Close the blast doors

I have been kicking back a bit this week and tying up a few loose ends on the Battle for Alabaster board whilst I recharge the batteries. Last weekend was a frenzy of painting to hit my self-imposed milestone of getting the first section completed, so I thought I would set a more sensible pace this week. The casting pile of tiles needed to make the Cargo Bay section is slowly but steadily being replenished and I have been making a few modifications to the Sketch-Up schematics. All still well inside the window of getting the second board section built inside the next couple of weeks.

The response I have received about the first section has been phenomenal, so thank you to everyone who has emailed, tweeted or commented either here, or via the Studio McVey forums.

The Kickstarter campaign has moved into its final few hours now and the pace of interest has continued to amaze; the target at the time of writing having passed the $680,000 mark. I suspect this is in no small way down to the addition of more pastiche characters like the mercenary crew of the “Calamity”, or Dr Hexen Phaestus. More than likely however it is just down to being a great looking product which the Kickstarter backers are getting jam-packed with Sedition Wars mini goodness (see my previous post) . It will be interesting to see what funding figure the campaign finally realises and just how much painting I am going to be doing over the winter and well into 2013.

I mentioned at the start I have been tying up a few loose ends. One of those was to cast and paint several sets of internal doors for the first board. Not the most glamorous of activities, but strangely quite satisfying. To help make the door types easily identifiable in gaming terms, I have tried to adhere to a ‘rough’ format colour wise. It isn’t hard and fast, nor does it exactly match what is on the printed tiles, but it does give me a plan to follow. The colours I chose were:

  • Orange for doors leading to other board sections. Blast doors for want of a better term.
  • Yellow for Airlocks
  • Blue for regular internal doors

Where I decide to use bare metal instead, I will look to add a stripe, mark or icon in the appropriate colour. With the engine section being quite utilitarian, I wanted to use the doors as a way of introducing a bold splash of colour. It not only catches the eye, but it also stops the board looking too Gothic in nature and 40K-ish. That was also the primary reason I chose yellow for the pipe colour.

Doors aside, I did promise I would show a few more pictures of the detail on the board, along with how some of the weathering was achieved on the sub-assemblies. In no particular order here are a selection of the walls and internal structures.

I wanted to achieve the appearance of an industrial, but largely automated engineering section. Pipes, ducting and cooling vents are placed for practicality, not aesthetics. I purposefully moved away from too much symmetry, a vibe I got from looking at the printed tile design. The other look I wanted to capture was that of an area rarely visited by the majority of the crew. Outside of a few lowly paid (if at all) engineers, the stations officers, scientists, med-techs and security types wouldn’t go within a mile of this section. Unless they had a sudden and overwhelming urge to hide from something of course. The place would be noisy, dirty and ill-maintained, but it would also be quite empty in my opinion. For that reason I quite purposefully didn’t add any blood stains to the floor or machinery. That I plan on leaving for the science section to be more in keeping with the games storyline. The more I look over each printed board, the more I see distinct themes and character which can be worked into the painting.

Getting back to the piping and choice of colour, the worn and oil stained effect was achieved through some very simple techniques. Firstly the pipes were painted in GW Iyanden Darksun, a good high pigment yellow which gave them a good one-pass base colour. Very deliberately I didn’t try to achieve a perfect coat as any patchiness would just help emphasise the effect. This was then given a coat of Klear at the same time as the rest of the parts and once dry a wash and rub down of black KIWI brand shoe polish. To get a decent effect, don’t leave this on the miniature too long. I just painted it on and then almost immediately wiped it off again with a piece of kitchen roll until it was nearly all removed again, just leaving behind traces in recessed detail and an overall stain. The coat of gloss varnish before hand stops the polish from being absorbed into the porous plaster too quickly allowing it to be worked for longer.

The chipping effect was Dark Flesh which I dabbed onto the pipes in areas most likely to be subject to wear and corrosion, such as around seams and joints. Using a piece of blister packaging sponge gives this a pleasingly natural and random finish. For the rust streaks and soot, I used some of Tamiya’s weathering packs which I applied with a small dry brush. I could also have used dry pigment, but felt for the walls the Tamiya product was more appropriate as it has a waxy binding agent which means you can treat it almost like a dry brush and not have to worry about fixing it as you work because it is more forgiving to being handled. A quick coat of matte varnish at the end is enough to set it in place

Finally, a few oil stains using a mix of Klear and Ink or MiG oil and grease effect was applied sparingly around machinery and along joins in the decking.

Detailing like the lettering is really easy to apply. It is a dry-rub lettering such as the sort you find in a stationers. Just cut out the size of letters and numbers you want, rub directly into place with a soft pencil and remove the backing. I added additional chipping and pigment weathering over the top to help blend the letters into the walls and they definitely need protecting with a coat of varnish as they are even more fragile than decals.

All were simple techniques, but I think they really helped bring to life the overall character of the finished board to somewhere between a boardgame tile and wargaming terrain.

As the “Cool Mini Or Not” campaign stretches towards its exciting conclusion this weekend, I have pretty much thrown in my lot behind it now. Committed to painting all those Vanguard and nano-virus infected Strain miniatures when it ships at the end of the year and into 2013, I am going to be very active hobby wise. Add to that the forthcoming 10mm Dropzone miniatures and my other projects, something clearly has to give in the schedule. Sadly, as I predicted a few posts ago, it is 40K that I am withdrawing from gaming wise and putting on indefinite hold. I cannot generate the same degree of enthusiasm for Warhammer 40,000 Sixth Edition as I can for other companies products right now and have come to the conclusion that, for me, the 40K candle has finally guttered and burned out.

Thus I somewhat reluctantly made a decision not to purchase any more 40K miniatures for the foreseeable future and instead direct my hobby funds towards other game systems. It doesn’t mean 40K will be forever banned from the workbench, or my blog however. I have a stupendous backlog of miniatures and projects already in progress, which could quite literally keep me painting for years to come. I just don’t need to buy any more.

On that cheery note, I will get back to casting, buffing my doors with boot polish and trying not to think about how much I have just pledged on the credit card to Mr McVey’s start up.

Next update: The Cargo Bay fills up.

Have a great week.


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