Monday, 29 July 2013

Trouble with Trees

It's been one of frustrating times on the wargaming front. Do you ever start a project (or a project within a project?) and it does not go quite according to plan? I decided to start making trees for the Brecourt Manor boards over the weekend and in my minds eye I knew exactly how they would turn out, or so I thought!!!

Now I've mentioned previously I'm using the woodland scenic trees for the bases, for two reasons mainly; I've used them before and I think they are okay; they are easily attainable from local shops should I need more foliage/armatures etc.. Plus of course the tree armature plugs into the base and this meant I was able to adapt them to make them removable from the boards should I so wish. So it begins.....

So I sat down with armatures and clump foliage intending to spend Saturday afternoon making the twenty or so trees I need for the boards. Firstly I decided to apply the clump foliage with superglue. I had previously used Woodland Scenics own Hob-e-Tac glue and was not particularly impressed. It quickly became apparent that the superglue was great for holding the foliage BUT I was going to need a lot of it and it was not very cost effective. So I turned to the Hob-e-Tac. What I produced was this;

Now I was not too happy with the result and since I wanted to build up the amount of foliage on each tree, I was not too sure Hob-e-Tac would be upto the job. So I considered bulking out the tree with a 'packing' material. I considered using steel wool and then gluing extra foliage to that. Now I couldn't find the steel wool but did find a few pieces of rubberised horsehair which I had bought from Antenociti's Workshop a couple of years back. I had intended to experiment with it for making hedgerows but settled on using clump foliage instead. So I added it to a couple of the armatures;

This one had no clump foliage added, but on another a stripped back the clump foliage and added the horsehair over that.

In each case I used PVA glue to stick the horsehair to the armature. Now I had a dilemma. How to stick the foliage to it and what foliage to use. Now if you are UK based (and probably a few who are not will know the company I'm referring to, judging by a few TM posts I read over the weekend), you will be aware of the 'Last Valley' terrain. Never bought any of it myself, but see it quite a lot at shows and the club, 'Wyvern Wargamers', has quite a bit of this terrain. So looking at my trees thats what came to mind. So from what I could remember of that terrain the trees seem to be horsehair covered with flock.

So a hunt on the internet and I found a few references on model making/railway forums to using hairspray to fix the flock to the rubberised horsehair. Then I spotted this which I should have remembered markswargaming-anythingbutaone. Mark's very fine tutorial goes into detail about making some boards for Saga and using hairspray has an adhesive to hold the flock. Can also be found here saga-scenics. So grabbed my can of cheap hairspray (no laughing please, gentleman) and sprayed away. I also used Daler & Rowney fixative (just because I could) and then sprayed the tree with Woodland Scenic Cement glue. I was not entirely convinced hairspray would hold the flock. So I was left with this;

It was rushed and a little bit messy. It will need tidying up. I also did not paint the trunk. Mainly because they are not really noticeable when being used and the area around it will be covered in foliage/flock. But I was not entirely happy, it looked like a clump on a stick. So having already glued rubberised horsehair to four other trees I ripped it all off and started again. This time I was a bit more selective in placement of the horsehair.

I have, after spending a few minutes looking at real trees, placed the horsehair much more carefully on each individual branch rather than covering the whole tree, also painted the trunk though it may not be obvious in the photo. Flock was applied as before but no glue used this time. I did three trees in this fashion and this was the result;

Please ignore detritus in the background.

Now I have been round these trees with a pair of scissors to trim away any straggly pieces of horsehair both before and after flocking.

Now follows a comparison shot the two different types of trees;

See what I mean about the one on the left looking clumpy? The second batch I feel look more realistic, and I'm far happier with them.

Now I hadn't used glue on these three trees since the Woodland Scenic spray cement can be messy. So a further trawl of the internet brought up this trouble at the mill, another excellent tree tutorial but that led me to this Treemendus Models. So I have ordered some of the glue to give it a go, after the good reviews on Trouble at the Mill.

So trees with rubberised horsehair for the foliage it is. A couple of things to mention before I finish. I did spray the horsehair black before applying the tree. The stuff I had was a light brown colour, so I dusted it with black spray paint, rather than smother it. The tree armatures I sprayed grey with Halfords grey primer. Then washed with Devlan Mud, followed by Thaka Green, drybrushed with Rotting Flesh and Catachan Green and a final wash with Badab Black. I'm using up my old GW paints on terrain. I was just trying to achieve the grey/green colour that most bark seems to be (at least in the UK).

Horsehair can be found at these suppliers;

Treemendus models

Antenocitis Workshop


Unless you know a re-upholesterers. Thats it for now, more to follow.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Brecourt Manor...Part 9

Not really a full post just a tidy over until I can really move things along. But carrying on from last post, I did add a few more sandbags to the boards. Not very exciting, I'm sorry.

I did not even add that many! I didn't want to spend too long making sandbags out of Milliput once again, so I added a few here and there just to add another feature to terrain. I also decided not to re-paint the other sandbags. What I did do was add a wash of Devlan Mud thinned with Klear and water.

This mixture added a level of griminess which I am happy with and what was lacking from the original sandbag emplacements. I'm not sure if it is evident in the photos.

That should be the last on sandbags. Probably like me you are bored to tears of 'em? More to follow soon.    

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Brecourt Manor....Part 8

The boards have been painted.

I've airbrushed the earth colours on and then gave them a final light dry brush with a Home Base emulsion 'Soft Pebble'. The rocks/stones have been painted too.

The grey of the 'stones' is really there to break up the brown. Since this is a field used for agriculture having large groups of boulders scattered about the area may not be entirely accurate but adds another feature to the boards. I've also weathered the boards in the gun pits and trenches.

I've used weathering powders to dirty up the flooring. My initial application may have been slightly over zealous. I used the Forge World powders, and used the earth colours finishing off with the Dark Sand powder. Between each application though I sealed the previous one with MIG Pigment Fixer, applied via the airbrush. I've restricted the weathering to the outer part of the boards, to represent were the crew would stand. To illustrate;

I've also dirtied up the sandbags a little more but I'm not too happy with the colour which has resulted. In fact there are two things which I'm not happy with at the moment;

  • The sandbags which I'm really considering re-painting. 
  • The roof of the command bunker has warped slightly. I'm putting this down to the use of DAS clay which when it has dried has contracted causing the warp in the plasticard base. The roof is still useable but may need to be re-made.
I've pretty much convinced my self that I will add further sandbags along the edge of the trenches. Not many but enough to add another feature.

So thats it for now more to follow.  

Friday, 12 July 2013

Building Wargame Terrain by Tony Harwood

Picked up my copy of this book yesterday;

Very good it is too. If you follow Tonys' blog you will be well aware of his style, when he has posted up 'how to's' on there or on the Barking Irons site. The book follows that format and contains nine articles covering various builds from; how to build a fence and wall to a raised market hall. Eight are for 28mm terrain and one for a 15mm building. Each article has plenty of accompanying photos, illustrating each part of the relevant build;

Very much a step by step guide. But what I like about Tony's work is the little extra details he adds so that what might appear to be a very simple piece is full of great ideas. This model is probably my favourite;

It's a pig sty! But the details added to it make it stand out. Included are two processes that I've read about previously and wanted to try. Using plasticard to represent wood and DAS clay as an external covering for walls.

So if you interested in getting a copy contact Tony at dampfpanzerwagon. I don't think you will be disappointed with this purchase. The ideas contained with in can be used to enhance or provide inspiration for your own terrain projects.         

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Building Brecourt Manor ...Part 7

More of a general update, this post. The sandbags have been painted;

At the moment they are probably 'nearly' finished. Once the ground work is completed I will see how they look and maybe add some more detail, to the colour. I airbrushed the airbags which speeded up the process; first Vallejo Air, 'Khaki Brown', then 'Sand Yellow'. I then applied a wash borrowed from Forge Worlds 'Modelling Masterclass Volume 1'. This consisted of mixing Vallejo Flat Brown (substituted for Scorched Brown, which I have run out of), with Brown and Yellow Ink. The book does not give a ratio so a did roughly one third of each*. Then added Klear floor polish (so beloved by aircraft modellers, for use on their aircraft not their floors!*) to thin it out. N.B. Klear is now called Pledge Multi Surface Wax in the UK.

Never used the original 'Klear', but this new version works just the same; dries clear with a slight gloss finish. Its basically a cheap gloss varnish! Don't worry about the nice fresh pine smell that wears off once it has dried. The sandbags were then drybrushed with Vallejo 'Dark Sand' and finally a glaze of 'Flat Earth' was applied over them. The glaze was to pull the colours together. The base area around the sandbags was tidied up with the base colour to hide any over zealous airbrushing.

The ends of styrofoam which will serve has the base for the hedge row banks have been capped off.

I used thin plasticard cut and shaped to fit. I did have to slice away a thin piece of the styrofoam to fit the plasticard. Which was glued in place and then filler applied to hide gaps and act as another adhesive. I should have do this earlier, but had hoped that covering the ends in filler would protect them from wear and tear but was not entirely happy with that option.

I've also added in some more tree bases. These will be for the Woodland Scenic tree armatures approximately 2-3" in height to give variety. The cuts made in the styrofoam have been filled and painted with the base colour. Finally all the boards have been pretty much covered in watered down PVA glue to give them protection. I say pretty much, since the only pieces not covered in it were the sandbags and the crates/boxes etc..

It has left a 'shine' on the boards still painted in only the base colour. But this is not evident on the board which had been airbrushed. Not sure why? Not that it really matters, since more paint is to be applied. The PVA has left a sheen on the wooden boards which were not made from balsa.

I can only guess the balsa being more porous soaked up the glue better. Again not that it matters, I intend to do some more detail work on the trench floors and sides. So that its for now, more to follow.

* This mixture made a dirty yellow/green colour. With hindsight I should have added more brown to darken the colour and make it a richer green. The effect is to create a moss like colour which you can see on old sandbags left to the elements.

*Maybe they do use it on their floors aswell. I don't really know!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Sandbagtastic!!.....Brecourt Manor Part 6

I slight dip in productivity over the past week since I've been adding the milliput sandbags to the boards. Never a chore always a pleasure!

Having reached 136 sandbags on Gun position 4 and the two MG nests, and they were still not quite finished I stopped counting.

I found it easier to build the levels one row at a time which meant I could shape each sandbag individually and then leave them to dry before putting on the next level. They also got slightly smaller over time, as I became more comfortable and proficient with the process.

Though I did use sculpting tools, it eventually became easier I discovered to use one's fingers to shape the little rascals. By using a suitable piece of old cloth, in my case an old t-shirt, each milliput bag could be moulded accordingly and fingernails are great for pressing in folds to the putty (pressing through the old piece of rag of course).

Consideration was given to adding a small number of bags along the tops of the trenches but if I'm truthful at this moment in time I'm all sandbagged out, so that will have to go onto the 'to do' list for the future. Next will be to paint the sandbags and then the rest of the boards.

More to follow.