Painted 3D Printed 28mm Shipping Containers

Goodness, 3D printing is fun. I’ve been spending so much time printing parts, teaching myself Autodesk Fusion 360 and tinkering around with my Anet A8 printer that I have struggled to paint anything recently. However I have managed to finish the first batch of my 3D printed 28mm shipping containers.

Here’s a bunch of them stacked together with some of my earlier hand molded terrain and painted figures for This is Not a Test. The container ends are 3D printed, the doors and other details – while the main bodies are just made from hobby shop plastic card.

They were primed with Army Painter colour primer, either Dragon Red or Skeleton Bone. Fortunately 3D printed PLA filament primes just fine with Army Painter spray cans, and it also glues together well with normal polyester cement. The containers were then painted with a variety of cheap student acrylic paints, crudely highlighted, stippled with grey paint applied with a scrap of foam, and then brown washed with a variety of products.

Initially I started washing with cheap liquid shoe polish, but the polish ends up looking a bit heavy and patchy once it dries. The yellow shipping container above is an example of this. After a few containers I changed from shoe polish to my old standby: satin ‘Kauri’ pre-stained floor varnish. This provides a smoother finish, and has the advantage of being a reasonably good sealant for the paint job. The disadvantage is it takes about 12 hours to fully dry and requires Turpentine to clean up. The rest of the containers were treated with this, followed by a dusting of Army Painter spray varnish to dull the shine down.

These containers are the first piece of 3D printed terrain I’ve painted using my normal quick and dirty techniques. The 3D printing process does leave some light texturing on the parts, but once they’re painted and on the gaming table you don’t notice that at all. This second photo shows the finished containers a little better. For comparison the rust coloured container on the bottom left is one of my earlier hand built prototypes. It’s made from the same plastic card as the rest, but the doors were painfully hand assembled from plastic rod and stamped greenstuff handles. The 3D printed doors next to it look crisper, and have more detail, and are a breeze to print once designed.

If you discount the time spent designing the parts, these containers are very fast to assemble and get on the table. It takes roughly an hour and a half to 3D print the ends of each container, around 15 minutes to cut and assemble the plasticard, and around 30 minutes of painting time. You can batch assemble and paint them too of course while fresh ones are printing. It took me around a week of hobby time to hand make three containers, and about the same amount of time to 3D print and assemble three times as many containers. I’ve got another six on the paint table as well, which will give me a reasonably good collection for an abandoned shipping yard.

Cost wise they’re also ridiculously cheap. Assuming you have a 3D printer (the Anet A8 is $200 NZD), the hobby store corrugated plastic card is considerably more expensive than the power, or 3D filament used to print the container ends.

The only disadvantage these 3D printed containers may have is that they’re super light. My prototype containers were built around children’s wooden blocks so have a good heft to them. The 3D printed containers are hollow, bottomless, and probably don’t weight more than 80 grams each painted. I may resort to a little blu tack quietly applied to the bottom corners before I game over them.

I’m considering selling the STL design files for a few bucks to download. Would anybody be interested?

This is Not a Test: Chemical Factory

I’ve been slowly adding terrain to my collection for This is Not a Test since I was introduced to it a few years ago. On a recent trip through the dustier parts of my gaming cupboards, I found several boxes of “Urban War” terrain from “Urban Mammoth” – both a game system, and a company that seem to have ceased to exist in the 11 years since I bought these kits.

As all of the terrain I’ve put together so far is single level, I was looking for something a little more elevated, so I built and based the “Bio-Toxin” plant.

This design is based on one of the possibilities illustrated in the very simple one page instructions: an elevated platform surrounded by tanks and piping. It seemed like the most interesting option because it gives figures a firing platform with a nice mixture of cover. It’s also high enough off the table that you can move figures around underneath it with some care.

The kit is rather painful to assemble because every pipe run has to be glued together from two halves, which takes quite a bit of prep work. However you do get a lot of piping, and that gives you plenty of options for building crazy pipe runs connecting the tanks.

I’m pretty pleased with the end result, which used most of the kit, but still left me with enough bits and pieces to building something else, or use as scrap for ruined terrain. The Imperial Guard Sergeant is for scale.

The assembled kit is epoxied down to a couple of pieces of cut 5mm MDF. The stairway is based separately from the main platform for ease of transport. I’ve also found that large pieces of MDF tend to warp pretty easily by the time you’ve covered them with PVA, gravel and over-painting.

To paint the main structure I plan to resort to either a can of Army Painter primer, or try to find a cheaper option like a plastic automotive rattle can. After that the usual weathering and ‘dipping’ with tinted floor varnish will be applied.

This is Not a Test: Sculpting Pig Iron Productions

For many years now I’ve wanted to sculpt 28mm figures in green stuff. This year I’ve resolved to make an effort to improve my sculpting skills. However rather than attempting to sculpt a full figure from scratch, I was looking for a smaller piece of work to get started.

That’s when I realised I need a couple of Linebreakers for my This is Not a Test Peacekeeper warband. These guys are basically the melee specialists in the warband, which means they need a hand weapon and riot shield. I have a bunch of Pig Iron Kolony figures, but every torso is carrying a firearm, usually in some kind of slung pose. So I dug out my ancient strip of green stuff and got to work sculpting a replacement torso.

The top photo shows the finished product, complete with plastic-card shield and weapon. I’m reasonably happy with the final figure, although it has a few issues. First the arms are considerably thinner than the rest of my Pig Iron figures, and because of the rather fine garden wire I based them on they’re rather too flexible. It’ll be interesting to see how the painted figure stands up to transportation and gaming. For posterity here’s the steps this figure went through.

The Torso

I sculpted the basic torso over a large blob of green stuff attached to some 3mm garden wire. The blob was shaped and then filed down to a rough scale match against a production Pig Iron metal torso. This was the easiest way to get a suitable volume for the torso piece.

Next was some light sculpting work to clone a basic Pig Iron armored torso, including the interesting back plate. My efforts aren’t as crisp as the Pig Iron sculptor’s, but I’m hoping once painted you won’t notice the difference. This photo also shows the start of various packs the figures have around their waist, mainly to conceal to join at their hips and provide support to the arms.

The Fit

The basic torso was reasonably easy to sculpt, and once complete I pinned in a production head, and dry fitted a set of legs. The wire arms went through a few iterations as I tried to get the ratio right between shoulder, elbow and wrist joints compared to the figure’s height and legs.

For the arms I used wire that was far too thin, 0.9mm garden wire. On reflection I should have used the same 3mm garden wire I’d sculpted the torso on. The wire was also only pinned into the green stuff torso, which is a problem too. Really I should have made the whole armature in a single piece for additional strength. I’ve since started sculpting a second torso, for a second Linebreaker, but using 3mm wire for the arms this time around.

The Arms

By far the bulk of the time in the project was spent trying to get the arms and hands right on the figure. Here’s the finished arms sculpted holding two thin pieces of wire that formed the basis of the weapon and shield. This wire is again too thin, and isn’t connected to the wire in the arms in any meaningful way. This made sculpting arms, hands and weapons a lot more frustrating than it should have been due to movement. That said I’m reasonably happy with the hands themselves, which while a touch small do look like reasonably human grips. Both arms could have been thicker, and using thicker wire as the base for my second torso will encourage that I think. The cloth on the arms doesn’t fall in any realistic way, but this is similar to the Pig Iron figures themselves, who appear to be wearing some kind of thick, rather stiff ballistic uniform.

The final figure is on my paint table at the moment, and I’m keen to see what it’ll look like painted up and next to the full Pig Iron Product figures I’ve already completed.

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.

Review: Genestealer Neophyte Hybrids Magnetised

The Warhammer 40K Genestealer Cult army came out late 2016, and just before Christmas I cracked and picked up a box of the “Genestealer Cults Neophyte Hybrids” from Mighty Ape. Here’s a quick review of these figures now I’ve finished assembling and basing them.

In the box:

There’s 10 plastic figures (torsos and legs) on two sprues with a variety of heads and several different weapon options for each figure. You’ve got a leader figure, a cult icon carrier, two heavy weapons figures (with three weapon options), two special weapons figures (with three weapon options), two “3rd generation” hybrids and two “4th generation” hybrids in the box. Legs and torsos are largely interchangeable, but certain weapon options only work with certain torsos due to annoying (and probably deliberate) differences in shoulder width between the “3rd generation” hybrids, the heavy weapon figures and everybody else.

The weapons choices are great! For heavies you’ve got a big old mining laser, a heavy stubber and something called seismic cannon. For specialist weapons you’ve got the classic flamer, grenade launcher or webber. Everybody else gets a choice of autogun or a shotgun of some kind.

There’s also a clear set of instructions for assembling the figures in the box, which is very handy, particularly for choosing weapon options. There’s also plain GW bases for everybody, including a couple of larger bases for the heavies. The bases you see in the post photos are from Micro Art Studio.

Cost in New Zealand:

Yeah, Middle Earth tax as usual from Games Workshop so you’ll be paying around $7.50 per plastic figure, plus shipping. As usual GW’s local prices made me prevaricate before buying the box, but I caved eventually and don’t have any regrets.

The Hybrids:

This box is a great return to form for GW in my opinion. Highly detailed plastic figures with a plethora of weapon options that are easy to assemble, and have optional heads. The sculpts are sporting lovely looking environmental/mining suits with a nice shoulder/chest piece that looks like it carries some kind of life support, and many mount shoulder lamps. The heads have a mixture of crazy work goggles and breathing apparatus in place too. The heavy weapon guys also get great back packs laden with stuff.

I was initially disappointed with the lack of an pose choices in the box, as each figure goes together in a certain way according to the instruction booklet, but once the torsos are assembled, there’s a nice range of standing, running and braced for firing positions anyway.

Magnetise for effect:

The box contained so many weapon options I refused to be bound by ‘one choice per figure’ as per the instructions. Instead I whipped out the pin vice and a bag of 1x2mm rare earth magnets. The arms are easily wide and deep enough to seat a small magnet in, and the torsos have plenty of space for them too.

I magnetised everybody except the heavy weapon guys – because I made them first before asking myself why I was gluing their arms on permanently. Being able to swap arms really extends the usefulness of this boxed set, and gives each figure a choice of at least two weapons. These guys will be used as a mining crew for This is Not a Test, so it’s nice to have arm swaps between cheaper shotguns and autoguns/assault rifles. The leader’s pistol and melee options can also be spread around between figures as well.

One tip for magnetising the two hand weapons, which come as a weapon and a short ‘arm’ piece, is to magnetise them individually first and then once they’re in place, glue the short arm piece to the gun at the wrist as you would normally. The magnets will hold everything in place while the joint dries, and then with a bit of carefully flexing and sliding you can still swap arm sets easily.

This is Not a Test: 4Ground Ruin

4Grounds Ruin Back It has been a while since I’ve posted because I have no hobby space at the moment due to home renovations. Here’s a little terrain project I have managed to finish recently. This is a 4Ground Dead Man’s Hand “single story under construction” building that has been messed around with for This is Not a Test.

The 4Ground buildings are made from laser cut wooden board and are very easy to work with, although they are all fairly small scale. I wanted to create a simple piece of terrain that would look something like the partially burned, irradiated and ruined remains of a modern, small single story building.

4Grounds Ruin Window As it also had to be playable on, the first thing to do was saw the assembled building in half diagonally across the middle. This is a cheap way of making the building more accessible for gaming, and for doubling the amount of terrain on your table.

The cut down building was based on 5mm MDF that has had the edges bevelled slightly to make it easier to move figures around it, and then detailed with the usual mixture of model railway ballast rocks, kitty litter and sand. The cut edges of the building were softened a little by actually setting them alight with a box of matches. Turns out the 4Ground wooden scenery burns quite well.

4Grounds Ruin Front The walls are made from ripped up art board, and the roof is 1/48th scale corrugated plastic sheet that’s been cut into simple panels and attacked with a hobby knife and pin vice.

The whole lot was quickly painted with cheap student acrylics and inks. The basic wooden frame hasn’t had that much paint applied to it, just a black wash and some dry-brushed grey and white to try and give it a scorched look. The white art board has just been ink washed and dry-brushed in the same tones. Most of the painting work was actually on the few panels of corrugated plastic, which were grey primed then painted over with reds and then sponged with grey again.

I’ve still got the other half of the building to finish up, which will give me a couple of pieces of nice, line of sight blocking terrain for a ruined post apocalyptic table.

Tutorial: Ruined Roads from Vinyl/Lino Tiles

Testing Lino Road Tiles I’m still working on building up my This is Not a Test terrain. The latest onto the table is a couple of experimental road tiles made from cheap, repainted, self-adhesive vinyl floor tiles. These turned out fairly well for pretty minimal effort, and a few folks asked for a tutorial so here it is.

Step One: Secure a box of cheap, 1′ square, self-adhesive vinyl floor tiles. Locally a pack of 36 tiles costs around $50NZ from Bunnings, which is a large home improvement chain in New Zealand and Australia. They used to come in smaller 12 tile boxes, which was a better deal, because you’ll probably only need a few of them. You may also be able to buy them separately. Make absolutely sure they’re vinyl though and not ceramic tiles because you want to cut them with tools.

You’re looking for textured tiles, preferably in a dark or grey tone – although that doesn’t matter too much since you’ll be painting over them. I believe the ones I used were called ‘granite style’. The faux stone texturing makes them easy to paint, and don’t worry about how glossy they are, because we will deal with that later. The next photo shows you an example of the tiles I used.

Lino Tile Road Supplies Step Two: Secure your tools. You should have most of these already in your collection:

  • A sharp Xacto and ruler for tile cutting.
  • Some cheap house paint or student acrylics to paint the roads. I have black student’s paint, a battleship gray and a white house paint test pot.
  • Masking tape and an old paint brush. You’ll use the masking tape to create the road markings, and the old paint brush to both dry-brush the roads, and stipple on the white markings.
  • Sandpaper (not pictured). I used a square of 120 grit. You’ll use this to prepare the road surface for painting, by taking some of that gloss off.
  • Lino Tile Road Tools Craft woodcut tools. You may not have these, they are used to cut and texture the lino tiles. You can find these at art stores. Locally I bought my set from Gordon Harris for around $20NZ. You don’t need a whole box, at the most you need two tools: a wide, ‘U’ shaped blade, and a sharp ‘V’ shaped one. Some art stores may sell you a handle and a set of interchangeable blades instead, which could be a cheaper option.

Lino Tile Roads Step Three: Plan your roads, and start cutting. I cut one of the tiles into three 4″ wide, 12″ long strips for these roads. That’s about the right width for a 28mm scale, narrow, single lane road. The photo shows a raw road, with a finished one next to it.

You don’t have to cut all the way through the tile, just score it deeply with your Xacto and then you can snap the tile along the join easily. You’ll then have to then cut through the backing paper as well, which protects the adhesive back. Leave the paper on though!

Step Four: Ruin the Roads. This process will take a little time, as you’ll use the woodcut tools to cut away the edges of the rectangular road, and cut extra details into the surface of the tile.

WARNING: ALWAYS CUT AWAY FROM YOURSELF. ALWAYS! Even cheap woodcut tools are as sharp as your Xacto knife when new. Also when cutting the tiles it’s very easy to slip and lose control of the tool. Always cut away from yourself, because if you don’t, you’re one slip away from cutting into your hand or stabbing yourself in the torso.

Lino Tile Road Edge Work This photo shows me using the tool with a wide, shallow ‘U’ shaped cutting edge. I’ve roughly sketched out where I want to cut with a Sharpie, and then trimmed and snapped the bulk of the corners off with the Xacto. I then use the woodcut tool to shave down the edges so they look more organic. I’m also cutting on a spare piece of MDF board, because the tool tends to cut through the tile as I work. You can see the cuts are also exposing the backing paper. I work my way around the whole tile, turning it and cutting away from myself all the time.

Lino Tile Road Edge Cracks Next, I grab the sharp ‘V’ shaped woodcut tool and start working cracks and breaks in from the roughed out edge of the tile. The goal is to make something that looks like cracked asphalt or concrete. It doesn’t have to be particularly realistic looking, it just has to suggest that the road surface is falling apart with age.

It works best if you cut from inside the tile out towards the edges, because then if you slip, the tool won’t leave a long gouge across the middle of the road. You also want to cut fairly deeply because you want a nice texture to drybrush over when painting. The ‘V’ shaped tool is also excellent for creating cracked pothole effects in the middle of the tile.

Lino Tile Road Back Once I’m happy with the texturing on the front of the tile, I flip it over and trim away the tattered backing from the edge with my Xacto, while also leaving as much as possible still attached to the tile. The adhesive isn’t that strong, and we’ll over paint the exposed edge to kill the stickiness later. You just want to expose as little of the glue as possible.

Step Five: Preparing for Painting. After cutting, your road tile probably still has a lot of glossy, shiny surface intact. You need to roughen that up to ensure your paint job sticks. This is where the 120 grit sandpaper comes in. I take a square of that and a sanding block and work over the whole surface of the tile to kill the shine a little and add some ‘tooth’ for the paint. You’re not trying to sand the tile down flat, because you want to save that nice surface texturing it comes with, just rough it up a little. You can also sand the edges you’ve cut up lightly to get rid of any loose material there before painting.

Step Six: Painting. For the roadways, I mixed up a fairly dark asphalt gray base tone and applied two separate coats using a wide hog bristle brush. Depending on the quality of your paint, you might be able to get away with one coat – unfortunately my cheap student’s acrylic didn’t cover that well though. I also base coat over the edge of the tile onto the back, painting over the exposed adhesive to kill the stickiness. I leave the tiles sitting on old sprues to dry, since the back is wet as well.

Once the base coat was completely dry, I drybrushed two coats of lighter grays over the dark base, making sure to hit the cut edges and cracks well, but also lightly drybrushing most of the tile to capture the texturing it was manufactured with. The trick with drybrushing is use a large brush, make sure there’s almost no wet paint on the brush, and to brush at a 45 degree angle to what you’re trying to texture. This means the roads were painted back at forth at 45 degrees, working down the length of the tile.

Once the drybrushing was completely dry, I used the masking tape to mask out a stripe down each side of the road, and used the same brush to carefully stipple the white road markings on. Make sure you avoid the cracks you’ve cut into the road as you go though, because the painted surface is meant to be gone there. I’m not entirely happy with the white road markings, as I think they look a little too bright still. I’m tempted to hit them with a very light ink wash to darken them down a touch.

Finally, depending on the quality of the paint you’ve used you might want to varnish the tile with some cheap spray varnish. Although house paints are usually robust enough to handle being war-gamed on, which is why I generally use them for painting terrain.

This is Not a Test: Hirst Arts Consoles

Hirst Arts Machinery Joseph McGuire, the creator of This is Not a Test, recently launched a Kickstarter for a hardback copy of the rules. The Kickstarter is going gang busters and you should definitely jump on board for an updated, physical copy of this excellent independent game.

The Kickstarter inspired me to get stuck into some work on my small TnT scenery collection. I ordered a bunch of Hirst Arts molds a year ago for sci-fi terrain, and have cast them up several times since, so it’s time to build something.

Hirst Arts Machinery First up is a set of free-standing control consoles which were inspired by some Space Hulk tables I’ve seen on the Hirst Arts forums. These are meant to represent some kind of futuristic industrial grade control system for some kind of factory floor. They’re thrown together from a few casts of a single Hirst Arts machinery mold, and were quite fun to build. They’re a little chunky compared to the Pig Iron Productions figure next to it, but that works as they’re meant to be industrial scale. They were painted with house paints and the good old Marmite technique. This works just as well on plaster pieces, provided they’re well sealed with the first coat of paint, and you’re careful not to get them too wet while scrubbing.

Hirst Arts Machinery I’m also working on the machines these consoles are supposed to be the controls for. This will be a small set of larger based pieces also built from Hirst Arts. They’re meant to represent generators or some kind of turbines, and will effectively be long pieces of linear hard cover for This is Not a Test. In the mean time, here’s one of the consoles in my Mantic red brick terrain from earlier.

This is Not a Test: Pig Iron Productions Militia

Pig Iron Production Kolony Militia I’m painting a variety of figures at the moment, and latest off the paint station are these three Pig Iron Productions figures for a second “This is Not a Test” warband. They’re built from a couple of the Pig Iron Production sets: the heads are Kolony Militia covered helmets, while their torsos and legs are Kolony Rebel parts.

I mixed the heads and torsos because I wanted a bunch of raggedy-assed looking military survivors. Perhaps they were in the National Guard before the Fall happened, or perhaps they’ve raided an Army depot afterwards. The Kolony rebels have nice variety of tattered uniforms, but the helmets and gas masks still make them look like a unit.

I’m also experimenting with painting a couple of different camo options on them too. I’m trying to produce a camo scheme in 28mm that sort of suggests modern “digital camo”, without having to paint a million tiny squares. Here I’ve tried to paint a couple of desert schemes, as well as a sort of autumn woodland scheme. I plan to try a few others, perhaps a blue/grey urban scheme, and a scheme which is a little heavier on the green for a woodlands camo.

The figures are based on a mixed variety of resin bases I’ve picked up from Mighty Ape sales. I’ve used both Secret Weapon Miniatures bases, and Micro Art Studio bases.

These Pig Iron Productions metal figures are just a joy to paint. They’re pewter so feel lovely and heavy in your hand, something I miss with resins and plastics. They have plenty of variety in poses and detailing to keep the painting interesting. For example I didn’t notice that figure on the left was wearing some kind of rigid carapace armor or vest until I primed him up. He also has a bunch more webbing packs, so half way through painting he became the team’s medic. Pig Iron Productions figures aren’t cheap, but they are lovely and worth what you pay for them. I absolutely recommend them if you’re looking for any kind of sci-fi or post apocalyptic soldier in 28mm. I’m looking forward to painting the rest of the warband.

This is Not a Test: More Mantic Red Brick Stencilling

Mantic Red Brick I’m still slowly working my way through my Mantic Red Brick box, adding terrain to my This is Not a Test collection.

This is another stencilled piece inspired by a corporate logo, which was largely borrowed from Geof Darrow’s ‘Hardboiled’ graphic novel. In the background of his densely laden artwork Darrow messes around a lot with big US corporate logos, and this one caught my eye.

The stencil was cut in two parts, the outer shell shape and the inner shell details. Unfortunately it didn’t come out as clearly as I’d hoped due to the rather old rattle can of Tamiya Desert Yellow I used. A lot of hand painting was required to fix up the blurred edges of the shell, and the ‘SHILL’ logo was hand painted afterwards. Fortunately the floor varnish I use for cheap weathering blends down the handpainting once it goes over the top.

Mantic Red Brick Rear For a little variety the rear of the ruin has also had a small section of ruined floor added with balsa wood for a sniper’s perch.

This piece is the last of the larger pieces I’ve constructed from the Mantic box. There’s still a lot of terrain for me to paint in there, but it’s mainly waist high ruined corners and wall sections, as well as scatter terrain.

I still can’t believe was fantastic value this box was from Mighty Ape. A box by itself it can cover probably half a 2′ x 2′ table. Hmmm, I guess I should have bought two boxes in the Mighty Ape sale!