Saturday, December 29, 2012

Building a Better City from the Ground Up Part 2

In the last article I talked about how I've wanted to take the Cities of Death experience and make it feel more like you're battling in an actual city rather than a haphazard maze of buildings and detritus. I started off the project by discussing the movement trays that I built to contain my buildings. Today I'm working on painting some of those movement trays so lets take a look. Now I will note that this is all probably much easier with an airbrush but since my first attempt airbrushing something a few years ago was a complete failure, I haven't touched it since. Instead, I do layers of over brushing and dry brushing combined with washes to create the look of my sidewalks. Here's a quick overview:
To start I painted the entire base with black paint. I did this by hand because spray paint would melt my exposed foamcore sides.
Next I over brushed dark grey. I used Americana brand Graphite colored craft paint. Essentially its Abaddon Black mixed with a lighter grey.
 Next I dry brushed Apple Barrel brand Blue Stoneware over that. Think something along the lines of The Fang - a dark blue/grey.
Then I dry brushed again with Apple Barrel brand Country Grey. This is more of a black based grey akin to Dawnstone or Administratum Grey.
This next layer was a mix of a bunch of colors to approximate Bleached Bone/Ushabti Bone.
To help pick out the sidewalk blocks and add a level of realism I washed Gryphonne Sepia into the cracks though any brown wash would do.
To strengthen that definition and add more detail to the gravel patches I then washed the cracks and gravel with Badab Black/Nuln Oil.It should be noted that the dark grey dome will get hit with some sort of metallic and highlighted but this movement tray is essentially done. 
This is the layout of this particular tournament board. As you can see there are an assortment of different sized trays in various states of completion. Essentially there are two that need the full treatment starting with over brushing/dry brushing, and the rest just need various levels of detailing.
Here's a close-up of a major intersection. The two lane highway has Imperial Eagle decals for added effect, and the narrower street actually has little red arrow decals to show the direction of traffic. The crosswalks and lane dividers are not actually painted on either. They are strips of card stock I glued down because I didn't feel like messing with stenciling them on. To blend it all together various greys were stippled over the lines and decals.
You'll notice in these pictures shading in the gutters. I washed Badab Black along the gutters and added some random staining in the streets. As I work along other splashes of black, brown, and green wash will be added to represent various types of street filth. 
What do you think so far? Does it feel more like a cityscape?

In part 3 I'll talk about detailing the buildings and stretching the value of your Cities of Death buildings. Thanks for reading. -Nick

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reblog: Building a Better City From the Ground Up Part 1

In May of 2009 I composed this blog post and took the below photos. It was supposed to be Part 1 of a series of articles on getting the most out of Cities of Death terrain and attempting to truly capture the "city feel" that I think most city boards lack. Not surprisingly because I work so slowly, I never composed a Part 2 to this article. I've still be working on this concept off and on for 3 years now and as I prepare the 4 Cities of Death boards needed for the 40K Warzone Tournament at Adepticon, I figured I'd resurrect this post rather than rewrite it all over again, starting with the original intro.

The spectacle of the game is one of the most important things to me. As such, city fighting has fantastic opportunities for stunning visuals. One of the principle visual hang ups I have with most city boards is that they don't take into account city blocks and roads. Instead, the board is a haphazard collection of buildings randomly spaced about creating a maze of totally irregular fire lanes. These boards are very suitable for game play but they just don't convey the same feel I get from walking the streets of Chicago.

When I am out and about I think about terrain a lot. I look at the architecture around me and I pick out details that can be translated into the game board. After much analysis I decided that my randomly sized city buildings, however nice, were no longer suitable as they were. I needed to create city blocks. The solution I came up with was movement trays for my buildings. Though I'm actually a lot further along in the process of making these city blocks, I have only really spent the last couple of days detailing out the city block movement trays themselves so I took some step by step photos.
The above picture shows a piece of 1/8" masonite or hardboard cut to 24"x12". My city blocks currently are in 24"x12" and 12"x12" sections to start. To frame in the movement try I have applied strips of 1" wide foam core. You will also notice the 1"x1" gap in this photo. That space was left so that I can later create 1"x1" bases for sign posts, street lamps, statues, and the like.
The next picture is a close up of the sidewalk tiling. I cut 1"x1" squares out of card stock and glued them down. Sidewalks are rarely perfect so every so often I cut the 1" square into 2-3 pieces and glued them down to create cracks in the sidewalk.
This corner is heavily damaged. I actually am running low on foam core so I used some scraps that were not perfect. In beat up older neighborhoods like mine, cement this busted up happens occasionally. In the grim darkness of the 41st millennium where there is only war, I'm sure its the norm. You might notice I threw in some sprue offcuts under the sand.
Another broken section of sidewalk - again with sprue offcuts. Notice how I didn't let the sand extend onto the bare masonite in the center as that would prevent the buildings from sitting flat.
Its the little details that bring a piece of scenery to life. This random piece of plastic I beam that was laying on the table was promptly glued down onto the sidewalk when I saw it sitting there. After it sat for a moment I went back, added a bit more watered down white glue and sprinkled some sand around it.
In one of my terrain boxes I have an old Soy Yogurt cut labeled "dome things". This random plastic "dome" was glued down to represent some sort of waste water access. Again, just a sparse sprinkle of sand was added around it.
Here is a photo of the movement try with it filled with buildings. The fit was a little snug so the two large Chicago style "3 flats" a leaning out. I need to trim the ruined building at the end like 1/16" to take that pressure off. You will notice a couple of rings. Those are man holes. I have another Soy Yogurt cup labeled "ring things" and these metal rings were glued down and then card stock circles were glued into the center of each as covers.Here's the same block shot from the left. The large ruin was a building made before I standardized the bases for the movement trays so I literally glued the hardboard base onto a properly sized pink foam base and added sidewalk tiling to make it seem like the it was actually deliberate.
I don't want to get into the manufacture of the specific buildings in this first part of the article but I wanted to show how each of the building sections is on a semi-standardized base that is then dropped onto the movement tray, allowing for different looking city blocks to be set up each time.In my Chicago neighborhood there are vacant lots interspersed between buildings on most blocks. Some of them are makeshift parks or community gardens and others are just overgrown detritus collectors. Sometimes they are fenced in, sometimes there are walls, and other times they are wide open. This represents what was likely once one of the nicer vacant lots on the block - probably a community garden or tiny park.When placed together you can see how the movement tray creates a more genuine looking city block.

Okay, so that's pretty much it from the original article. Part 2 will continue onward with the "From the Ground Up" and focus more on the movement trays themselves as they are base coated, painted, and laid out on the board along with thoughts on the streets themselves.
Thanks for reading. xNickBaranx

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Overwhelmed by Projects: Adepticon and Wreck-Age

I've been really quiet lately but it hasn't been because I haven't been hobby-ing it up. I actually have been so buried in projects that finding time to blog about it all has been difficult.

Here's a quick run down of what's going on...

Base coating building movement trays for the city buildings. The borders are strips that are separated into 1"x1" sidewalk blocks.
Most of my time lately has been spent on preparing for Adepticon - specifically the 40K Warzone Tournament. I had started work fleshing out the rules and gathering the stratagems I wanted to use as far back as July, but then I needed something functional submitted to Mr. Matt Weeks for them to post up. I'm pleased with myself because the event I ran last year I was still working everything out up right up until Adepticon weekend. This year I had the main body of work submitted before most everyone else. You can see the complete tournament rules and a sample scenario here:

40K Warzone Tournament Rules

By the end of January I'd like to have the complete scenarios up as well as the special rules for each table. The 40K Warzone Tournament is largely about battling under unique and interesting conditions that you don't encounter in a standard game. I want people to be able to show up and have a fun time and not be blindsided by a bunch of special rules or random charts they weren't prepared for so I want everything available to the players in advance.

In addition to all of the nuts and bolts aspects of the event I am attempting to provide all of the tables and scenery for the event. Luckily I have a foundation built up between my personal tables and the tables I started making for last year's event so I should be in good shape - I hope.

Once all of that essential stuff is out of the way, then I can start working on my Orks and Tomb Kings for the two events I'm signed up to play in - 40K Combat Patrol and Warhammer Fantasy It's How You Use It.


Long time readers will know that I've painted a few Wreck-Age models. The guys at Hyacinth Games live 4 blocks away from me and I've known them for years. Crunch time is upon them to crank out their debut edition of the game so they've been coming over weekly to do some play testing of scenarios and to discuss mechanics and the like. I've really been enjoying myself. I've always been a rule tinker and I'm excited to lend my input and time to help them get their game off the ground. Here's some game shots from this week (Note: This is my scenery but not my models.):
Staker Outrider scanning the darkness for my Drifter scum during a Night Raid mission.
One of my Bacon Bombs barrels passed his Staker Guard and assail the Staker Outpost, only to meander about in blind boar rage because the Drifter Handler was gunned down before he could press the detonator. 
Expect a lot more info and photos as the countdown to Adepticon progresses - that is if I can find the time to blog between projects.


PS. If you missed it check out my guest editorial on BoLS that ran last Friday December 7th. Some Tournament Organizers and players want the tournament circuit to play under strict adherence to the "Eternal War" portion of the 40K rule book and others want to completely strip out the randomness that is somewhat common place in 6th Edition. People refer to these camps of thought as "True 6th Edition" and "40K 5.1". I think both camps are engaging in some half baked zealotry. I've always liked tournaments for new scenarios, awesome tables, beautiful armies, and unique experiences so trying to get everyone to support one camp or the other just seems wrong, so I spoke up about it. Enjoy!

The Search for "True 6th Edition"