Somua S-35 Beutepanzer

This is the WWII French Somua S-35 medium tank, in its configuration after being inducted into German service, where it was designated PzKfw 35-S 739(f).

There wasn't a great deal of difference visually between the French and German versions of the tank; the Germans just chopped off the top of the turret cupola and added a simple two-leaf hatch.

This 1:100 scale model is by Marco Bergman, and printed by me in PLA on my Ender 3.

Where the hell are we?

Labyrinths and mazes are a staple trope of the tabletop (and computer) FRPG (or shooter).

I have a reasonably good sense of direction, but in an environment where I have no environmental input from outside the maze (e.g. the sun) and no clear grid to work with, I get lost pretty easily. I'm pretty good at retracing my steps, and in that sense I don't easily get "lost", but if I'm not walking through a grid-based maze (or building) then it won't be long before I couldn't tell you if I'm facing north, south, east or west.

Even what seems like a perfectly rational grid-based layout could be built to deceive the sense of direction though. I refer you to the path highlighted in pink in this illustration: if each of those corners is just enough out of square so as not to be obvious, someone walking down the meander could easily be turned in a wholly unexpected direction. A RPG party who isn't using precision surveying instruments could be sent off north when they think they're heading east.

In a computer game, this would be easy to achieve. A tabletop game, however, relies on verbal description from the GM, assuming they're not just showing the group the map, which would be particularly lame. We shall not consider such poltroonery.

Back in the Olden Days, our GM(s) tended to describe our path through subterranean caverns and dungeons and things in terms of compass directions — "You walk east for fifty feet, and come to a Y-junction with passages heading off north-east and south east. Which one do you want to take?"

That sort of thing.

That makes description and mapping relatively straightforward, but it has this disadvantage: as soon as he started saying "left" or "right" instead of "north" or "south", we knew that he was up to something tricky, and everything slowed to a crawl as we took all the surveying precautions we could think of.

For that reason, I never describe a dungeonesque environment in terms of the cardinal directions, but only ever relative to the perceptions of the party inside that environment. It's sometimes a bit tricky to keep oriented, but it's worth it to cut out just one avenue of meta-knowledge that might mitigate against proper game immersion.

Monochromery

When I need a miniature for a game real quick, this is the sort of paint job I'll do as a stop-gap. It's a bit more interesting than a pure white plastic blob, and it only takes ten minutes or so.

The process is very simple, but it does rely on having an airbrush:

  1. Base-coat completely in black
  2. Zenithal shading (from above only) in white
  3. Gentle wet-brush in pure white to pull out main highlights
  4. Slap on an overall wash to give it a slight colour tint (in this case, Agrax Earthshade)
  5. Come back in with further pin-washes to accentuate specific points of interest if need be

And that's it. The result is a miniature that looks a bit like aged, patinated ceramic or bone rather than a featureless lump of white.
Note: You could do this without an airbrush, but it would be almost as much trouble as actually doing a proper paint job.

Pack Lizard

This is a model by Miguel Zavala, a pack lizard, alongside Sergeant Measureby for scale. I'm not sure that any lizard, no matter how large, would make a very good pack animal, but that doesn't really matter one whit.

The lizard was printed in PLA at 0.1mm layer height, and it printed almost completely without supports — there were just a few where the tail overhangs the base slightly.

I painted it like the skinks we used to have in our garden where I was growing up in the Bay of Plenty.

Printable Heroes

Click once for a two-sided fold-and-trim figure without background
Click again to get the same figure in black & white line work (colour your own!)
Click on the little silhouette figure above the standee to add or remove a heavy black outline
I have a personal preference for 3d painted miniatures when it comes to tabletop gaming, but they do have their disadvantages. They can be expensive, quite heavy en masse if cast in metal, and troublesome to store or transport. Also, they take quite a bit of work to prepare to a standard that satisfies me — pre-painted miniatures are available, but they're either phenomenally (and justifiably) expensive, or they're pretty crap.

There have been flat card playing tokens around for decades, but they've generally not been of great quality. They used to be called standees, among other things, and I first encountered them as tokens included in board games.

What I'm looking at here are much nicer than those old tokens, though they're essentially the same thing. They come from a site called Printable Heroes, and the person who runs it has a Patreon through which they release new standees on a regular basis.

I have only seen some of the PDFs released for free, so my comments are based mainly on those. The example I present here is the Banderhobb.

There is some information presented on the website about the creature, including in which book, and on what page, you can find the D&D5e stats for it.

On the right are download links. There are multiple options, depending on at what level you're donating to the artist on Patreon. As I mentioned above, I've only seen the free one.

The PDF is a single sheet, on which are five layered standees to be printed and trimmed. There are several configurable output options:

  • Click once on the figure to get a double-sided standee that can be printed and trimmed.
  • Click again on it to get the same layout, but this time in black & white line art, which you could colour yourself if you were so inclined
  • Above each miniature is a small silhouette figure: click on that to add or remove a heavy black outline — useful, as it means you don't have to be absolutely accurate with your folding and trimming.

Basing blanks are also provided on the sheet, and they too are configurable — you can choose one of several different coloured rings, to ease differentiation of individual monsters on the battlefield I assume.

Now, although the standee is double-sided, it isn't two-sided — there's no front and back, just two three-quarter front views.

This isn't really an issue for D&D3e onwards, as figures on a tabletop grid have no facing, but it could be an issue if you actually need to be able to easily distinguish a back and front. You could get around the issue by saying that its "front" is the edge of the standee it's more or less looking towards, and its back would thus be the opposite edge. That's a solution, but it's not ideal to me.

Obviously, having to also draw a back view for every standee would double the workload on the artist, but it would make for a better product, in my view.

It's possible that this is not the situation for the paid products, I don't know.

As far as the art work is concerned — I like it. It hits a good line between detail and simplicity, and it prints well. Much more detail would be largely wasted for the purpose of the figures, and less would start looking a bit too sparse and cartoonish.

These card cut-out standees have many advantages. They're cheap, easy to store and to transport, and they don't need to be painted (unless you want to). I like them a lot.

Later on....


Here's some in the flesh, as it were. My laser printer won't handle card, so they were printed on copy paper and then had a sheet of card sandwiched in the fold when I glued them up. The edges were blackened with a Sharpie marker.

I got steadily slacker and slacker at following the outline of the creature when I was cutting them out, but I don't think it will really matter that much when they're in use.

The 20mm standee stands I just designed in Blender and printed; they have a shallow S-bend so they grip the base of the card figure by tension, and they're glued to 22mm fender washers for stability. I printed them at a pretty low resolution (0.24mm layer height), not only because they print faster that way, but the ridges of the layers also help to grip the standee.

The STL for the base can be downloaded from Thingiverse at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3453434

Bridge Weight Limit — Generic Wargames Rules Fiddling

Bridges could be given a weight limit, which is not revealed to the player(s) until they actually try the bridge out. So maybe they'll be able to get their heavy armour across, or maybe not -- and lose a tank into the bargain.

It would be easiest with an umpire, but it could be done by using a stack of "weight class" chips or cards marked YES or NO, with each card equating to, say, ten tons. You arrange the stack according to the heaviest weight class vehicle on the table, and with NO cards from the level where the bridge will collapse. When you drive a tank over the bridge, you take the appropriate number of cards from the stack and read the last one. If it says YES, you made it. If not... say goodby to that precious tank, and the bridge.

You can add another card to the stack, right at the YES/NO transition, a MAYBE card which gives you a 50/50 die roll to get your vehicle across. So, maybe you'll get your first Tiger over, but what about the next? Or the next? You'll just have to gamble, or find another sturdier crossing point.

It wouldn't be appropriate to give every single type of bridge a weight limit, unless maybe you're habitually playing games with a Maus trundling about the place. I shouldn't imagine that most undamaged rail bridges, for example, would be likely to have any trouble carrying even a heavy tank. However, I am not a civil engineer, so I'm really just pulling this stuff out of my arse.

Depending on how pernickety you wanted to get, the same system could be used with different granularity for different classes of bridge. Each chip/card could, for example, equate to one ton instead of ten for lighter bridges. And the number of MAYBE die-rolling cards could be increased for bridges in poor repair.

The Joy of Two (Dimensions)

Here's tonight's initial game setup — the tiles are cobbled together from FDG's "Ravensfell Sewers" papercraft dungeon tiles set in Photoshop and printed on my laser printer, and the froghemoth in the pool is the one I 3d printed the other day.

I'm always impressed by beautifully built and painted 3d dungeons, but I can't be bothered with them for my own games. Most of the time I just draw on that laminated grid layout (the textured thing underneath the sewerage pool) with dry-erase markers and call it good enough, but from time to time I'll go berserk and make something a bit fancier — like this sewage collection pool.

Grills Gone Wild

This is a piece I designed for my own campaign, for use with 2d dungeon tiles. It could also be used with 3d tiles, but I haven't sized it to fit in with any particular range. It's designed for use with 28mm miniatures.

It prints in two pieces, front and back. If you don't mind printing with slicer supports, you could rotate the two pieces and mash them together in the slicer, and print them as one piece.

STLs are at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3437714

Sewer tile by Fat Dragon Games

Fly Away

One of the PCs in my AD&D/OSRIC campaign has an Ebony Fly, one of the Figurines of Wondrous Power, and I thought that I might get some more Blender 2.80 practice by making a figure to represent him when he's buzzing around on it. He's a cleric of Mother Shipton, a goddess of the Carny Folk, so I've given him a jolly carny hat.

The fly came from Thingiverse, but the figure I made in Daz3d. I thought that might be a short cut to creating a human mannequin, but it really wasn't. I had to do so much to make the Daz3d output usable as an editable Blender object that I really might just as well have built him from scratch in Blender to begin with.

I have the model on the printer at this very moment, and I'll see how it turns out tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed.

Next morning...

The print came out OK I guess, considering my enormous great 0.4mm nozzle, but clearing away the supports was a bit nightmarish and I had to glue three of its feet back on. I think it would be a good idea to chop up the model and print it in two, or even three, parts.

The flight stand is magnetic. I set a flat-headed machine screw into the belly of the fly.






It's a very quick paint-job, but it'll do for the moment.

Then I went and dropped it, and broke off all the feet on its starboard side. So, bugger.

Froggy the Froghemoth



This is the waterline remix I did of Miguel Zavala's froghemoth, along with an old Essex 28mm wargaming figure I call Sergeant Measureby (his spear is painted in 5mm increments).

The sculpting issues I had with it in Blender didn't really affect the FDM print, though they might be a bit more apparent in resin, I don't know.

I have not yet decided whether I'll put it on a water base. Maybe, some day.

Apparatus-like Mechanism of Kwalish-ish

I'm in the process of building a digital model of a magical doo-dad similar to, but crucially not identical to, nor actually called the Apparatus of Kwalish.

The players in my AD&D campaign have one, and they don't seem likely to give it up willingly. Having a 3d-printed model of it would be quite cool, I think.

However, just how easy it will be to actually print this thing is yet to be seen. It will be doable, certainly, but I suspect I might have to cut it up quite a bit.

This afternoon has been spent building the pilot's chair.

Here's the view (so far) from behind.

The body is actually fully enclosed.
The panels are separate and removable
for access to the interior.

Later...

Right, I've got the outer shell of the tail pretty much done, though I'd like to do something a bit more interesting with the flippers. At the moment they're a bit flat and boring... maybe a few ribs or something. Just how to go about that I'm not yet quite sure.

Underneath those plates I want to put a bunch of clockwork-looking stuff, cogs and push-rods and the like.

Next Day

Added a bit of panel detail to the tail fins
to make them a bit less bland and featureless

And underneath... CLOCKWORK!
(Don't look too close, it's just a bunch of garbage really).

A Bit Later

Pilot's control panel

Seen from the passenger compartment
I've now done the pilot's control panel. The levers and stuff are all pretty chunky, as I've built them with a view to FDM printing. They'll look quite a bit more delicate in physical form.

King Worm



This is more or less a 3d doodle that I did in Blender while I was listening to a podcast. I haven't printed it yet, but I don't think there should be any problems.

It's about 40mm long as modeled, and you may want to enlarge it in your slicer to make it a bit more disgustingly majestic on the tabletop. Or not, whatever you want, I'm not your Dad.

STL is at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3416642

Next Day

I added a version with a pair of arm-feet it can use to drag itself along. This one has been scaled up 300% from the original, and it prints out at about 120mm long.

And the next...

Here's the thing, printed and painted.

It's been printed at 0.16mm layer height in white eSun PLA+, at 300% (about 120mm long).

I did quite a bit of scraping and sanding and filing to try to get rid of as much of the top contours as possible, which left the surface a bit rugged, but on this guy I don't think it matters too much. Probably a better smoothing solution would be one of the self-levelling epoxies designed for the purpose.






M11/39 Troop

Here's a troop of what was probably one of the worst tanks to see service in the Western Desert, and considering the competition that's quite an achievement.

The Italian Fiat M11/39 had a main armament of an obsolete 37mm gun mounted in the hull, which meant that not only could it not operate effectively hull-down, it also had a very limited traverse, so to engage targets to its flanks the whole tank had to be rotated. It did have a rotating turret, but that just mounted a pair of rifle-calibre machine-guns. To add to its shortcomings, it was slow and somewhat unreliable, and its armour was proof against small arms only. Even the Vickers Lights were more than a match for it, being much faster and more maneuverable, and the .50 Vickers and the 15mm BESA could both readily penetrate its armour.

These 1:100 scale (15mm) models were 3d printed on my Ender 3 FDM printer. Overall they're OK models, but the 37mm is way out of scale so that it would print reliably — one of these days I might lop them off and replace them with barrels turned down from brazing rod.

The model is available for download on Thingiverse at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3385848

Desert Italians

Since Battlefront have left me high and dry for the moment with their crappy stock management, I've just started painting what 15mm Italians I have, which are these ones from a 75/27 artillery set.

I'll paint the guns and their crews as well, because why not? But I seldom use on-table artillery other than anti-tank guns.

Guillotine for Guillotine

Guillotine

My guillotine
I bought myself a copy of Guillotine, an entertaining enough little card game of chopping off the heads of 18th century French aristos.

The game comes with a folded cardboard thing which is supposed to be a guillotine (it's used to mark the business end of the line of cards on the table) but it is crap. So I made one.

Strictly speaking, it isn't necessary to have a guillotine to play the game, but I'm sure a tiny guillotine will be a handy thing to have around in any case. If nothing else, I can drag it out for our D&D game the next time one of the characters gets hauled up before the law for setting fire to a city or something.

My Guillotine Box
And because I can, I also designed and printed a box to fit everything in to.

Compact! Stylish! Every home should have one!

Great King Fex, Lord of All Poop

Behold, Great King Fex, Lord of All Poop!
Bow down and cower before him!
All hail his mighty stench!
Also behold one of his trusty PoopGuard!

These are two of DutchMogul's earth-people models, which can be found at https://www.thingiverse.com/dutchmogul/collections/army-of-the-earthenkind.

I, however, intend to use them not as earth-people, but as poop-people. I have a couple of dozen PoopGuard being painted right now, plus some others which I will keep in reserve until after they've had their evil (neutral, really) way with my players.

Hawker Hart

To make a change from tanks and trucks and things, I've put together this model of a Hawker Hart light bomber in Blender. I started ...