Category Archives: Articles

Working With Photo Fleece Part 1 – Mats

I often get these three questions when running games:

  1. Where did you get your mat?
  2. Where did you get your roads?
  3. How do you keep your quads so ripped?

In this post I’ll be addressing the first question of how and where I source my gaming mats.

Many years ago a friend of mine had a glorious mat for Check Your 6. It was an aerial photograph of some Pacific islands with a hex overlay, and it was printed on fleece. I always though this was very clever, and when I started to work on my own terrain I thought I would try this method. Here’s a step-by-step.

  • Find something to print. Personally I browse Wargames Vault but there are other sites, like RPG Now, that have the same files. I have printed full size mats using graphics from WargamePrint, Heroic Maps, Tiny Worlds and Dave Graffam Models.
  • Decide what size mat you are going to print. I use Walmart Photo for my prints, and currently they have two fleece blanket sizes; 50″x60″ and 60″x80″. For the remainder of this tutorial I’ll be using a 60″x80″ print as the example.
  • Prepare your file for upload. As I am a Mac snob, my examples are from Affinity Photo but the techniques apply to any photo editor.
  • Convert the color format to RGB (8 bit). I understand that, in general, it’s better to print in CMYK color space but file size becomes an issue with these. This example tiff was reduced from 335 MB to 228 MB by switching to RGB.
  • This image from WargamePrint has a border around it that I didn’t want on the final product, so I cropped it.
  • Next you’re going to want to resize the image to 60″x80″. It’s important to do this before uploading it for printing. I made the mistake once of allowing the website to resize the image and the edges came out very blurry. I alter the ratio and resize these to 60″x80″, however it would also work to resize it to 60″x90″ and then crop it again. I’ve always used bilinear as the resample method without issue, however your results may vary.
  • Lastly you need to export the image as a jpeg for upload. I have no idea what the size limits are for uploading files at Walmart Photo. Put it this way, the FAQ on the site still references Netscape. I’ve just done this through trial and error. I know that this image works at 9000×12000 pixels. Again, your results may vary.
  • That’s it. I think the process of uploading the file and ordering a print is pretty self-explanatory. Just be sure to use the Full Photo Fleece blankets, NOT the plush. Good luck!
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A Low Countries Canal Build

Ever since Too Fat Lardies released their Blitzkrieg 1940 Handbook for Chain of Command I’ve been working mostly on Early War projects. I had wanted to do something with this Sarissa canal bridge and after seeing how the owner of my FLGS built his canal for a Battle of Mons game I decided to adopt some of his techniques and build my own.

I don’t have the inclination, nor the room, to make dedicated terrain boards so like everything else the canal was going to have to be modular and easy to store. As my gaming mats are 60″ wide I decided to make 5 sections, each 12″ x 12″.

I used panels of Ampersand hardboard and airbrushed several colors of green for the water and then applied three coats of Minwax acrylic gloss varnish using a foam brush. For the canal walls I used Pine Ranch Casing that I picked up at Lowes. This was cut into 12″ lengths (except for the bridge section) and airbrushed with some brown. For the walls I used some brick texture paper that was given to me by a friend. It was cut into strips and affixed with carpenter’s glue. This was finished off with a wash of Vallejo Sepia and some Secret Weapon Algae where it met the water. The completed walls were then glued to the panels with carpenter’s glue.

Next I assembled the bridge and added some fine sand on the surface of the ramps. This was then primed and painted, and I added more brick paper on the horizontal surfaces. Before cutting the canal wall pieces I placed and marked out where the bridge would go. Then I cut the short pieces of casing and finished them the same way as the others. I didn’t get any pictures of it, but the bottom “base” of the bridge had a connecting piece to make it a one piece affair and help align the ramps when opening and closing it. I had taken a leap of faith and removed it while finishing the bridge, hoping that I could align the pieces well enough when I affixed them. I attached the bridge to the canal board using carpenter’s glue and set it aside to dry. Spoiler alert – it worked.

To finish off the bridge piece, I fashioned some connecting wall pieces using card stock and the ever versatile brick paper. These were affixed to the board, and then the remaining space was filled with air-dry clay. Once this has set, I added more fine sand and painted it to kinda-sorta blend it in with the ramps. Then I flocked the edges making foot paths on both sides. I may add some detail parts in the future, and I do have some boats to finish, but for now it’s functional.


The Duvel Brewery

“I look for ideas at conventions and on the web, then I steal them.” – Me

Back in 2013 I reviewed a 28mm Crescent Root Studios warehouse. It’s a great piece, but it hasn’t been in heavy rotation in my games. I think the driving factor was it didn’t have a purpose. It was just this big set of buildings without a theme in the context of my other terrain.

Thanks to Richard of Too Fat Lardies I found inspiration to resurrect the warehouse and turn it into something I will use more often. A few years ago Richard started posting a series on his blog about building a brewery. This, combined with the release of the 1940 Handbook for Chain of Command and an idea I had for running a game at Cold Wars, made me think that converting my warehouse into a brewery may be a good idea.

I could have just made a sign and strewn a few barrels about, but I wanted to take the opportunity to do a few minor upgrades otherwise I feared it would just sit around gathering dust again. I applied the same techniques to all the buildings, and have used the outbuilding/shed as an example.

I started by touching up the building walls by painting over some obvious tabs and then giving them a wash of Vallejo Sepia to bring out some detail.

I then turned my attention to the doors. I painted the hinges and pulls, gave them a wash and then some dry brushing.

Lastly, I focused on the roofs. The detail on these was a little soft, and they had tabs that were showing through so I decided to reshingle them. I purchased some self adhesive laser cut paper S-Scale shingles from Rail Scale Models. These were placed directly on the existing roof pieces. I then gave them a wash and dry brushed them with multiple colors.

Once the buildings were done, I decided to copy Richard’s work a bit and add a smoke stack. I bought an HO stack from Walthers and covered it – somewhat poorly – with some textured brick paper a friend had given me. It was then given a wash and some light dry brushing. I then added an O-Scale ladder to cover up my awful vertical seams. It isn’t the best match for the other brickwork, but it’s good enough for me.

Next I applied the same techniques I used on the buildings to the walls and platforms by touching up some exposed tabs and giving them a wash. I then made the decision to make a permanent base. In the past I thought that I may use the platforms and/or walls in other settings, but that never happened. I had a piece of tempered hardboard that was the right size, and to this I attached a piece of JTT grass matt to act as a moisture barrier and a base for the flocking.

I layed out the walls and platforms, then once satisfied secured them with carpenter’s glue. After this had dried I applied the flock and tufts I wanted.

To add some final detail I wanted to add an illuminated sign. I had a 3V gooseneck lamp in my electronic gadgets box, so I wired it up with a switch. I then printed out a sign, affixed it to a thin MDF base and overpainted it. I simply attached it with poster putty so if I want to change theaters or whatnot I can.

Overall I’m pleased with the outcome and feel that this will get the playtime that it always deserved. I’m also happy that, apart from the large base, that it still breaks down for easy storage. As with anything of mine I imagine it will evolve over time. I have more barrels to add, and am already on the lookout for a hand cart.


Fall In! Prep Part I – Trenches

I know it isn’t until November, but if I’ve learned anything being a convention GM it’s that I shouldn’t put any stress on myself trying to make a deadline. It is just a hobby afterall.

That said, some folks on the Too Fat Lardies Yahoo Group put together two “Lard Days” at Fall In! to showcase some TFL games. I threw my hat in the ring to run some games of Chain of Command. My scenario is a late war affair where some British Commandos have relieved some Canadian Paras and are preparing for a German counterattack. The only terrain elements I needed were some trenches and a gun pit.

There are a few manufactures that make nice 28mm trenches, but I wanted to do these on the cheap as I’m assuming they won’t get much use. Fortunately I had already purchased the 3D printing files for these trenches from Printable Scenery. My plan was to print a set of masters and then cast what I needed in dental plaster.

I printed a set of masters using my PrintrBot Play (which is now apparently OOP), but naturally neglected to snap a picture, which would appear below.

I then made latex molds of all the masters using Duplos to contain the material.

Over several days I casted enough pieces using some dental plaster that I bought off of eBay a few years ago. I think I have enough to last a lifetime.

The bottoms of some of these were pretty thin and I had a few casualties when I removed them from the molds. I shored them up with some balsa that I trimmed to fit.

Prior to painting I added some details here and there – some corrugated metal using a cardboard coffee insulator, a camo net made from gauze, a tarp of lead foil and a strand of barbed wire.

I also needed a few machine gun nests so I ginned these up using some plastic sheet and bamboo skewers. I know they look more “Eastern Front-like”, but they work for me.

Here’s the finished products after painting and flocking. They aren’t great as individual pieces, but together on the table they look okay.


Late War Waffen SS Grenadiers – Part I

At this year’s Historicon I’ll be running two WWII skirmish games using Disposable Heroes II. One scenario is a late war engagement between elements of the US 90th Infantry Division and the 2nd and 3rd SS Divisions.

As I dare not run a convention game with incomplete miniatures, I’m using this as an opportunity to finish my SS platoon that has been in various stages of completion for many years. I’ll be documenting my progress and camouflage painting techniques in a series of posts. This first installment will address the platoon composition, and the figures I have chosen to represent the soldiers/equipment.

I’m using two sources for my order of battle – the German Army book ANGRIFF! from Iron Ivan Games, and the late war German Grenadier list from the Chain of Command rulebook. Here’s my planned unit:

Grenadier Platoon

  • Platoon HQ
    • Lieutenant w/MP-40 – Warlord
    • Staff Sergeant w/MP-40 – Warlord
    • Private w/Kar-98k – Warlord
    • Private w/Kar-98k – Victory Force
    • Private w/Kar-98k – Victory Force
  • 1st Squad
    • LMG Team
      • Sergeant w/MP-40 – Victory Force
      • LMG Gunner w/MG-42 – Warlord
      • LMG Loader w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Ammunition Bearer w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Private w/Kar-98k – Warlord
    • LMG Team
      • Corporal w/Kar-98k – Victory Force
      • LMG Gunner – Warlord
      • LMG Loader w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Ammunition Bearer w/Kar-98k – Victory Force
      • Private w/Kar-98k – Warlord
  • 2nd Squad
    • LMG Team
      • Sergeant w/MP-40 – Victory Force
      • LMG Gunner w/MG-42 – Warlord
      • LMG Loader w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Ammunition Bearer w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Private w/Kar-98k – Warlord
    • LMG Team
      • Corporal w/Kar-98k – Victory Force
      • LMG Gunner – Warlord
      • LMG Loader w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Ammunition Bearer w/Kar-98k – Victory Force
      • Private w/Kar-98k – Warlord
  • 3rd Squad
    • LMG Team
      • Sergeant w/MP-40 – Warlord
      • LMG Gunner w/MG-42 – Renegade Miniatures
      • LMG Loader w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Ammunition Bearer w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Private w/Kar-98k – Warlord
    • LMG Team
      • Corporal w/Kar-98k – Victory Force
      • LMG Gunner – Renegade Miniatures
      • LMG Loader w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Ammunition Bearer w/Kar-98k – Warlord
      • Private w/Kar-98k – Warlord

Platoon Support

  • Sniper Team
    • Sniper w/Scoped Kar-98k – Warlord
    • Spotter w/Kar-98k – Warlord
  • Panzerschreck Team
    • Gunner w/Panzerschreck – Warlord
    • Loader w/Kar-98k – Warlord
  • Flamethrower Team
    • Gunner w/Flamethrower – Warlord
    • Assistant w/Kar-98k – Warlord
    • Private w/Kar-98k – Warlord
  • Recon Team
    • Sergeant w/MP-40 – Warlord
    • LMG Gunner w/MG-42 – Warlord
    • LMG Loader w/Kar-98k – Warlord
    • Private w/Kar-98k – Warlord
  • MG-42 HMG
    • Sergeant w/MP-40 – Warlord
    • HMG Gunner w/MG-42 – Warlord
    • HMG Loader w/Kar-98k – Warlord
  • Forward Observer
    • Radioman w/Kar-98k – Warlord
  • Medic
    • Medic – Warlord
  • 7.5cm le IG.18
    • le IG.18 w/3 Crew – Warlord
  • 7.5cm Pak 40
    • Pak 40 w/3 Crew – Crusader

I’ll also be adding in some various figures with panzerfausts and pioneer equipment.


Sarissa Precision Radar Station Build

After reading these posts on the Too Fat Lardies blog here and here, I decided to take some inspiration (steal ideas) and build my Sarissa Radar Station. Here’s what I came up with.

The Lardies mounted their station on a hexagonal base that was made of carved foam. Knowing how bad I am with foam work, I decided to design my base using Tinkercad and print it using my Printrbot Play. It’s hard to see in this picture, but this print has some very bad horizontal banding (for those that know anything about 3D printing it was caused by a sinusoidal heat fluctuation in the hot end) however it ended up being a happy accident as it kinda gives the effect of marks left by a concrete form.

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I mounted the hex to a rectangular base and covered the horizontal surfaces with sand.

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Prior to assembly, I traced the outer ring of the dish and the roof of the shack onto some card stock to use to cover the seams where some of the parts join.

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Construction of the building was straight forward. Before adding the roof, I painted the interior and added a map, propaganda poster and a calendar to the walls. In hindsight this was a waste as you really can’t see into the building.

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After the framework of the dish was built I added some mesh using some sort of nylon that probably came from a bag of mints from a wedding. I don’t know what it’s called, but the material is pretty common.

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To complete the dish I glued some styrene strips along the interior frames and capped the outside with the trimmed card stock ring.

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Before mounting the building I wanted to finish the base so I added a few things from the parts bin – a box, drum and a bicycle from Dixon.

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Here are a few shots of the finished base.

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And here’s the finished piece. The voltage warning signs are printed images from online, mounted on the scrap pieces that came out of the window panes and the railing is a bent paperclip (both ideas stolen from the Lardies). The steps are from Grandt Line.

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This was a fun little build of a unique subject and I’m really happy with the results. I’d highly recommend the Sarissa kit if you’re in the market for an interesting objective.


Malifaux Flame Wall Markers

Embarrassingly this is my first update in almost two months – busy Summer. At the very least I have articles to write about my trials and tribulations with 3D printing, my experiences at Historicon this year and the new direction I’m heading with my Lovecraftian convention game. All in due time loyal readers, all in due time. Meanwhile here’s a writeup about some flame wall markers I made for Malifaux.

Reaper had a booth in the vendor’s hall at Historicon and I couldn’t resist picking up a few packs of the translucent Bones figures, including their Wall of Fire. I used a tealight before to light up their Ghostly Summons, so I thought I’d try the same trick with some of these new pieces. Stand by for future illuminating posts…get it…

I started with a typical battery operated flickering tealight. After disassembling the housing, I trimmed off the high post the LED was on and then repositioned the light lower on the base to reduce the overall height.

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Tealight

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Tealight Disassembled

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Mounting Post Removed

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LED Repositioned

I then took a 50mm Renedra plastic base and traced a circle slightly smaller than the diameter of the “guts” of the tealight. The inner circle was cut away and the remaining washer shape was painted black. I snapped the inner workings of the tealight into the opening and as the fit was snug enough, I opted to not use any adhesive. The bottom of the Reaper Wall of Fire was drilled out to receive the LED. Again the fit was tight enough to not require any adhesive.

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Renedra Base

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Trimmed Base with Light Installed

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Reaper Wall of Fire Added

To cover up the light mechanics, I hot glued some fiber fill around the perimeter. Prior to affixing it I colored it with various shades of ink. As a final touch I attached some self adhesive bumpers to act as feet. This gives enough clearance for the switch and allows it to sit level on the table.

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Fiber Fill

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Feet

Here’s a quick clip of it in action.


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