Monday, July 11, 2016

Visions of Confluence: The Pokey Bits

Most games have rules of one kind or another to cover hazardous terrain, that type of terrain that impedes movement and/or causes damage. For me, this has typically been the more difficult to create, as there are only so many options out there. Pools of Lava or some other caustic substance, holes or crevices, or barbed wire fences and sharp rocks. I’ve never really like examples I’ve seen of any of these, so up until now I’ve steered away from hazardous terrain on my boards.

For the Confluence project, however, I had a chance to try something new. Cactus patches. I’ve seen these done before many ways, but I wanted to apply the same mentality to creating hazardous terrain to the way I created the rest of my terrain. For my hazardous terrain, I chose Pegasus Hobbies Cactus models. These come in 2 different sets and if you pick them both up, you will have enough for all of the patches I’ve created as well as a large surplus for other terrain pieces or bases or what have you.

While I’ve seen these cacti used straight out of the box and they do work that way, I wanted to make sure they fit the rest of the tables and looked really good. To that end, I mounted clusters of cacti on thin plasticard bases taking care to make them as random and natural looking as possible. This worked well because cacti typically grow in clusters and clumps. I went on to add some of my usual fine mix of sand and then added some small stones and a few larger ones. In addition to the bases I made for the cacti, I made several more without cacti that I would use for other ground cover such as refuse, building material or smaller plant life.

Anyway, then it was time to paint the cacti. I decided to save some time and get a nice subtle look that I’d use my brand new Patriot 105 Extreme. I just recently received the airbrush, so I needed some practice in order to dial it in and the cacti would be the perfect opportunity.

The Pegasus sets come with two varieties of cacti and I opted to keep the varieties together and to paint them differently. For the longer, thinner cacti (these are typically known as San Pedro Cactus) I opted for a deeper and more cool green color scheme. For them, I undercoated black and them basecoated with Vallejo Model Air Olive Drab. From there, I added a highlight of VMA Field Green and then did a final highlight with a 50/50 mix of Field Green and Pale Green. To make them really pop, I then airbrushed a thin wash of Secret Weapon Amethyst Wash. This settled into the depths of the cactus patches and really made them look good.

Of course the other variety of cacti I had were the more traditional prickly pears. For these, I wanted something a little brighter and more green. I started then with a basecoat of VMA Medium Green and highlighted with Field Green and then Pale Green. To add just a bit of yellow and warmth, I also added a bit of Green Zinc Chromate to a final highlight. Again, I toned them down just a bit with an Amethyst wash, though I mixed this with Ruby to keep it warmer.

Finally, I took out the brushes and basecoated the ground, first in black and then steadily highlighting up to the soil mix I’ve been using for the rest of the table.

The final product is striking and I’m really looking forward to using my Belles to lure a whole
bunch of victims to their pokey depths.

As always comment and critiques are welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

More to Come.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Visions of Confluence: Upon this Ground

When I first started to build terrain for Malifaux, I had a number of ideas for boards to create and themes to visit. Knowing I'd have to settle on one to begin with, I eventually settled on the concept of a mining/frontier town.

At the time I was living in Fort Wayne Indiana and my wife was working with the cities History Center. In the 1860s, Fort Wayne was a frontier town, so it seemed like a good way to work the community into the terrain project. Fort Wayne sits in the Northeast corner of Indiana, on the western edge of what was once known as the Great Black Swamp. The swamp was drained away and settled by towns in Ohio and Indiana and Fort Wayne was born at the meeting point of three rivers. Thus, I settled on the name Confluence for my frontier town.

When I decided what I wanted to build, I thought it would also be fun and interesting to build the town in a similar way to which towns are really built. Of course, when building game terrain, this means creating the land first.

In an older post, I talked about the process for creating my rock outcroppings, but so far I think I've only shown completed pictures of my forests. While I could go into all of the details about how I created the forest, I really couldn't explain it any better than the folks over at 3T Studios, who came up with a great tutorial on what is essentially exactly the same process I use. When I went to hyperlink the article however, it seems to have been lost, but I was able to find a copy of it at DakkaDakka.
Following the steps laid out in the 3T article, I ended up with several hills and crags. After adding some ground vegetation, they were really ready for the table top. For a moment, I even thought about just leaving them and having more of a wasteland table instead.

From the pictures, you can see that I wanted a dynamic look to the ground, so I used several different shades. For those areas that were going to be largely barren, windswept earth, I used an extremely fine sand (well, silt or dust, really) and took their highlights much higher than the rest of the rocks. As Confluence was to be more of an arid western town, didn't go very far in adding vegetation, settling on dry grass and just a little bit of scattered greens. A trip to Colorado mid-build was great for color reference.

The trees were added once every other step had been complete. To get them in place, I used a power drill to bore a hole into the hill where I wanted the tree, then simply hot glued them in place. I was even able to get my daughter involved in the process. She has become an expert "stick the tree in that hole"-er.

The nice thing about these forests is that they are usable for almost any game system. I will admit that I am a terrain builder, so the stuff I create is not always the most friendly, particularly when playing games like Warhammer. However, most people who play with the terrain don't mind sacrificing a bit of playability in return for the looks.

With the base of my terrain built and a good foundation laid for Confluence, it was time to look at the next steps...settling what would one day be the town.

More to Come,