyed this long-awaited tutorial. (Long-awaited by me...I suffer no delusions as to how many readers have actually been holding their breath for this.) Here are the links to part I and part II.

Let me know what you think. I'm happy to answer any and all questions about the resources, logistics, and procedures around this project.

Just mount your question or comment into the box below while being, of course, exceptionally careful not to scratch the floor beneath...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Stadium Renovation Pt. II

Sorry for the brief, self-imposed media-blackout that was last week for me. The demands of leading a double life as the secret ambassador to an invisible but omnipresent extra-terrestrial eldritch menace means that, necessarily, I occasionally have to cede my hobby time to 'work...'

But I refuse to bore you any further with witterings on office life. If you've been following the REAL adventure, you'll know that I was halfway through showing you how to make your own customized, DIY Blood Bowl pitch out of a whiteboard.

Since last time, I finished painting the end zones and score tracks, as well as the Reserve, K.O., and Dead & Injured boxes. 

I was nervous about this stage at first, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy with a little patience. Just don't load the brush too much, since that can cause the paint to flow unevenly, and keep a clear idea of what you're trying to do, and you'll be fine.

When it comes time to start the lettering, I recommend writing out what you are trying to paint on a piece of paper that you can keep handy while you work. This will help prevent mishaps like forgetting the 'C' in 'Touchdown' and having to go back and make corrections.

Once all of the lines & letters were on, it was time to add the static grass. I found that a nice way to get an even coating of grass was to run it through a fine mesh strainer. Tapping the strainer with my palm caused the grass to sprinkle down in a nice blanket. (The strainer has actually caused me to really refine my static grass method. Hopefully I'll have a new post on that soon.)

Above, you can also see that I added a nice, big, psychadelic eye for a centerfield logo. I'll be the first to admit that it didn't come out very crisp, and that it was perhaps not the strongest thematical choice for the iconography, but something had to go there. For some really stunning examples of this kind of thing, check out Thib-0's range of awesome pitches.

That really puts this sorry effort into perspective...but you have to start somewhere.

And so here's the pitch, all ready for play. Stay tuned next time for the final touch, and what I think really makes this pitch stand out.

Comments are welcom below, but only if you hand-letter them...