This is Not a Test: Scratching Pig Iron Productions

I’m a big fan of Pig Iron Productions miniatures, which are still available thanks to the new business owners. Pig Iron figures are cast in pewter, which means they’re an excellent base for scratch building.

Here’s a couple of figures I scratched up recently for my This is Not a Test Peacekeeper warband. First is a flame thrower unit, because nothing keeps the peace like the threat of being swiftly barbecued. He’s made from a mix of Pig Iron Kolony Militia and Kolony Rebel parts. The flamethrower tanks are from a Games Workshop Cadian sprue, with the garish skull and crossbones carefully trimmed off both tanks. Fortunately the back armor of Kolony figures works well with the GW Cadian parts, and they fit nicely together with some minor filing to remove some detail from the Pig Iron figure. A bit of greenstuff piping, a paperclip and a small length of aluminium rod make up the rest of the flamethrower. The plan is to paint that last couple of mm of the paperclip as an ignition flame. I might put a small band of greenstuff around the end of the paperclip to indicate the pipe end as well.

The second scratch build, is your typical dirty sniper figure. The base is a Pig Iron figure who was holding a futuristic SMG weapon at a jaunty angle. There were only two simple bits of work required to convert him into a sniper. The gun scope is built from a bit of garden wire and two bits of carefully filed aluminium pipe. The SMG barrel was extended and silenced with a bit of paperclip and another piece of aluminium tube. Paperclips are excellent for this sort of work as the wire they’re made from is very robust, and won’t bend easily during handling.

This a Not a Test: 28mm Ruined Modern Furniture

28mm Ruined Sofas Here’s a set of the sofas I cast a couple of weeks ago, but in ruined form. These were made by taking a resin cast of the original, intact sofas, cutting chunks out of them, building them up again with green stuff and re-molding them.

This set were cast in Ultracal 30, which is a nice hard plaster that captures detail well and doesn’t effect the RTV molds I use, unlike resins which tends to dry out then tear up the molds after only a handful of casts. They’ve had feet glued on them, made from cut styrene sheet and were painted up with cheap student acrylics. The figure for scale is standing on a Games Workshop 25mm base.

I’ll probably paint up a few more sets and use them as scattered soft cover, or as a base for make-shift street barricades perhaps.

This is Not a Test: 28mm Modern Furniture

28mm Scale Modern Furniture It seems I’m on a bit of a ‘This is Not a Test’ bender, so it’s time to start putting together some simple terrain for it. TnT is a post apocalyptic game, so ruined buildings and the refuse of 20th century living seem appropriate. Mighty Ape recently had a sale on a bunch of wargaming stuff, and I picked up a box of Mantic ‘Red Brick’ scenery for a very good price. The terrain from this boxed set, combined with my existing Hirst Arts mold collection should be enough to cover a 4’x4′ TnT table.

However one thing I was struggling to find, was a good supply of 20th century 28mm scale furniture and the like. As I’m trying to improve my sculpting skills, I tried whipping up some of my own. Here’s the first set which is a simple sofa, love seat and comfy chair. They’re posed here on lumps of blu tack, with a couple of converted old Necromunda figures, on GW bases for scale. They’re on blu tack because I plan on adding feet to the casts of these masters for a bit of a height boost.

They were constructed from cheap, builder’s epoxy that sets rock hard in 5 minutes. The quick set time means these were each built up in layers. Cushions first, then a base, then the back and finally the arms were added. Then the epoxy was filed back and patched in places with grey stuff where I’d left tool marks and the like. I’ve already cast a couple of sets of them in a good hard resin and they’ve come out quite nicely. I’m currently modifying the first set and adding more detail with green stuff to try and make ruined furniture that looks slightly more post apocalyptic. I also have mad plans to try and create a 50’s ‘Fallout 3’ styled fridge, TV and oven next. I might have to dig up the molds for my old Pulp luggage as well.

This is Not a Test: Converted Raider Broiler

TnT Converted Broiler Painted My This is Not a Test Raider warband was expanded on paper after the last TCOW meet. I added a Broiler, and another Mongrel dog – so had to find suitable figures for them.

I had a few more Obelisk Miniatures Hyenas to paint so the Mongrel was covered. However I had nothing appropriate for a Broiler, who comes equipped with a free flamethrower. I did recently get a bunch of metal Bolt Action figures, one of which was a Late War German Panzergrenadier carrying a WWII flamethrower, with a set of tanks that looked like they’d be reasonably easy to press mold.

Scrabbling through my old Games Workshop figures I also found a likely looking Vampire Counts Ghoul. This guy was an out of production, lead pewter figure from the late 90’s. They were lovely sculpts and the lead pewter made them ideal for conversion as you can repose their limbs with a reasonable amount of freedom if you’re careful. Low lead pewter is a lot more brittle and prone to cracking if you try to it.

TnT Converted Broiler The other advantage of lead pewter is that it’s fairly easy to cut through. Off came the Ghoul’s original head, and away went the bone he held in his left hand. He got a new head, again from my collection of old metals – a Pig Iron Productions gas mask head.

The press moulded gas tanks from the Panzergrenadier went onto the Ghoul’s back, and had a few bits of extra sculpting added. A new ‘flamethrower’ was sculpted with gardening wire and aluminium rod. The petrol pump handle the figure ended up with was my second attempt and came out a lot better than my first attempt which involved a butchered Catachan plastic Flamer. The plastic wheel is a spare from the front of a Bolt Action Hanomag kit.

All in all, one of my better conversion efforts I think. It’ll be interesting to see how he does on the gaming table.

PAX Aus: From Pixels and Putty Panel

PAX Aus LogoI attended PAX Aus this weekend. Fortunately the Melbourne Exhibition Centre was a much better venue this year, and one of the many excellent panels I made it to was ‘From Pixels and Putty to Awesome Tabletop Miniatures’.

The speakers were:

  1. Andrew Lum and Robert Sakaluk from Aetherworks
  2. Peter Overton from Twisted Miniatures
  3. Kosta Heristanidis from Eureka Miniatures
  4. Craig Clarke from CNC Workshop
  5. Jake Schneider from Dark Wolf Studios

Victoria Lamb was supposed to turn up too but couldn’t make it for some reason alas.

It was a great panel, and covered a bunch of stuff from traditional putty sculpting over a wire armature for figure work, which I’m reasonably familiar with from years of wargaming, to more modern hard edge work using CAD packages like Sketch UP and 3D rapid prototyping.

The panel consensus seemed to be that consumer grade 3D printing was probably ten years away from being capable of producing the sort of detail you’d want on a war gaming figure. However I’d argue that depends perhaps on what scale you’re working in, and what you’re trying to produce. It seems possible to produce reasonably decent hard edged terrain and vehicles with the consumer grade 3D printers you can buy today, if you’re willing to rework the prints a little. Human 28mm wargaming figures are another story of course, there the 10 year window does seem more reasonable.

Sketch Up was mentioned by two of the sculptors as being their preferred tool, and as it’s a free product I definitely need to spend some time practicing with it. CNC Workshop use Sketch Up to lay out their MDF laser cut terrain kits, and Dark Wolf Studios are using Sketch Up mainly for vehicle parts to customise 40k kits. Dustan also bought himself a Makerbot 3D printer a while back and is going gang busters on it too, so I know at least one local who can render Sketch up plans into ABS plastic.

The panel also lamented how awful Shapeways was for any kind of figure or small scale war game work. Somebody recommended Moddler instead for producing finished resin masters from your plans. They look very professional though, and quote for individual work so best make damn sure you have something in a final form to print.

I live in Ubuntu these days because I find it a heck of a lot more productive than Windows. Fortunately Sketch Up can apparently run under Wine according to these instructions. Time to try putting together something to send to Dustan!

Musketeer Miniatures Sculpting Tutorial

Musketeer Miniatures Pirate Recently I stumbled across an excellent, step by step photo tutorial of a 28mm pirate sculpt by the gentleman behind Musketeer Miniatures.

In nine parts he takes us from creation of the wire armature to a finished sculpt using ProCreate epoxy putty which has recently appeared on the market. Frankly this has to be one of the best sculpting tutorials I’ve found on the web to date which is why I’m reposting it here. It’s so good I’m considering using it as a copying exercise and attempting to create my own version of this pirate from green stuff just for practice (of course).

ProCreate putty sounds like an improvement over green stuff as well, which I find a little annoying to use simply because it’s so tacky. Musketeer Miniatures sell ProCreate too, and I’m tempted to pick some up, although I should use up the foot or so of green stuff tape I have left first.

PitYak Burnisher

Pityak Burnisher I’ve bought several very useful sculpting tools from Phil of PitYak Studios in the past. Unfortunately one tool he didn’t have was a small ball burnisher which I was after for smoothing sculpted green stuff.

Recently he told me about a craft store he’d found locally in Wellington that sold some cheap and useful tools. In particular they had a 0.5/1mm ball burnisher tool that he picked up and was good enough to send me gratis. Thanks Phil, I definitely owe you one!

By the way PitYak Studios sell a fine range of detailed resin 28mm figure bases as well as a wide range of modeling tools and basing materials.

Sculptors Do It With Small Tools

Prophet Minis recently announced their new ‘Sculptors Do It With Small Tools’ product which is a kit that contains enough materials to sculpt up to half a dozen 28mm figures. For the tools and materials supplied it looks to be pretty good value at $34.99us. Unfortunately I already have plenty of sculpting tools, dollies and green stuff littering my paint station.

However I noticed they also sell the sculpting tutorial included in the kit as a separate, downloadable PDF for a mere $7us. For that price I figure it’d be hard to lose so I grabbed a copy.

It’s not a bad tutorial at all. Most of the basics are covered included the working properties of green stuff, how to use and create your own armature dollies, various figure proportions and ratios (for men and women), dynamic poses and visual balance for figures.

The tutorial also contains some specific methods for creating hair, fur and thin sheets of green stuff for clothing and cloaks as well as a two page step-by-step on sculpting faces. Finally it includes a couple of handy reference pages giving figure ratios in various scales (54mm to 10mm) and front/back pictures of showing stylised male musculature.

There are a couple of gaps in the tutorial. For example I would like to see a step-by-step of an entire figure being sculpted and while creating faces is covered there’s no tips for sculpting hands which can be another problematic area in my experience.

Even so $7us well spent I feel and the PDF has been carefully filed into my ‘sculpting’ folder.

Update: According the to the Prophet Minis forums a tutorial for sculpting hands should be appearing on their web site in the future.

Via Tabletop Gaming News.

Carving Pumpkins!

Sculpted Halloween Pumpkin Ok a little off topic, but here’s some lovely (relatively speaking) Halloween Pumpkin Sculpture from Villafane Studios (warning annoying Flash front page), with a how-to photo tutorial even!

We’re not quite as Halloween crazy here in New Zealand as people are in the States. We’ll do a bit of trick and treatin’ in the street with the kids but nobody wears costumes to work or anything. I tell you it was a bit of an eye opener catching the Silicon Valley Light Rail during Halloween while I was working over there several years ago!

Via Boing Boing.