Thursday 25 May 2023

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.

Thursday 18 May 2023

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.

Tuesday 16 May 2023

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.

Sunday 14 May 2023

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.

Friday 12 May 2023

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.

Wednesday 10 May 2023

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).

Tuesday 9 May 2023

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.

Thursday 4 May 2023

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.

Monday 1 May 2023

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.