Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A simple lake shore for Trasimene

Continuing the work for the Battle of Lake Trasimene game at Sheffield Triples next month, this weekend I tackled the lake shore. This will form one side of the battlefield and is 12 foot long (the table will be 14 to 16 foot long). I could, of course, just declare one edge of the table as the impassible lake shore - but there is no fun in that, and the casual onlooker might not grasp the predicament of the Roman army - trapped and ambushed between hills and lake. 

I decided to construct the shore from 2 foot sections of 2mm thick MDF. Each length is 8 inches wide. I painted the water first using household emulsion with a bit of artists acrylic and ink added for some subtle shading - it's a bluesy, greensy, black. I then applied some muddy bits using artists acrylic (tubed stuff) in a thick sloppy manner; once dry it was dry brushed, lighter towards the drier bank. I then applied two coats of yacht varnish to the water.

I wanted a proper bank that was higher than the water, but only slightly as I didn't want it to look like an 'embanked canal'. I used string, glued on with wood adhesive, back filled with Plasticine to give a constant height. This was sealed with a couple of layers of wood adhesive, painted and then flocked. It has the look of a lazy lake creeping up onto the gently sloping land and I'm happy with it.

This kind of terrain always looks a bit dead. It needs some vegetation to add some life. But adding vegetation to the lake pieces makes them hard to store; so I decided on applique reeds, made from the natural bristles of a sweeping brush, painted green, and glued to penny pieces to go on the mud. The rest can be dressed with existing terrain pieces.

The finished (I still have to drybrush some reed bases) and 'dressed' lake shore: That will do nicely.

I'm now planning the hill sections which will go along the other three edges. These will be made from 2" thick insulation boards. Using the baize cloth, which can be 'thrown over' them, will mean that they only need cutting to shape - the baize cloth! - there is method in my madness.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Great Scot, I think I have it!

I hung the cloth on the clothes line again today and added another four tins of spray paint to the mix. These included, three quarters of a tin of  caramel; a third of a tin of desert sand; three more tins of yellow. Each tin was 300ml.

To remind you of how I left the cloth last time, here is a photo.
Here is how it looks now - much, much better, I think.

Finally, the cloth with an off cut (even I will never need a 23 foot long cloth) to show the overall change of shade.

This job is now done. Next on the 'terrain to do list' will be the hill shapes and lake shore for The Battle of Lake Trasimene. This will be The Ilkley Lads demo game for Sheffield Triples next month. Time is pressing and running out fast; and I still have another 150 figures to paint and base.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Good God, it's still too green!

Two images of my 'snooker green' baize cloth after having sprayed it - and it's still too green! The effect I was hoping for can be seen in the middle of the first shot - a pale, mottled, green. Much of it is the colour of the second shot.

The cloth is 16' x 6' 6". I knew that I would have to use a lot of spray paints to get a good effect (it's a big space) but, quite obviously, I have underestimated the amount needed. I started with a tin of black to 'take the edge off' and darken the green. Then a tin and a half of dark brown, then half a tin of beige, then a tin of dark green, then a tin of lighter 'grass' green, then the remainder of the beige, then 3 tins of yellow. When it was hanging on the washing line (for spraying), in bright sunlight, it looked quite light in tone; when I brought into artificial light it's greenness was shocking.

I've ordered another three tins of yellow and a tin of 'caramel'. This should be enough for the finish I'm after - I hope.

My advice to anyone doing this job is to follow the steps I took (darkening the cloth first, with black, dark brown and dark green) as this has given a good depth of shade (I'm not sure that the light green was worth the effort, though the beige worked well) - but when you buy the lightening yellow tone to bring it all 'up' and bind it all together buy lots and LOTS, as you will need cans and cans of the stuff.

For those with a mind to price, the paint bill (including the extra tins) currently stands at £60.00. Not cheap, but the cloth cost me nothing - thanks, Ken.