Thursday, August 25, 2016

Medieval Fantasy Terrain - Simple painting tutorial

Hello Everyone! Once again, it has been far too long since I updated you all on what is going on at the store. I am going to try to change that and post more regularly. I get asked quite frequently how I put so much detail into our miniatures terrain. So, I thought this would be a good place to show you all a few, fairly simple techniques to build or paint terrain pieces and really add to your miniatures gaming experience. Whether you are playing Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Historics or something else entirely, terrain really helps players feel immersed in the game. This is some terrain I painted from Tabletop World, which I really love, and it works perfectly for my favorite miniatures game, Malifaux.
I will walk you through my process on these pieces from start to finish (or mostly finished). I begin by priming them, nothing too exciting to see, but I do want you to notice there is a lot of detail to these models. They are more expensive than I normally like to spend on terrain, but I believe they are well worth the cost for a number of reasons. First of all, they are solid pieces made of resin, so there was very little building to do aside from gluing all the levels together. Most people will not do this as the insides are also finely detailed and you can then play inside them as well. I decided that in order to minimize accidents and breaking, from being manhandled at the store, to glue everything together for even more solid pieces. There were almost no mold lines or air bubbles in these pieces and I was pretty stunned to be honest. Most times I end up having to Green Stuff the air bubbles but these were ready as soon as I washed them in some warm soapy water to get rid of the mold release. 

Next I base coated them which is really straight forward: pick your color, paint it on with a brush you like. If you wanted to stop here, you probably could and you would have some pretty decent buildings, but in order to make them seem realistic and have a lot more depth, you will want to ink wash them. I used The Army Painter Quickshade Strong Tone. On the right (below) you can see that the stones have a lot more details than the ones on the left which feel a little flat and lackluster. I had never used the Quickshade in a can before and didn't realize that it is a varnish so it leaves a very shiny finish even when fully dried. That's OK! Although unexpected it is not a real issue, our next step will still work out just fine. TIP: Use an old paintbrush that you don't really care about for this because even after cleaning, it will never be the same after using varnish. 
There are many, many brands of paint and ink washes that you can use. I just happened to use The Army Painter for this project but I have also used Citadel, Vallejo, and the bottled Army Painter Quickshades (which are not varnish and I  like a little better than their canned product). 
Anyway, inks are very thin are made to kind of flow into the crevices of your model and darken the recessed areas. So you saturate your brush and paint it on similarly to the way you basecoat a model. You can see the areas between the stones and even on the surface of the stone itself have darker spots where the ink settled in. Then you want to dry off your paintbrush and use it to absorb the excess ink from the surface before it dries, without removing it all. If you wait too long you will get rings where the edges started to dry, so work fairly quickly and in small sections. Make sure you don't remove all the ink from inside the crevices you want to darken, or your whole model will have a dingy look, but the deep recesses won't be darker than the rest, which is the effect we are going for.  I did one side of each building at a time. After I finished the second side, I would go back and double check that the first side wasn't pooling at the bottom. Carry on this method until the building is inked then let it fully dry. I suggest at least a couple of hours, but I usually let them dry overnight just to be sure. 

Absolutely, do not even think about attempting the next step until you are certain the models are completely dry...because next, we are going to drybrush! People also commonly refer to this as highlighting, but keep in mind there are many, many techniques for highlighting, and not all of them involve drybrushing. I like this method because it is a more simple approach, but I may show a few more advanced techniques in a later post. In the next photo you can see what a difference drybrushing makes! 

Both these buildings were painted using the same exact colors on wood and stone. Then I used a shade lighter when I drybrushed to really accentuate the raised portions of each texture. It takes a few tries to get the hang of it because drybrushing is a little counter intuitive. What you are going to do is take a wide flat-ish brush, put a little bit of paint on just the edge, don't load it up too much, and then you will take a paper towel, or your pallet, or something else you don't mind getting paint on, and use that to dry off your brush. Yep, wipe off all the paint you just dabbed your brush into. You will be tempted to leave some on because, how can you possibly paint something without any paint, right!?! That is why this technique is called dry brushing! So, you wipe off all your paint but some of the pigment will remain on your brush. Now you will want to do this next step fairly quickly before it all completely dries and the pigment remains stuck to your brush bristles. Wipe your brush back and forth AGAINST the "grain" of whatever you are trying to highlight. In this case the wood is a very good example because there is actually grain. The wood grain has a vertical pattern, the crevices run up and down, so I want to move my brush in a left to right motion so the bristles only hit the tops of the texture. If you do it the same direction as the grain, your bristles will go into the deeper parts that you want to remain dark, and you will just be repainting your wood a different color.

For the stone there is no real pattern so I just lightly brushed back and for and in a few different angles being gentle enough that I didn't press the bristles into the recesses. After that you can touch up any spots that need it, do your final touches and you are ready to seal the model. On these pieces I did the windows last because I wanted them to have a bit of a glowing effect without any wash on them...but that is a post for another day. I hope this was helpful to any of you who are just starting to paint miniatures. This easy 3 step technique can be applied in many different ways, on pretty much any type of model from a tiny 15mm historical miniature to these larger pieces of terrain. I would love to see what you are working on! Send me pictures in the comments, or find me on Facebook. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Our New and Improved Location!

Hello everyone! It has been far too long since I have written anything for you all, but in my defense we have been very VERY busy! So let me quickly fill you in on everything we have been up to during the past year.

First of all, we got our own little shop dog. This is Grumble, our little Shorkie (Shih Tzu, Yorkie mix). We got him when he was only 8 weeks old and he loves being our full time greeter.

 Shortly after adopting Grumble we decided we needed to move to a bigger location. Not only for his sake, but also because we were pretty cramped in our first store. We decided that when we moved we needed to become a little more family friendly and have a very inviting atmosphere. Basically, we wanted to create a place were every man, woman and child would feel comfortable and welcome. That is when we knew we needed to close Fire For Effect Games and lose the military name.  Here we are packing up the old store. It is surprising how much stuff you can fit in 900 square feet. Good thing we had some help.

In the meantime, before we actually moved we had been working hard to, first, find a location and get it ready. We spent several months searching and finally found our perfect location. This beauty is about 4,400 square feet and obviously much, much larger than the old store.  

The carpet was in very bad shape and definitely needed to be replaced, so we set off ripping out all the old carpeting which of course was stuck on using super strength glue from the 70's. Meaning, it was going to take a lot more than just muscle power to get rid of it. We called in some friends who brought lots of glue remover and set to work. 
You can see we had our work cut out for us. Teddy and our friends worked for weeks on this project and discovered that underneath all that nasty old glue was actually a beautiful tile floor that, as far as we can tell, is original to the building. After learning that, there was no way we could re-carpet the floors so we did our best to save all the tiling. You will see in some later pictures that there are some places that were filled in after tiles were damaged, but we think they add character, and we have a plan for "prettying them up" in the future. But first, we needed to just be able to move in. So, back to work!!

Things got a little messy as the projects piled up....We had all our tables custom built and then poured epoxy tabletops over different designs for a unique and stylish finish. I think this was Teddy's favorite project because he absolutely despised those white folding banquet tables we had been using for 2 years. 

While those were in progress we also built a platform where our point of sale and workspaces would be centered. The idea was to bring a little height to our display cases by getting them off the floor, and also to provide an area to run the electricity without destroying the tile floor we had just worked so hard to save. 

Here we have 30 pounds of dice we used for two of our eight foot tabletops. They turned out to be my favorite tables out of the 7 we have made so far, but boy were they a giant pain in the butt! They were by far the hardest tables to create, for many reasons I will bore you with another time...

This building used to be a Post office and a Pharmacy, then the post office was relocated and the pharmacy had the entire space. Remember the open spaces that were once on this back wall? Those were the pharmacy counter windows. We needed more wall space so those got filled in and we hung slatwall for our retail products. 
 All our projects started coming together, the walls were painted, the table bases were coming along, our display cases were ordered and in a matter of just a few days they were built and put in place.

Even Grumble helped!

It took months, but finally we were ready to move in! We put up shelves and once again called on our wonderful friends to help us.


We of course had to take a few breaks to play games! 

 One of the most important things we added in our new location was a Children's section. One of our main goals was to become more family friendly. Here it looks very bare, but I was proud to finally be able to start setting it up. The whole family got involved and helped set up our train table.

We had our grand opening of Adventure Games & Hobby in September of 2014. Since then we have kept improving and building upon the ideas that started us in this direction. We have many projects planned out for the next few years, and I will try to keep you better informed as they come along. But here is what we have done so far: 

Custom tabletops at bar height for comfort during long tournaments. 

Hobby tables with added lighting for painting or building models.

Children's section fully stocked with UglyDolls, Melissa & Doug, and Gund toys. 

Custom built miniatures tables with lots of new terrain being added all the time. 

Point of Sale area with a large selection of card games and accessories. This is also our snack area, which is much more full now than the few items shown here. 

 Lots of glass cases to show off our constantly growing Magic singles selection which are all cataloged in an electronic database for convenient browsing. 
And finally our large selection of Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures, Collectables, Role Playing Games and all the nerdy things that we love! 

Oh yeah! I almost forgot, we did all this while also planning our wedding! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lady Justice and her Crew

Anyone who has been to the store for any length of time in the past month knows I have been obsessing over the game Malifaux! It's kinda ridiculous...

Anyway, I have been working on painting up these minis for a couple of days now and I am just too proud of them not to post photos. 

This is Lady Justice (center) The Judge (right) and the 3 Death Marshals 

I had a lot of fun painting these models! I have only painted a couple of miniatures before these so I am sure I will learn more advanced techniques in the future, but overall I am very happy with how these turned out and I can't wait to get them on the table and kick some zombie ass! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Adding Flock to Terrain

Well it has been awhile since I've been able to post anything new, but I have been busy working on projects. Today I thought I would show you a really easy way to spice up some terrain. 
This is one of my favorite ways to finish up a piece I have been working on, and it give it an overall completed look after everything has been painted but just needs that little extra. I got these done in a couple of hours. 

Battlefield in a box has some great ready to use, pre-painted terrain. We have had two "Autumn Wood" sets of trees on our game tables for awhile but the bases were plain black. The box comes with a small packet of flock, but I needed a LOT more to get the effect I wanted
For this project I used Gale Force 9's Autumn Flock Blend (which matched the flock included perfectly), and Secret Weapon's Fallen Leaves.

I started with the plain black base from the Battlefield in a Box set and used a paintbrush to spread some Citadel P.V.A. Glue which is really thick and tacky, on certain areas of the base where I wanted to stick the flock. Any random pattern will do, I wanted mine to look very curvy and natural. 

After I had the glue where I like it, I sprinkled the flock out of the container onto the base and used my fingers to spread it out. I did this in a cardboard box so I could tap off all the extra flock and easily collect it to reuse on the next wet glue spot. 

Here are all the done bases. I added some to the tree bases as well, to make it look like the leaves are falling off them. After all the flock is glued on with the first layer, it is stuck on but not very securely. You don't want to leave it like this because this first time someone moves a unit of troops through your forest half the flock will be missing. 

What you want to do is use some liquid Scenic Cement or other spray on adhesive, it looks like really watered down school glue. I put it into a small dropper bottle and dripped it onto each spot of flock with the glue. You want to get it really nice and saturated with the liquid glue so that once it dries, your flock wont be able to fluff off when people touch it. 

Here you can see the color difference where I have already put the layer of glue. By then I realized it was much easier to sprinkle the tiny leaves onto the flock spots when they were still dry. The liquid glue coats them, securing them to the flock with only half as much work. 

This is what your spots should look like after they are saturated with the glue. Don't worry about putting on too much, it will dry clear and the color will be vibrant again when everything is finished. You will want to let these dry for at least 24 hours before you play with them or you could mess up your flock, and then you will be sad...really sad. 

Just walk away and let these dry overnight, or work on another project...
I flocked a different Battlefield in a Box set today as well. This one turned out amazing and it was even easier than the first! I opened up the  "Rocky Outcrops" set and used the same technique, but only the last few steps. All I had to do for this set was put the liquid adhesive into the dropper bottle and spread it around the bases in a random pattern where you want to stick the grass, again I tried to make it look as natural as possible. Then I took the grass flock included in the box (which was the perfect amount), sprinkled it a little at a time over the wet glue and tapped off the extra. 

I left some of the base untouched because I wanted the rocky areas to show through. After everything looked the way I wanted, I did the whole saturation thing again and dripped glue over all the flock. This is how they all turned out after they dried.  

One of the things we try really hard to do is keep our terrain looking nice as well as be functional for a variety of games. These are perfect for Warhammer Fantasy and 40K, Warmachine/Hordes, Malifaux, or really any tabletop miniatures game. 

Best Birthday Present EVER!

This isn’t really a project we have been working on but it goes with my 40K Grot Army so I thought I would share it anyway. Plus, I think it’s super awesome and I can’t wait to show everybody! Teddy had a friend of ours custom make my birthday present:
This is my very own Ork Glyph, complete with a little bow and everything! I love it!   
This thing is seriously heavy too! It’s made out of a quarter inch steel and it’s probably 30 lbs. In a couple days this bad boy will be hanging on the wall in the store if you want to see it in person. 

**Originally Posted 11-1-2013