Long-Term Error

 


I have just realised, after all these years, that I've been painting the 7th Armoured "Desert Rat" jerboa insignia wrong. I've been painting it with its tail curled up around its back, not under its feet.

Fortunately, in 1:100 (15mm) it looks pretty much like a red squiggle inside a white circle, and nobody is very likely to notice unless they look at it through a magnifying glass, but I'll know my secret shame.

The photo is of a PSC 15mm M3 Stuart.

Onitama (again)

 

When I made my original Onitama set, I came to realise that I could have made it considerably more compact if I just used the storage box as the game board.

I 3d printed a small set, suitably sized for travelling, but I designed the box for that before I learned that lesson. So I made a new box/game board for those pieces out of a rimu off-cut. The 3d-printed game pieces have steel washers glued to their bases to give them a bit of weight and a lower centre of gravity.


The box-board is basically just two solid blocks of rimu hinged together, with a cavity carved out of one of them to store the playing pieces and cards.

The dimensions of this one, closed up, are 118x90x45 mm. It'll slip easily into a satchel or jacket pocket.

Comets

 

I wanted to paint some Comets in the peace-time Deep Bronze Green livery that the British painted their tanks and things when not actually being shot at. I did them partly to distinguish them visually from the Cromwells, but mostly because I just wanted to.

I found a couple of bronze green Comets, freshly painted for the 1945 Berlin victory parade, in amongst the Armoured Acorn stuff. There was no top-down view, so I couldn't see if the star was painted on the engine deck or turret top, but I've assumed that since air recognition was no longer an issue it probably would not have been.

These two were printed some time ago in PLA+ on my Ender 3 from a slightly modified Bergman model.

The Tortuous Hell of Social Interaction

 

I absolutely detest being put in the position of having to interact with NPCs when I'm playing in a TTRPG. I'd say that I'm not wholly unintelligent, and I'm capable of the occasional flash of wit in real life, but require me to come up with something to say to an NPC to convince them to go along with the wishes of the party, and my brain just disappears.

I know that some people just absolutely love this sort of thing, and more power to them, but I find it actively unpleasant, and it destroys any enjoyment I may be having in the game at that moment. It may be lame of me, but when it comes to this sort of thing I'd much rather just rely on whatever social skills (or lack thereof) are written down on my character sheet and roll some dice.

When it becomes really irritating to me though is when the games master just ignores the character's supposed abilities. If I have a character with a high charisma, or a whole bunch of levels in skills like persuasion or intimidation or just plain outright fibbing, I expect to be able to get some benefit from those stats. Otherwise, why have them at all?

Centaur Mk.IV

 

This is a 15mm (1:100 scale) Centaur Mk.IV with the 95mm howitzer. I've painted it in the brown SCC2 colour scheme, simply because I hadn't done that before and wanted to try it out. It was superseded by SCC15 Olive Drab, but there were plenty of vehicles still in SCC2 alongside the new colour after D-Day.

I did the targeting graduations around the turret rim with a croquil mapping pen and some acrylic ink. They're not very precise, but they do get the idea across in an impressionistic manner.

The turret has developed quite a bit of post-cure cracking, so it looks like I didn't wash out the interior as well as I could have. In retrospect, I probably should have just printed it solid, and if I have to replace it I will do that.

Old Sherman, New Paint

 

This is a Sherman I I printed on my Ender 3 FDM printer a couple or three of years ago.

I believe that with the turret bustle and sand skirts it wasn't used in this configuration by the Americans, and in fact I originally printed it for my North African Brits. However, I wanted to try out a test paint for US olive drab, and I created the markings with masking tape instead of decals.

It's an okay enough model for wargaming purposes, but even so the layer lines are apparent enough that I don't print vehicles in FDM any more, and reserve that printer for terrain and utility bits and pieces. Vehicles and figures I now print in resin on my Mars Pro.

Challenger (finished)

 


Here's the WWII British Challenger 17-pounder gun tank in 1:100 scale that I posted a WiP for earlier.

I tried a new (to me) three-layer method of painting mud and filth, with which I'm fairly happy. I first painted a couple of layers of loose, sloppy, thinned blotches of VMC Earth all over the running gear, and on the hull where I wanted mud splashes, before washing the whole model with Citadel Agrax Earthshade. Then, over the top of that, I sponged speckles of VMC German Camo Beige. I also sponged it, very very lightly, on other places on the hull and turret.

Challenger (in progress)

 

Next project is a 15mm (1:100) Challenger. Not the modern Challenger, the descendent of Chieftain, but the WWII Challenger, the 17 pounder variant of the Cromwell. Once again I made the gun barrel from a length of 2mm brass rod, tapered down and provided with locating pins on my cheap (and fairly pathetic) little mini-lathe. I would have liked to have been able to turn the muzzle-brake in place rather than having to glue on a separate piece, but my lathe isn't anywhere near that precise.


I have printed this model by the estimable Mr Bergman before, in FDM, but at that time my Ender 3 printer was in the process of crapping itself, and I got a bit of layer shifting. I've thrown this print away now.

As it turned out, while I was looking for the Cromwell (below) I discovered that I'd printed another FDM Challenger more successfully, and completely forgotten about it, so I've got a couple of Challengers available on the very small chance that I'll ever need more than one for any game I'll be playing.


I wanted to see how the Challenger looked alongside the Cromwell, in this case a 1:100 PSC plastic kit. It's certainly quite stretched out, and it's tall compared with the Cromwell, but it wouldn't be any taller than a Sherman Firefly, the Brits' other 17pdr gun tank option at the time.

I've primed the Challenger model with Vallejo British Bronze Green surface primer.

The Challenger was intended to work with Cromwell troops, and by being built on what was essentially a lengthened Cromwell chassis, to minimise the logistics impact of having two different types working in the same unit. Also, the Cromwell was a pretty speedy tank, and the Firefly would have had quite a job to keep up with them. Not to mention that a Firefly would stand out to enemy observation even more in a Cromwell troop than they did with other Shermans.


The next stage is to apply the top coat, ready for markings and weathering.

The colour I use for late-war British stuff is VMC Russian Uniform, and it's applied by airbrush one panel at a time. I'm not aiming at even, solid coating, but rather apply the paint in a sort of mottle pattern from the centre of each panel out to near the edge, building it up in thin layers until it looks okay.

The panel edges are then highlighted by dry-brushing with VMC Buff.

Decals and/or markings will go on before any further weathering, so that they don't look too bright at the end of the process.

The finished piece can be seen here.

Sherman's Bendy Barrel

 


An issue that arises all too often when printing models in resin is warping of components. Gun barrels are especially problematic in this way. I don't know if the issue is with the resin itself, or my printing settings, but resin prints don't seem to have the dimensional stability that FDM has. I assume it's probably the resin layers shrinking microscopically while curing.

I printed this M4A3E8 a few days ago, and I've just started painting it. I don't know if the warping of the gun barrel has actually got worse, or whether it's just preying on my mind, but in any case I've decided that it just can't be borne any longer.

I have some 2mm brass rod, and a little cheap mini-lathe that I got from AliExpress — it's basically just a Jacobs chuck attached to a little electric motor on an aluminium frame — so I've decided to have a go at replacing the gun barrel with a nice straight brass one. The 2mm rod is out of scale for the 76mm gun, but it's the same size as the barrel as designed, so at least I can be sure that the muzzle brake isn't going to suddenly look too hugeous.

The new turned barrel (a bit out of focus) is sitting in front of the model. Cutting off the muzzle brake and barrel should be straightforward enough with a razor saw; I'll just have to be a bit careful with the drilling for the brass tenons to slot into.

Something the lathe doesn't have is any kind of tool holder, so it all has to be done with hand-held tools. Not ideal, and it makes getting crisp, straight, square angles a bit tricky. Hey-ho, needs must as they say.

Later on...


Well, at least it's straight now

I see from the photos that there are a bunch of tiny supports in the running gear that I overlooked, so I guess there will be more disruption of the paintwork than I'd hoped. I'll start again from the beginning I guess.


A few days later...

This is about where I give up trying to paint it any more. I was trying for a tank that looked well used, but without all the chipping that tends to be splattered all over tank models these days (and of which I am as guilty as any).I've ended up with a bit of a mess, but it will do okay at tabletop distances I think.

The decals come from Skytrex, and they seem pretty good to me. They respond well to decal softener without becoming so fragile that they fall to bits, and the multi-colour ones I bought (German crosses) are printed in good registration, unlike any of the Battlefront decals I've had.

Ostwind 37mm Flakpanzer


This is a 1:100 scale (15mm) German WWII  Ostwind 37mm Flakpanzer, printed on my Mars Pro from a model by M. Bergman (I think).

I'd normally add some crewmen in an open-topped vehicle, but the fighting compartment of this one is too tight to get any in there. I think I would have to add them digitally and print them in place.

Sherman bits


 Zac Kavulich (TigerAce1945) released some time ago a pack of various marks of Shermans for WWII 15mm printing. Unlike Bergman's models, Zac's models were presented with separate running gear and hulls.

I took one of his track modules and decided to up-detail it a bit — not a lot, just enough to satisfy my 1:100 scale wargaming model sensibilities.


I got this far along when I realized that

  1. it would have been easier, and I would have been better off starting modeling from scratch, and
  2. I'd come far enough that stopping now and starting again would feel like a huge waste of effort.

So I kept going.


This is the end result. There's absolutely no detail on the far side, as my aim is largely ease of printing, and I thought a completely flat rear face would also make it easier and stronger to glue to the hull.

There's more that I could have done, but this seemed to me to be sufficient detailing for my purposes. Fortunately, an STL can just be mirrored in the slicer, so there's no real need to make separate models for something like a port and starboard track run.


The test prints worked out okay, but this is why I don't much like printing components separately in resin. It's just not very dimensionally stable, and I always get warping of pieces like this, to one extent or another.

Fortunately the warping here isn't so extreme that I won't (probably) be able to keep them flat against the hull with glue. Fingers crossed. They were certainly easier to print than they would have been had I done them as a single piece with the hull.

Modeling U.S. Olive Drab — harder than I expected

 

WWII U.S. Olive Drab should be simple, but it's really not.

It was composed of just two pigments: ochre and black. However, the word "ochre" is not a precise one at all.

In his Military Modelling magazine article back in 2002, Steve Zaloga went into the subject in reasonable depth, and the pre-mixed colour he recommended above all others back then was Tamiya XF-62, with no others even coming close to the WWII-era paint chips he was comparing against.

I figured that mixing it from VMC acrylics would just be a matter of getting the right proportions of yellow ochre and black, but all of those mixes ended up much more grey than the sample swatch of XF-62 I sprayed, which has a perceptibly warm brown cast. Of them all, the 3:2 yellow ochre : black mix seems to be closest in tone, but as I said, it's too grey.

The Vallejo surface primer described as "US Olive Drab" is actually much closer to the 5:1 mix, which is a long way from XF-62, and a long way from WWII colour photographs I've seen.

The search continues.


A bit later...

I found a bottle of VMC 889 USA Olive Drab, which is much browner than the Tamiya, more like a burnt umber. However, it might do okay as a base coat, with panel shading airbrushed over the top in 887 Brown Violet, which was recommended to me. The 887 is pretty good in hue, though it's considerably lighter in tone, which is probably a good thing when it comes to scale effects and the general effect of dust and sun on the paint.


Even later...

I tried a base coat of 889 Olive Drab, highlighted with the airbrush with 887 Brown Violet, and it gave me a result I quite like. So I think this will be my process for US equipment, which might come in handy for  Battlegroup:Westwall when it finally appears.

I did the stars with Tamiya masking tape, laboriously cut out with a scalpel, and if somebody was to provide sheets of die-cut masking tape stars and roundels, that person would get my money. Oh yes they would.

The model is actually a British Mk.I with sand shields and turret bustle, so not 100% right, but it'll do me for testing purposes. When I need them, I'll print some proper Yank tanks.


Much later....

It's probably a bit pointless, since I've found some pre-mixed paints that work for me, but I thought I'd try a mix with a different ochre and see how that turned out.

In this case, I used Maimeri Polycolor (gouache acrylic) Raw Sienna and Black, and got tones that seem a lot less grey than those I got with yellow ochre. The proportions are quite tricky to manage with tube acrylics though, especially with small quantities of paint.

The left-hand swatch is roughly 1:1, but the others are all rather indeterminate. I think the right-hand one is around 4:1, but I'm really just guessing.


And even later...

I've discovered that Vallejo already do a pre-mixed US Olive Drab in their ModelAir range (#71043 Olive Drab) which is just about perfect.

And not only that, but I already had a bottle of it in my Big Pile O' Paints.

So, that was a whole lot of wasted effort.

Marmon-Herrington MTLS 1GI4 (15mm)

 Here's a fairly obscure little WWII tank — the Marmon-Herrington MTLS 1GI4 in 1:100 (15mm) scale.

This is one of those projects I started and then forgot about, so it's taken a very long time to finish.

I've put the STLs up at https://www.wargaming3d.com/.../marmon-herrington-mtls-1gi4/




Secondary Skills in AD&D(1e)

 I've spoken before about the two-edged sword that is a formalised skills system in any TTRPG.

The mere existence of a list of available skills tends to guide both players and game masters towards the attitude that if a character doesn't have a specific skill written down on their character sheet, then they just can't do that thing.

Also, a formalised skill resolution system has a tendency to replace imagination and roleplaying with a simple mechanical die roll — boring!

Nevertheless, people persist in desiring lists of skills, worked out in excruciating detail, for their characters to pick and choose from. I suppose it makes them feel safer or something.


AD&D (1e) has no formal skill lists or skill resolution system. The nearest it comes to it is the presence in the DMG, on page 12, is a list of "Non-Professional Skills", or Secondary skills.

They're not detailed in any way except for being named, and in theory at least, they're assigned randomly at character creation.

In terms of function, they're intended to act much more like the character backgrounds used in D&D (5e) than as a definitive list of skills, and when used that way, as a flavourful adjunct to the character rather than as a mechanically defining feature, they work well enough. The key is to use them properly.

Let's take, as an example, the entry for d% 55-57 — Teamster/freighter. Boo! Boring!

A character with this background would have a working knowledge of a wide range of skills. They would need to know how to manage and care for draught animals like oxen or horses for a start. They would need to know how to maintain and drive wagons and maybe barges. They'd have needed sufficient leather and wood working skills to keep their transportation working. They would need to know how to balance and secure their loads, so they'd be familiar with knots and nets and the like. They'd have had to move heavy objects about, so they may well be familiar with the construction and use of impromptu gantries, and they'd be aware of the benefits of pulley systems for mechanical advantage. They'd have to have been adept at judging the lie of the land ahead, to avoid (if possible) steep slopes or deep rivers or other obstacles, and if unavoidable, how to get their wagons over them. And once they'd got their load to its destination, they may well have needed a familiarity with licences, docking fees, bureaucracy and bribes to get it into a town or city to be offloaded.

I have undoubtedly missed or forgotten much that would be relevant, but you can easily see how this simple one-line entry can really flesh out the assumed knowledge of the character, knowledge that could be applied in all sorts of situations.

When it comes to applying this knowledge in the game, the onus is on both the GM and the player to bring it to the fore — the player will doubtless want to stretch definitions to breaking point when it comes to taking advantage of it, and the GM's job there is, for the most part, to say "Yes, okay" unless the justification is patently ridiculous, in which case a simple "What? Are you serious? Come on, get real and pull your head in" will suffice.

Most of the time, a die roll for success or failure will be unnecessary; the character is supposed to know this stuff. At most, you might want (for dramatic purposes) to determine how long something takes, or how well (or badly) it was done, and that sort of determination is easily made on the fly. A formal resolution system is almost never necessary.


If a die roll is deemed useful, I would suggest that 3d6 is the best option as it gives a decent bell curve with a minimum of fuss. If it's being used to determine the quality of a result, then a result of 9-12 would be dead average: the higher the number above that range, the better the employment of the character's knowledge and skill, and vice-versa for a result below 9. If it's used to determine time taken, then the GM must first imagine what would be a normal average time to do the task, and then use the position on the bell curve to determine whether the performance is faster or slower than usual, and by how much. I would read the result from left to right, with a 3 being grindingly slow and an 18 blisteringly fast, but that, as always, is really up to the individual GM.

SdKfz 166 Sturmpanzer Brummbär

 


This is, I believe, yet another Bergman 1:100 model that I've printed on my Mars Pro for my 15mm WWII wargames. It's the SdKfz 166 Sturmpanzer, called "Brummbär" by Americans who studied captured examples during the war, but apparently that name wasn't in use with the Germans themselves.

There are a variety of camouflage schemes it could be painted in, but I elected to go for overall dunkelgelb since I wanted to weather it fairly heavily, and it would be cluttered enough without also adding a disruptive pattern.


In this scale the model is about 60mm long by 25mm tall.

15mm Walled Garden

 


While I was organising my workroom today, I found some pieces of wall that I found somewhere (probably Thingiverse) and printed a very long time ago, and thought I should probably actually do something with them.

They were intended, I think, to be the surrounding walls for a cemetary, or maybe a walled garden. I've chosen to go with the walled garden enclosure, since a bunch of headstones would tend to get in the way of placing troops inside the walls.

I glued them together and put them on a piece of heavy card, with the edges chamfered down thin. I added some rubble and vegetation flock, slapped on some paint, and bing-bong-bosh, there's another piece of terrain for 15mm soldiers to hide behind on a wargames table.

I've included a 15mm PSC German 81mm mortar team, for scale.



Old Stone Ruins

 

These is another terrain piece from Printable Scenery, cut into two pieces and printed on my Ender 3 at 0.2mm layer height in eSun PLA+. I printed it using Tom Tullis' terrain profile for Cura 5, but if I were to do it again I'd bump up the number of walls to three or four, as the columns proved to be quite fragile and broke off easily when I (repeatedly) dropped the pieces.

I began (after gluing everything back together again) by priming everything black, and then spraying a downwards zenithal white to define shadows and highlights. In retrospect, the zenithal spray could probably have been skipped, as the next painting step pretty much obliterated it.

I painted splotches of three colours all over everything: yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and Van Dyck brown, in roughly equal proportions. You can see the result in this photograph, and as I imagine you'd agree, at this stage it looks pretty awful. I used Maimeri gouache acrylics for this step, thinned down until they're quite liquid.


Once the spotty paint was dry, the next step was to over-wash everything with black.

This technique was originally developed for railway modellers' cliff faces and such-like, and it works better on plaster or similar absorbent material, as the paints and wash penetrate into the surface and the black wash evens out the tones a lot more. However, it still works on this unabsorbent plastic, if not quite as well.


Once the black wash has thoroughly dried, the next step is to dry-brush everything to knock back the darkness and bring out the edges to delineate the forms.

I used Vallejo VMC Buff for most of this, and then some VGC Elfric Flesh (a very pale off-white) to catch the upper edges.

After dry-brushing, I went over everything, stippling very thinned-down Elfric Flesh with a natural sea sponge, to give the weathered stone a bit of textural variation. Many areas got two or three layers of this treatment.

The terrain piece is usable just as it is, but a next step would be to add some moss and grass flocking in amongst the cracks of the paving and in various of the crevices.

Planescape 5e

 

It seems that WotC are re-releasing Planescape for D&D5e in 2023.

Planescape is one of those things that never really seemed to live up to its promise. I found the concept interesting, and I really enjoyed Tony diTerlizzi's art, but it didn't go as far into The Weirdness as I thought it should. I doubt that it will be any different this time around either, though 5e's nature as an over-the-top cinematic superhero game could suit it.

All of these D&D settings are, of course, heavily reliant on the DM for their realization, but I feel there's something missing from the Planescape milieu, and I don't know quite what that thing is.

Also, I absolutely hated the cutesy patois they scattered all through it.

Printable Scenery - Ruined Crypt

 

I bought and printed this model from Printable Scenery * some time ago, but have just got around to painting and flocking it.

It's scaled for use with 28mm miniatures, and printed on my Ender 3 at 0.2mm layer height in eSun PLA+.

* I can't find it on their website any more, but I expect it's there somewhere. Their catalogue is quite extensive these days.

** Ah, here it is: it's part of a set called Hallowed Mausoleums 


Humber Scout Car

 

I watched A Bridge Too Far again recently, while I was banged up in Covid Jail, and it occurred to me that what I really really need is a little 15mm JOE Vandeleur in his little 15mm Humber scout car.

I found a 1:56 Humber on Thingiverse that I could assemble into a one-piece model and rescale, so now all I had to do was sculpt a teensy-tiny Michael Caine to perch on it.