Mapping fantastical fancies – Hand drawn campaign maps for your RPG sessions

If you are a Game Master it is always exciting to start a new campaign and let your players explore new shores, their peoples, customs and the secrets they hold in ruins old, mountains high and dungeons cold. To make it easier for your players to visualize this unfamiliar environment you may have provided them with a map of these lands, may it be as loot or after some negotiation with a Gnome in the local antique shop. A map may also come in handy for a wargaming campaign to show the position of warbands or armies and natural obstacles.

Often the first iteration of such a map is a simple hand-drawn sketch, but after more and more of the new area is discovered you may want to provide something with more visual appeal, add a background texture or even colorize your map.

I will show you some of my current exploits into the realm of map making that will be of help if you start out to make your own regional maps. I am still in the early phase of developing my drawing and coloration skills, but hope that the following ideas will be of use for your own development as a hand-drawn map artist.

I will show you my process of drawing a map by hand, scanning and cleaning it up and finally colorizing it using Photoshop. I will also provide you with some PNGs of elements such as ruins, towers and a city that you can use for your own creations as well as a generic parchment background. Future iterations will feature encounter maps, too. Continue reading Mapping fantastical fancies – Hand drawn campaign maps for your RPG sessions

Enthroned in darkness – How to make a ruined shrine and flagstone bases

Last time we fashioned a diorama base featuring weathered gravestones, a gnarly autumn tree and moss-covered flagstones. As promised  in this second installment we will focus on an objective token or a small piece of scatter terrain featuring a ruined shrine and a removable birch tree. Naturally nothing stops you to use it as a scenic base instead or to incorporate this idea into a gaming board.

We will also cover how to make a generic flagstone base if the miniature you are working on does not demand a very elaborate base.

Given I already covered the basic techniques in the graveyard base tutorial, I will only provide instructions for new elements and some work in progress pictures with short annotations for the rest. The list of materials needed is similar to the graveyard base one, with some exceptions noted below.

Continue reading Enthroned in darkness – How to make a ruined shrine and flagstone bases

Unrested souls – How to make a graveyard themed diorama base part I

Crumbling gravestones covered in moss, faded letters, weathered by rain, wind and ice, a gnarled tree, the cry of an owl in moonlit night; who does not enjoy adding an eerily beautiful atmosphere to a base  that will hold a vampire, ghost or necromancer? But how to go about it, what materials can you use and how should you arrange the scene?

Fear not fellow enthusiast of the dark arts, I shall answer these questions in a detailed step-by-step tutorial. In part one I will build  a base for a Vampire Lord based on Reaper’s Judas Bloodspire sculpted by Werner Glocke, but naturally you can use the techniques presented below in any project, may it be a scenic base or a  gaming board to add a somber, yet unsettling feel to your terrain.

Part II will focus on an objective token using the same techniques, namely a long forgotten shrine with a tumbled over statue and we will also look at generic flagstone bases.

Finally part three will present the painted miniature. We will also add some further details, such as walls and bats.

Continue reading Unrested souls – How to make a graveyard themed diorama base part I

In plumbo veritas – Divining the wargaming year 2017

I hope all of you had a very merry festive season with good food, a relaxed time with your loved ones and maybe even some extended hobby time. I also hope you progressed successfully into the new year and did not get caught in an eternal time loop.

I was indeed so relaxed, that I was able to dedicate a lot of time to hobby endeavours and I am now turning them slowly into blog posts. Accordingly this post is a combination of a review of last year and outline what I would like to do this year with the blog.

It would be a shame to forego my yearly tradition to perform the sacred rite of molybdomancy and I am sure the lead will reveal my wargaming fate in 2017.

As always, adults only! After all we are handling molten metal and we don’t want any unfortunate accidents.

Continue reading In plumbo veritas – Divining the wargaming year 2017

A chill to the bone – Reaper Miniatures’ Iconic Wizard Ezren

Dreadful chimes can be heard in the larder, abominations in garish dress haunt the good people of our village and not long until a blood sacrifice to the old gnarly tree is due…yes, …the Quickening and Krampus are coming closer every day. But fear not gentle folk of Greifshold, archwizard Ezren will save your souls from damnation, as he will cleanse the putrid essence belaying our village with his powerful magicks.

*harumph* Oh, I didn’t see you there. Today we will look at a sculpt by Todd Harris, namely the Iconic Wizard Ezren. We are looking at the Bones version, not the metal one. As always after a short assessment of casting and sculpting quality a detailed list of the colours used is provided. Finally some words about the photographic set up may be of use for your own projects.

Continue reading A chill to the bone – Reaper Miniatures’ Iconic Wizard Ezren

How to make wargaming trees – adding that extra bit of realism

It will shock you, but I really enjoy making trees. I know, I know who could have known? No wonder then that I dedicate yet another post to our green (or gnarly) friends.

I already covered birch trees, hazel bushes, oaks and yews, but this time the question is which features make a home-made model tree stand out and more naturalistic than the store-bought ones? What techniques can you use to add this last bit of realism to your trees?

I will address these questions with regard to bark texture, foliage, trunk and crown shape, scenic basing and critters. This is also an excellent occasion to show off my latest tree commission plus some trees I made for my own collection. We will look at oaks, apple trees, plane trees, olive trees and umbrella pines. Continue reading How to make wargaming trees – adding that extra bit of realism

Over hill and lofty mountain – how to make magnetised wargaming hills

What could be a more essential wargaming terrain piece than the common hill? No matter what period, no matter what setting, hills will be featured. They add visual interest and tactical complexity to any gaming surface, may it be modular boards, gaming mats or just a green table-cloth.

They may be an essential piece of gaming terrain, but making naturalistic looking hills that not only allow easy placement of models, but also easy placement and removal of trees or other terrain features,  can be a challenge.

In this post I show you my take on such hills and try to solve some of the problems one may encounter by using the fantabulous power of magnets *gasp*! Obviously this tutorial can also be used for terrain boards. Continue reading Over hill and lofty mountain – how to make magnetised wargaming hills

Leafy experimentation – How to Make an Ancient Yew Tree for 28mm Part II

Our yew tree stands already proud, but yew trees are evergreens, so we cannot leave it barren, instead we have to find a good-looking solution to depict coniferous leaves.

In Part I of this tutorial we created the trunk, branches and scenic base of our ancient yew tree. In this second part we will conduct some experiments to find the best solution to depict the  leaves, use some simple weathering techniques to add depth to the foliage and finally fixate it with thinned down PVA or acrylic medium. The last step is to matte varnish the tree and then glorious battle around its trunk can ensue! We will also revisit the fallen branches and add some finishing touches to the bases.

Continue reading Leafy experimentation – How to Make an Ancient Yew Tree for 28mm Part II

Measure what is measureable – laser cut profiles for a modular skirmish board part II

At last my plans for a skirmish board set during the Second Punic War can advance a bit more and naturally I am very happy to share this progress with you. Last time we looked at the basics: theming and design of the board, possible materials to construct it, historical considerations (including roman viticulture and villae rusticae)  and miniatures to use with the board.
This installment is all about the laser cut frames for the modules. The design for these has been improved, the material changed from HIPS to Bamboo and it got all very extravagant in the end with the possibility of fancy inlays. All this should be of use for any gaming board you might plan, no matter if laser cut or hand cut.

Continue reading Measure what is measureable – laser cut profiles for a modular skirmish board part II

Through a Forest, Darkly – How to Make an Ancient Yew Tree for 28mm Part I

Ancient trees with their often haphazardly growing branches, bulbous trunks and weathered appearance always fired up my imagination. Inscribed in their bark are stories of times long past, combined with a certain mysticism and deep respect for such an old being. To depict such a tree on the gaming table can add such qualities to our games and add narrative potential as well as a welcome change to young or middle-aged deciduous trees that are most commonly depicted.

For this two-part tutorial I chose to model an ancient yew tree. With their broad, often hollow trunks they allow us to use the tree as cover or as a mission objective, adding further to the appeal. I also decided to magnetize two of the main branches for easy transport and storage. Per usual I will provide some botanical background, some facts about owls, a list of the materials needed, followed by detailed step-by-step instructions. Part I will cover the trunk and branches as well as the scenic base, while Part II will focus on different options to depict the foliage.

Continue reading Through a Forest, Darkly – How to Make an Ancient Yew Tree for 28mm Part I

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