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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Star Saga: Computer Screens and Development Tanks

 This batch of scatter and objective terrain has a mix of campy cartoon messages and harder edge decals. I wanted to capture the feel of an evil science lab set to self destruct.

Most of the whites were a work up of the Reaper Bone Triad.  The computer screens a mix of Army Painter Voidshield Blue and Secret Weapon Blue Wash. The computer screens and the development tanks were finished off with a coat of Vallejo Gloss Varnish on the glassy parts.
 The development tanks got an uneven wash of Baby Poop (SW) and another one of Sewer Water (SW) over a base coat of Voidshield Blue(AP).  The large decal was from Thor Decals District 7 set and was applied between a satin varnish and the gloss coat. I wanted the inside to be murky and the outside to be clean.
 The lettering for all the zany messages looks to be channeling Futurama!
 A lone techie and a pair of rent-a-cops stare down some oncoming plague knowing that no evacuation is authorized!
 Lots of screen messages just in case someone didn't know the evil secret base was in trouble!

Welcome to Dead Zone!
The abomination is here!

I have about a half dozen more character models and a pile of doors left to see the Star Saga set fully painted... sans the MDF versions of the floor tiles which have yet to arrive!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Star Saga: Alyse and Kira Nicolovski examine some new furniture.

 I'm finishing up some bits that seem to have found their way into a box... under a paper towel... and surprised me when I went looking for some brush on matte clear coat... DoH!

Apparently Kira Nicolovski (the blue one) and Alyse have languished in a near finished state for several weeks or more... as have this assortment of tables, crates, and work stations.  To be fair I wasn't just distracted... the resin material that the furniture is made of is troublesome and, while Alyse and Kira did not share the same troubles as the furniture, they got lumped in the box with the rest while I was busy working on the Dickensians Set 1.
 First the good stuff!

The furniture has a cool classic sci-fi look and, as you can see, reminded me a lot of Mass Effect!  There are a few nods to that here and there.  This is a welcome addition to the more numerous sci-fi gothic bits that usually decorate my battlefields.  I love having options!  Not every battle takes place in a long destroyed ruin.

Because of this I went with a lot of white.  It is a laboratory after all! I relied mostly on the Reaper Bone Triad for the main white colors.
I also have a mix of lettering styles.  There are some sharp decals (mainly from Thor Decals, District 7 set) and some, very campy, hand lettered stuff.  When the computer monitors come round... as they soon should... they will feature a lot of campy lettering on their screens!

In the Grimdark I tend to use a lot of warm primary colors.  Stark contrasts for stark times.  For the Mantic Universe I'll likely tend to use a different pallet that is generally cooler and secondary like teal and turquoise with accent colors like magenta and coral.
The less good stuff!

The material the boxes and tables are made of is a bit rubbery and doesn't prime well.  It has paint adhesion and rigid strength troubles similar to early Bones.  The tables and work stations were so nettlesome in their determined shapelessness that I ended up mounting them on bases to give them a chance to pick a form and stay in it.  It seems to have worked well and the bases are not as incongruous as I had feared they might be.

The rest of the stuff!

Alyse and Kira also illustrate the depth of my unfamiliarity with the Mantic Universe... I've read some novels and some of the backgroud i the rules.  I like where they seem to be, and where they seem to be going, with the Human Corp Space... but I'm really fuzzy on most of the alien races.  So... I've arbitrarily selected colors for these two... and for the other aliens represented in the Kickstarter... and just run with it.  I figure that as long as I have internal cohesion my approach will be just fine... and if a mid course color correction seems warranted I'll just claim that aliens, like humans, are composed of several subgroups that can be identified in part by the color of their skin. Variety is the spice of life... literally!

Back to the painting table!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dice Box of Death: 3D printing with Snapmaker

 More adventures in 3D printing with the Snapmaker.

As I'm specifically not allowed to touch my wife's dice because I might transfer my abysmal dice rolling luck to her set... I decided to print up the Dice Box of Death!

In spite of the title its not at all related to Kingdom Death... although protecting the purity of the dice for that game will be the box's first job.

The box is shown here with our Canoness Veridyan for scale.
 This print is at high quality due to the fiddly details of the bone walls and alcoves.  The white PLA material took paint well and seems pretty stable... if I don't leave it out in the direct sun!

I remember seeing the casket of the three wise men in the cathedral in Koln and the casket/handle for the box is painted to resemble it.  Its a minor modification of my most recent yellow metal process; Brass Casings (SW), Flesh Wash (SW), Brass Casings (SW) again, and Shining Gold (GW).  I left of the final highlight step of Rustungs Farbe (a bright silver metal color made for Fantasy Forest) to get a better separation between it and the metallic straps on the wood.
 The Bones were Tan Earth (Vallejo), Dirty Bone (Reaper) + Tan Earth 50/50, Dirty Bone (Reaper, Graveyard Earth (Reaper), Splintered Bone (Reaper).

The Wood is my regular wood process as described here.

Stone is a simple dry-brush over black using the Reaper Stone triad.
About the Snapmaker.

I got this from a kickstarter to experiment with 3D printing, Laser Engraving, and CNC.  The machine is transformable to do all three operations.

After several weeks of working with this machine I've discovered several things:

On the plus side:

It was easy to assemble.
The machine makes good quality prints.
The Snapmaker Shredder software, while short on features, is easy to use and is very helpful when dealing with a build area as small as this.

On the minus side:

1. The machine has a petite, as in on the small side of small, build area.  As you can see the Dice Box of Death fully covered the build area.  This has been a problem with some kickstarters... even the excellent Rampage range which offers a "Small Printer Format" option for most, if not all, of its STL files.  Even with that many models are not printable without resizing downward. I'm going to contact Rampage and ask about a "Petite" option but it'll be an ongoing problem. On the plus side the Snapmaker shredder software is designed for this petite build area and warns the operator when the model size exceeds the capacity of the build area.

2. The modular design and all aluminum body were attractive to me because I move often and would need to break down the machine and re assemble it post move.  Unfortunately the fasteners are poorly designed and often not actually anchored to anything so, for example, a screw holding the lower cooling fan just fell out onto the print during operation.  The print head impacted the screw which unseated the print bed. The print bed is no longer as stable as it was, has to be checked for position prior to printing, and is prone to slip.  I'll have to break it all down and see if its re-seatable.

3. The filament feed system is a twitchy and I had to disassemble the print module to get the filament to feed the first time.  During this process I discovered that the cooling fan screws are not anchored to anything and take advantage of the cooling fin spacing for traction... this traction disappears the first time the screw is removed and, since the cooling fins get hot, you have to consider that when coming up with alternative ways to seat the screws. There are effectively no guides for the filament but with practice, once understanding the interior geometry, the filament has change has become more manageable.

4. The enclosure is a nightmare!

Let me say that again... The enclosure is a nightmare!

90% of the problems I have with the machine so far are due to the design of the enclosure.

Some examples:

 The metal tabs are brittle and easily broken during assembly.  I only broke one and had to glue the support in place.  This isn't a major problem for a permanent location but kind of defeats my goal of re-locatability.

The filament feed tube is plastic and during normal operation can easily come into contact with a hot part of the machine.  This happened to me.  The tube melted onto the filament which eventually broke off very close to the print head which then had to be changed.  To change the print head requires loosening a small set screw that, in normal operation, becomes filled with PLA material.  The screw is made of low quality material and is easily stripped when trying to loosen it.

Basically any interaction with the machine, from transformation to filament changes, is made much more difficult by the enclosure.  The one advantage the enclosure has is that it does reduce the noise level.  Having the enclosure actively assault the machine is a pretty high price to pay for a little less noise.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Twisted: The Dickensians Set 1

 Twisted is a tabletop skirmish game from Demented Games.  My first foray into this alternate steampunk reality are the Dickensians.  A right twisted version of your favorite hoodlums from Oliver Twist and a little Voodoo too!

 The cannon fodder... er.. I mean to say the bulk of the faction are the Urkin.  Essentially hordes of orphaned children that have been twisted by their exposure to the energies of The Engine into evil, yet adorable, characters of their former selves.

Here, from left to right, are the Urkin Slasher "Torch", The Urkin Shooter "Blunder", and the Urkin Shooter "Scope".

I wanted to have this faction look impoverished but sort of radioactively festive.  They are basically gray with  some bright accent colors like pink, orange and green.

The wraith like Sowerberry is festooned with timepieces infused with the baleful energies of The Engine and Dodger has been fuse with some kind of motorized unicycle.

I used Verdigris (Secret Weapon) to represent the energies of The Engine which not only emanates from their equipment like, Sowerberry's time pieces, but even from inside the faction members.  Most of the members of this faction are bundled up from head to toe in protective gear and carry some form of gas canister and gas mask to sustain them when they are separated from direct exposure to the miasma that suffuses the Engine node in London.
Most of the Urkin show little skin, which I have depicted as darkened by the energies that twisted them, the one exception being the Bloodrage Urkin form of the Urkin Alchemancer.  This is straight up Jekyll and Hyde in a Voodoo mask.  The trousers started out solid purple (HULK SMASH!) but got stripes of orange to liven them up.

Which brings us to the Faction leader Bill Psyches and his English Bull Terrier Bullseye.  Bill's legs have been changed into mechanical powerhouses and even Bullseye sports a gas canister.

I enjoyed these figures and am torn between doing The Dickensians Set 2 or Minions of The Engine set 1 next... probably should do the minions so I can actually get a game in!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Raging Heroes Kinghts of the Chalice (SF)

 Back to painting after an unanticipated emergency tooth extraction!  The Knights of the Chalice are Raging Heroes Science Fiction Super Heavy (Terminator Style) Militant Nuns.

The models went together very well and were a blast to paint.  There is a crazy amount of detail and they remind me of a more baroque version of the Gray Knights.

I started these as Retinue for the Mother Superor or the Space Papess... but as I was painting I kept thinking of them as "Knights of the Chalice: Order of the Oracle Doralys"  after the amazing model by the same company.
 What was significant about that thought in painting terms was that I started thinking about the oracle as a more ethereal, or even ghostly figure and that encouraged me to include some very cool colors in what was otherwise a very warm paint scheme.  You see it in the greenish flames of the chalice and the gems and in other details.  When I get to painting Doralys herself I'll have to include some of these hues.
 I wanted the armor to resemble a nun's habit but the overall scheme was very black indeed... so I reprised the tabard on the mother superior that I had painted several weeks ago complete with the modified skull rune border.  That helped a lot but the real topper was the ethereal green (Secret Weapon Verdigris, Secret Weapon Green Wash, Reaper Splintered Bone).

I'll want to create a symbol for the oracle and incorporate it into these models probably via the, currently blank, two tone red heraldic shields on the hips of the models.
 The unit champion really displays the yellow metal well especially on the shield's chalice.

The bases are 40mm and are all 3D printed.  The PLA material takes paint well and it was great to be able to print a themed set when I discovered that I had round lipped bases with these models instead of the beveled edge I ordered for the rest of the army.... DoH!

Next up should be some 3D printed accessories, terrain, a building a vehicle, and maybe a wrecked building... its been a fun learning process. Oh and I think there might be some Star Saga almost finished as well!

Back to the painting desk!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Adventures in 3D Printing

 Its been a busy couple of weeks! I spent a week whale watching and then the past couple of days in the aftermath of having a seriously infected tooth extracted.  In the middle of that the SnapMaker Kickstarter delivered a 3D printer to my doorstep!

Assembly was straightforward and, after a couple of false starts with leveling the print bed, pretty easy to start exploring. The machine is performing pretty well although there doesn't appear to be any kind of auto shut off when a print is finished.  The nozzel and bed cool but the machine otherwise idles and the fan volume is not insignificant... which will hopefully be compensated for when the enclosure gets installed.  It's not hugely loud or poorly pitched its just a PC component fan running all the time the machine is on.

 The SnapMaker software is a beginners set.  Its simplified and requires little to no experience with 3D printing to get started.  Its also sized for the SnapMaker's relatively small print bed which was a big help already.  Once I get a little more up to speed I'll likely look into a more advanced  program.  Snapmaker supports several of these.

The enclosure... seen on the right... was kind of an afterthought and it shows a bit.  I'm assembling it but will probably wait until I finish my large model test print to install it.
 My first job was to print some scenic 40mm bases as my Knights of the Chalice (Raging Heroes) is in the paint process and needs bases badly!  These came out ok and taught me a lot about PLA as a material.  First... the heat from filing a rough edge will melt the PLA so be careful about that... that makes me think that I might want to be aware of the climate when moving, storing and using models and accessories made from this material!  I think the SnapMaker supports a couple of other materials and I'll have to experiment a bit to see what options are available.
 Next up are some scenic bits to make the Kingdom Death Monster board a bit more attractive.  3D replacements for some of the terrain types and a 25mm round with a Kingdom Death stone faces theme.  I'll have to experiment with adjusting these to serve as inserts in the 30mm Kingdom Death bases but I'm happy to have a couple of ways to mount Kingdom Death models on themed bases for use in other games.

I've also printed some blank 25x50mm bases to stabilize some of the more floppy furniture in Star Saga.  I think I'd still prefer to use clear Plexiglas for that because its stiffer at less thickness but ... experiments!
All of these types of bases etc... took about two hours each to print at high quality.

Finally... since I was going to be out of it for a couple of days with the tooth... I hit the start button on a "Dice Box of Death" to have a cool Kingdom Death(ish) theme container for the table!... Since it is forbidden for me to touch my wife's dice... due to understandable fears of "Cursed Dice" transfer ... I *may have to make two of these boxes...

At the time of this photo the print is about 12 hours on... looks like about that much longer? and then the lid will need printing.  After which... it'll be time to tackle the enclosure!

Off to see how the bases paint up!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Star Saga: The Fear, Capt. Erika Dulinski, Francesco "The Devil" Selvaggio, The Survivor, and Alyse

 Back to Star Saga! 

This group of Characters and Adversaries was knocked out while I was working on my first Twisted gang. I have about a half dozen character models left and a lot of terrain to finish up before the core set is completed.

The Survivor is one of those characters that carries his whole life with him everywhere he goes, never knowing which moment will be the his last.  I wanted to represent the ad-hoc nature of his equipment.  His gear is maintained but not beautified and focused on utility.  He seems quite dour.

A lot of the gear would plastic of some sort so some of the things like the webbing on his leg I think of as medical self sealing wound technology and its painted in medical plastic green. The rest of the suit is largely generic white hard-suit without emblems of affiliation
Francesco "The Devil" Selvaggio reminds me of Jayne from Firefly.  The gear is military surplus and the coat reminds me of an old Eldar Ranger.  I figure the coat is his one real possession and shows some evidence of being repaired from time to time.

The coat grey process was influenced by the Twisted Gang I'm working on and the thought that Jayne was once a member of a failed rebellion or lost cause like the Brown Coats of the Firefly Verse.  He's still proud and angry and frequently gets into altercation with Federal representatives who view his open admission of affiliation as an insult. 
Although I think the sack is supposed to have smoke grenades or aomething similar I like to think of Francesco as addicted to soft drinks so the cans are painted the metallic green of Zolt! Which I think of as the child of Monster Energy and Mt. Dew...

Grey is a Reaper grey triad and the lighter areas are Reaper Buckskin Pale and Army Painter Soft Tone.
  Admittedly I haven't read a lot of the backgrounds for Star Saga.  I have read a novel and most of the initial backgrounds for the Warpath Universe where Star Saga is set but the whole feel of the game had such a strong Mass Effect vibe that I just kind of went with that in general.

Capt. Erika Dulinski is a nod to the N7 program of Mass Effect.

Krylon Khaki Base Drybrushed with Craft Paint Sandstone and washed with Secret Weapon Heavy Body Black is the bulk of the scheme.  There are red and Grey accent colors both created with Reaper Triads (Gray, Gory red).
  I envision the base as an N7 black site that is operating under the moniker N7X so that designation will appear on some of the terrain bits and in floor designs when the MDF floor tiles from the Kickstarter eventually arrive.
I really should read the background on "The Fear". Its such an ostentatious name after all! I think of him as part of "The Nameless" faction that seems to be slowly emerging in the Warpath Verse.

The armor reminded my of some old faux Slann models I have somewhere so I did a throwback style for it.

Krylon Khaki drybrushed with Craftpaint Sandstone the a coat of Liquitex Magenta Ink for the bulk of the scheme.  Highlights are Vallejo Pink. Green accents are Vallejo US Army Bright Green and Secret Weapon Verdigris for top Highlights.
There are cool washes (Lavender (SW)) in the shadowed areas and warm glazes (Just Red (SW)) on upper surfaces as well as some basic patterning on the shoulders and underlining with the war or cool highlight depending on the location of the perceived light source.  I still have a long way to go on this technique but its getting better with practice.

Alyse is the final character in the line up but the individual pictures of him/her did not come out very well so I'll have to re take them and drop them in future post.

Tomorrow is photography lesson day which I'm quite amped about!

Back to the Bench!