Archive for January, 2008

Objective Markers: Fallen Banner & Cannon Balls

Painted versions of the resin Fallen Banner & Cannon Balls objective markers.   My wife pushed my into the free hand eagle on the banner – she was too worried the banner looked more like a lost blanket without some sign of purpose.

fallen banner painted

cannon balls painted


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Pirate Crew #2

Pirate crew #2 for the Legends of the High Seas demos at Adepticon.  Figures are GW Free Company plastics with minor conversions.  This crew’s color theme is blue, but in all other ways they match up with crew #1 with bleach bone, medium grey and various browns as the main color choices.  Bases will be completed at a later date.

pirates blue crew


Fine Scale Modeler magazine

I recently broke my 10 year White Dwarf addiction (yes, I do measure my WD collection in linear feet) and have been looking for a replacement hobby magazine.  The local library carries Fine Scale Modeler in the periodicals section & I’ve been reading through a few back issues to get a feel for the magazine.   Fine Scale has always been referenced in the best light, and after reading two issues – the accolades seem well deserved.  This 80+ page magazine generally publishes 4 or 5 step-by-step articles where a modeler demonstrates the use of various techniques used in the creation of a stunning tank, plane, boat or diorama.  Also included in FS are 8 to 10 model kit previews/reviews and a health portion of advertising pages.  Over all, a rather pleasant product filled with new ideas, but I’m not sure I’ll make a habit of purchasing this $6.50 magazine.  Instead, I will continue to pick up a copies from the library to page through.

When comparing the two magazines, I find it amusing that the standard GW fanboy complaints about WD carry over to Fine Scale:

  • too expensive
  • too much advertising
  • not enough content

WD retails for $6.00 and delivers 140+ pages, FS retails for $6.50 at 80+ pages.  So much for WD being too expensive.

Fully a third of FS is advertising for various model makers.  Granted, the adverts come from a large number of companies instead of one and might actually be useful or interesting- but the principle is the same.  In addition a substantial page count is given over to reviews of new kits by various modelers.  In the WD,  it is common for GW to preview new products – an effort that is dismissed by many readers as just more advertising.

The main articles in FS are high end modeling content designed to raise the bar for its gronard readers.  Most of the articles seem to first present a technique, then show how it is used on the model but fail to actually demonstrate how to achieve the effect.  WD focus on beginning to intermediate articles that attempt to teach the new hobbyist the basic skill set (build,paint, play) needed to use the game.  WD achives its goal of educating the reader as much or more so than FS.

Let the old farts read FS and let the young turks read WD – just don’t confuse the target market & everyone will stay happy.


Hex Nut Challenge: Clay Molding

Using art clay to mold and manufacture scale Hex Nuts.  Jedion357 threw down a challenge on TerraGenisis to create a DYI Hex Nut.  Colonel Shofer suggested a latex mold using 2 part epoxy as the casting agent.  Brain storming on the idea, I suggested using art clay as an alternitve mold material.  The Colonel asked that I follow up with the project.

Hex Nut casting using 2 part epoxy and resin as casting materials.  Resin on the left hand side, epoxy on the right.  Impressions taken from a 4mm hex tool head and a 1/8 square plastic rod.  The resin setup without bubbles and cleaned up from the clay with minor effort.  The epoxy suffered a 50% failure rate from bubbles and still seemed a bit rubbery 24 hours after casting.  The cleanup was a bit of a pain – the epoxy is clear & it is rather difficult to identify what material is the casting and what is flash.  I would recomend resin as the prefered casting material for DYI Hex Nuts.

hex nut

hex nut z


Hirst Arts Terrain & Projects page updated

Updated the Hirst Arts Projects page with three terrain pieces completed several years ago but just recently photographed.

Bell Tower  Small tower  Gothic Drop Pod

1 – Bell Tower using standard plans from the Hirst site.

2- Small Tower using the Turret Mold. 

3- Space Marine Drop Pod built using the Gothic accessory molds.  I like to think of it as a flying crypt.


Gaming Community RSS Feed

If you have not already noticed, I’ve added a community RSS feed to the side bar.   The feed includes 30+ hobby & gaming blogs repackaged as a single list, allowing you to drop by for your daily gaming fix.   Tell me what you think – is it a cool way to keep track of everyone’s projects?  – is it a distraction from original content?  -do you want more?

Don’t see your name on the list & want to join in?  Leave a comment on this post with your blog address or email me at ChicagoTerrainFactory at  Blogs should be focused on miniature wargaming with a minimal amount of social, political or religious commentary.  There are plenty of other places to be pissed at the world, no need to have it in your hobby too.

 RSS Feed List:  updated 1-17-08


One year and counting!

A big thank you to everyone who comes by to read the Chicago Terrain Factory.  January 8th marks the one year anniversary of the Chicago Terrain Factory – having received over 28,000 page views in this first year, CTF is more successful than I ever thought it would be.  The blog started out as an easy way to publish a few scratch built projects.  It’s since grown into a casting/molding How To, a modeling show case and a collection of inspirational pieces by other hobbyists.

The Hirst Arts terrain & projects page is by far the most popular attraction – out drawing all other pages & posts 3 to 1. Stubby the Carnifex and the announcement of the new IG army page are the two most popular posts.  Over all – I think you’re telling me to build more Hirst projects & paint more figures 🙂 

I would like to say I have big plans for 2008 – but the real world will have to take precedence. My second daughter is due later this month and I’ll be concluding a MBA program in the fall – making hobby time scarce.  Chicago Terrain Factory will live on with more of a focus on web reviews & points of interest from the Internet and less space given to original work.

Thank you again for reading and have a great 2008.


Hirst Arts site update

Hirst Arts has updated their site with a host of new molds & new Tips and Tricks. The new molds support building dungeons for a pair of old, dungeon crawl, board games.  Plus there are instructions for making Gelatenous Cubes – and who would not like that.

PS – this is a test post direct from Google Docs.  

PPS – had a bit of trouble getting the post to publish, needed to fiddle with the post time.  I may start using Google Docs a bit more, just need to experiment to see how well Docs can post pics.

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Learing to Take Better Pics 3

For some time now I’ve been working to improve my miniature picture taking skills.   The best I can understand it, there is some strong voodoo involved in getting a clean shot of a miniature under artificial light using a Canon Power Shot A95.   After much toil, I may finally have the settings I need to take crystal clear pics.   Several references recommend using the AV setting with the aperture set to 9 (my Cannon seems to stop at 8 ) for max clarity of small objects.  With this setting, I find Evaluate: Spot is critical to get the proper lighting on the figures.  The default Evaluate creates a much to dark picture.   The big winner is Drive Mode 2 – what is this cryptic setting?  Timer 2 second delay.  The timer is magic – even with a tripod, the act of taking the picture disrupts the camera.

Pirate natural

pirate with processing pirate processed

examples with different degrees of post processing.

One other function I played around with is the Exposure setting.  Pushing this setting from zero to +1 displayed a washed out, over exposed pic on the camera LCD screen.  However,  once the pic is loaded to the PC, the setting returns a well lite picture.  This function may have some use as a workaround for a poor lighting or to tweak a shot that is proving difficult to light.

Learning links

Update:  converation with John over at Plastic Legions about the picture taking learning curve.


Learning to take better pics 1

Learning to take better pics 2