Monday, September 22, 2014

The Port of Gierburg - Part 4: Dock Section II Ground Level WIP

After completing the first section of my Port of Gierburg gaming table it is time to start with the second module. This one will be a lot more difficult and a lot more exciting. Due to its complexity I will handle the (under)ground level first and then tend to the rest later.

Similar to the first module this one is based on a solid 5mm MDF board. Following my initial plans (see Part 1) it measures 45cm x 72cm.

The concept for the port modules with two dock sections encapsulating a water board


The core of the module is a big 6cm thick piece of styrofoam that was glued on the MDF board using white glue and then cut to shape.



Underneath the City

Something I absolutely wanted to do after seeing an impressive zombie board at this year's Tactica convention: Tunnels on the sides of the board. The idea is to make the underground accessible from the sides. This adds an additional level to the board which is great from a gaming perspective. It is also a very practical solution compared to undermining the entire board which would then require a lift-off street level.

The first dock section came to have a height of 7,5cm which now determines the height for all sections of the gaming board. Factoring in the neccessary bottom and top this allows for just enough space to include tunnels between 5cm and 6cm high.

The idea is to have the tunnels lead around the two outer edges of the board (bottom and right edge if you look at the illustration above). The tunnel along the "bottom" side leads to the harbour wall, where through a small secret crack in the wall it would then be possible for models to enter the docks. At the other end the tunnel would end at the "top" side with a door. Through that door it would be possible to connect future sections with similar tunnels. Somewhere in the middle of the long side I wanted to have the entrance to the tunnels. Again, a door would indicate where models "pop up" on the battlefield. Since the tunnels are only accessible from the sides and the tunnels are not very high, doors are a great way of creating spots where models can go deeper into the board without actually modelling it. How exactly this entrance would work out I will decide when I tackle the first floor of the dock section. For now I have to focus on the (under)ground and just create options for later. I did try to think of an ultimate masterplan for the entire board but I then decided not to try to deal with all the questions at once and instead focus on the beginning at start on that rather than thinking and getting nothing done.

Tunnel tiles for Mordheim
I chose to apply the same technique that I used a couple of years ago for building Tunnel tiles for the Border Town Burning supplement of Mordheim. I carved/cut/broke the tunnels out of the styrofoam board with a box cutter. Then I coated the surface with filling using a strong brush. I used the brush to get a smoother surface than I got before when merely using my fingers.

The tunnel carved into the styrofoam board

Applying the filling on the styrofoam

After the filling had dried completely I added sand to the ground of the tunnel: I first applied a mix of white glue and water to the ground, then sprinkled and rubbed the sand over it. I also placed a few small stones across the tunnels.




I made two simple doors from coffee stirring sticks and glued them in place with white glue.

Two scratch-built doors for the tunnels





Next, I glued another layer of 3mm MDF board on the styrofoam to get a sturdy ceiling. On top of that I put a 3mm sheet of Selitron. This provides a nice base for the final layer of hard plaster cobblestones from Vampisol that would come later. However, to get the Selitron height correctly at the edges I had to glue a few 1mm wood pieces on the MDF.

Then I cut four pieces of 1mm thin wooden board to shape so that they would cover the sides of the board, basically creating a kind of veneer.

Before finally doing the cobblestone layer I had to do the walls of the wharf...


The Wharf

The wharf is made from a piece of harbour wall by GrandManner which I had left from section I. The remaining wall was filled with flagstone boards from Vampisol. I cut the hard plaster boards to size with a slitting saw.

Hard plaster walls from Vampisol

At the top of the walls I made small indentations with a file. These would later hold small bits of wood that would serve as mounts to place one side of the pier on.

The walls are glued to the sides of the styrofoam

The last wall piece was filed so that it looks like there is a hole in wall. Through this hole the figures can leave and enter the tunnels during gameplay.

Finally I added capstones, again from Vampisol, so that this section ends up with the same height as the harbour wall piece. With a bit of plaster I filled the gaps around the pier mounts, smoothed out the transitions between the three plaster pieces and modelled the inside of the hole.



Cobblestones

I find this to be the most exciting part of all the work: Building the cobblestone streets. As I mentioned above, I used cobblestone tiles from Vampisol. The same stretcher bond pattern that was used on Dock Section I was applied along one side of this section to continue the street.


For the rest of the board I used the other style of cobblestones, the segmental arch pattern. I like this pattern a lot for creating places such as town squares and so found it very appropriate for the area around the main docks, which would later be full of cargo, busy lumpers and probably the dockside crane.


After all cobblestone pieces were glued on the board I used filler for any gaps as well as watered down PVA to glue sand in some of the gaps as well as across the board for variety.

The most important thing was to ensure that both board sections align properl

The Pier

The Pier is a big wooden structure that extends the wharf. It can be thought of as the counterpart to the scratch-built jetty of section I.

Mainly, the pier is made from my never-ending bag of coffee stirring sticks that I have used for all works of this type.



The pillars are made from a 8mm thick wooden stick. I needed them to match the looks of the GrandManner harbour walls. Using a large file I rub deep indentations into the wood to achieve similar exaggerated detail. Whether that actually worked out I will only know once they are painted.



Additional details include rope around the pillars made from special rope-style wire, and rivets made from a thin plastic rod.



And this is what it looks like:

The pier set up and awaiting paint

Dock section I and II placed together



Lastly: The Heavy Tip
During the building of all these boards I found it extremely useful to keep stacks of heavy books nearby. All materials tend to bend when you least expect it. I have started to leave the books on the styrofoam whenever possible to ensure they always dry in the correct position and even afterwards.


Coming next: Dock Section II Elevation WIP



Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: More Wargame Terrain by Tony Harwood

Recently my copy of "More Wargame Terrain" arrived in the post. Let's take a look!

After the excellent first volume "Building Wargame Terrain" Tony Harwood has released the follow-up book: "More Wargame Terrain" with more articles on how to create top quality terrain for the tabletop.

From the Outside: Production Value

This perfect bound, full colour soft-cover book has a total of 118 pages from front to back. The layout and production is pretty much the same as the first book so nothing new to explain here.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gypsy Caravans from Sarissa Precision

In this post I present my versions of the two Gypsy Caravan models from Sarissa Precision.



I first saw the two gypsy wagons by Sarissa Precision on the Lead Adventure Forum and I was instantly sold: the designs of the models looked great.

Gypsy Caravans (source: LAF)
Now before looking any deeper into the caravans I have to say that I am usually very sceptical of laser cut models. They seem to be very popular for all kinds of terrain these days - especially Wild West buildings. Often these models appear somewhat "flat" to me, lacking the details of resin models. However, there are certain structures that lend themselves to laser cut building very well. The dockside crane I assembled recently wouldn't look any better (or probably even as good) had it been scratch-built. The gypsy wagons by Sarissa immediately looked like further examples of laser cut technology done right. In fact, these models look much more interesting than the gypsy wagons I know from West Wind Productions or Old Glory. Actually, judging from the Sarissa website pretty much all of their buildings look damn good to me. Anyway, let's look at the wagons!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Building a little Lantern

In this short tutorial I describe an easy way of making a lantern using remains from the bits box.

Lamps and lanterns add a lot to the atmosphere of the gaming table. Unfortunately though, while lamp posts are available from a number of producers (e.g. Yeoman Models, Grand Manner, Thomarillion, GeBoom) I could not find a supplier for humble lanterns. So I decided to build one...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gierburg Gypsies

The travelling people arrive in the City of Gierburg!

Another batch of beautiful paint jobs by Simon Bradley: Gypsies from West Wind Productions' Vampire Wars range roam the dirty streets of Gierburg.





But where are their iconic moving houses...?

Update: Gypsy Caravans


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Liebster award

This little blog of mine recently received a Liebster award nomination from Simon Bradley of Stone Cold Lead so here it goes.


The idea of this award is to promote other blogs and get to know the people behind them. The exact rules seem to be changing constantly so this is the rules set I got from Simon's post.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Painting the Coaching Inn

Following up on my review of the Coaching Inn from Tabletop World I now present the finished piece and a detailed painting guide.

As I mentioned in my review the Coaching Inn does not require assembling: other than cleaning up the piece all you need to do is glue the two chimneys to the roof and glue the fence/balustrade on the balcony.

The Scratch-built Balustrade

Speaking of the balustrade: I am not too keen on the fence that comes with the building. It looks too gothic/fantasy for my taste - I prefer a slightly more conservative/low-key style. Because of that I chose to build a new balustrade from wooden sticks.




Comparison of the original balustrade and my scratch-built one


Painting the Inn

The painting process was pretty much the same as with my previous Gierburg buildings. And it was a long one! With all the details the building has, tending to each shingle of the roof and each stone of the walls and - the most tedious work of all - painting all the windows with their grating, I can't count the many hours that went into this building. But it makes it only all the more satisfying once you are finished with the piece, lean back and look at it...

The finished Coaching Inn

Finally, this is what the completed Coaching Inn looks like:




Gangs fighting it out in the streets of Gierburg


A firebrand speaking to a mob of Gierburg peasants
from the balcony of the coaching inn