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 !

The Little House on the Prairie

Well actually “Medium house in the desert” would be more accurate but that just didn’t sound quite as good.

Its been a long time since I’ve painted any decent amount of 15mm sci-fi models. The majority of what I have done in the past was for Tony’s magnum opus “Blood, Guts ‘n’ Gore in Space” a rather scary 25 years ago. Since I fancied painting something fun and different I decided to knock up a test piece for a small desert town.

So, meet Charles the small blue alien and his house. Charles is a freelance accountant (aliens have to pay taxes as well) living on a remote part of Yenpalo 6.

House 2

My aim with the model was to utilise as many items from our ranges as possible since that made my life easier compared with scrabbling around in my spares box.

The centrepiece of the model, the house itself is the Medium House. As we don’t yet make any wall sections I carefully cast just the wall from the Villa to surround the “garden”. The canopy over the front door is the ramp from the Athena VTOL supported by bits cut from the Colony Base connector frames. On the roof of the house is a TV / broadband receiver made from the sensor on the rear of the Komodo tank turret.

To the left of the front door is a fuel cell unit made from a rocket pod from the Warlock support tank. Next to the back door is a geothermal heating and cooling system made from the front of a Grömitz class Missile Frigate.

House 1

Charles himself is one our Alien civilians. His transport is a Raeside pick-up that he aquired at a bargain price after the XP-38 came out. Helping with daily work is a utility droid (which is the only model I wasn’t able to source from our own catalogue but was just too good to leave out).

Filling in the odd gaps are items from the vehicle stowage set, a couple of fuel drums from the Soviet Bizon tank and a small cargo pod. I also added a couple of cylindrical containers from a yet to be released accessory set.

The base is a simple piece of MDF covered with sand and small stones. Paints were from Games Workshop, Wargames Foundry and Army Painter. The final touch was a few suitably un-healthy looking tufts of Army Painter grass.

And a comment from Tony – “Now if you could just replicate that 10-12 times to make an entire desert village… :-)”

Paper Panzers

Michael Ashford-Smith recently sent some photos of his project, repurposing some of our 15mm SF vehicles as German ‘Paper Panzers’ – a bit of speculation on the idea of German post-WW2 hovertanks. Sounds a bit odd, but please stick with us here…

We think the result is absolutely excellent, and with his permission we’ve posted some photos, using Michael’s own words to describe the project:

I ordered some of your great models some time ago, to be used as ‘Paper Panzers’ for various projects.

For the last few weeks I have been working on a project, which was just meant to be a practice diorama to try out water effects – seen on YouTube – using very cheap clear bathroom silicone and various plastic cutlery!

However it grew arms and legs and I was so please with it all I entered it at this year’s IMPS Scale Modelworld, Telford which I attended with my club IPMS Edinburgh. Have never entered anything there before, and was amazed and chuffed that it won a Bronze medal in the Misc Dioramas category.

It’s called Kreuzberg (Landwehrkanal) 1952, fictitious of course, and along with your Magnus and Wizard, it also features two boats from TheScene UK and Plastic Soldier Company vehicles and soldiers/ crews plus a Skytrex Kubelwagen.

Here’s the link to the YouTube videos for the water effects, there are 2 parts.

As the scale for mine was smaller, I just scaled down the type of tools – to smooth down the first layer I used one of those little ice-cream spoons (flat & square) but a bit of flat plastic would do. For the rough waves & wakes I used a rounded button stuck to a plastic tube as a handle. To get the finer edges or around the wooden posts I used a cocktail stick. I did a few test bits on cardboard to get the hang of it. Rather than use the silicone ‘gun’ nozzle I squirted it into a plastic container.

Thin coats only! The base surface was amazingly easy, I used kids poster paint from The Works, a scrubbed mix of greens, brown, blue & black bits for depth. White paint just below the boats’ bow waves or rough water. The silicone dries quite quickly so you can do the waves after a few mins. I thought the top surface was a bit matt, so gave it a coat of enamel yacht varnish (Vallejo gloss varnish or Johnstons Klear won’t stay on!) The varnish left a slight yellow/brown tinge which was fine.The project took a few weeks but was great fun.

All very cheap – a few quid for the silicone & ‘gun’, Slaters embossed plastic for the dockside road, and second hand bits of a railway farm building broken up for the building fronts. Concrete flood barrier/bunker thing was balsa wood & PVA/ sand mix for rough surface.

Jutland Aeronef

My contribution to the recent Jutland Aeronef refight was a division of German battleships – specifically the 5th Division of the 3rd Battle Squadron, consisting of the SMS Koenig, Grosser Kurfurst, Kronprinz and Markgraf. Since we had pretty much free reign over what models we used, as long as they looked the part (there were some heavily modified Russian Borodinos as part of the German fleet !) I chose to use some of our Prussian ships, the Konigsberg and Manteuffel, modifying and painting two of each. I also painted two von Dobschutz cruisers and four Wavre frigates, although in the end they didn’t make the table.

I’ve always been very impressed by the conversion work that Jon Rogers did on his US and Japanese fleets for his Pacific Aeronef game, with additional turrets, funnels, masts and rigging, and wanted to attempt something similar. To this end, I created a bunch of turrets, new funnels, masts, AA guns, searchlights and ventilators and ships boats as 3D models and had them printed by Shapeways. As is always the way, these then sat in a box for months until I finally got round to starting the build !

The first job was a quick cleanup of the casts, removing any flash – the Prussian models are pretty clean casts and this didn’t take long. The next job was to remove all of the funnels on the larger vessels, as these were to be replaced by new plastic ones. I then turned the models over and superglued a washer underneath – the models were to be ‘flown’ on magnetic flight stands so they needed the steel washer as an attachment.

Now it was time to start adding the detail parts. All of the main and secondary turrets were replaced by new plastic models of a different design to the metal ones usually supplied with the models. They are based on the design of the German Brandenburg class pre-dreadnoughts, essentially a hemisphere with a large bustle. I mixed single and twin turrets on the ships, and added some extras on empty areas of deck – the Manteuffels in particular got a third main turret instead of the normal two.

Funnels were also replaced – the new plastic ones were slightly larger, so the Konigsbergs received one while the Manteuffels got two. New pole masts with a fighting top were added, with thinner topmasts and crossbeams made from cut up paperclips (which I figured would be a lot more robust than having such thin pieces 3D printed). I added some ship’s boats to the Manteuffels – unfortunately there wasn’t room for any on the Konisbergs. I also liberally dotted searchlights and small AA guns around the superstructures, but in the end I didn’t use the ventilators. The last addition was some large vertical tail fins from plasticard, glued under the existing tails (there are some handy beams to attach these to).

Once built, all of the models were undercoated with white Halfords automotive primer. The hulls were painted with a Tamiya dark grey and the superstructure mid sea grey. The grey areas were drybrushed with Games Workshop Longbeard Grey, then the whole lot was washed in GW Nuln Oil, which looked good but unfortunately dulled the difference between the two greys – so next time I’d use a lighter grey for the superstructure. The decks were painted Tamiya Buff and washed in Gryphonne Sepia – the wash does a great job of picking out the deck planking and also hides a multitude of sins in terms of less-than-straight edges. A quick drybrush of GW Terminatus Stone accentuated the deck detail. After that I went round and did a bit of tidying up where deck paint had got onto the hull sides and superstructure.

The last bits of the paint were pretty straightforward – funnels were painted dark red and highlighted, with black tops (German battleships had their aft funnels painted red at Jutland), searchlights picked out with yellow faces, masts and boats painted in shades of brown and windows/portholes blue, with GW washes where appropriate. The tail fins of the battleships got a red stripe and Dom’s Decals used for the crosses.

At this point the models were painted and I was able to varnish them using Army Painter matt anti-shine varnish from a spray can. They were ready for the last stages of flags and rigging – but I decided to add some more detail. Jon had added rigged torpedo net-style spars to his ships and I decided I liked the look of that. I’d finished the build earlier than expected (I was surprised how quickly it went) so still had time to go back and add extra details. I drilled out equally spaced holes in the hull sides using a dremel and inserted lengths of paperclip wire. The ends of the were were filed flat to remove any sharp points – as you can see from the rather gruesome photo below, paperclip wire can be sharp when cut… The beams were then quickly painted and washed – I didn’t bother with undercoat or varnish but it all looks OK.

Rigging was done with cotton thread. I found the trick with this was to cut an overlong piece and attach it securely with superglue, and only then start wrapping it round the other beams and spars. The thread was wrapped round each beam and a tiny dot of superglue used to secure it (I used a very narrow applicator that came with some pound shop bottles). Once the glue had all dried I touched a drop of sepia wash around each knot on the rigging to dull down any shiny or fogged glue.

And that was it – I think they looked the business on table, and in fact three of them were some of the few surviving German ships at the end of the game – they fought well and took down several enemy vessels including HMS Barham, one of the largest British ships of the time.

The detailing kit I used is now available on Shapeways – it’s not too expensive (£30 or so) and there are enough parts for half-a-dozen large ships or more smaller ones.

Celtos Skeletons

Recently, Australian gamer Azazel send us some photos of some beautifully painted Celtos skeletons which he’d featured on his blog. They’re well worth showing again here, and we’re grateful to him for sharing them with us – visit his page to see more.




Painting the Stewart Regiment

John Treadaway made an excellent job of painting his Stewart forces when he added them to the Hammer’s Slammers website last year. I was lucky enough to see them close-up earlier this year in a game at Maidstone (albeit from the wrong end of their gun barrels !) and was struck by the extra mile he goes with the addition of stowage and crew figures to his vehicles.

Suitably inspired, I decided that I wanted a Stewart detachment of my own, so set about putting one together. I also wanted to use the new Glengarry-hatted infantry, which weren’t available when John was assembling his forces.

I started by cleaning the resin castings in soap and water and letting them dry. I then assembled the vehicles, which for the most part is straightforward – the Apollos and Artemis only have the hatches to glue on, some of which I left open for crew figures which were superglued straight in. One of the tanks got a radar antenna on the rear of the turret – there’s a circular detail piece behind the left hatch, which I drilled out with a 2mm bit and fitted the radar in there. Both tanks had external fuel drums glued to the hull rear (a bit fiddly, use gel super glue for this) and jerricans plus the odd storage box were glued onto the hulls and turrets.

The Kunitsas take a bit more work, with the tracks, hatches and turrets all needing to be attached. I glued all of the rear hatches closed, but left two of the top hatches open. The mortar carrier’s hatches were glued upright and I added an infantry figure with binoculars after cutting him off at the waist with clippers. The second hatch was completely opened, and three riflemen were cut off and glued in the hatch (word to the wise – in future I think I’d paint these figures separately and glue them in after painting, as doing so in the confines of the vehicles was fiddly).

The infantry were cleaned up then glued to washers (I used thin plasticard to cover the holes in the washers). The gun crew weren’t based, but were stuck to a coffee stirrer for painting. The figures on washers were textured using PVA glue and sand to decorate the bases. You have two options for basing – using the washers allows the figures to be put in the sabot fireteam bases for games that require infantry to based in teams, but still allowing them to be used individually for skirmish games. Alternatively, the figures can be stuck straight into the resin fireteam bases and attached permanently.

Once all the glue was dry, everything – vehicles and figures – was undercoated in Halfords white automotive primer. This is a bit more expensive than some primers but a) the can is a lot bigger so you get more for your money and b) it sticks to anything – metal, resin, plastic – to give a good key for the main paint job. Once this had dried, the infantry were sprayed with Plastic Soldier Company Russian Uniform, while the vehicles were airbrushed with Vallejo Sand Yellow.

The vehicles were then pretty straightforward to finish. They were first drybrushed overall with Citadel Terminatus Stone (one of their ‘dry’ paints). Hover skirts were painted dark grey and drybrushed light grey, tracks were painted red-brown and drybrushed lightly with silver. The hatch interiors were painted very light grey, stowage in various shades of green, brown and grey and some parts of the gun barrels in gunmetal drybrushed with silver. The tank crew were given black coveralls and dark red berets, while the infantry in hatches were brush painted the same way as those on foot.

The next step was to brush on a coat of Army Painter Strong Tone (from the large tin, not the dropper bottle). This is messy, so I put the models on greaseproof paper and left them in a shed to dry which takes 24 hours or so (don’t leave them indoors if you can help it, the stuff stinks and, trust me, you will get complaints…).

Once set, I added some Scottish Saltire decals which I sourced from eBay – these go on fine straight over the shiny Army Painter finish. Then the last task is to give them a clear flat coat – I use Tamiya XF-86 airbrushed on. This is an acrylic varnish so won’t react with the dip. The only time I tried Army Painter’s own clear coat in a spray can, it crazed horribly, so you have been warned…

The resin figure bases were sprayed black and then the tops painted in Tamiya Flat Earth drybrushed in a pale sand colour. The sides were painted in Tamiya Flat Brown. With the two ant-tank gun bases, I used a cutting tool in a dremel to make some indentations in the bases for the gun crew (do this outside and wear a face mask – you do not want to breathe in the resin dust). The previously sprayed crew figures were superglued in and PVA glue and sand used to cover round the hole.

I try to keep the colour schemes on 15mm figures simple, just so I can get them painted in a sensible time. For these figures the steps were

  • Pouches, water bottle, packs in Citadel Kommando Khaki
  • Guns in dark grey, highlighted light grey
  • faces and hands in Citadel Elf Flesh
  • boots in Tamiya Rubber Black
  • Glengarries painted flat black. The band around the bonnet should be a red and white check pattern, but I approximated this by painting it white then adding red strips

They were then also given a brush coat of AP Strong Tone and varnished with a flat coat once this had dried. I had a bit of bad luck with the varnish which decided to go frosty on me – this wasn’t too severe, but made the glengarries look a bit grey-ish (there was some damp in the air – the answer was not to panic, but to wait until the weather had dried out then varnish them again). Finally, I glued the odd small rock on some bases and applied flock – I got hold of some very nice grass tufts with purple blossoms from The Dice Bag Lady and used these to give a purple heather look to the bases and further emphasise the Scottish-ness of this unit.

And there you have it – 2650 points of Hammer’s Slammers detachment ready for action.

Islands in the Sky

I’ve always wanted to make some flying islands for Aeronef games, but never quite seem to be able to get around to it. But the other day I happened to watch Avatar again, and the sequence amongst the Hallelujah Mountains got me thinking again, and spurred me into action.

The basis of the islands was lava rock, sold for barbecues – I’d used it in the past to make perfect asteroids for spaceship games, so I had half a box left from that project. You can get in DiY stores or supermarkets in the UK, or if you live on Hawaii, just pop up the nearest volcano… I selected half-a-dozen pieces which had a flat side which could be used to site buildings on, and drilled a hole to fit a steel screw in the base in each. This screw would then fix the islands to magnetic stands.

The top was smoothed off with ready-mixed wall filler (Polyfilla, Tetrion or similar), which was painted green when dry. This made a flat(ish) base for the buildings.

The pre-painted buildings were attached with clear glue (Uhu, Bostick etc) and the remainder of the green areas flocked. The final touch was to use a hot glue gun to stick on some trees and bushes.

Although there were points during the process when I wondered how well they were going to turn out (but then I get that in every project), on the whole I’m pretty pleased with them. I didn’t make too many this time, I wanted to have six finished ones rather than twelve which I ran out of time on. So I’ll probably make some more later – ideally I’d like to find some larger pieces of lava rock for bigger layouts.

Painting Belgians part two – Carabinier cyclists

Part two of our Belgian painting guide was meant to be cavalry and it was meant to have been done a long long time ago (part one was after all back in August 2013) but apathy can be a wonderful thing. However the release of our Carabinier cyclists has finally encouraged me to pull my finger out.

As with the infantry the colours used were from Wargames Foundry  (WF) and Games Workshop (GW) with the addition of Army Painter (AP) since my supply of Devlan Mud has finally been used up.

Starting with a white undercoat the flesh was painted the same as before – a basecoat of WF Flesh (5B), a drybrush of WF Flesh  (5C) a wash of GW Seraphim Sepia and a second (lighter) drybrush of WF Flesh (5C).

Cyclist front

The cyclists wore the same basic colours as the Carabinier infantry but without the greatcoat and with a small “czapki” hat with a removable peak rather the larger “Tyloean” hat.

The tunics and czapki were given a base coat of  WF Stormgreen (27B) with a wash of GW Badab Black to tone the colour down. The trousers had a base coat of GW Skavenblight Dinge with a highlight of GW Administratum Grey.

Boots, gaiters, ammunition pouches, bayonet scabbard and the peak of the czapki had a base coat of GW Abaddon Black with a highlight of GW Stormvermin Fur.

The water bottles had a basecoat of Foundry Light Drab (12C) and the haversack Foundry Rawhide (11B). Both were given a wash of AP Strong Tone ink.

The rifles were painted in WF Rawhide (11A) and highlighted with GW Ushabti Bone. The gun barrel was GW Boltgun metal (an incredibly old pot of paint) with a wash of GW Badab Black. The hilt of the bayonet was highlighted with GW Administratum Grey.

The band and piping on the cazpki and the piping on the tunic and trousers  were GW Yriel Yellow.

Cyclist backThe bicycle frames had a base coat of GW  Deathworld Forest green with a wash of AP Strong Tone ink. The tyres were GW Abaddon Black with a highlight of GW Stormvermin Fur. Silver parts (pedals, handlebars etc) had a base coat of GW Boltgun metal with a wash of GW Badab Black. The seats were WF Rawhide (11A) and the roll on the handlebar was WF Rawhide (11B). Both finished with a wash of AP Strong Tone ink.

Yanks and their Tanks

Do you remember the postie turning up last week with, amongst other things, some new 15mm American Republic SF vehicles ? We haven’t wasted any time with these and they’ve already been cleaned up and moulded.


Since the plastic masters are very difficult to photograph and the details hard to see, here’s a second look at a first set of assembled castings in a coat of primer (I’d used red primer as it will be the base colour in their camouflage scheme, which is why it’s already been drybrushed). As soon as this post has been finished I’ll be off with the airbrush to do the next colours.

And here they all are, swathed in blutack as a mask for the camouflage (regular followers will have seen this before, but here’s a link about Blutack masking).


(Thanks to Zac Braham for the title of this post, he used it when posting the AmRep masters on TMP and I liked it so much I thought I’d use it here !).

Tiny Terrain Part#2

At the end of last year I wrote about the creation of the terrain boards for my Stoke Rochford terrain. It’s taken a while to write this follow-up piece, but here it finally is. Anyway, this time I’m going to deal with the buildings and final details of the boards.

My painting method for our small scale buildings is pretty straightforward, aimed at producing decent looking buildings without too much fuss. I start with a white undercoat from a spray can – I wouldn’t recommend a black undercoat for models this small, they end up very dark (I did try it briefly as I hoped it might make painting the windows quicker, but soon abandoned it). The models are then block painted, usually in just two colours, one for the walls and another for the roof. I use various shades of red-brown for brick buildings, mostly Tamiya and Citadel paints. Stone buildings are painted in pale colours such as Tamiya Buff and Deck Tan or Citadel Bone. Roofs are painted in darker shades of brown for tiles, or grey for slates. The brick walls and roofs are then drybrushed using light grey or terracotta shades. Following this they are given an overall wash using Citadel inks – usually Devlan Mud (or its more recent replacement, Agrax Earthshade), but I also use a Sepia shade to produce a different final colour. Once this has dried, I flick round a very light drybrush on more prominent parts of the model. I also sometimes use an orange drybrush (Citadel Ryza Rust) on tiled roofs. The most time-consuming element is painting in the windows in black. The trick is to use a fairly runny black (Tamiya paints are perfect for this) and just dot it in the smaller windows, then let capillary action do the rest and draw the paint into the corners of the window. The final part is to then go round and paint in a few details such as stone edging (the buildings from the Civic Buildings set need this) or larger doors on the factory buildings.

On one building I made an exception to the white undercoat rule – this was the Power Station, which has a lot of large windows. I sprayed this one black first and then painted the window frames round the undercoat, which was much quicker than painting the walls first and then lining in the windows. And since it was a grimy, soot-smudged building, it didn’t matter that it came out a bit darker.

When I came to painting the town, with its multiple blocks of terraced houses, I was beginning to run out of time so I had to some up with a quicker way of getting them finished. In particular I was concerned about the hundreds of windows that the buildings had. To speed things up, after the undercoat I gave them a coat of Army Painter Fur Brown from a spray can. They were then rapidly drybrushed with Citadel Squig Orange, and the roofs painted grey. After a few details here and there they were given a generous coat of my trusty Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade. This filled in the windows nicely – not quite as good as painting each window by hand, but a damn site quicker ! Unfortunately I mucked up the varnishing in my haste and it went white, otherwise the result would have been very effective.

I decided early on not to glue the buildings directly to the terrain. Instead, they were glued to plasticard bases which were shaped to fit around the road network. This made the layout more flexible for future use, and also meant that during play the buildings could be moved out of the way to allow for nef bases to sit there instead. I had also considered delineating gardens around the houses with hedges and fences made from coarse flock and thin plasticard strips respectively, but after trying a test piece this was abandoned as too time consuming. Instead, I settled for sticking the painted buildings to the bases, flocking and then adding random bushes and trees around them. Below you can see some of the plastic bases as I tried laying them out.

I also created a few special set-piece items for the terrain. One was a small island with a large church on the top, with a harbour and a few buildings at the foot of the hill. This is based on St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, but using one of our Large Church models instead of a castle. The harbour walls were 3D printed as a single item, and the houses came from our Normandy set.

I made another 3D model of a lighthouse – Beachy Head, off the Sussex coast. This was then put on a base with some polystyrene rocks to create something akin to the Needles off the isle of Wight

The estuary was crossed by a number of road and rail bridges. These again were modelled and 3D printed by Shapeways

I stuck a few of our poplar tree models to wooden coffee stirrers, then painted and flocked – they looked pretty effective along the roads and railways lines.

I also painted up some of our sea forts, Martello Towers and FlaK Towers to help defend the coast.

So there you have it – quite a few hours’ work, but worth it in the end !