Sunday, October 27, 2013

A bit of a head cold

I've been feeling a bit under the weather this weekend, so very little to make note of. Tinkered a bit with my 6mm German village church, though it still has a way to go, but I did get the stained glass into the windows:
Now I need to finish painting it and get it weathered.

Also messing about with a way to make 1/600 L3 Lf Lancia Flamme flamethrower tankettes. We'll see how that turns out. I need to order more L3/35's first:
And here's what I'm striking for:

I did get a small order in from Picoarmor, so stand by for some East German T-55's soon. 

More when the cold has passed!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Urban terrain tiles, part 1

This past week, I've had visions of my Altstadt (German old city center) for my 6mm 1981 LANDJUT campaign dancing in my head (see my post of last weekend - 10/12/13). So this weekend, I'm experimenting with the best way to go about this. 

My first idea was to just create urban areas and streets on the styrene sheets I can get at my local art supply store, so I could create modular "tiles" which I could string together to make whole cities, if necessary. So I bought a thick one (.118) to avoid future warpage. I gave it a spritz of light gray primer and was ready to go:
I have some of Noch's beautiful z-scale cobblestone road tape that I planned to lay down and then put houses and businesses in between.

However, it occurred to me that the road tape laid on top of the styrene sheet would give me roads at a slightly higher level than the surrounding grass areas, yards, etc. As we all know, even in the old sections of town, the streets are at a lower level, even if only slightly. Hmmm, back to the drawing board. 

So, I decided that the cure was to use the thick styrene sheet as a base and overlay a thinner sheet (.40) as a top surface from which I could cut out streets, giving me a lower elevation on which to run my cobblestone street tape.  So I duly cut out my streets and I bonded the top sheet to the base:
So far, so good. Now it needed another spray of primer and it would be ready to go. 

Unfotunately, after the primer, it very quickly became obvious that the tape just wasn't going to work. There was absolutely no way to get it to conform closely enough to the curves of the roadbed. So it seems there's only one other, labor-intensive alternative: scribe the roadbed with an X-acto knife, much as I wish there was a faster, easier way. Once I get over the roads hurdle, the actual landscaping should go quickly and promises to be a lot of fun. More when the roads are finished in a satisfactory manner. 

PostScript: No, my scribed lines are too uneven and wander around too much. I'm going to have to think on this some more. But I still feel that styrene tiles are the basic building block. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Oh, Lord! Yet another new project!?!

Those of you who read my blog are already well aware that I have a terminal case of hobby ADD, so you shouldn't be surprised that I've started tinkering with another tangent. I've long nursed a mental picture of doing a 6mm "Altstadt" for my LANDJUT campaign, meaning the old city center of a German town, so I can work in a bit or urban warfare for NATO v WarPac. I stumbled across these photos of a z-scale train layout showing part of a German town:
And it really peaked my interest. I don't think there's any way I could be less interested in trains, but things like this make me crazy:
Or this YouTube video:

I have several suitable z-scale/6mm buildings, but how to go about basing them within a system that would be expandable to also add on suburban and rural areas?  In other words, GHQ's Terrainmaker is crap!!  I need a new terrain system. One that's actually some semblence of SEAMLESS this time!! (Anybody want to buy quite a few well made Terrainmaker hexes?)

I've looked at Game Craft Minatures' excellent streets and terrain, but the drawback there is that it's all one level. It doesn't really depict lower or higher elevations. And given that Geman "old town" areas NEVER have straight streets for more than half a block, this makes things more difficult, as you can see from this map of the Altstadt section of the German town of Fritzlar:
I need to make twisting, wandering streets. So, to start with, I bought a 7.6"x11" of sheet styrene (.118 thick) as a "tile" to work on and some Noch z-scale cobblestone street tape:
It's a straight tape, but it seems bendable. I can also cut notches from one side to curve it. Also, I bought a large n-scale cobblestone sheet by Busch, for making plazas, etc.:
It still needs blackening and "dirtying". That's one of my z-scale houses to show scale. I also bought several packs of small trees from a line of architectural terrain called Wee Scapes. Not the "big trees in the forest" kind, but the "growing in my front yard" kind, as well as a pack of hedges:
I particularly like the flowering trees. The hedges proved considerably too tall for 6 mm, so I cut them in half lengthwise, so they're now half the height they were. They also make some great sunflowers, which are far too tall for 6mm, even for tall sunflowers, but I'll snip off half the stalk and they'll be fine:
I've already got masses of flock, "bushes", undergrowth, "weeds", etc that I use in my basing, so I think I'm set. Now I just need to produce something. This is a pretty photo-heavy post for not having made anything at all yet, so sorry about that. I really need some "weathered asphalt" paint and I'll be ready to go. 

If anyone already makes similar urban terrain tiles, I'd love to hear your methods and see your work. More from me next weekend!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Painting Italians for the Western Desert

This weekend, I thought I'd give my method for painting Italians in North Africa, as much for my own "leaving a note" for myself, as for you all. 

Firstly, let me say that for 3mm, adhering to strictly historical colors is not the best way to approach things. This small scale requires a slightly exaggerated and perhaps even somewhat cartoonish approach to painting. 

I always prime light grey, then anything that will be any sort of sand color, I give it a base-coat of Green Ochre (V914). After looking at a lot of photos of Italian vehicles and uniforms, here are the colors I've settled on for infantry (I use almost exclusively Vallejo colors for my Italians):

For Fucilieri and Bersaglieri: 

Helmet: Green Ochre (V914)

Face and hands: Stone Mountain Ruddy Flesh (a good "sunburned" color)

Tunic & trousers: Desert Yellow (V977)

Boots and leatherwork: Saddle Brown (V940)

Rifle: Mahogany Brown (V846) with a strip of Gunmetal Grey (V863) along the top

Bersaglieri capercaillie feathers: Black Green (V980)
For Blackshirts, I omit the Desert Yellow tunic and use Black Grey (V862) instead. Sahariana jackets are Stone Grey (V884), for those officers who have them. Larger infantry weapons are generally all Gunmetal Grey (V863). I realize these are crap photos, but the macro ability of an iPhone 5 is pretty much zero. I also plan to give some Bersaglieri dark beige brown tunics after finding this photo:

Armored vehicles seem to have had three different color schemes in the early phase of the Desert War: brick red with dark green patches (this seems to have been exclusive to L3/35's):
Sand yellow with dark green splotches or wedge shapes:
Or just overall sand yellow.
So I use these three to easily differentiate between types of tanks. 

L3/35: Red Leather (V818) with Olive Grey (V888) splotches:
M11/39: One part Sand Yellow (V916) mixed with one part Green Ochre (V914) as a base and Olive Grey (V888) splotches:
This is the paint scheme that the British Tommies referred to as "sand and spinach".

M13/40: One part Sand Yellow (V916) mixed with two parts Green Ochre (V914):
I've found that uncut Sand Yellow gives a color that's too bright; almost "neon sand", if there is such a thing. 

The majority of soft-skin vehicles that the Italians sent to North Africa were never repainted for the desert and served in their European dark gray-green color, therefore I paint most trucks, etc in overall Olive Grey (V888), however I do throw in the occasional sand-colored one for variety. I use several colors for tarpaulins: Khaki Grey (V880), Canvas (V314), and Russian Green (V924). 

Tank tracks are Black (V950) heavily dry-brushed with Oily Steel (V865). Tires are Dark Rubber (V306). Windshields and windows are Black Grey (V862). Mufflers and any other areas needing rust are Light Rust (V301). Any weapons (AAMG's, etc) are Gunmetal Grey (V863).

Everything, infantry and vehicles, gets a couple of coats of Sepia Wash (V200). Tanks get a couple of further washes inside the tracks to add shadowing. The last step is a spray of Dullcote. 

That's my formula for the Italian Army in North Africa. Again, my apologies for the quality of the photos.