2mm Terrain

We have a bit of small-scale eye candy this afternoon. Jonas Dahlberg has sent us some pictures of his impressive 2mm WW2 layouts, featuring the Battle of the Bulge, D-Day landings and a really nice pacific island – I especially love the snow-covered industrial zone. Enjoy !

Track Painting

With the recent release of our new Small Scale Scenery engine sheds and track, I thought it might be a good time to quickly run through my painting method for the track. When I first got hold of prototypes of our original track to paint, I looked at all the little tiny sleepers and thought “how on earth am I going to paint those – it’ll take forever”. Well, fear not…

Step 1 – Primer

After a quick cleanup, removing any extraneous bits of sprue and running a file round the edges, I gave the track a coat of Halfords’ grey car primer. This is my favourite primer for all models – it sticks to any surface and gives a good matt base for painting over.

Step 2 – Sleepers

If you’re in North America, read ‘crosstie’ when I say sleeper, it’s the same thing. I gave the sleepers a good drybrush with GW Bestial Brown (use your favourite brown if you don’t like/use Citadel paints) – use a small brush to do this as you want to avoid too much paint getting everywhere. You will inevitably get some brown around the track but don’t worry too much, we’ll clean it up in a minute. You want a relatively heavy drybrush coat (if that isn’t a contradiction) so that the whole of the sleeper surface is painted, not just the edges. As you can see, it’s all looking a bit messy…

Step 3 – Cleanup

I then went round and tidied up any overspill from the drybrush with grey paint (Tamiya XF-66 Light Grey is a good match for Halfords primer). Assuming you haven’t been too liberal with the brown and got it between the sleepers, you should find it reasonably quick and easy. Don’t worry about any brown on the rails themselves – any on the top surface will be coming off later, and any on the side looks like rust, which is a major colour as far as railway track goes. You might notice that I forgot to do the tops of the road crossings in one or two places – I had to clean this up this later.

Step 4 – Wash

Everything was then give a good coat of Citadel Nuln Oil black wash (Army Painter Dark Tone or Tamiya Smoke would work just as well). This takes longer than you might think – you tend to get little bubbles between the sleepers so you might need to use a stiffer brush to work the wash into these areas.

Step 5 – Rails

On our first set of tracks I used a silver paint pen and ran this over the top surface of the rails. This worked OK but I did get some overspill onto the sleepers especially around the points. You could use a small detail brush and silver paint, although I suspect it would be time-consuming. My solution this time was to make use of the natural colour of the metal. On the first piece of track I used a piece of wet-and-dry to remove the paint from the top of the rails – this took longer than I thought, and I managed to remove the paint from some of the sleepers as well. So for the next piece I simply ran a scalpel blade along the rails and scraped the paint off – perfect ! It was more accurate, quicker and cleaner. Look at those rails shine !

I painted almost two dozen pieces of track in an hour or so, so it’s a pretty quick method of producing reasonably good looking track.

PacFed Progress

Although we’ve had a bit of a cold snap lately, during the day yesterday it was warm enough in the sunshine to work outside. I took advantage by firing up the airbrush and putting some paint on our new 6mm PacFed models. I have a game or two of Horizon Wars lined up at Maidstone Wargames Society this weekend, so I thought I’d put together a new force for the occasion. I haven’t worked out a proper force composition yet, so I’ve just painted up 2-3 of each new model and can work out exactly what to use later.

The paint scheme is really simple, echoing my 15mm TAS force. Over a grey primer, I airbrushed Vallejo French Blue followed by camouflage stripes of Light Sea Blue. Everything was drybrushed with Citadel Etherium Blue, and then washed with Drakenhof Nightshade. Where possible I like using a wash that matches the main colour of a model, it avoids the dark or muddy effect that can come from using a black or brown wash colour. And apart from needing to add a few small spot details, that’s it.

We’re really pleased with the way that the new PacFed models have come out compared to the originals. Phil is still working away at production moulds for the last ones, although we won’t be making them available until we’ve completed our share of the Polyversal pledges.

Lone Star Airpower

My next detachment for The Crucible is one I’ve had to be a bit more inventive with. The Texian 101st Light Airborne is an infantry unit that is transported in VTOLs. My 10 TU detachment consists of four infantry elements each in an APC VTOL, plus two gunships. The 15mm version uses Old Crow models for the aircraft, but instead I substituted the nearest equivalents from our range. For the Panavia Raven gunship I used our Polish Orzel Bialy model, and for the Black Crow APC I used the British Hestia, which has a larger fuselage to carry the infantry.


After priming the VTOLs were basecoated in Army Painter Skeleton Bone, airbrushed with brown camouflage patches and them washed with GW Sepia. The underside was painted with Tamiya Sky, which is a rather greenier shade than I expected, but looks fine. Red and white stripe markings were painted on the Hestia tail and Orzel Bialy wings, then inter-war US aircraft decals from Dom’s Decals completed the Texas colours.


The flying stands, which were originally made for some WW2 gliders, are made from the circular base of some very old GW spaceship stands, which were drilled out to accept a length of 6mm perspex rod. The top end of the rod was drilled out and a 3mm magnet glued in, which then attached to another 3mm magnet in the base of each model (make sure the polarities match !).



Tiny Stewarts

My next Crucible detachment is the third that replicates a 15mm force – this time the Stewart Regiment. These use a combination of our British Apollo tanks and Artemis APCs, along with some co-opted Soviet Kunitsa tracked APCs (one with a mortar). What makes them slightly unusual is the addition of two Tyche towed anti-tank guns. We don’t make this model in 6mm, so instead I used two EuroFed CAC-41 guns.


The colour scheme in this case is very simple – after priming (in white this time), they were airbrushed with Vallejo desert sand, drybrushed with GW Terminatus Stone and washed with GW Sepia. I couldn’t find any suitable decals (the 15mm variants have Saltires as unit markings) so I hand-painted markings on one or two vehicles.


A quick word about primers. I always use Halfords automotive primer in one of its various colours (Red Oxide, grey or white) depending on the colour that’s going over the top of it. There are a number of spray paints aimed specifically at the wargaming/modelling market that purport to be coloured primers and can be supposedly be used straight onto bare models. This may be true on plastics, but in my experience using these on unprimed metal or resin doesn’t always work. On the occasions when I’ve tried this, the result has been paint that either rubs off easily with minimal handling, or in the worst case simply blistered and peeled off a set of metal Land Ironclads. So I always use a proper primer paint designed specifically for the purpose, and Halfords’ is the best that I’ve found. I realise this isn’t much help if you don’t live in the UK and can’t get hold of it, but the principle still applies, and wherever you live there should be an equivalent. It’s worth spending the money to buy a decent quality primer – Halfords is a bit more expensive (£8 for a large can, although that can holds twice as much paint as a normal spray can) but will spray 100+ models so compared to the money you’ve already spent on the models, the investment isn’t that steep.


Tiny Yeomanry

Following on from the TAS, my second 6mm Crucible Detachment is the West Riding Yeomanry. They match my equivalent 15mm force, with four Montsabert hover tanks and three Tassigny APCs (one an AA variant) each carrying an infantry element for a total of 10 TUs (although all of the Montsaberts are gun tanks since there’s no 6mm version of the gatling variant).


The models were primed with Halfords’ grey automotive primer, which was used as the base colour. Green and brown camouflage patches were airbrushed on, then the vehicles were highlighted and shaded with a combination of drybrushing and washes.


The infantry on the other hand were primed with Red Oxide primer which again served as the base colour, then drybrushed and washed with brown before details were painted in. The three infantry TUs are all of different types – one normal rifle section, one support and one anti-tank. Although I used the appropriate figures for each type (rocket launcher figures in the AT section for example), to make identification on the battlefield easier without a microscope I’ve adopted a system of coloured dots on the rear edges of the infantry bases. Normal rifle sections are green, anti-tank sections red and support blue.


Micro Slammers – the TAS

If you’re an SF gamer, you’re probably aware that a number of our 15mm models have been adopted as various mercenary forces in the Hammer’s Slammers universe for The Crucible ruleset. Since many of our models are also available in 6mm, it follows that it’s possible to recreate many of the detachments in the smaller scale as well.

Lately I’ve been having a bit of fun painting up some 6mm forces to use in The Crucible. Detachments tend to be quite small, generally 8-12 elements or Tactical Units (known as TUs – generally a vehicle or infantry section) so they’re very quick to put together.


The first finished detachment also happens to be the first I painted in 15mm as well – a unit of Terran Authority Starmarines (TAS). Because the TAS are an elite unit, detachments are only 8 TUs (smaller units are easier to control). It consists of two Wombat APCs each carrying an infantry TU, two Ocelot light tanks and two heavier tanks – I’ve painted two extra elements so that I have some flexibility and can choose between Cougar or Komodo tanks.


Painting was pretty straightforward – after priming, they were airbrushed with two-tone blue camouflage stripes using Vallejo Air paints. After a quick drybrush, they were then washed with a GW blue wash, and the last little bit was to pick out some details on the skirts in bronze and gold. The infantry were based on coins which were then textured with PVA and sand. I washed black ink straight over the grey primer, then picked out the helmets in blue and the weapons in black. Finally the bases were painted brown and drybrushed pale stone, and finished with flock after varnishing.


Keep an eye out for more Crucible detachments during the week.


Town planning

Since I was quite happy with the results of my test desert building I decided to take Tony up on his challenge of making a town comprising of ten bases in a similar style. I’ve not finished them yet but thought I’d offer a peek of the current progress. The first five are upto the point where they are ready for painting with a few more still at the cutting and glueing stage. Must admit that I find the cutting and glueing more fun than the painting as it feels much more creative.

village 1

I’ve stuck to my original plan of where I can only using items from our own ranges. I’m trying to work bits from each of our ranges into the models. I’m probably most happy with a fence made up of solar panels from an Iron Stars battleship. Not quite sure at the moment though how I’ll manage to work a 28mm fantasy figure into a 15mm Sci-fi town!

village 2

Since these pictures were taken the buildings have been undercoated and given a base coat so hopefully I’ll have the finished items to show off fairly soon. Obviously “fairly soon” could actually mean several months…..

The Alaudae Legion – Ready for Battle

At the end of last year we released some unit packs and a couple of vehicles for a new Hammer’s Slammers mercenary force, the Alaudae Legion (which translates to ‘The Skylarks’).

Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting together an Alaudae force in anticipation of getting them on the table in the near future. I’ve painted one of each detachment type in the Alaudae army listArmoured, Heavy Armoured and Infantry. This has made for an armour-heavy force of 21 vehicles and just three infantry sections, so I painted a few extra infantry in case I felt the force needed a bit more balance. However, they’d be a very good match for any other armoured unit in a tank fight.

Because I was painting a lot of vehicles at one go, I went for as simple a colour scheme as I could. After assembly, the vehicles were undercoated using Halfords’ grey automotive primer. This is my favourite primer as it gives a solid opaque coat with a nice matt surface and will stick to just about anything – and comes in big cans as well. I drybrushed straight onto this primer coat with Citadel Longbeard Grey. I then broke out the airbrush and sprayed random camouflage stripes in Tamiya Olive Green, and drybrushed the stripes in Citadel Nurgling Green. That was it for the base colours, a very simple 4-stage process that very quickly resulted in 21 tanks in 2-colour camouflage with highlighting.

The next stage was to brush paint in a number of details. This includes crew figures, stowage and some detail work on weapons, sensor blisters and lenses. I tried to pick colours that contrasted with the vehicle scheme to break up the rather drab look. The crew were given khaki overalls and dark green helmets using Tamiya paints. Stowage was picked out in dark grey (storage boxes), brown (ammo boxes) and sand (jerricans) with the external fuel tanks also in dark green. Sensor lenses were painted using a gem technique – highlighting the bottom of the lens from dark to light red, then putting a tiny white specular dot on the top corner. Some parts of the weapon barrels were painted in a dark silver (Citadel Leadbelcher), washed in purple (Citadel Leviathan Purple) and then drybrushed in Citadel Necron Compound to suggest discolouration caused by extreme heat. Radar domes were painted in Citadel Tyrant Skull.

Everything – vehicles and figures – was then given a heavy coat of Army Painter Strong Tone (from the big paint tin, not the dropper bottle). This was brushed on, wearing a rubber glove on the hand I held them in since the stuff is rather gloopy and unpleasant, and everything sat on sheets of greaseproof paper to dry otherwise they would stick to whatever surface they’re left on. One useful tip I learnt on a previous build was to use a Sharpie to number the bottom of hulls and turrets – that way they can be paired up again and the camouflage stripes will line up!

For the moment there are no decals available for the Alaudae, so the final stage for the vehicles was an airbrushed coat of Tamiya Flat Clear to matt down the gloss finish of the Quickshade. I’ve mentioned several times before about issues I’ve had with Army Painter’s own spray varnish – although excellent in most uses, I find it can craze or blister on large flat surfaces which have been coated with their own Quickshade products. It works fine on figures that have only small surface areas, but not vehicles, hence the use of an Acrylic clear coat that doesn’t react with it.

And that’s it – just over 10000 points’ worth of powerful armoured might, ready for combat. They should be swinging into action in a few days time – look out for a report to see how they get on !


Small Scale Syria

With my Maidstone Wargames Society hat on, I recently put together a number of smallish towns and villages for the club’s 2016 show game, The Road to Homs ’82. Having been asked in the past for painting guides for our Small Scale Scenery range, I thought I’d go through the steps I took in making the scenery. I’d been given a brief by Paul, who was making the rest of the game, which included the number of built-up areas he needed along with their size and the positions of any roads. I drew these out on 40thou (1mm) plastic card and marked off the roads. Each block was also numbered to correspond to his plan so that laying the terrain out at a show was straighforward.

I cast up a large number of buildings, mostly from the Middle-Eastern village set, but also mixing a few buildings from the Mediterranean and Roman building packs, even a couple of barns from the Normandy pack, plus of course some Mosques. The largest town was mostly left empty as I wanted to add a number of apartment blocks which at this point hadn’t even been moulded ! After cleaning up any mould lines, I started by spraying all of these in Army Painter Bone – in fact this was unnecessary as I ended up spraying them again, so you can ignore this step ….

I now started to line up the buildings around the roads. Instead of trying to create an internal road network in each town, which would have taken an age, instead I just randomly dotted buildings on each block. On some blocks I left open areas which would be market squares or plazas near to mosques. I also put in a few walled villas using Evergreen plastic strip to make the walls. The buildings were superglued to the plastic bases while the walls were attached using liquid plastic cement. One of the blocks was meant to be a walled farm so I used a couple of barns and outhouses and added several of our poplar trees.

Once all of the buildings were in place, I used an old paintbrush to spread PVA between them and covered everything in fine sand. It was at this point that I realised that the quickest way to paint the towns was to spray them, so I sprayed everything in AP Bone again !

The next stage was ink washes – Citadel Gryphonne Sepia for the buildings and Agrax Earthshade for the sand. Even though this was over the same base colour, the contrast between the two washes made the buildings stand out. After this, I drybrushed the sand in Citadel Terminatus Stone (one of their ‘dry’ paints). The roads were marked out with a much heavier drybrush making them lighter in colour. I picked out a few odd details – pitched roofs in brown to orange shades and Mosque domes and minarets in blues, greens and gold. After a spray of AP matt varnish, the final stage was to dot in some greenery using Woodland Scenics flocks and foliage, fixed in with PVA.

I’m very pleased with the final result – the one thing I considered but abandoned was painting the windows in black. There are something like 3000 of them altogether so I figured that was going to be rather time consuming ! The washes pick out the windows reasonably well anyway, so I was happy to leave it at that.

The blocks are intended to be used on their own, but when put together they make a decent sized town. You can visit the club website to see how the whole game looked – it must have been reasonably good, as the game won a prize on its first outing !