Sunday, 31 July 2005

HIPPIE project part 2 - conversion

Quite some time ago, before our move, I started the HIPPIE project with [this post]( The idea is that I paint up a figure and report on the progress of said figure with pictures. I'm now finally continuing with this process.

The converted figure

Today's installment is about the cleaning up and conversions (very little, actually) done to the figure. As evident from the picture in [part 1](, there was quite a bit of flash on the figure, which was easy to remove (in most cases I did not even have to use any tools, I could just pinch off the flash with my figures). The flash in question results from vent channels in the mold of the figure BTW, which facilitate air removal from the cavity and are an important part of the production process of miniatures. Other than the flash present, not much cleanup was necessary -- this was a clean figure.

On to the conversions, as seen in the picture on the right, which remained very basic. I replaced his cast standard with a florist's wire one, by snipping off the standard and drilling out the hand. I left a bit of the original standard staff attached to be painted up as a cloth 'handle'. The florist's wire staff was topped with a duck sculpted from green stuff (trust me, it will look better when painted up -- this is one of my very first free form sculpts). Finally, I added a shield slung across the figure's back. The shield is attached with a blob of green stuff, and a belt sling was sculpted from green stuff (pretty easy -- take some green stuff, flatten it between two plastic sheets, cut out belt). The green stuff that was left over after the duck, shield and belt was used on the base to hide the figure's cast on base and hide the slot in the plastic slottabase.

That's it for now -- next installment will be priming the figure for painting.

Other parts of the HIPPIE series:

* [Part 1 - Introduction](
* [Part 2 - Cleaning and Conversion]( -- You are here
* [Part 3 - Priming](

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Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Painting competitions at conventions

It is going to be difficult to avoid this entry coming over as me snivelling and bemoaning the fact that I don't win as consistently anymore as before on the Crisis painting competition, and there is certainly an element of that involved (though not, by far, the only reason for this), so I'm stating this upfront. You have been warned.

The idea for this post has been sparked by a [thread on TMP](, and more specifically this bit in a post halfway down the thread:

Let's face it, Joe Gamer who painted up a nice general for his army isn't going to win against some pro painted masterpeice which was never meant to see the gaming table and is probably too fragile to survive the battle anyway. If only the professionals can win, why bother having a comptetion open to the public?

I couldn't agree more. Not so much about the why have a competition bit, but I can understand the poster when he says that this particular painting competition (or more generally, the ones he comes in contact with) seems to have changed character from a gamer oriented comp to a painter oriented competition. I have seen what I think is the same evolution in the painting competition at the Crisis convention over the years.

First, a small bit of exposition on miniature painting: there are those, such as myself, who are miniature wargamers that want to paint their figures to a good standard, but still game with said figures and thus do not spend a lot of time per figure painting it, in order to get an army on table in a non geological time frame. A second class of miniature painters are the ones the poster above refers to as 'professionals' (a slightly inaccurate term, but adequate for the purpose of this entry) whose hobby is painting miniatures, not gaming with them. For these painters, the painting itself is the hobby and they don't mind spending the extra (tens or even hundreds of) hours to do a really smasing paint job.

As said, I'm a painting gamer, not a miniature painter. I have been entering figures in the Crisis painting competition since 1997 and have won at least one medal or prize each year. However, the competition has stiffened enormously over the last few years. From what was once (I feel) a painting gamer dominated competition, the Crisis painting comp has become more or less miniature painter dominated. The influx of the German contingent the last two years (extraordinary painters like [Dirk Stiller](, [Stefanie Arndt]( and [Holger Schmidt]( ) is proof of this point. That makes it harder for painting gamers to win at the Crisis painting competition.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Neither, I'd say. This is just the way this particular painting competition has evolved, whether intentionally or not, and that's really all there is to it. I might no longer enter anything anymore (it is getting to the point where it would take too much time to paint something that has a chance of winning), but that should not bother anyone. And it does mean that the Crisis painting comp will become, more than ever, a place to go and look at exquisitely painted miniatures. But they'll be painted by 'professionals' not by gamers.

What's the opinion of the readers on this?

__Update__: added link to Stefanie Arndt's site

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Sunday, 24 July 2005

A terrain experiment with a doubtful result

In the spirit of further [terrain experimentation](, I decided to spruce up part of my basic terrain setup the other day. While I do have a suitable set of modular terrain tiles (which have featured in pictures troughout TTM and its [mother site](/snv), and won a few prizes at wargames shows), there are occasions where I, be it for ease of transport or out of sheer laziness, use a simple green cloth (nicked off of my friend Alan, I might add) as the basic terrain for my games.

I a fit of madness, I tried doing something that [I wrote about years ago](/snv/tbase.html) -- attacking the cloth with a variety of spray paints and flock. The idea is to break up the golf course look of endless expanses of green nothingness by spraying on various oddly shaped patches of green, greenish brown, brownish green and brown. You get the idea.

This is what it turned out as:

A green cloth, spray painted

I used a number of differently coloured spray paints that I had lying around, plus some general flock that I glued onto the cloth with spray glue. I thought the end result was pretty nice, especially considering the fact that the cloth is meant as a base surface, with lots of other terrain items on top.

Then again, when my wife saw the thing, her first reaction was 'this looks like our cat threw up on it'. So I guess different people have different esthetic sensibilities. Any comments?

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Friday, 22 July 2005

Miniature Photography part 4 - stage setup

As an addition to the earlier [series]( on [miniature]( [photography](, here's a quick look at the current 'stage' setup I use when photographing miniatures:

![Photography setup](/snv/ttm/pics/photography_setup.jpg)

As you can see from this photo, I use a sheet of white paper as the 'stage' itself. The paper is propped up against a suitable object (in my case, the water jars) so that it curves smoothly, with about 1/3rd of the paper horizontal (flat on the desk) and the other two thirds vertical.

Lighting is provided by two lamps -- the standing one almost directly above the miniature is fitted with a daylight bulb and provides the main illumination, while the smaller clip on fluorescent lamp provides some filler light to help even out the highlights on the figure. This lighting setup works for me in so far as that I rarely have to correct the photo in an editing program anymore. I'm still thinking of building a [light tent]( though.

Finally, the camera itself (not visible in this shot because it was taking the shot. Ahem) rests on the small blocks of wood in front of the miniature to take the shot. It usually ends up with the front of the lens 3 to 4 cms away from the miniature, resulting in a frame filling shot of the figure.

All articles in the miniature photography series:

* [Part 1 - Lighting](
* [Part 2 - Camera settings](
* [Part 3 - Post processing](
* [Part 4 - Stage setup]( - You are here

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Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Building a forest

As [mentioned before](, we're going to do an Arnhem game for this year's [Crisis]( convention. The basic distribution of tasks is that Alan does the miniatures and I do the terrain.

I'm going to do a series of articles on the terrain building in the future, but I want to focus now on an important part of it: trees. You see, a lot of the action in the Arnhem battle was focused not in Arnhem itself, but several miles to the west of it, in the vicinity of Oosterbeek, Wolfheze and Heelsum, and that general area is quite heavily wooded. Hence, the terrain features *a lot* of woods, and I need *a lot* of trees.

After some experimenting, I've gone the [Woodlands Scenics]( route. Woodlands Scenics is a producer of excellent (albeit a bit on the expensive side) of terrain materials, aimed at the upscale model train enthousiast, but that does not stop one using their stuff in miniatures tables, of course. I'm using their tree kits, ordered from [EC Scenics]( in the UK (which I can recommend). The kits consist of a bunch of plastic tree armatures and several bags of 'clumpy foliage', a kind of clumpy foam flock, which serves admirably as leaves for trees.

The process is simple: take an armature (I got the ones that range in size from just under an inch with two measly brances to 3" big ones with a multitude of main and side brances), twist the brances in a convincing treeish shape (anything will do, really), liberally apply glue (preferably one that does not dry too quickly and needs only to be applied on one of the two surfaces to be glued, and not white glue -- I use [Pattex Contact Glue](, although that does need to be applied to both tree armature and foliage, which is awkward -- ["Krachtlijm"]( would be better) and stick foliage on. Finished. The tree armatures come with tiny bases, which I don't use -- I stick the trees directly into the terrain board (polyurethane isolation board).

To get a rough idea of what this looks like, here's a shot of my first trial setup:

![Woodlands Scenics trees](/snv/ttm/pics/trees.jpg)

Note that this is just some trial trees, the forest in question has now been enlarged significantly (I'll try to post pictures later). These specific trees are also ready made from Woodlands Scenics. I bought a few packs of these to see what the trees should look like, but they're not really worth the expense -- the ones you make yourself from the basic materials are just as good if not better.

In case you're wondering -- that's a part of the forest between the landing zone for 1st Airlanding Brigade northwest of Wolfheze and Ginkel Heath, the drop zone for 4th Parachute Brigade. The road is Amsterdamse weg, one of the three main routes used by the British on the way to Arnhem.

More to follow.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Good thread on WWII miniature scales

I'm just back from the Black Forest, a land of no connectivity and no miniatures (unless you count our daughter and my brother in law's two children), so TTM kicks into life again.

Just a quickie now: there's a [great discussion thread]( on WWII scales over at the [Blitzkrieg Commander]( [forum]( (free registration required). The initial author is new to WWII miniature wargaming and has taken the rich pragmatist approach to selecting a scale to play in: he has bought samples in various scales (6, 10/12 and 15mm) and is regularly reporting on his progress and findings.

Dynamite stuff!

Technorati tag: miniatures