Sunday, October 20, 2013

Frozen City : small residence 3

I spent the better part of the day working on the next building, another small residence (I think there are a few in the starter set). I wanted to do something different this time. Only one door, and more details on the facade, as I feel more bold. It was way slower but the result is quite satisfying. I let the pictures speak for themselves :

scourge infantery on top of the residence to give the scale.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Frozen city, building the small residences

A quick update on my work on the frozen city : I spent 3 hours this afternoon to finish the 3 first buildings and to build another small residence of the same size as the first one. It is roughly 11 cm long, 6 cm deep and 10 cm height.

small residence 1, finished (at least the building step). It still needs a base.

small residence 2, approximately of the same size, with a different layout.
I used another technique to build the windows, and it is more efficient, and produce smaller windows. I also used the foamed cardboard to place some borders on the facades, where I will be able to place snow and ice after painting.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Building the frozen city... on a budget

My current project (and I have many ongoing) is to build a board and scenery for my starter set of Dropzone commander. With the starter set, there are ten folded cardboard buildings that are very nice for beginning to play the first few games. I remember that there was also some cardboard scenery in the starter box of the second edition of warhammer 40k - I played a lot of games with just these on the table. But with old age, the miniwargamer also becomes more demanding : I know that to enlist some of my miniwargamer friends into playing dropzone commander, I would have more success with a nice board...

My source of inspiration for the board is the map "frozen city" in the game mechwarrior online. I played this game for countless hours, and it is one of my favorite. There is an eerie feeling when walking (quite literally as the player is a mech pilot) the abandoned street, with building covered in snow and ice. My purpose is to try to reproduce this setting on my board.

I already did some researchs on this project. There are some posts here and there about building scenery for dropzone commander. The 10mm scale is compatible with n-scale (also named n-gauge in UK I believe), it is also the scale 1/160. There are some scenery lines by US, german and japanese brands for model railroads. The US and german ones are quite expensive, and often unappropriated : bavarian house ? No thank you... The best lines are of the japanes brands : those are very extensive, and much cheaper. The main problem is to find them in online shops, and when they have them, they always come with a steep price increase.

The decision was then to build as much of the scenery as possible. Buildings in dropzone commander are often just boxes of different size, with details like doors and windows. I used some foamed cardboard (4 x 50x65 cm for 8 euros) to build the boxes. Then I glued some details on the sides to add some details : doors, windows... I think that I can build at least 2 large building with each 50x65 sheet, and I have 8 of those, so there should be enough materials to build my entire city.

My first protoype, a medium building, that I painted very fast with the airbrush. I think that I will need to use some lighter colours. I will also need to add some textures on the base.

I also bought some styrene plastic shapes by Evergreen (tubes, beams, strips, textured sheets) but those are really expensive. One set of shapes (ex: 3 x 5cm 4mm tubes) are about 5 euros. It is less expensive to use cardboard or thick paper.

A big box of 12x12cm, for a large building.

My first real building, a 12x12cm, 16cm height block with 8 floors. Each floor in dropzone commander is about 2cm height (I measured it on the cardboard buildings). I realize that the windows are maybe to large for the scale, but it was faster to cut large windows in the sheet. I may use another technique later to produce smaller windows with less work as it is already very time consuming (more than 80 windows on this building...)

A medium residence with 5 floors. I still needs some details here and there but it is almost finished. Next time  I try this kind of shape, I will make the roof in one piece and then glue the walls to it.

A small residence, first try with columns. There are some styrene plastic H beams glued at medium height. It still need some work on the windows.

A small dropzone commander board needs 10 building, I have almost 3. A big board would require 20, and this is my goal. Still most of the work left.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dropzone Commander starter Set

Approximately last year, I became aware of a new game arriving on the cyberspace. From some pictures on the specialized websites (beast of war, and perhaps bell of lost souls if I remember correctly) I could clearly see something that appealed to some nostalgia from eon past : the advertisements of the 6mm miniature game space marine of the beginning of the 90'. As most of us, miniwargamers, I was brought to the "hobby" by the "warhammer" games from Games Workshop. At the local store nearby, there was only a box of warhammer 40k, so that's what I bought that day. But I remember fondly looking at those pictures, trying (and almost succeeding) to sell me the 6mm goodness. Alas ! the epic line is no more, even if some of the friends still play it with some obscure ruleset from the depths of the internet community.

Enough rambling on the age pasts, back to last year : I found the dropzone commander miniatures very appealing with their sleek futuristic design, but I was somewhat rebutted by what I perceived then as a steep price. It was to my delight that the starter set was announced, and I swiftly pre-ordered one box. The wait was quite worth it.

The hard truth is that I don't really plan to build an army for either the Scourge or the UCM, the two factions of the starter set. I already had my eyes on the PHR. But I figured that I could use the strater set as a bootstrap, and if I like it, invest more time (and money) into the PHR.

From the day I received the strater set box, I worked on the miniatures (I still didn't had the opportunity to play the game, but I plan to eventually). I took me one week of painting, planning, and I am now almost finished (miniature painters know that a model is often quite never finished...).

 The scourge infantry, basecoated and highlighted with the airbrush. Doing the bases was the most time consuming part of the process.
 the Scourge vehicules, painted with vallejo chrome. A very nice metallic colour.
 After a purple wash and satin varnish. Some details here and there but nothing fancy really.
 another shot
The Scourge infantry and their transports, finished. I still have to put some snow on the bases but it can wait.
a view of the dropships loaded. I can't do it with the middle one as these tanks have their turrets glued on : I don't want to loose a small turret...

The Scourge was the easier part. Basecoat of vallejo grey primer, then chrome form vallejo model air, purple wash (citadel range), some details (the eyes in red) and some varnish. The infantry took most of my time : brown and metallics mainly, nothing fancy, but I find the result to be "ok". I took me maybe 3 hours to paint all the Scourge, from basecoat to varnish. Maybe the easiest miniature range to paint quickly and with great results.

For the UCM, first I decided to paint them green, the emblematic colour, but then I changed my mind. I decided to do something different. There is a map in the game mechwarrior online called "Frozen city", where the battle takes place in the ruins of a city taken by the ice. I decided to use that as an source of inspiration and paint my UCM accordingly. Then, I would build a map of the frozen city with buildings recovered by ice and snow... My painting template for the UCM would then be one of cold colours : greys, blues... I chose a digital camo painting to improve my skills with my brand new airbrush (badger patriot 105).

 UCM infantry, painted in light grey (vallejo model air). Some zenital high lightning but I don't really know if it shows much.
 UCM vehicules with the base colour : 1/2 light blue grey, 1/2 sky blue from vallejo model air. Used german grey underneath

I used tamiya 18mm masking tape and tried to print some digital camo from some tutorials on the internet, but after some time trying to cut the squared shapes from the printed templates, I realized it was easier and quicker to just cut by eyeballing it. I chose to place the tape semi-randomly on the models, and I realize now that I could have done some kind of symetrical pattern, at least on the dropships (the tanks are asymetricals so it would have been more difficult).
 My prototype : I made a mistake with the third colour, too similar to the light grey I used as the second colour. I use small caps from empty bottles as handles for the models (fixed with bluetak). It is very handy.

I waited too long (2-3 days) between the different steps of the procedure : main colour, applying the masking tape, new colour, applying another layer of masking tape... and it appears that the longer the tape stays on the model, the more chance there is that the paint will come of with the tape. One of the dropship had a huge chunk of paint removed, leaving the plastic bare. I had no choice but to send it to the "Stripping Can"...

After correcting the paint scratches from removing the masking tape, I varnished the models, and then finished the details and applied the wash. Even with acrylic wash (nuln oil from citadel) the varnished model let the wash flow better in the recesses. It doesn't flow as well as with oil wash (I use AK interactive Dark brown wash on other models) but there is a real effect.

 The (almost) finished UCM vehicules. Some defaults here and there, but it doesn't show too much. The dropship in the middle went to the stripping can, and I tried a symetrical pattern for the camo on it. Unfortunately I also had some problems with the varnish (particles) on this one : I think it will be unlucky in the game !

 another view - the turrets are glued, and I didn't magnetize any of the models.

In the end, I think that the (almost) finished result is good. In my mind it was something better looking, but it is often the case when I am still in the planning phase : I am often somewhat optimistic in my expectations.

The Dropzone Commander starter set is a very fine product, and a great way to get into the game. I plan to maybe buy another starter set as it is such a good value. It was a real breeze to paint the models and I wait eagerly for an opportunity to play with these now painted models !

There is a beginning in all things...

So, first article on my brand new blog, time to open the Champagne ! When I first created this blog, a long time ago, came "the" question : what  should I write about ? The thought maturated in the back of my mind for some months and I arrived to this conclusion : I have 4 main hobbies : SF books, roleplaying games, videos games and miniature games. These four activities had always a huge importance on my personal accomplishment that I ought to write about this. On the other hand, from the book I read, to the games I played, I already had some fascination for the posthuman concept. So, why not the name "Posthuman Gamer "?
Anyway, this will be the place for the musings on my hobbies, mainly about miniature games, at least for the beginning. English is not my first language but I will try very very hard to write it as correctly as possible...).