Sunday, 24 July 2011

20mm Omaha beach 3

A full week on the beach project has seen it progress well. The polystyrene was carved and sanded to shape. I tried to add indentations and softened the cliff faces a bit so they weren't a regular shape from one side of the beach to the other. There are still loads of gaps and unevenness to the landscape but it will all be OK.
Once I was happy with this stage then I get on with starting to make it look good. I use a ready mixed grout and glue product that is designed to stick wall tiles to internal walls of houses. It is a pretty high spec so when it dries it is rock hard but it takes 12 hours to dry so you have ages to work with it.
beach covered with grout
fortification close ups
I pile the grout on the surface and spread it with a trowel until it covers the whole board. In the process it has filled all the gaps and smooths the whole landscape. I find, though, however hard I try I can't get rid of all the trowel marks so I sprinkle sand all over it and then put a painting roller all over it. That smooths things down and adds a small texture to the surface which is great when you come to paint it. If you don't put sand on first, the rolling motion seems to draw water to the surface and then you get peaking in the grout just like a Christmas cake and it looks useless. The sand is very important.
You can see from the photos that it is really taking shape now. You get to this stage but then have to leave it for 24 hours to dry off when all you really want to do is get on with it!
Up to now I follow this procedure with all my terrain boards but from now on things change depending on the finish the customer wants. In this case we are using the Rapid Fire D Day supplement as inspiration and the beach in the photographs showed painted sand for grass so this was next.
sand added everywhere except the roads
sand around fortifications and sandbags added

All I did was cover the boards in slightly watered down PVA glue and then covered it in sand making sure to miss the roads and anywhere else you don't want grass. This dries pretty quickly so you can then paint it but I like to coat it in watered down PVA glue to give it extra strength and durability. This adds at  least 24 hours to the job, allowing it to dry, but I feel it is worth it.
Once the grass is down the temptation is to start painting but I had to resist until all the detail I wanted was added. You can see from the picture above that I added sandbags to all the trenches. I make them from Das Pronto- I make a sausage of the clay about 1/4" across and then gently roll it with a rolling pin to flatten it a little. I then cut it to sandbag length and stick them where I want them. I like adding sandbags as when they are painted they add an eye catching contrast to the rest of the landscape.
I then had to add the sea wall and shingle bank which was polystyrene cut to shape with loads of cat litter sprinkled on and glued in place.
All is now ready to paint. I always feel that I go a step backwards here as my base coats tend to be quite bright and really clash with each other. The grass is very green, the earth is a dull brown and the concrete and fortifications are quite a dark grey. The whole board gets covered and again you need faith that it will all be OK in the end!
the full colour palette in all its glory!
it looka no better when you have another look!
Every inch is covered and in paint and I push my doubts that it will all be Ok to the back of my mind.
Finally, for this post, probably the messiest bit of the whole process occurs once the base coats are dry. I cover the whole thing in diluted raw umber paint- every crevice, grain of sand, inside and outside bunkers; everywhere.
brown everywhere
where did the bright colours go?
This coat of paint starts to bring the whole project together. There is now a common colour running throughout the landscape that blends all those individual colours together and suddenly they look happy together. You can see from the photos that the brown is heavier in some places than others but that is fine and nothing to worry about. The whole thing does look dull and all life has left it but somehow everything now belongs together. The final stages will be to bring it to life again and and bring out the details to give the landscape some variation.
I am away for a couple of weeks now so will post the final edition of this project when I get back. I will also ask my customer to send me some photos of the board in action when he gets his figures on it playing because terrain always looks at it's best 'in action'

Thursday, 14 July 2011

20mm Omaha beach 2

This week has found me hard at work on the beach project. I am still doing the hard landscaping and planning work at the moment.The beginning of the week saw me pick up the wooden carcasses for the whole table. There are 8 boards in total and the profile you can see in the first post. My work table is a bit smaller than 8 feet long so I haven't got them all in this picture but you can see the effect

the empty carcasses laid out
You can see where the cliffs will be and the sloping away into the Normandy countryside. I then had to fill these boards with polystyrene. I use the cheap white stuff as the wooden carcasses protect it from the side and when I have covered it in grout then it is rock hard from the top so I don't need to spend the money on the expensive blue high density foam.
I buy my sheets in 8ft x 4ft slabs and usually 2 inches thick. I use a hot wire cutter to cut them down to size and at this stage I don't have to be too precise as all I am doing is filling in the boards. I glue it all together with PVA glue which has never let me down although it can take forever to dry. I always try to leave the boards stacked up with weights on them for at least 48 hours before I start work on them.

boards being filled with polystyrene
stacked and drying
Once dry enough I just used the hot wire and took off all the excess foam. This was easy as I ran the wire along the wooden sides so I was able to cut the foam to shape very quickly.

the result with the draws cut out as well
At this stage it looks a bit too clean and precise but I wanted to resist hacking it around until after I had sorted out where all the fortifications go. The customer and I discussed in great detail where everything was to go and so over most of today I have been working on fixing the bunkers and trenches in place. This has been a long process but is worth the effort as once they are in place the creativity and artistic bit of the job begins. I don't want that bit of the process disturbed by having to go back and adjust work I haven't done properly at this stage.
So far I have done the fortifications around the D1 draw (bottom right on above picture) along with adjoining trenches and WIN71 the group of bunkers to the left of the draw. This is still a very messy stage as it involves alot of hacking and cutting into the polystyrene and really doesn't look anything special. You just have to believe it will all be OK in the end!
WIN71 and the left of D1

draw D1


Draw D1 trenches- they will look better than that when finished!
Most of the fortifications have been bought but you may have noticed a part built bunker on the right of D1. This is built into the bluffs and will be completely covered by earth and vegetation so the only detail I need to concentrate on with it is the firing slit that overlooks the draw and allows a 75mm gun to fire the full length of the beach. I also have to design it so that you can get inside it to place the gun.

That is it for stage two. I should finish the fortification layouts in the next day or two and then when they are thoroughly dry I can finish carving the bluffs and filling in gaps. I can then cover the whole thing in grout and then sand and finally paint it all. That will be detailed in more posts next week.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

First Legion Update

First Legion have been busy so I thought it a good idea to briefly update you with what is about to arrive and what is about to go onto pre order.
There are a couple of ranges on pre order at the moment and are expected to be shipped in early August.
These include the coverage of a new Napoleonic battle- Aspern Essling with the release of 18 Austrian Grenadiers.
 The paint job on these beauties is superb and as you can see they make a great unit in your collection
We are taking orders for them now.
More Romans have been added to the range. These are the ones you may have seen in London- First Legion were able to get some samples to us for the show. They will be available from August, on pre order now.
 We also see some WW2 on pre order. An Opel Blitz truck along with crew loading it. A very imaginative piece. Ready to be shipped in early August but on pre order now
Opel Blitz and crew. More are in the full list

In August we then see a raft of figures going onto pre order. The long awaited Buford's cavalry, mounted Crusaders, 95th Rifles and lots of WW2 Stalingrad
Buford's cavalry
95th Rifles
Mounted Crusaders
Finally, for now, in September will see the launch of a brand new period- The Renaissance. This will be one of their most colourful ranges to date with the initial release covering the Battle of Pavia in 1525. This is a really exciting range and should be spectacular.Here are a couple of pictures to wet your appetite
Full details on prices and individual figures can be found on our web site as soon as we have it. You will be able to place orders on line or just give us a ring and we will sort your order out from there.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

New Collectors Showcase

We have been getting a bit behind with adding new releases to the web site but I have finally added the new releases from The Collectors Showcase. These should all be in the UK from early August or maybe even late July. Prices and more detail are all on our web site TMTerrain web site
This release sees the launch of the new Rome 43AD range- the Roman invasion of Britain. The Collectors Showcase has indicated that more will follow including chariots and war elephants so this is the start of a very exciting range. The following are just part of the range and show three out of a total of six sets.

Roman command set
Celtic warriors

Roman soldiers
As usual, WW2 armour is not neglected. This release sees two vehicles added- The Witman Tiger in winter and Normandy colour schemes and the US M8 Greyhound in the same two schemes.
M8 Greyhound in winter scheme

Tiger with 4 figure crew set

The final releases this month are a terrific collection of French Carabiniers. There are a total of   8 figures so will make a superb looking diorama especially if you already have some of the other French cavalry from previous releases.

That is it for this release. It is another diverse and very imaginative release and with the introduction of the Romans there really is no excuse for not giving them a go!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

15mm Arnhem

I am about to start on another project. This is 15mm scale and covers some of the well known buildings in Arnhem during Operation Market Garden.
There will be four buildings:
St Walburgis Church
St Elizabeths Hospital
The Museum
A generic town house.
St Walburgis Church
St Elizabeths Hospital
the museum as a 20mm model
I do very few 15mm models so I hadn't got a good supply of windows and I decided to have them laser cut. I thought this would be particularly effective for the church windows. I got them delivered last week and I wasn't disappointed

3 sizes of church window and one small casement window
 I got about 15 church windows and 70 of the small casement windows. That should cover all my needs for this project. It is amazing the number of windows you need sometimes. I am planning to sell these windows in the future but I am just sorting out costs.
That is it for stage one of this project. I hope to start building properly next week

20mm Omaha beach

This is the first of an on going series of posts following the progress of various projects I am working on.
I have been asked to make an 8foot x 4 foot table of part of Omaha beach, as illustrated in Colin Rumford's Rapid Fire Normandy supplement.

photo of drawing from Rapid fire supplement
The customer has a beach cloth so wants me to model from the shingles running along the base of the cliff (the dotted line running along the bottom of the above drawing).
We had to decide on the profile of the table as I have made 595mm x 595mm wooden carcasses that have this profile cut into them. Each board then has a very clean and tough edge and makes butting them up very easy.
After a bit of discussion we decided on the following profile

profile of table- left hand side is the beach
This profile is the same on all the boards so I have to add the D1 and D3 draws in the middle of the left and right sided boards.
Once I get the carcasses I will fill them with polystyrene and then shape that once it has had time to dry.
More details on that in the next couple of weeks.
The last job that can be done at this stage is to buy the large number of bunkers and weapons pits that are needed. These are from Ravensthorpe Miniatures and Sud Modelisme

Once I have the carcasses and start adding the polystyrene we can decide exactly where these bunkers will go so until I get them in about 5 days time that is as far as I can go with this project. More will follow next week if all goes to plan.