Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Withdrawal: Diorama entry for Chicago Golden Demons

Right after Baltimore Games Day I started thinking about a diorama I could do for the Chicago Golden Demons. I mean literally right after! By the time the second beer was hitting the back of my throat I had the kernel of an idea, and by the end of the third the idea was really fleshed out.

In dioramas you typically see troops advancing, fighting off menacing hordes of traitors or aliens, and occasionally you'll see some commander (or tanker) poring over his charts. For a couple of great recent dioramas done by a member of the DakkaDakka community (Gundam-Mecha) you can look here and here. These are certainly part of the inspiration for working on a diorama like this.

Anyway, my earlier point was that only very rarely do you see the wounded being pulled off the frontlines.

Enter, "The Withdrawal of the Cadian 144th".

Obviously I will need a vehicle to evacuate my wounded Imperial Guardsmen. I'm currently working on a half-track version of the Troop Transport Truck. The suspension is based on the Semovente tank. The riveting is a bit different for this beast. In the "heavy duty" areas I'm using 1mm ball bearings glued into small holes drilled in the plating.

I will also need a location to park the half-track and get the guys loaded up. The base is 1/4" MDF, overlaid with varying thicknesses of Apoxie Sculpt from AVES Studio. This two-part putty is easy (if a bit messy) to work with, gives a smooth finish, and dries rock hard!

Pressed into the surface and standing proud above the drainage ditches is a cracked and crazy road made from the concrete rubble made by Gale Force 9. There's quite a bit more work to be done to the base.

And then come the Imperial Guardsmen of the Cadian 144th. These first two will be loading a stretcher onto the half-track.

The next two are an Autocannon team (you'll see what I mean soon), plus the Departmento Munitorium half-track gunner taking a break.

The walking wounded.

An argument over who is being evacuated. The Departmento NEVER makes mistakes!

And finally, a vox operator calling the rest of his platoon in, a standard bearer to act as a rally point, and no, that guy isn't dancing! He'll be seated in the back of the half-track, resting his bandaged leg.

All of the troops will be painted to their finished "pristine" state. And then weathered like they've just been through some rough stuff.

I hope you like it so far!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Basic Plasticard Tutorial

During the Part One of the Troop Transport Truck Tutorial I had a few people comment about cutting plasticard (or sheet styrene, as it is also know). These people were impressed by my skills and not at all confident of their own.

Hopefully this mini-tutorial will show everyone that there are really no tricks, just some straight-forward techniques that everyone can do.

The first thing to do is to make sure you have a sharp blade, a very sharp blade. The one above is an Exacto #11. I always have a bunch on hand (from a box of 100 I bought a couple of years ago) as the sharp tip can snap off easily if you push too hard or twist the blade as you are cutting.

Two other tools that are important are the steel ruler (I'm a big fan of those with millimeter increments) and a "self-healing" cutting mat. The one above is from the Gale Force 9 range). The first tool helps you cut straight lines and reduces the number of times you will cut yourself. The second tool helps prevent you cutting your work surface. You don't want to slice up your dining room table do you?

This is where I need a third hand. When cutting plasticard, never try to cut all the way through. Instead, pull the blade along the edge of the ruler to create a shallow cut known as a "score". Score the plasticard two or three times, but don't cut all the way through. It is important at this stage to have your hand on the ruler, firmly keeping it in place. Obviously I couldn't and take the picture too ; )

The next step is to snap the plasticard along the score line. Depending on how many times you've scored the card and the card thickness, this might be very easy or quite tough. If you think card is bending more than preparing to snap, then score the card a few more times.

You might notice at this stage that there's a little lip on both pieces along the score line. This is where the plasticard has been "pushed aside" by the blade. If you don't take care of this, the item you are assembling might not fit together smoothly and that lip can interfere with the structural integrity.

I usually get rid if this lip with a quick scrape of my knife. In the shot above the plane of the knife is at about 60 degrees to the edge of the plasticard piece. The sharp edge is angled away from the direction of the scrape. Done correctly you'll get a little bit of plasticard scraping off and curling up like in the shot below.

The idea here is to remove the obtrusive lip. You can, however, keep scraping to add an angle to the edge of the card. I used this technique to prepare the plates for the fenders on the Truck.

So there you have, a few simple steps to take each time you're cutting pieces of plasticard project. Regardless of the size and scale of the model you're building or converting, this simple process will get you through 95% of the pieces you need to make.

I hope this has been helpful, particularly for those who haven't done much plasticard work.


DON'T FORGET: Only two more days until the Stalk Tank Competition closes. Get cracking on your entries!

Friday, June 26, 2009

More Pimpin' - because, contrary to popular belief, it is easy

As the title suggests, I'm at it again.

It's actually quite easy, in a blog like this, to throw out a few little nuggets of information about the things that friends are doing that might be of interest to you, the faithful reader. AKA pimpin' their stuff/activities/services.

Today I'm promoting Jeff Wilhelm's blog and counter competition, and therefore (somewhat indirectly) his business, Dragon Forge Design. As longtime readers will know, Jeff does some nice work and I've used a bunch of his products in my Blood Pact army thus far (more to come, I promise).

Anyway, head to his blog and get in on the action!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

BoLScon 2009!

Hi guys!

I'm going to do a bit of pimping this evening. 

bigred and the cast and crew of Bell of Lost Souls (at least the ones in Austin, TX) are taking the views and values they've been espousing on their blog for the last few years and putting them into the most obvious practice they can. They are running a convention! Following their efforts at Adepticon earlier this year, I'm sure a nefarious plan was hatched on the journey home from Chicago.

BoLScon 2009 will be held in Austin, TX, in August this year (just around the corner).
For more information, head to their new site: www.bolscon.com

It promises to be a quality event with a few surprises. Tell 'em I said "G'Day!"


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Troop Transport Truck Tutorial - Part Two

Ok, here we go with Part Two of the Troop Transport Truck Tutorial - the Front End and Cab.

Below you can see a pic of all the parts for the Front End and Cab. There are 31 pieces and many of the fiddly strange shapes (boooooo!).

Once all the pieces are cleaned up, the next step is to glue the guide piece to the "inside" of the grille and bumper bar structure. This piece will assist in the placement of the hood pieces later.

This is the next step, gluing the grille facade to the other side of the structure.

Then I started to glue the five hood pieces to the structure, using the handy guide as...well...a guide. The way to go here is glue one side first, then work your way around until all are glued in place.

The hood structure can now be glued in place. The top of the hood butts up against the front of the cab of the Ork trukk.

The next step is to glue the facade panels onto the front of the cab.

For some added bulk and extra detailing we've added another panel to the bumper bar, that glues on directly over the Ork trukk framework.

Another guide piece is glued in place on the side of the engine housing. Hopefully you can make out the angled piece there. This will help in the next step...

...glueing the fender pieces on. You'll also noticed that I skipped ahead to glueing on the side panels of the cab, this isn't because I wanted to cut out vital steps, but for some reason all of the shots between these two step were blurry as hell. Not sure why, but I'm sorry for the inconvenience. In addition to the side panels I've also added the rear cab panel. This is glued directly to the truck bed.

Thomas is a big fan of the guide pieces (as I've mentioned before), and I think I might be a convert too. In this picture you can see the guide piece at the back of the cab. Very helpful!

Another panel added, to form the side of the driver's cab.

And finally, the top and front of the driver's tiny cab have been added.

This brings me to the end of Part Two - The Front End and Cab. Next time around will be the Detailing (my favorite part). In a recent post somewhere I promised to show my "foolproof" methods for clean plasticard work in this post. I've taken the photos, I just need to get them posted. I'll do that in my next post, a separate Plasticard Tutorial.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Apocalypse Datasheet Competition!

Hi all!

To celebrate the number of generous folks following this blog ticking over 200 (!!!),
I'm unleashing the mighty Apocalypse Datasheet Competition!

As long time readers will remember, I built a Blood Pact Stalk Tank earlier this year. Here it is in all its mantis-like glory.

Many people have asked me along the way, "Dave, what rules are you going to use for this crazy beast?" My response has always been, "I don't really know."

Now I give you, the dedicated readers of davetaylorminiatures, the chance to create an Apocalypse Datasheet for my Stalk Tank. What should this datasheet look like/contain? I'm glad you asked.

In my mind, and based on my readings, I think the Stalk Tank fits into the 40K universe somewhere between a Chaos Dreadnought and a Brass Scorpion, kind of near a Defiler but not as heavy armed. This variant is armed with twin-linked autocannons of some sort and a flamer weapon in its head, but others have been quoted as sporting stubbers in place of the flamers and heavy las weapons in underslung pods. There have also been psyker variants reported on the battlefields of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. I speculate that there may be scout variants and heavy variants too (although Dan hasn't confirmed this just yet).

So, what do you need to do to enter the competition?

Step One: Create either one or both of the following datasheets:

Stalk Tank: an Apocalypse Datasheet for a single Stalk Tank with a variety of armament options, appropriate statline, and a few cool special rules, all with an appropriate points cost.

Stalk Tank Maniple: An Apocalypse Datasheet for a group/unit of Stalk Tanks with an appropriate special rule or rules and additional point cost.

Step Two: Submit the datasheet/s to me via my email address in my profile (bottom of the right column). Make sure the email subject line is Apocalypse Datasheet Competition. You have until midnight EST on June 30 to submit your entries

Step Three: sit back and wait while I, and a handful of Apocalypse nutters, go through the sheets to find a handful of finalists.

Step Four: wait with baited breath while I discuss the finalists with bigred (from Bell of Lost Souls).

The winner/s will not only receive the adulation of an adoring public, but bigred has kindly offered a spot in in the BoLS's next "re-print" of their Lords of Battle Apocalypse Datasheet collection! I'll also be adding in a few very cool prizes from my stash of stuff.

So, thank you all for your support over the last six months. The great response to this blog has helped me through some tough personal times, and I'm looking forward to keeping it up over the coming years!

If you have any questions (or if I've left anything out) please ask them in the comments section of this post.

Note: this is NOT a competition to win my Stalk Tank with any Apocalypse Datasheet, but one where you write a Datasheet that provides rules for the Stalk Tank. The winners will be published in the BoLS Lords of Battle download at a date in the near future, NOT receive my Stalk Tank. Sorry for any confusion that some possibly ambiguous wording may have caused.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Troop Transport Truck Tutorial - Part One

Finally, I get a chance to post Part One of the Troop Transport Truck Tutorial. Thank you for your patience. Who would've thought that having a baby around the house would take up so much time. Not that I mind, of course. If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend it!

Anyway, onto the show.

I've decided to put this tutorial together in three (possibly four) parts so that you can get as much detail out of it as you can. It's a bit of work, but for fans of the novels nothing is too good for your truck-riding Imperial Guard soldiers. This first part will cover the truck bed, the troop carrying capacity you'll be needing. I'm starting here to point out that most of the vehicular conversions I do are all a matter of assembling boxes of different shapes and sizes.

First off, here is a quick walk around of the truck, just to reacquaint you.

Here's a shot of the starting point for the truck. The humble Ork Trukk, stripped of (or not assembled with) all of the really Orky parts. These other parts can be used in other Orky vehicle conversions, or sold on to others to fund your next Ork Trukk purchase.

I've said before that my friend Thomas and I reverse engineered the first truck I made, and Thomas created the template you see below. It's a bit tough to make it all out, but there are 64 pieces on this sheet, all laser-cut from 1mm thick plasticard (or sheet styrene). We both like working in this thickness. It is easy to score and snap, yet can give great strength to a build, even with a single layer. Also, when you double up panels, it is easier to do any calculations that might be required.

At the end of the tutorial process I'll post a PDF or something that'll allow you to cut out your own pieces and make trucks of your own.

The next step was to punch out all the pieces for the truck bed. You can see them below. On either side of the bed pieces are the bench seat pieces, we'll come back to those soon.

The base and three sides of the bed are all two pieces. These pieces are glued together to ensure some solidity for the finished piece and provide a comforting heft to the model.

Here are those pieces glued together. Hopefully you can make out that some of the pieces are slightly smaller than the others they've been glued to, this is to help with the strength and integrity of the bonds we are soon to create. You'll also see two holes in the base, these will be face down in the final assembly, ready to receive the posts for the rear step.

The plate at the front has a 2mm overlap on the bottom and 1 mm overlaps on the sides. The first gluing step is to bond the front plate with the base. Don't forget to clean off any excess polystyrene glue with a quick wipe with a paper towel.

On the subject of polystyrene glue, I use Testors (not Tamiya, my mistake) Model Masters glue. It comes with a very handy metal "dispensing tube" that helps you get the glue exactly where you want it. Even when gluing one-handed because you're taking a photo for a blog ; )

Here you can see the slight overlaps on the sides that will add strength to the finished piece. You may be asking why the finished piece needs so much strength? It really is for those "just in case" moments. I know quite a few gamers with what we really should call "butter fingers"!

Here's a shot with all three sides attached. Nothing particularly special, but it's starting to look like a box right?

One of the cool things about collaborating on a project is that you get all sorts of cool ideas that you may never have thought of on your own. One of the ideas that Thomas threw in was the two pieces you see added to the bed below. Simple, I know, but very handy indeed. "What are they for?" I hear you ask. Well they're designed to ensure that the rest of the bench seat "box" goes in the right place. Same place every time. Just the thing for mass production (of a sort).

Once Thomas's helpful guides were in place I could add the next step, the end of the bench seat.

And then the side of the bench seat.

And finally, the top of the bench seat. Of course it is very easy to build the seat on the other side at the same time.

The final stage for the truck bed is to attach it to the truck frame. There are four points on the truck frame that stand proud. Trim the rivets from these points and slap on some glue. For this truck the front end of the bed should be aligned with the point where the rising frame meets the horizontal. Hopefully you can spot it in the picture below.

So there you go, Part One of the Troop Transport Truck Tutorial. Next time around we'll cover the hood, fenders, and cab of the truck. Should be fun!