More Bookbinding Shenanigans


I've been experimenting with cloth-binding a book I put together recently, printed from Chaosium's 99 cent DTRPG PDF of their Basic Roleplaying book.

A couple of significant issues in cloth-binding are keeping the cloth stable while it's being glued (i.e. not distorting or stretching the weave) and preventing glue from oozing through it.

This stuff, Heat-n-Bond UltraHold provides an easy fix for both those issues. It's an iron-on adhesive film, which can be ironed on to the fabric, and then with its backing sheet removed, the fabric is ironed on to a paper backing — I just used some brown paper I had lying around.

The paper keeps the fabric stable, and provides a good gluing surface. It also stiffens the fabric, making it easy to trim and fold into place.

I've used an offcut of batik-patterned cotton for this one. Linen would be better, but this should serve the purpose for as long as I'm around.

Now, if I could just find the patterned paper I was going to use for endpapers. It must be around here somewhere.

Later on...

I didn't find the paper I had planned to use for the endpapers, so I went and got some other paper, which looks fine I think.

Regrettably, I didn't think ahead when I was gluing and sewing up the text block. I should have added an extra blank page front and back for the endpapers to glue to. In the end I just glued them into the inside covers. Maybe next time I'll remember.

Russ Nicholson


Russ Nicholson, one of my favourite RPG artists ever since I first encountered his work back in the '80s, has died.

I didn't really know him personally, though we did have some brief and fleeting online interactions. He was always very supportive of the efforts of aspiring game artists, and always had something useful to say.

Condolences to all his family and friends.

Gladiator For Sale


I've put my 1:144 Gloster Gladiator model online at

It's in several formats: a one-piece model (for resin printers) and two kit variants (easier for FDM printers).

Now I'm vaguely thinking of doing its immediate predecessor, the Gloster Gauntlet, in keeping with my usual policy of making models that almost nobody will be interested in but me.

Later on...

I found that I got better results when printing in resin (no distortion or warping) if I printed the wings straight up and down. So I split up the model in a different way to accommodate that, and added the STLs to the zip files on

The sticky-outy bits are still pretty fragile with the resin I use; it would be better printed in one of the ABS-like resins I think, from the point of view of durability.

The Gladiator of Theseus


I've been working on a 1:144 scale Gloster Gladiator, based on a model I found somewhere quite some time ago.

The model I based the Gladiator on was very low detail, and I suspect that it was originally based on a 3d scan due to the way the cowling and canopy blended into the fuselage. There's not much left of that original model now, but there's still a little bit (unfortunately).

I've cleaned it up substantially: given it a new cowling, canopy, undercarriage, elevators, and also cut it up into multiple components to make FDM printing easier and better. And now I'm in the process of adding ribs.

The fuselage ribs are going to be very fiddly, but doable. Fortunately I can get away with quite a bit in this scale. I do wish now that I'd replaced the original fuselage geometry entirely, because the mish-mash I've left myself with is not going to make my life any easier.

It will need some under-wing gun pods too, now that I come to think of it.


The remaining fuselage geometry enraged me so much that I've just done away with it and replaced it entirely. So this is now the Gladiator of Theseus — I don't think there's any of the original geometry left at all.

I've broken it up into kit form, to minimise the need for supports and also to optimise the stair-stepping of FDM printing. Now all that remains is the test printing.

Next Day...

I've done some test prints. They've all been sprayed the same Vallejo ModelAir Middlestone so that the colour and surface of the different media don't obtrude.

  • The one on the left is FDM printed, having been split longitudinally and with separate pieces for the cowling and undercarriage.
  • In the centre is one that I printed in one single piece in resin, and as usual I got some very bad warping and distortion of the wings. I don't seem to be able to beat that; I don't know what's causing it. I know it's possible to get good, dimensionally stable results in resin, because I've seen other people do it. So the fault lies somehow with me.
  • The one on the right is an older, pre-ribbed model that was just split down the middle and FDM printed in two pieces.

FDM printing gives me much better dimensional reliability, at the expense of perceptible layer lines on the sides of the fuselage. Maybe I could combine the two printing methods: print the fuselage in resin, and the wings in FDM. It's probably doable, though it wouldn't be entirely straightforward.

Reading Glasses For Cheap


As I've become more geriatric and decrepit, my eyesight has become progressively crappier. Nothing unusual; just your standard Old Person Long-Sightedness.

For that reason, I now have to wear glasses to be able to read text on my computer or in a book, and also for doing art or engaging in my other hobbies such as model-making and woodwork.

Quite a few years ago I bought a headset magnifier, which allows for two levels of magnification. It works well, and the magnification levels are good, but it's not that comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and it gets in the way as it's relatively bulky.

Fortunately, the age of cheap mass-produced reading glasses is upon us, and I use those by preference. They're lighter and more comfortable, and cheap enough that they're practically disposable.

I need varying levels of magnification for different purposes, so I have multiple pairs of glasses. For sitting at my computer, and general day-to-day work, I use 1.75 diopters. For closer reading (books, e-reader or tablet) I use 2.25 diopter. For drawing and general modeling work I use 3.5 diopter, and for really close-in detail work I use 5.0 or 6.0 diopter glasses.

All of them bar the 5.0 and 6.0 glasses I can get from the Warehouse for about ten bucks, and the more powerful ones I got from China via AliExpress, also for about ten bucks each.

If I had to go to an optometrist and get a customized pair of bifocals, I'd be looking at a couple of hundred dollars per pair. Not that long ago, I wouldn't have had any other real option. So, thank goodness for el-cheapo mass-production.

The pairs in the photograph are the ones I keep on my modelling bench. They're on a stand that I designed in Blender and printed on my Ender 3, so they're always readily to hand, but are kept out of the dust and scratchy things that tend to clutter the desk top.

Pulp Hero


This just arrived for me, a PoD product via DTRPG.

To tell the truth, I'm not really sure why I bought it. I don't use the Hero System any more, though I was very keen on it it back in the day.

It's a hefty tome — 432 pages — and it follows the same general pattern as other Hero System genre books. It includes a lot of background information on the Pulp era, including a country by country background of the world, which would all be very handy. Resources like travel times from here to there, and other milieu details, are presented in various tables. There's information and Hero stats for Pulpish equipment and Mad Science, and of course some sample Good Guys and Bad Hats.

I have run a little bit of Two-Fisted Pulp Action in the Hero System before, though the PBEM campaign against the Despicable Doktor DePravo didn't last for very long either time. Both times I tried to get it up and running, something awful happened in real life to derail everything.

Print-on-Demand is a great thing. It means that volumes like this, that would likely have been out of print and unavailable years ago, can still be had by nerds such as me, and it means that small concerns like Hero Games don't have to worry about keeping stocks of old books mouldering away in warehouses (or, more likely, somebody's garage).

Horsa (again)


This is WindhamGraves multi-part Airspeed Horsa model, assembled as he originally released it, except once again rescaled to 1:144 to fit in with all my other wargaming aircraft.

I've modelled this one in 'unloading' format, with the tail section detached and the forward cargo hatches and ramps deployed. I haven't included any troops or cargo, as everything else on the table would be 1:100 scale, so they'd look diminutive and out of place. 

Next Day:

After watching a thing on Youtube about the Horsa, I found that they used loading beams to get heavy cargo like jeeps and guns on and off. No great surprise there.

So I added a pair, and my teensy-tiny paras will no longer have to lift heavy things in and out of their glider.

Dropper Bottle Paint Racks


This is a stackable shelf module, 190mm wide, designed to fit standard 25mm diameter dropper bottles such as those used by Vallejo or AK Interactive.

It is not a complete one-step shelving solution. The modules will need to be glued together, and the whole set will need to be secured to a base-plate of some kind to keep it from tipping over. Depending on the number of layers, some support for the rearmost shelves may also be necessary.

I've included bottom and top shelf STLs — they're not strictly necessary, but they make a more compact unit.

I've also included STLs for some bracing pillars for the back shelves, in heights to fit one, two or three levels. If a higher brace is required, two of the shorter ones can be glued together.

Edit 2023-05-05:

I've now added a pair of stepped brackets that tip the whole shelf assembly forward by about 20 degrees, reducing the depth of the whole thing and making it more compact.

The bottles are still held securely in their collars and by the lipped shelf beneath.

And Lo!

It works very well. There are a few hours of printing there (about twenty for this many shelves) but then it's not as if 3d printing is a labour-intensive affair.

I'll probably replace that hardboard one to the left of it at some stage, partly for consistency, but mainly because with my 3d printed version I can get an extra 50% paint storage space for the same footprint.

German WWII Desert Colours


I've been stocking up on Vallejo airbrush colours for WWII German desert vehicles. I've got into the habit of spraying colour swatches like these when I get some new paints, so that I can see what the colour is actually like, and to record the RAL numbers and vallejo's own designations. The pages are A5 (148 x 210 mm).

Recent research has meant that the colours of WWII-era paints can be much more accurately replicated these days, which is a fine thing, but when it comes to paint in the desert there's not that much point in being too anal about it. Except, of course, for the nerdy satisfaction one gets from knowing that the colours are as accurate as one can manage.

In real life, the effects of sun-fading and wind-blown sand-blasting means that paints didn't stay fresh for long. Add to that the fact that Rommel's troops were using up old stocks of paint, or using stocks of British or Italian or American paints, and there are very wide ranges of shades any given tank or gun or truck might appear in. Even within a single unit, different vehicles might look quite different in tone.

However that might be, I like to have an accurate starting point. All the real-life variation to the side, I think that that phenomenon is often just used as an excuse for lazy modeling, because I am a judgemental dick.

Horsa, complete


I've finished my 1:144 scale Horsa glider, and I've photographed it here with some PSC 15mm plastic Red Devils.

It's clearly too small in scale against the figures — probably closer in size to a Waco/Hadrian — but it won't look too out of place on a 15mm wargames table. A full scale model would take up a lot of room, and would be absolutely enormous compared with almost any game's ground scale.

I did not enjoy painting the fuselage side roundels at all. The wings and tailplanes really got in the way.

A different Horsa, but still 1:144 and still WiP


I'm making some progress on my simplified 1:144 remix of WindhamGraves Airspeed Horsa model. This was printed on my Ender 3 at 0.1mm layer height; it took about ten hours to print. The STL can be had at

This is about it for all the masking and airbrushing; from here on in it will all be freehand painting I think.

I had to bore a hole under the nose for some weights so that it would sit forward on its undercarriage, but in my most recent version of the STL I've provided a cavity in the nose that you can just glue a weight into.

The red and blue of the roundels turned out a lot brighter than I'd expected, so they'll have to be knocked back a bit to better represent the low-visibility markings used on these gliders.

Also, the invasion stripes were apparently just slapped on with brushes and rollers, so a bit of imprecise hand-painting wouldn't actually be all that unrealistic. However, when I've actually tried that sort of thing, it just ends up looking like crappy modeling.

Airspeed Horsa (1:144, WiP)


I've just finished printing the Airspeed Horsa model by WindhamGraves from Thingiverse, and now I'm into the assembly phase. He describes it as "easy print", and it certainly printed easily, but I can't say the same for assembly :)

With reference to the one-piece STL he provides, along with some pictures from here and there, I'm slowly working out which bit should go where (I think). The undercarriage is going to be interesting.

The interior rib detail is pretty nice, and some of it will be visible when everything is finished (I'm doing a 'landed' version). There are no seats, but that's really no big deal. I'll be modeling it with the tail detached, which would make it more likely that it was a cargo flight in any case. Bergman includes some airborne jeeps with his Waco models, so perhaps I'll include one of those in the vignette — though maybe not, since a 1:144 scale jeep (to fit with the glider model) would look comically tiny alongside the 15mm figures and vehicles I use.

I've re-scaled it to 1:144 to fit in with all my other WWII wargaming aircraft. The original model was designed at 1:100.

Sun Shield


I've never seen any wargaming  rules covering its use, but I've designed a model of a M3 Grant wearing a "Sun Shield" truck disguise, because why ever not?

It can be found at

I've wanted a Sun Shield model for the longest time, and now I have one :)

Maybe I'll do one for a Crusader now. Maybe.

In other 3d printing news, I just got this little (very little) ultrasonic bath. It's very basic, with no timers or anything, and the bath itself is just big enough to accommodate my 15mm tank models. There's nothing to adjust; just fill it with your chosen solvent (water for me) and hit the button, and it buzzes away for three minutes.

I thought I'd rinsed out my Sun Shield model pretty well, but I was surprised to see what clouds of uncured resin came streaming away from it with a couple of sessions in the bath. I'd be interested to see how it works with isopropyl or meths.

Apparently you can avoid having to fill the whole bath with solvent by putting your model in a small zip-lock bag with isopropyl or whatever, and put all of that in water in the bath. The water transmits the ultrasonic pulses through the plastic membrane and into the iso. It sounds worth trying out.

End of an Era


Here it is then. Probably the very last book I'll ever get from The Book Depository.

With their enormous range and free world-wide delivery (not really free, but factored into the book price so it seemed invisible), plus the fact that they took PayPal, has been my go-to book supplier ever since I found out that they existed. They were bought out by Amazon some years ago, and now Amazon has decided to shut them down. Amazon does not accept PayPal.

They must have been working on pretty thin margins, as they were not only much more convenient than local booksellers, but also (usually) quite a bit cheaper. They're still taking and fulfilling orders until April 26th, but I don't think it likely that I'll find anything I desperately want until then, as I'm very much an impulse buyer when it comes to books.

Farewell, BookDepository. You'll be missed. Sorry you got stomped by the big bully on the block.

Vickers Infantry Tank No.2


I printed Roman Vasyliev's model of the Vickers Infantry Tank No.2, rescaled to 1:100.

With a crew of five*, it must have been pretty cramped in there. I've photographed it alongside a Valentine, also in 1:100 scale, and the Valentine was not a notoriously roomy vehicle even with a crew of four.

*Note: I've also seen stats which claim a crew of two, which seems a lot more likely considering the layout of the interior.

I'm coming to truly loathe the eSun water-washable resin I'm having to use. Nothing I do seems to stop it from opening gaping cracks. If I could easily get hold of something else, I surely would, although I don't have a ventilation system set up right now to cater to some of the stinkier resins out there..

I've attempted to disguise the horrible cracking on the port side by slathering on masses of caked-on muck. It's not ideal, but at least it covers it up to a degree.

My collection of British interwar medium tanks proceeds. I'm continuing with it more out of habit than anything else, as the chances of actually doing any interwar era wargaming seem to be becoming vanishingly small.

Impromptu Photo Stage


Sometimes it's not practical to use a tripod for photographing miniatures, but hand-held photography, especially indoors, is seldom acceptably free from hand-shake blur.

A convenient alternative can be small bean-bags, like the ones shown here.

These ones are just made up from scraps of fabric and filled with rice; they're good, but a little bit heavy for carrying around in your bag all day. They could be made lighter by using barley or some similar grain. Popping corn kernels would probably work well.

I would not recommend using inflatable plastic bags, as they're slippery and tend to wobble, and it's quite possible that your precious camera might slip off them and crash to the floor, to the sound of cries of dismay.

I'd still recommend using a timer to avoid any inadvertent movement of the camera. The photos can later be cropped to get rid of any extraneous clutter.

Using this technique along with a simple hand-held reflector to help fill in shadows, and you can get pretty acceptable low-angle model photos.

The model is an old Airfix 1/72 scale WW1 German Hannover Cl-III

Later on... a thought

There was some stuff we used to use back in my museum days as an inert filler for resin moulding called Vermiculite. It's a very light mineral substance that is, I think, created by heating, a bit like popcorn.

I think it would make an ideal filler for bean-bags, because being so light, it won't weigh you down if you have a couple of them in your camera bag. And unlike rice or grain, it won't go mouldy if it should get damp.

It's used, among other things, as loose-fill insulation. And I think it can be got from gardening supplies shops too.

Black & White


I've been considering perhaps painting my Pulp / Call of Cthulhu minis in this black & white monochrome fashion, harking back to the black & white movies of yore. It has the advantage that it's very quick and easy.

One issue with the idea is that any scatter terrain or mapping graphics I use with them should also have to be monochrome, or else they'll just look like unpainted minis.

Runequest III vs. Mythras


I found my old copy of Runequest. This is the English softcover version of the third edition, produced by Games Workshop back in the day. The day, in this case, being 1989.

I was interested to note just how little of it there is compared with Mythras, which is essentially the latest edition of Runequest. Once upon a time, 96 pages was deemed to be plenty to present a one-book roleplaying system, including monster stats and what-not. Mythras weighs in at 304 pages for essentially the same purpose.

I make no moral judgement one way or the other, though I do suggest that maybe a large hardback costing more than a hundred bucks isn't necessarily as essential to the function of a RPG reference book as publishers these days seem to imagine.

Paper Minis from Okum Arts


Since I have the glimmerings of a Call of Cthulhu campaign beginning to form in my fevered brain, I thought it would be useful to have some miniatures for the tabletop.

I have a few of Reaper's Mythos figures, that I got in one of their Kickstarters some years ago. I have fourteen of them in all that would be suitable for Investigators, but there are only four female characters, and two of those are skinny little things in Victorian dress. I'd like to be able to pad out that lineup, but when I recently went to buy half a dozen figures from Reaper for about thirty yankeebucks, the cheapest shipping option they offered was about ninety dollars — three times the cost of the figures. So, bugger that.

Another option is to find or buy STLs for appropriate minis, and print them myself, and I may still do that, as I do prefer three-dimensional miniatures, for player-characters at least. But there is another option.

Okum Arts sells printable PDFs on DriveThru-RPG of quite a large variety of double-sided 2d paper figures, some of which I've shown here alongside a few of the 3d Reaper minis. They're pretty cheap, generally only a couple of dollars per set, and they're quick and easy to prepare. The few I've shown here are a bunch of cultists and a single down-at-heel Investigator, but there are a lot more, including a set of Mythos monsters, and some Pulp staples like gangsters, G-men, and Rocketeers. There are sets of steampunkish Victorians as well, designed for a game called Contraption, about which I know absolutely nothing.

They're in a fairly simple, colourful, cartoonish style that is well suited to this use. More detail would be mostly wasted and would tend to just confuse the image at tabletop scale. The PDFs are mostly layered, so that various colour and other options can be enabled or disabled before printing. They're the right size to work alongside 3d minis. I've printed out some standee-stands for them (STL available on Thingiverse at but they could be quite easily glued to card bases.

These are just printed on paper, as my Brother laser printer is incapable of handling anything heavier. However, they'd be better printed on light card, which would make them a bit sturdier as well as making them stay in their bases a bit more securely.


I have, in the past, laminated fold-up paper minis like these on card to make them thicker and stiffer.

But that's a bit of a faff; it makes it difficult to align the front and back images, and it makes the figures harder to cut out.

For these ones I've just stuck a thin strip of black card along the base tab, front and back, with double-sided tape.

That keeps the paper mini firmly in its' standee-stand, and all I have to cut out is a double layer of printer paper.

They're perhaps not as sturdy as card minis would be, but what the heck, if they get damaged beyond the point of usability it's a matter of five minutes to print, glue, and cut out a whole new one. And unless the user is particularly ham-fisted, these paper figures are likely to last pretty well.

Depth of Field Demonstration

What follows is a series of photographs to demonstrate the effect of aperture (f-stop) on depth of field, i.e., the area in which the image is sharp.

All the photos have been taken with the point of focus being on the rebel pilot in red in the middle, and with automatic exposure. They start with an aperture of f-36, the smallest aperture my Nikon DSLR is presently capable of, and run through in standard aperture steps to f-5.3, the largest aperture I can manage with this lens. The camera will actually handle intermediate aperture steps as well, but for demonstration purposes these eight images will be sufficient.

Note: the photos were taken using a multi-area focusing system, and strictly speaking I should have used spot metering, centered precisely on the Red Dude. However, these will have to do as I am too lazy to repeat it all.

The miniatures are WotC Star Wars pre-paints, and are staggered at one inch (25mm) intervals. The camera's focal plane (i.e. the image sensor) was about 750mm from the focal point (i.e. the guy in red).

Click on the photos to see them at full size (or as large as your screen allows).