There are a fair number of companies selling 6mm buildings and terrain out there. Previously I have used buildings from Baccus, Total Battle, Irregular Miniatures, Magister Militium and Timecast for my 18th century GNW stuff. For this project (with the exception of the palisade walls of the second village that are from Irregular miniatures) I used the excellent buildings from Leven Miniatures. Leven has a very extensive range of buildings and fortifications in 6mm for all kind of periods. They will also attend Joy of Six in July together with Baccus, Total Battle and Timecast.
For the first village/settlement I wanted to create the feeling of a slightly larger settlement continuing off-board. I did a base to place the buildings on top to allow the ability to make it look more like paths between the buildings instead of putting them directly on the bare mat (with the perusual cocktail of some brown sand, chocolate brown paint, acrylic sealant topped up, when dry, with some dry brushing). The buildings are from Leven and are the Saxon great hall, round houses and cottages. The walls and the gatehouse is from the upcoming Palisade Fortifications set (accidentally it works very well to place my 25mm bases on top of the walls). I could have built the walls myself but really liked the Leven model and could not resist it for very long. Note the well that is from Perfect Six (you may recall from a previous posting that I got the Irish war dogs from there too). The same type of well was used in the second village (as they come in a pack of two).
For the second village I used buildings from Leven’s Viking settlement range with the palisade being formed by a combination of the walls and gates from a wild west fort from Irregular Miniatures but with the corners replaced by 3 no. Leven Viking watch towers and one of their fantasy watchtowers. Again on top of a base dry brushed and with grass to make the buildings blend in.
I got the longboats from Heroics and Ros. They come with the option of having the shields hanging on the outside and there are rowers and crew as well. However, I wanted to show them as being left whilst the warband is rolling Saga dice on land. They look a little bit plain, but I am not sure what the final configuration will be – so I will leave them like this for the moment and probably for the show too.
Next time I will show some “in-action” pictures from some of the games we have played. Looks like Neil and Dave are getting ready for the event as well, over at the Meeples and Miniatures “island“!
As discussed in the last entry I use a base colour (chocolate brown) and dry brush 3 colours on top and then apply two different types of grass for my miniature bases. I use exactly the same approach on my terrain pieces (more or less). For me the aesthetic side is important as it helps the immersion in the game. I do not mind playing with pieces of felt but it is relatively easy and cheap to achieve something slightly more pleasing to the eye and where the pieces interplay to create a (in my opinion) more pleasant experience. For me the game itself includes the terrain and the miniatures – but I know that is not an universal opinion. [I will not drift away talking about preferring to sit in my comfortable sofa, as opposed to a camping chair, whilst watching a good movie.] By using a consistent approach you can use the terrain pieces you make for most of your game and scales. This is not a step-by-step guide but more a high level discussion/presentation with some links to sources. If you have any questions just ask here or come to Joy of Six on the 17th July 2016.
As we will use two tables for the Saga demonstration game at Joy of 6 I needed two 3 by 4 playing surfaces. I normally use terrain boards but wanted to allow more flexibility in setting up and the mats (as opposed to boards) are taking less space. I got inspired by this posting on the Meeples and Miniatures blog on making your own wargames mat using acrylic sealant and canvas. I followed the approach as described but (i) applied the static grass after it was all dry (this allowed me to drybrush the mat before grass was put on top – using my three colours) and (ii) made the acrylic mix dark (chocolate brown) using Brown acrylic sealant and dark chocolate brown emulsion, (iii) used plastic backed drop sheets instead of canvas, and (iv) spread the mix with an old plastic VHS tape cover. I am happy with the results. It is easier than it looks and make sure to secure the sheet when you do it with clamps as it does shrink a little.
Note: Buy the acrylic sealant (sometimes called adhesive) from places like Screwfix at about £2 or less per 310ml to use in an applicator gun (silicone based sealants do not take paint well so avoid these). Use cheap paint. Allow a weekend for this project, do not apply to thick and make sure there is sufficient amount of sand to create some graininess without making it to dry when you mix it. Also vacuum clean the mat when dry to get rid of excess static grass.
Roads, Rivers, Marshland and Shoreline
To create roads, rivers, marshland and shoreline I use “Nylon Adhesive tile planks”. They are normally 3′ (90 cm) long and allows you to create continuous looking pieces for terrain. I bought mine from Wickes. I use acrylic sealant mixed with brown paint and sand that I spread all over the road (and then use a plastic fork to create a wagon trail), create banks for the river and to do the land for the shoreline piece (work on the sticky side).
I paint the edges of the road in the normal three dry brush way, as well as the banks and the shoreline land. I painted the river and the ocean in shades of blue with some white detailing and applied Gloss Mod Podge carefully on top to create some structure as well as a gloss shine to the water. I applied the same process for the marshland, but use a darker green-blue shade for the water.
Note: Be careful with these long pieces as they snap easily if you bend them too much. If you have no space to store them make smaller lengths instead.
I use Styrofoam that I cut out and shape to taste, brown acrylic mixed with sand on top and then the normal procedure. There must be thousands of tutorials on making hills out there – pick your favourite.
Mailed Fists wargames group put on a great looking participation game at JOS 2015 called “The Hungry Legions” that had some nice forest tiles that allowed the creation of pieces of forests as opposed to trees (the bases could “hide” under the trees). After some searching on the net I found something very similar here. As always I did make some changes:
(I) Instead of the Woodland scenic foliage I decide to do my own as I recalled a youtube video on making your own foam foliage that you can find here. Great stuff and cheap. I bought a budget range mixer for £10 and got a £5 bag worth of upholstery off cuts, some cheap green emulsion and mixed with some brown colour to create different colours for each little batch I made. Most blenders are designed to run for about 2 minutes continuously – any longer and they may overheat and possible stop working. Be careful and take small breaks. It needs to dry for some time so this is a slow project is terms of waiting time. It will take days for it to dry so plan for it accordingly.
(ii) I opted for removable tree trunks instead of building them into the base or the canopy. This makes it less bulky to store as well as the ability to make stumps for different scales. I did mine 30mm that will work even with the mounted based for this project. If I would use these for another scale I just need to check my tallest model that will be used and adjust the tree trunks accordingly. The tree trunks are twigs mounted on 20mm penny washers using putty pellets from poundland – I made 39 treestumps with a pack!. I also made the forest tile slightly darker than the the mat itself – i.e. more dark static grass.
I wanted bridges that could allow the 25mm square bases to sit comfortably on the top and to work with my river tiles. I could not find anything so I made some from a lolly pop stick, matches and spaghetti – “Cheap as spaghetti as they may say in Italy!”. They look alright and make a great story. The final result can be see in the picture of the river above.
I have some rectangular fields that I bought a few years back that are ok but put together on a table they look too similar and unnatural for my taste. I wanted to create some funkier looking fields and did some odd shaped nylon tiles with fields all over the place. To avoid the problem of floating bases on top of high coir mat sections (that can look a little bit overwhelming in 6mm scale) or needing to remove sections I just used different colours of short static grass. I applied a layer of browned acrylic sealant and shaped ploughed fields with a plastic fork, then let it dry and put some pva on top of the furrows (leaving a few gaps here and there) and use a different colour every day for a few days (to allow the pva glue to dry between grass applications) and you end up with some funky looking field tiles (me thinks!). Then I add some borders (brown acrylic) and brushed them up with the three colours and decorated with some static grass and tufts. Does it for me.
None of these projects are difficult if you plan carefully and take your time. Next time I will discuss the “terrain items” I did not do from scratch and where I got them from – the villages and viking ships. Bye.
I have been painting 6mm miniatures for some time and I have to admit I found it difficult at first due to (i) not having painted any miniatures for a long time and (ii) I wanted to paint more detail than I needed. I stumbled across 6mm miniatures searching for a book on the Great Northern War that Peter Berry, of Baccus, was selling at the time. I ended up buying a lot of GNW miniatures and my first attempts at painting them were dreadful. I still have one of those bases somewhere. With some experimentation (and a lot of inspiration from Dr Mike and his 6mm painting clinics and postings on the old Baccus forum) I did not give up as I felt that the scale is second to none for large mass battles and this is what I wanted to do for the GNW era.
Generally my objective is to do a big battle or a project every year and normally need to produce a large amount of miniatures to achieve this. I have been able to achieve this for the last five years due to signing up to the JOS event – it puts the right level of pressure and my half-finished projects of old justifies this approach. Here is my step-by-step approach to painting them:
Preparing to Paint
After having painted almost 2000 shields for my current Saga project I have to admit that there are days when the destination does not seem to outweigh the journey. On these days I find that listening to music and perhaps even better a podcast helps me along. I have especially enjoyed the following relevant podcasts in no particular order – Meeples and Miniatures (and View from the Veranda), Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Ancient Warfare Magazine, Nova Squadron Radio and In the Garage. But there is so much more good stuff out there.
Check if the miniatures are ok. Normally I paint Baccus figures that does not require any further work (i.e. filing) apart from perhaps a little bit filing on some of the older casts under the base to ensure the model stands straight when you base it later. I then mount them on ice lolly sticks with Blu Tack. I do not glue as I can reuse the Blu Tack and this gives me the ability to do stage 2 immediately. I should say something about soapy water. I tend not to wash my 6mm miniatures and do minimal prep of them – I do not feel the need. But other people say you need to – so perhaps you should listen to them.
Spray your miniatures with a grey base coat – I buy grey spray cans (Primer) from poundland (for this purpose they are brilliant!). Let it dry, ideally for 24 hours. Do it outside! You could do white or black. I used to do black but prefer grey with black ink to better see details and with my sloppy approach white does not work.
Apply a black wash (diluted ink – enough to highlight the details in the figure). This helps with the painting as it allows the detail to be seen more easily. It also creates a shading in the deeper areas. Let it dry, again ideally for 24 hours. I use a mixture of equal parts of water and pledge multisurface wax (with klear) that I drip some black artist ink into, but you may opt for a dark pre-mix wash from one of the paint producers.
Note: When doing a project try to get this done for as many miniatures as possible as you need to wait for (literary) paint to dry. Make sure you are always a few painting sessions ahead with the prep.
Painting and Shading
Block paint the miniature with a decent brush – I used to buy good quality brushes but messed up a few too many so now I buy some detailed nylon brushes from the Works – I get 24 brushes for £10 and occasionally they have even better deals. They are not brilliant and wear out, but I can paint a fair few miniatures before they give up. If you can manage your brushes better than me then go for quality. I use acrylic Vallejo paints as I like them – you will not use a lot of paint in a session. Keep the lid tight and shake them well before use – I have some that are over 10 years old!. Try to get the paint to hit the right parts of the miniature. Do not over apply the paint – less is more. Let some of the grey and black show, but not too much. I do not have time to spend much quality time with each figure so that is it. Sometimes I do some more elaborate painting on some key units. However the next stage will do the trick.
Note: I tend to paint large batches at the same time. For the Saga Project I have painted one full faction at the same time. I very often started with the shields did a few in a colour then another and so on, next ringmail and clothes, then face etc. Construction line approach!
Make sure the miniatures are dry and then go for Nutbrown ink! (can be bought from almost any art shop, Winsor & Newton drawing ink) dip in your brush and let it flow…. This is magic! Be generous. Move your brush over some tissue paper and dip it at areas where too much of the ink have stayed, e.g. around the shield boss. Try it out on a few miniatures first and learn how to get it to work for you. Let it dry.
Paint the bottom of the strip in chocolate brown. . Do not use Vallejo paint for this as it far too expensive and unnecessary for this purpose – buy a cheap acrylic hobby paint or even a tester paint pot. Let it dry.
Basing your miniatures
Cut the strip of miniatures if required, normally cavalry and skirmishers.
Put a mixture of 25% paint (same brown as before), 25% water and 50% PVA glue (bought in bulk from Screwfix or cheap from Poundland) on the base.
Put the miniatures on the base
Sprinkle sand on top – I use chocolate brown sand that used to be available from hobbycraft – not any more. And let them dry safely. Be careful when you handle the base so the minatures do not fall of.
Paint the sand chocolate brown watered down a bit so it flows nicely (unless you used coloured sand). At this stage I also apply more glue and sand if I can see the base of the miniature too clearly. I hate seeing the small squarish bases through the sand.
Drybrush the ground – I use three colours – first one goes on the whole base the second and third goes on “randomly” on the base – covering less and drybrushing lighter. I have used this combo for the last few years on all my (non-winter) bases. I also use the same scheme for my terrain. Make sure it is dry before next step.
Apply random dots of watered down pva glue (50/50) and apply static grass Grass (I use Busch Spring Meadow and Marsh Green, with an emphasis of Spring Meadow with a little bit of Marsh Green). Shake off.
When it is all dry I use the vaccum cleaner whilst holding each model firmly to get rid of any excess grass and glue a strip of adhesive magnetic tape on the bottom. Again I get this from poundland. Job done.
Note: Develop and approach and stick to it with regards to basing. Next week I will discuss terrain and it is nice when the base on a miniature blends into your table – it helps with the immersion aspect – that for a moment or two it looks like an army marching or attacking on your table.
By the way I did use those farmers, carts and mules for something as I needed a few bases for the Saga Escort! scenario! I hope you like them.
Note 1: It probably makes more sense if you read Saga in 6mm – Part 1 before your read this.
Note 2: All miniatures are from Baccus miniatures, unless indicated otherwise, and the codes relates to their catalogue.
Breton, Norse-Gael and Franks
I spent last week enjoying some relaxed time with friends and family and forgot to update the blog yesterday (Sorry!). The closest I came to something related with the Saga project was in drinking some Hippocras. We tried “La Licorne (the Unicorn)” that is handmade in Normandy and is composed of rare spices and light wine made in medieval tradition from the 13th and 14th century. The spices works as a conservative so no chemicals are added to the drink. It is sweet but yet intense and strong in flavours. The main spices, of the 15 used, are mace (the lacy layer around the nutmeg), cinnamon, galanga root and maniquette seeds. We spent the evening guessing the other 11. Splendid stuff! Now over to the last 3 factions.
EMN03 – Norman unarmoured cavalry
EMN01 – Norman armoured cavalry, charging
ALR04 – Lanciarii
For the Hearthguard and Warlord I used EMN01, however in doing it again I would have used the EMN03 code for all mounted units – to represent the more Javelin oriented Breton cavalry. I did however use the EMN03 code for the mounted warrior unit. For the levies I (again) used the late roman lanciariis. Try out the Breton metal band Herzel and their “Nominoë” for some inspiration (Check out the link below).
EMV03 – Armoured Axemen
EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen
EMV02 – Unarmoured Spearmen
ALR04 – Lanciarii
EMV05 – Viking Luminaries and Loonies
EMN06 – Norman Leaders
For these domesticated Vikings I used armoured Viking spearmen (EMV01) for one of the hearthguard units as well as the warlord unit (fronted with miniatures from the Viking and Norman leader packs – leftovers). For the second hearthguard unit I used the Viking axemen (EMV03), this code was also used for one of the warrior units but I did not paint them with armour. The final warrior unit used the unarmoured Viking spearmen (EMV01) fronted by the good old lanciarii (ALR04) as these are Javelin armoured warriors. Did I mention Amon Amarth before? Try their “Death in Fire” for inspiration.
EMN04 – Norman armoured infantry
EMN01 – Norman Armoured Cavalry, charging
EMN07 – Norman Crossbowmen
I have chosen to depict the Capetian Franks that more or less looks like a Norman warband. For the Warlord and the hearthguards I used the Norman charging cavalry (EMN01). As one warrior unit can be armed with Crossbow I did those with the Norman Crossbowmen (EMN07) and the other warrior unit using the Norman armoured infantry (EMN01). Listen to the multi-talented Christopher Lee’s Charlmagne album as inspiration (his last metal album).