I always found deserts to be fascinating habitats. A cursory look will leave you with the impression that it is hell on earth: sandstorms, unbearable heat during the day and freezing at nighttime. Yet, the desert is not only home to thousands of plant and animal species, it also has a simple beauty to it, dominated by the shapes the wind forms. They are thus a worthy subject for the modeler and can provide an atmospheric backdrop for our games. The exploits of the Crusaders come to mind as well as the cultures inhabiting Northern Africa, for instance the ancient Numidians.
In this first tutorial on arid terrain (more to follow) I will show you how to make a dry desert lake or an oasis that is slowly drying out. Using a similar technique I will also provide you with some ideas how to model a partially dry river bed, with only a small stream of water remaining. Per usual I will talk about the materials needed and provide you with step-by-step instructions how to make a cracked lake or river bed and scratch-built a dead tree to add further interest.
Continue reading Mirage – Making a dry desert lake or Oasis
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
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
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
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
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
Browsing my blog it becomes apparent that I have a thing for modelling trees, evidenced by earlier posts on oaks and birch trees. But what about bushes, shrubs or hedges? There is a variety of shrubs and bushes that one could depict on the gaming table and construction will be very similar in most cases. That said I chose to make a hazel bush for this tutorial given they have a distinct, very appealing bark texture and the fruit lends itself for base decoration. Oh, and I think squirrels are adorable, so why not give them some scale hazels to forage?
Per usual a step-by-step tutorial will guide you through the creation process, with additional background information and scenic shots of the finished bushes.
Continue reading Squirrly goodness – making Hazel shrubs for 28mm and 15mm
Hastati spargunt hastas. Fit ferreus imber.
(Enn. Ann. 8.281)
We are truly spoiled for choice these days if it comes to high quality 28mm Republican Romans and their enemies. They not only come in ‘heavy lead’, for instance Relic Miniatures’ offerings, but Victrix recently added to existing ranges with their injection plastic Punic Wars range. All these ranges have one thing in common: They are all more or less heroic scale, some more on the ‘chunky’ side, others with more realistic proportions.
Agema Miniatures, a small company based in the United Kingdom, could be called the Minden Miniatures of ancient ranges. They are to my knowledge the only company that provides Republican Romans and Carthaginians with such realistic proportions and an almost classical beauty to their sculpts. Notably they offer injection plastic, metal and resin miniatures, combining the advantages of all three materials. Reason enough to review their plastic and resin Republican Romans range, conversion kits to create Hannibal’s Veterans and a selection of their metal character models.
This three-part review will first focus on the scope of the range to date, sculpting quality, poses, casting quality, historical accuracy, conversion potential, customer service and value for money. In the second instalment we put Agema Miniatures’ Greg to the question. Finally in part three I will present painted examples with some notes on the colours and techniques used.
Continue reading Romans Advance! – A Review of Agema Miniatures’ Republican Romans and Carthaginians
The tavern is one of the most iconic staples of any fantasy role-playing game. It is the place where many adventures start and where prospective quest givers and shady informers can be found. Naturally it is also a place where our heroes end up in great a many brawls or spend the coin they earned on drink, food and rumours. Naturally a tavern can also be an excellent terrain piece for historical games. Many generals of renown made the local tavern their headquarters or lodged there for some time.
We see, the potential for a tavern in our gaming is endless, but how to go about creating a tavern?
In this first part I will cover the basics: features a tavern might have, basic construction techniques, materials needed and so on. To exemplify these I built a prototype that consists of a house front and floor only, well suited to experiment with different techniques, but also an excellent photography or gaming background when finished.
Continue reading In taberna quando sumus – building a tavern in 28mm part I
Ageinst him where he sat
A goodly Elme with glistring grapes did growe: which after hee
Had praysed, and the vyne likewyse that ran uppon the tree:
But if (quoth hee) this Elme without the vyne did single stand,
It should have nothing (saving leaves) to bee desyred: and
Ageine if that the vyne which ronnes uppon the Elme had nat
The tree to leane unto, it should uppon the ground ly flat (Ov. Met. 14.661-665).
Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BCE to 17/18 CE) is famous for his love poems (Amores) and his mythological narrative Metamorphoses. In the short piece above taken from the latter work he describes casually a then very common form of viticulture and uses it as a metaphor for marriage. He already uses this simile in his Amores in the well-known phrase “Elmes love the Vines, the Vines with Elmes abide” (Ov. Am. 2.16.41). The relationship of vine and elm tree (or growing wine on trees as a support in general) is a long-standing one and continued in Italy well into the 20th century (cf. Fuentes-Utrilla, López-Rodríguez & Gil, 2004).
Nowadays this form of viticulture is very uncommon, but nevertheless sparked my interest. More importantly it also spawned a new project – the very raison d’être for this post: a modular skirmish board set during the Second Punic War featuring a villa rustica complete with vineyard, olive grove and orchard.
In a multi-part tutorial I will guide you through the creation process from the early planning stages to the final piece. In this first part we will look at the design of the modules, historical considerations when it comes to depicting a Roman vineyard complete with villa rustica and finally we will also have a look at some Agema miniatures to provide some suitable skirmish forces.
Continue reading Elmes love the Vines, the Vines with Elmes abide – a modular skirmish board set during the Second Punic War part I