Tuesday, June 18, 2019

3-D Printed Billboards

My 3-D printed billboards loom atop an apartment building and also on the streets, where a rumble is taking place
I had been wanting to do billboards for my 20mm Modern Africa games for a long time. I had kicked around ideas on how to scratch-build them, but hadn't really settled on a method. Once I started up my 28mm Urban Gang warfare, I knew that billboards in my city would be great addition for them, as well. Since I was happy with the 3-D printed playground equipment, I asked my friend Joe Merz if Thingiverse had any billboards.
When free standing, the billboards are tall enough to loom over small buildings
He said they did, and forwarded the link with pictures. I decided to order four of them, for which he charged me $20. That was a good price -- not to mention the time I'd save on scratch-building them. When I picked them up, I noticed they came in two pieces -- the billboard part itself and the scaffolding (or whatever you want to call it) that holds it up. There was a place that you were obviously supposed to set the billboard, but I wasn't happy how short that would make the billboards. I decided to not use that spot and instead epoxy them further up along the back support. This made them look better free standing, I thought.
You can see the shelf where the billboard was designed to rest - I epoxied it higher up on the back support
I probably should have taken more care in my epoxying, as one or two of them are ever-so-slightly crooked. Not sure if anyone would notice, but I did. First, though, I had to clean the significant amount of flash between the supports. It actually looked like cobwebs, the plastic "flash" was so fine. I did my best to scrape out all of the tiny thin strands with an Xacto knife. After epoxying the billboards onto the supports, I spray-painted them flat black. Next, I brushed over them in a 50/50 mixture of black acrylic paint and water to ensure all the black got into the crevices and recesses.
The frame of each billboard was painted a faded color, then dry-brushed and washed to look well worn
The bottom and back supports were painted to be raw wood. I used my usual method -- Camo Brown dry-brushed over black, with a Colonial Khaki highlight. I painted the frame of each billboard a faded, sun-bleached color. I figured they would get lots of sunshine and probably any color would eventually be mostly washed out. Next, I dry-brushed the color to look even more faded. Finally, I gave the wood sections a black wash, to look worn and exposed to the elements. At the bottom of each billboard section there are four banks of lights, which I painted steel and silver to give the effect of glass light bulbs. I glued each billboard structure to a rectangular base, then flocked it with Woodland Scenics mixed, fine gray ballast. That is the same material I am using for the flocking of my Gang Wafare bases -- and the same material I use for the roofs of my modern buildings. This allows me to either have the billboards standing alone on the board or placed atop building roofs (as shown in the photos).
Some billboards were modern advertisements like these Coke and Miller Lite ones, others were more vintage
Early on, I had decided that I would epoxy metal bases onto the recessed face of each billboard. I would then create the actual billboards in Photoshop, and print them out on 8.5"x11" magnetic material you can buy at the office supply store (it is intended for you to print photos onto). That way, I can simply slap on which billboard I want to use for that particular game. It allows me to customize the billboard to the scenario, if I like.
20mm African Rebels gather underneath billboards extolling their fight
To create my billboards, I did Google Image searches to find classic billboards, such as Coke, 7up, Camaro, Marlboro, etc. I also decided to create some of my own for modern Africa games. I put slogans on them to recreate the feels of a dictator's propaganda. The intention is to be able to use these same billboards for a variety of periods -- modern day, late 20th century, and independence era Africa.
Metal bases were glued onto the area where the billboard sign would go, allowing me to slap on magnetic billboards
The billboard area was 2"x4.5", so I fit six billboards on each sheet of magnetic material. This meant I was spending about 60-cents per billboard piece, which I was fine with. I have two sheets of material left, so I will likely save that for another period that may crop up (post-Apocalyptic? Modern Middle East?). All in all, I was very happy with how these turned out.
I flocked the billboards to match the rooftops of my 28mm MDF city buildings so they could be used on roofs

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Dark Ages archers

28mm Dark Ages archers for games of Saga or Tribal

Sometimes, a set of figures you begin painting seems to take forever to finish. This group of 13 Dark Ages archers was one of those. I began them months ago -- after I had played a game of Saga at Game Table Adventures. I realized to field more than one force, I would need to paint up more figures to use as Levy archers (which are in 12-man groups). So, I scoured through my unpainted lead and assembled this batch from various manufacturers and lines. Some are Viking, some are Pict, others Briton or who knows what!
I used muted and faded colors for these archers and really like how they turned out
After priming them, I quickly got their flesh done. Then they sat, and sat for quite some time. More than two months later, they are finally done. Other things jumped in line ahead of them, both miniatures from my Modern Street Gangs project, as well as terrain. I purposely set out to make them usable for a number of Dark Ages armies. So, no distinguishing Pictish checkered patterns, or other flourishes. Another thing that made this batch go very slow was it was much bigger than what I normally paint -- 13 28mm minis take awhile. Especially when you consider that virtually every color I applied also had dry brushing or other highlighting.

What's up next? Some more terrain, I think. But whatever it is, it probably won't be in a batch of 13!