Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Imperial Terrain: First Impressions

Thanks to Dave from Imperial Terrain, I got my hands on some of their Legion inspired terrain pieces. The moisture vaporators, the tower and the small house are part of the Imperial Terrain desert range. I love the design choices. While still being fairly generic, you can easily spot the Tatooine influences on these pieces, making them great accessories for your Star Wars tables. 
Never having been involved with 3D printing myself, these are the first prints I have seen in a very long time. Nevertheless I am very impressed, even more if you have in mind these are mostly prototypes which are not necessarily up to the production standards of the final pieces.

Scalewise, Imperial Terrain is clearly addressed at the slightly larger Legion scale. It still looks great next to WotC or Imperial Assault miniatures. Unfortunately I didn't have my tiny WEG/Grenadier Vader at hand when taking the photos, but I guess his towering 25mm would most definetly look out of scale next to any of these buildings.

My personal problem with anything 3D printed are of course the printer lines. Although the Imperial Terrain sculpts are very detailed and clean, printer lines probably can't be avoided with current printers. Luckily, the material can easily be sanded down, which I most definetly will try to do on all the "machined" surfaces. I decided to test this on the moisture vaporators first. Both were sanded down and then coated in a mix of PVA glue, filler and water before being sanded down again. After that the surface was smooth enough for my tastes to go on.

Painting the vaporators was as easy as it can get. White basecoat from a can, followed by a light grey wash (just some watered down grey acrylic paint) and some weathering with red, green and ochre pigments and some Vallejo Black Shade.
I like them a lot and I'm actually thinking about getting more of them. Since they are such a common sight in the Star Wars universe they will look great on any gaming table...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Star Wars: Legion - Crates and Statues

Work on the last big piece of terrain for my Jedha-inspired mat has just begun and I finished some small bits and pieces that will be used to fill the board where necessary.

Being loosely based on Jedha, the gaming mat had to host at least one piece of terrain that somehow showed the moon's strong connection to the Force. Since I still had some of the old plastic statues from GW's Return of the King starter set for their Lord of the Rings SBG, going for some "Jedi"-statues was a no-brainer...

Next in line were some crates. Luckily, Thorin from arts-n-more sent me some of his casts. He did a great job on these. The boxes are a good example for all-purpose terrain. From an Imperial base on Endor to a smuggler's outpost on Tatooine there are hardly any surroundings they will look out of place in.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Star Wars: Legion - Imperial Style Shed

When thinking about sites of Star Wars ground battles, the Battle of Hoth is definitely the first thing that comes to my mind but the infiltration of the Death Star shield generator on Endor is a close second. Wnhile looking for inspiration for Legion terrain I realized that a lot of the battles to come might take place in or around Imperial facilities and I immediately started looking for easy to copy structures that would sufficiently indicate an Imperial presence on my wargaming table.
One of the first things I came across was the Tarkin Town sheds seen on Rebels. I love the simple yet very characteristic design of these little boxes and I can easily imagine them not only as the prefab slum sheds they're inteded for but next to a larger Imperial bunker as barracks or storage units as well.

Ghostofman from the FFG forums saved me a lot of time with his brilliant papercraft model of this building. If you're looking for atmospheric Legion terrain and don't have the time for complex builds, this is the way to go. For my own build I heavily relied on his model as well but just used it as a blueprint. I rebuilt the whole model from a thick sheet of cardboard and further detailed it by adding all the imprinted panels as physical detail.

Of course the whole build takes significantly longer than using the ready-to-play papercraft model since the whole thing needs to be painted as well. Nevertheless it's still a very low cost build and the additional attention to detail pays off in the final result.

I primed the building using GW's Mechanicus Standard Grey and highlighted the panels by adding a light feather of 50:50 Mechanicus Standard Grey and Celestra Grey. I then lightly drybrused the whole shed with pure Celestra Grey and a 50:50 mix of Celestra Grey and white. The door was painted with Bubonic Brown (Zamesi Desert) which was gradually highlighted by adding white. The rusty spots are a mix of PVA glue and red and ochre pigments which was just dabbed on with an old brush. The runny grime stains were painted by adding some thinned down Scorched Brown (Rhinox Hide) to the mix and painting them on.

And it's done. Doesn't really look like papercraft anymore, does it?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Star Wars: Legion - X-Wing Terrain Piece

Just finished a quick little project in between: A downed Cavern Angel X-Wing as seen in Rogue One. 
A picture of the downed X-Wing was one of the first little teasers I saw of this movie and it is the one that I still come to think of, whenever someone mentions the movie now (Sorry, Raddus... You're cool, but you can't compete with T-65 glory...).

The model used for this project is an Revell easykit of Luke's X-Wing. With its 218mm length it's probably a bit small for the Legion scale (ideal for WEG/Grenadier though...). It's somewhere around 1/57. Ideally we would want something around 1/48, I guess, which means this model is about 4cm short. 
Having in mind that FFG might very well use a sliding scale for its larger vehicles, I'm sure this one will look fine compared to the upcoming official releases.

I spraypainted the X-Wing with GW's Mechanicus Grey and glued it to its "base", a piece of fabric I had leftover from making my gaming mat. The crash site was roughly modelled using some pink foamboard (yet more leftovers...^^).

The whole base was covered in the same mix of paint, sand and acrylic sealant/chaulk used for the gaming mat. You don't have to worry if you get this stuff on the model itself. It's a crash site after all... I then painted the model itself in the Cavern Angels' very basic colour scheme but made sure the model got its fair share of weathering when I drybrushed the rocks and the sand.
And it's done.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Star Wars Legion: Simple Buildings

Having roamed the FFG forums, I found several posts of people without any wargaming experience noting that they felt intimidated by the thought of having to build terrain before being able to play the game. Of course terrain is more or less optional and you could always use cardboard markers or all kinds of stand-ins to simulate your battlefield but building your own terrain doesn't have to be difficult.

While shopping with my wife, I found some cardboard gift boxes andstyrofoam balls at a local dollar store/pound shop and immediately thought they might work as the base structure of simple Star Wars buildings.

I simply used the gift box as a frame, cut one of the styrofoam balls in two and glued it on as a dome. Then I added some styrofoam buttresses to the sides to make the whole thing look less like a box and added a door cut from cardboard. Done...

Just as the rock pillars I built earlier, the whole building (except the door) was coated in a thick layer of paint, wood glue and sand.

After the basecoat was dry I just drybrushed the whole building with a mix of white paint added to my base sandcolour and weathered it quite heavily with a buch of red and green pigments. To give it some Jedhaesk look I added two coloured stripes to the building which should make it look a bit closer to the buildings seen in Rogue One. Apart from that the whole building is pretty standard and could easily be found on Tatooine or any other desert planet.

Since I felt the whole thing still looked a bit too plain, I added some details. As a fan of the artwork in Pablo Hidalgo's book "Propaganda", some of these were a must...

The backside of the building got some piping, cut from the sprues of a Revell model kit and a spare DUM-series pit droid from an old Action Fleet toy which is perfectly in scale with Legion.

Monday, August 28, 2017

First Star Wars Terrain: McQuarrie Style Rocks

With a burning urge to get some Star Wars terrain done but just a handful of pieces of foam board left, I decided to keep it simple and start with the basics of any wargaming table: rocks.

Although rocks are pretty generic and can be used in any other tabletop game as well, I felt the need to embed them into the Star Wars universe in some form. After seeing rowdyoctopus's pics of the demo tables at Gencon I knew exactly what to do. If there's something like a "typical Star Wars rock concept", it's Ralph McQuarrie's original Dantooine concept art that was later used for EU Alderaan lore and the design of Lothal in Star Wars Rebels.

´Time to get started: I stacked a couple of pieces of foam board and stuck them together using wood glue and wooden barbecue skewers. After letting them dry I used a box knife to work out the basic shape. Sandpaper was used later in the process to smoothen rough areas. You don't have to worry too much about the surface of your rocks at this point, since you're going to sandcoat them later on anyways.

For giving them a sandstone look and feel, I coated the entire rock with a mix of wood glue, acrylic colour (just some dark sandtone), bird sand and some leftover acrylic sealant which I still had from creating the gaming mat (This one is highly optional...)

For detailing, I mixed the base colour with a variety of yellow, red and brown pigments. Even if it's "just a rock" it should never been just grey but have a variety of earth tones in it. The original McQuarrie/Lothal concept uses green to give the surface some depth. Since I'm going for a Jedha-inspired desert terrain, I stuck with the colours I already used for the mat.

After that, it's just some final drybrush with your basecolour + a little white and you're done: Some basic rocks that should have some Star Wars feel to them.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

How to Store a Gaming Mat

Many people asked if the mat would crack if rolled up. Well, although it's perfectly possible that this will happen at one point in time, I don't see it happening soon. The acrylic sealant makes the mat extremely flexible and bonds the paint and sand nicely to the cloth.

The mat's first field test was pretty successful. I left it on the back porch for a whole day. The dog and the kid walked over it constantly and I even folded and bent it on purpose several times. So far I can't see any real tear. A proper gaming table would probably be wrecked right now...

For storage I use rubber foam pipe isolation. It's quite cheap, lightweight and supports the mat nicely when stored so we won't get any visible folds on the battlefield.