Stone, Water, and War: My adventures in terrain and miniatures

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    • I don't like red dragons!

      Hello my friends!

      So let me explain the title of this post before I go any further. I like red dragons just fine, lol. I just don't like their overabundance in the fantasy genre. I have always appreciated dragons of other themes and colors, especially dragons that inhabit other climates and environments, like snow, water, jungle, etc.

      As such when I finally got around to building and painting my own dragon I had decided pretty early on that I was going to do some sort of dragon from a cold, frozen environment. I envisioned a dragon being a cold, bluish gray color with some frosted highlighting.

      I bought the Gale Force Nine D & D Collectors Series Adult Red Dragon back in 2016. Just a few weeks ago I dug it out of storage to coincide with finishing up my warbands for the games Frostgrave and Arcworlde. This dragon is perfect for both of those games because both games take place in cold, wintry environments.

      As such I had a fairly clear plan as to how I was going to paint it right from the start. He was going to be blue. And that meant starting with an undercoat of light gray or white.

      I chose Citadel Corax White. Citadel sprays provide a nice, thin, super tight undercoat finish on a model and it dries very quickly. I thought about attempting to use Citadel Contrasts on it, but instead I chose a traditional ink wash instead.



      I chose Army Painters' Blue Ink Shade and mixed Citadel Contrast Medium into it to aid with flow and shading of the recesses.

      I went through about half of the bottle to get all of the dragon covered. It went much farther than I thought it would. The coverage was really good in the end. I did however have to go back over quite a few areas since the spray undercoat would absorb some of the ink into it and you'd lose some of the shading effect. But after I had thoroughly gone over the whole thing I had a nicely shaded blue color.

      I then chose a selection of drybrush colors that would progressively go from lighter blue and gray up to pure white. For this I chose exclusively Citadel paints.
      I find that Citadel paints are some of the best for doing drybrushes, given they are thicker right out of the pot than Foundry or Vallejo paints. I don't own an airbrush so I rely on using washes and gradual drybrushes to achieve similar effects.

      Here's the final choices I made for the drybrushing phase of the model:


      Going from left to right, starting with Calgar Blue and ending with White Scar. Incidentally, this is a similar drybrushing sequence I used on my Primaris space marine force (except that with the Primaris I started with a base coat of Macragge Blue spray instead of Corax White). The other difference is that with the Primaris I left out the white and only used two colors for thedrybrushing highlights, Calgar Blue and Fenrisian Grey.

      So I basically just went around the model methodically and carefully drybrushing in successively lighter colors. The whites were done very lightly and very carefully as to not over-highlight the model.

      When I had the drybrushing done, the model looked like this:


      I had to be very careful with the white paint when doing the wings and not smear the areas where the veins and other fine details were located. I built up the layers of color very gradually so that it looked like the skin had translucency and that you could see some of the underlying tissue underneath the skin. Overall I think the results were pretty good. For the areas of the dragon covered in scales, this was somewhat easier since you were drybrushing over very coarse, well defined bumbs and knobs.

      For the next phase I kept things very simple. I know that other modelers would strive to paint the wings a different color and would vary the tones on different areas of the dragon. But I really wanted to keep it simple and let the overall color of the dragon be the straight blue. So I went ahead and chose a selection of colors to finish off the final details:


      I had several major elements that had to be painted in unique colors: the mouth and tongue, the claws and talons, the teeth, and finally the eyes.

      I did very simple two-color base coat and highlight for each element, and the eyes were done with a white base and dark blue pupil.

      The claws and talons were painted over solidly with the tan color and then drybrushed with the bone color. I did a second drybrush of the bone color just at the tips of the claws and talons to give a feeling of graduation going from light to dark the further the claws and talons go back.

      The teeth were very simple as well. I did a base coat of white and then a single wash of Citadel Contrast Skeleton Horde over the white.

      The eyes were painted over in solid white and then the dark blue pupil was added with a very small, pointed paint brush.

      And lo and behold here's the finished dragon, just minus the snow effects on the base which will be coming shortly! I've included some size comparison pics. so you get a sense of the dragon's scale and the length of its wing span:


      And that's my Snow Dragon! I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I can't wait to get the snow effects done on the base so that its in its proper environment.

      I really feel like I've advanced in my painting during the past couple years. I think that it's due mostly to having the courage and confidence to try new techniques and to trust in the tools I'm using. A big factor in improving my painting is the specific use of spray undercoats and base coats in the primary color that the model is going to be. This is by far the best alternative if you do not own or use an airbrush. Relying on sprayed base coats ensures that the model's detail won't get gunked up and obscured like it might if you tried to paint the entire model with a brush-on paint. It also allows you to have sort of a canvas that you can then add the details to and be assured that you've got the majority of themodel already coated in the primary color that it's going to be!

      Happy modeling my friends. :thumbup:
      There are many magic rings in the world Bilbo Baggins, and none of them should be used lightly!

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Baranovich ().

    • The Dwarf Grudge Buster Part 1 - a lesson in never, ever throwing away old bits!

      In this post I tackled one of my most ambitious conversion projects yet: a dwarf Grudge Buster!

      Over the summer I added the final specialty units to my dwarf army and now it is fairly complete for the types of army lists I'm looking to build. I added a war throne, an anvil of doom, Hold Guardians, as well as several hero characters.

      However - the one model that I still lacked was the grand daddy of all the dwarf models. The classic dwarf airship.

      I considered for a while just buying one outright. There are several really good ones that are produced and the prices aren't too crazy. However I realized that after having made numerous purchases over the past five years I had built up a huge collection of leftover bits and components. So I set about looking through everything and seeing if I could come up with enough stuff to actually make a Grudge Buster on my own.

      In 2017 I spent about two months building and priming five different armies for Warhammer/9th Age. In the process of building everything, I ended up with a HUGE amount of GW bits. This project reminds me of why I will always defend GW's Warhammer ranges and their quality and will always recommend their products to new gamers for building 9th Age armies. For all the various things they have done that have been objectionable over the years, one thing that is often overlooked is just how good a value a lot of their old Warhammer stuff was! No matter what you got, you were always left with hundreds of extra heads, weapons, gear, unused component options, etc. From the Dwarf battalion and regimental boxes I had hundreds of bits. From the Dwarf cannon I had the unused organ gun barrels, numerous tools, banners, shields, etc.

      Say what you will about GW but their Warhammer kits usually gave you enough bits to create whole new battalions if you just got some bodies components on the secondary market.

      Even very expensive kits like the Nurgle Great Unclean One gives you options for building three variations of the creature. As a result you are left with leftover heads, several sets of optional arms, weapons, etc. That kit is $140, but GW gives you enough leftovers to literally create a second Great Unclean One with just the addition of some modelling putty and a few sculpting tools!

      Their terrain was no exception. The observatory dome
      option from their old, classic Skullvane Manse was yet another set of bits that I had stored away.

      So in short I ended up with a whole hots of bits that proved to be absolutely perfect for a Grudge Buster model:


      In addition to all the GW bits, I had some old resin stuff leftover from various kits, including window shutters, a bird's nest, various barrels, crates, and sacks and also a metal tavern sign. I thought that the tavern sign would be a perfect decoration for the Grudge Buster - suggesting that in between battles the airship comes back to earth and serves as a tavern for thirsty dwarves! What better dual use for a warship than as a tavern!

      The only thing in this project that qualifies as being an actual, outright separate purchase is the resin ship hull. That was from a medieval merchant ship that I bought way back in 2015. I originally intended to use the ship as a generic terrain piece to put on the tabletop when I was using river or lake scenery. But I never got around to building it. And when I hit upon the idea of making a Grudge Buster, I had the perfect ship hull for it!

      For the actual airbage portion of the Grudge Buster, I turned to a very cheap option: a foam craft egg. However after looking at the size of the egg in relation to the hull I realized it was a bit too small. So again I turned to old leftover stuff and used a bunch of cut-outs from some foam miniature storage trays that I bought a couple years back. After I had covered the whole surface of the egg with the foam cut-outs I had added enough additional bulk to the egg that it was now a more realistic size:


      For the next step, I remembered a technique I had seen many years ago in an historical wargaming magazine. A guy had used tissue paper soaked in PVA glue to make tent canvas for his historical games. I decided to use paper towel instead and see how it would look. I cut up the paper towel into large squares, soaked them one by one in the PVA glue and laid them over the surface of the egg:


      The next thing I had to consider was the 50mm x 100mm base size that the 9th Age rules require. Because the model is so much bigger than the base I decided to give it two flight stand supports that could be anchored to the base. I used two pieces of strong copper rod for the flight stands and then created two anchor points out of green stuff on the base itself:


      So that's my progress so far! Over the next few days I will set about getting all the components glued to the airship, attaching the airbag to the hull and securing it to the base. Then it will be several days of painting and getting the base weighted with rocks and stones and textured.

      Stay tuned for more of the mighty Dwarf Grudge Buster! :thumbup:

      There are many magic rings in the world Bilbo Baggins, and none of them should be used lightly!

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Baranovich ().

    • dan wrote:

      Who specifically produces that hull?
      Oh man, I'm trying to remember...I think it's a company called Grand Manner? They do historical terrain and buildings. I got it back in 2015 so I don't know if they still sell it. I'm looking it up as I'm writing this reply so bear with me! :D

      Yep, it was Grand Manner. Company out of the UK. Here's a link to the online store. Looks like they've streamlined their stock, they used to make a lot more stuff.

      ...Oh wow, update! I actually found the ship listed in the Roman historical stuff.

      But something is wonky! Looks like Grand Manner has switched over to doing painted resin ONLY. In other words, you can't get it unpainted any more. Which is totally bizarre. I remember now reading on a gaming forum about this, where the owner switched over to being like a terrain painting service and he stopped selling plain resin.

      The problem is that his prices for his painted stuff are INSANE. That ship back in 2015 I got for 25 Euros unpainted. Now the only way you can get it is painted, and the cheapest painting level is 72 Euros!

      It also looks like the web store is currently closed, so I have no idea what's going on with the company.

      Sorry, wish I had better news about it!
      There are many magic rings in the world Bilbo Baggins, and none of them should be used lightly!

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Baranovich ().

    • I ordered this aquarium decoration some time ago. Still waiting it to arrive.

      Item description says it's 20cm long so probably too small for 28mm but let's see. Price was only 9€ with free shipping so had to give it a go. :)

      All things wargaming. My super entertaining hobby blog where anything wargaming related can happen.

      "I heard a television interviewer once suggest that the use of dice made battlegaming on par with Snakes and Ladders and such like games of change. Well, he was being just stupid, or trying to take a rise out of his guest. It is in fact the imponderable which does give reality to 'Battle' and, as we shall see, does cause the players to make proper allowance for the unlikely or even seemingly impossible, which, as we read, did happen surprisingly frequently in the annals of war."
      -Charles Grant
    • The airship is looking promising :). Do You plan to have the baloon a soft gasbag or a more steam punk style metal shell?
      My PLOG - restarted on the Ninth Age! - updated:
      24th September: Reliquary almost there
      1st September: a tournament Battle Report
      6th August: Reliquary ctd., foot [lexico
      Previous entries:
      2019: July: 07,27; June 09,16 May 04, 19; Apr 08, Mar 24, Jan 01, 22, 30;
      2018: Dec 06, 24, 26; Nov 11&28, Oct 20, Sep 17, Aug 01&10, Jun 18,Apr 03, Mar 09,
    • Glonojad wrote:

      The airship is looking promising :). Do You plan to have the baloon a soft gasbag or a more steam punk style metal shell?
      Keeping my fingers crossed :D

      I'm planning on doing a classic soft gasbag with ropes lashed around it, and then like the typical iron hoops to attach the suspension tethers.
      There are many magic rings in the world Bilbo Baggins, and none of them should be used lightly!
    • jirga wrote:

      I ordered this aquarium decoration some time ago. Still waiting it to arrive.

      Item description says it's 20cm long so probably too small for 28mm but let's see. Price was only 9€ with free shipping so had to give it a go. :)

      That could work very well! Even though it's only 20cm long it looks close enough to 28mm to possibly work. Only thing that might be too small visually for 28mm are the cabin windows. But you could putty over those I suppose.

      Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!
      There are many magic rings in the world Bilbo Baggins, and none of them should be used lightly!
    • The Grudge Buster Part 2: Effective bit-bashing

      Hello all!

      Part 2 here with some progress pics. of the last couple days.

      I remember watching a Youtube video a while back about doing effective converting and kit-bashing. It delves into the topics of realism, balance, symmetry and aesthetics. It was produced by a seriously nice fellow who runs the Youtube channel "The Outer Circle". Although his video deals specifically with Warhammer 40k kit-bashing and converting, I think the general ideas that he's getting across in the video completely apply to fantasy as well.


      What I like about this video so much is that it talks about the concept of not over-doing it when it comes to conversions. The idea that even though we're dealing with fantasy and sci-fi there still needs to be a sense of believability and a sense of reality and logic to the parts used.

      I kept this video in mind when I began to add bits to my Grudge Buster.

      I was tempted to add a lot more but in the end I narrowed it down to specifically chosen bits that meant excluding many others that I thought would crowd the model too much.

      Here is the Grudge Buster's infernal engine as an example:


      One of the things that was funny about building this was that I kept chuckling because I kept thinking of Willy Wonka and one of his whacky inventions in his chocolate factory! Strangely enough it was actually a chief source of inspiration in choosing bits for this, lol!

      The fun thing about the Grudge Buster and the humor that accompanies it is that it runs on technology that can be considered a mashing and blending of steam power, gas power, and what I like to call "dwarf power" which is the final mysterious ingredient unique to the dwarves.

      I purposely built this in a way that you really don't know where the balloon is getting its gas from and you really don't know how the steam engine works and furthermore there's no obvious or apparent way of steering the giant contraption! A dwarf would tell you that it simply "works". I envision all kind of hidden and mysterious hoses, pipes, and cables that connect the engine to the balloon and that connect both to hidden gears and other mechanisms inside the hull of the airship.

      When considering what to use for the Forge Repeater weapon, well that decision was easy! I had the left over organ gun bits from the old dwarf cannon boxed set. It's just ludicrous and ridiculous enough to be mounted right on the front of the ship! The four barrels tells you that it's an obnoxious artillery piece that fires a volley of equally obnoxious giant cannon shells.


      The thing that made building the infernal engine so much fun is that I used bits from a wide variety of sources, including one bit that totally a random inspiration. The engine consists of the observatory telescope piece from the GW Skullvane Manse kit, a chimney vent from the old GW watchtower kit, and finally a SKAVEN HEAD from the plastic poison wind globadiers kit! As whacky as it sounds, the head bit from the globadiers is covered with the mask and air filter and when I looked at it it appeared to me that it could pass as some sort of mysterious engine filter unit or mechanism. When glued onto the side of the engine I really think it looks like an engine component and not a Skaven head!

      So with the choices and additions of bits to the airship hull well under way I then turned to the balloon itself. I gave the PVA-soaked paper towel a day to dry and the added some embellishments. On the front I added one of the old banner bits from a GW dwarf regimental boxed set. On the rear of the balloon I added a cap that is actually one half of an iron ball from the GW goblin fanatics boxed set.

      The fins are just pieces of carboard. I covered the gaps between the fins and the body of the balloon by using smaller strips of PVA-soaked paper towel and wrapping it around the bottom of the fin and then smoothing it down and pushing it in tightly. Hopefully once it's all painted it will look like a genuine giant bag filled with hot air - which by the way is exactly how my family describes ME. :P


      So that's it for now folks! Next step will be adding more details to the airship hull, like crates and barrels, dwarven shields for decorations along the railings, a deck telescope and various other tools that might be carried on a fantasy airship.

      Happy modeling my friends. :thumbup:
      There are many magic rings in the world Bilbo Baggins, and none of them should be used lightly!

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Baranovich ().

    • The Grudge Buster Part 3: Bringing all the components together, Citadel Contrasts, and movie nostalgia

      Hello again!

      Back with a significant amount of progress on the mighty dwarf airship.

      I spent the better part of a day painting all the various separate components, the hull and decks, the balloon, and the scenic base. Citadel Contrasts once again proved their worth yet again. The entire wooden hull and decks were painted with a single coat of brown Contrast paint over the off-white undercoat. I then gave it the usual single drybrush highlight of lighter tan. The Contrasts allowed me to get all of the wooden parts of the ship very quickly.

      The Contrasts also proved very useful in painting the dwarf icons and various decorations. For all the shields as well as the figurehead I did a single coat of yellow Contrast over an off-white undercoat, followed by a single drybrush of Citadel Runefang Steel.

      The deck telescope was another component that was a yellow Contrast over the undercoat followed by a single drybrush of white. The telescope lenses were painting with a base coat of turquoise followed by a drybrush of light bluish/gray.

      The infernal engine got a base coat of Citadel copper followed by a wash of Reikland Flesh Shade. This was then followed by a drybrush of Vallejoy bright gold. Finally I used some enamel-based weathering effects for the oily, grimy finish.

      The anchor was painting in a base coat of silver followed by a brown wash, which was then followed with some liquid rust effects.

      All of the crates, barrels, and other supplies were also done with a base coat of Contrast brown followed by a single drybrush of lighter tan.

      The ship's banner was the one component that actually had hand-painting done to it. The base coat of the banner itself was done with Ultramarine Blue Citadel Contrast followed by a drybrush of lighter blue. The banner icon itself is my usual, simply three mountain peak design with a night sky in the background.

      The Forge Repeater got a gray undercoat which I followed with a single drybrush of brass. This gave the gun a nice, worn bronze look about it.

      The scenic mountaintop base was given a simple base coat of gray craft paint followed by a brown wash. This was then followed by a single drybrush of lighter gray craft paint. After that some simple chunks of clump foliage were glued in random places:


      Once everything was finally painted I set about gluing all the components to the hull and deck. I added one additional small detail to the scenic base - a bird's nest perched atop one of the outcroppings.

      With the ship's decks I wanted to give the feel of a very crowded vessel where every single bit of available space is used for some purpose. The decks are very crowded but there is still room for the crew to move around and access all parts of the ship. I thought that the supplies stacked on the deck would give a feel of a ship fully loaded for an extended voyage. The extra ammunition added a bit of realism to the Forge Repeater. If you have a ship that is mounted with a gun, the ship will obviously have to carry a supply of ammunition on board.

      To further convey the sense of a cramped vessel, I glued the ship's tools, boarding weapons, and parachutes to the outside of the deck railings to represent that they had to be lashed to the outside of the ships as there was not sufficient space on the deck itself or below decks to store everything.

      Overall I was really happy with how it all came together. Like I said in Part 2, the image that kept coming to mind when I was designing this and making everything fit together was the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! Even though we're dealing a more serious subject, namely a military vessel in a fantasy wargame, the sheer hilarious absurdity and impossibility of something like the Grudge Buster cannot be done properly without having some humor about the whole thing!

      I mean seriously, there is certainly a dwarfy influence and look to this Wonka contraption. In fact the giant copper engine very much resembles my own infernal engine that I built for the Grudge Buster!

      While I was building the Grudge Buster another movie that came to mind was a classic from the 1960s, "The Great Race" starring Jack Lemmon and Peter Faulk. This was a hilarious slapstick comedy about a cross-country race involving a huge money reward to the winner. By far the best part of the movie are the characters played by Lemmon and Faulk, "Professor Fate" and his trusty minion "Max"
      who resort to all manner of underhanded and devious devices and shenanigans to try to win the race.

      They are the classic "evil-doers" of movie legend and their acting performances in this are inspiration. They attempt to gain the upper hand in the race by using a variety of bizarre and dangerous contraptions, even resorting at one point to strap themselves into a rocket in order to catch up to the other racers. Of course, nothing ever works as planned! Every clever scheme and plot literally blow up in their faces and instead of getting ahead in the race they are lucky just to avoid killing themselves.

      When I was assembling the Grudge Buster I couldn't help but chuckle and think of the dastardly duo and their insanely dangerous contraptions:

      I think that dwarves everywhere could relate very well to the improbable, treacherous, and dangerous contraptions conceived by these characters, and the sheer courage and steel nerves of Willy Wonka and Professor Fate to actually attempt to pilot these things! :P

      So any way, with my movie nostalgia out of the way here's the Grudge Buster well on its way to completion:


      And that concludes Part 3. The next phase is getting the balloon properly lashed and tethered to the hull.

      I hope that this project inspires you to make your own crazy contraptions for your Dwarven Holds army!

      Happy modeling my friends. :thumbup:
      There are many magic rings in the world Bilbo Baggins, and none of them should be used lightly!