Friday, June 25, 2010

TABLETOP GAMING - "Making Rivers"

It's been a while since I've posted something for my "tabletop gaming friends". So I thought I'd pull some images out of the archives and add something new. Here's how I made a some "scratchbuilt" rivers.

About four years ago, when I was making a lot of terrain for my buddies, Jaye and Steve, I had the opportunity (thanks to Jaye) to see if I could sell some hand-made river sets at a gaming convention. Sadly, not one thing sold. Happily...Jaye and Steve got all the rivers!

My first set was a "muddy brown river" series. I tried to standardize the width of all the segments, so that they could be interchanged to create multiple layouts. They were about 6" wide at the adjoining edges. After painting them with acrylic, I glazed the "water" with clear high-gloss varnish.

The next group got a bit more elaborate. The "green river" set had some larger segments, that featured little islands, some swampy areas, some "y" junctions, etc. For the rocks, I used little pieces of styrofoam, or bits of pine bark. The rest of the textured surfaces were made of sand mixed with gesso. I don't have any "making of" photos from the original river sets shown. So for this blog, I've re-created the process for you below.

First I made some templates out of posterboard. After tracing the shapes onto masonite board, I cut them all out with a jig-saw and a table saw, then sanded the edges of each section. On the right below, you see where I cut out a thicker piece of cardboard that will be the river's "bank". I spray-mounted that to the board.

Next I mix up a "concrete" made from sand and gesso. You can vary the amount of sand to achieve different results. Then you generously apply the mixture, following the contour of your cardboard edge. Taper the "bank" to the sides of the board.

You can allow the gesso to dry at room temperature, place it near a fan, or put it under a lamp like shown below. With some of my earliest attempts, I was able to get some really cool cracking in the dried surfaces, when using mostly gesso with very little sand. But for some reason, I couldn't replicate that effect for this demo. You can see the different textures on the pre-painted segment below, after it dried.

The last images are of various effects you can achieve, simply by painting the surfaces with the right color combination. You can have a nice green bank near clear blue water, or paint the same texture to look like ash-covered rocks with flowing lava! Or perhaps you need a very dry, muddy river bed...which could also be painted to look like the snow-covered banks of an ice flow!
Hope that helps you create some interesting stuff for your gaming tables!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - "Oil Change Pt.2"

Just adding a page from my sketchbook of a couple of guys from this morning's trip (to get my other vehicle's oil changed...and tires rotated, too, if you were curious).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - "Oil Change"

It's been two months since I've taken my sketchbook out with me. Had to take my mini-van in to get an oil change last Saturday, so I figured I'd find something to draw while I waited. The guy above was in the customer service room asleep...he woke up and left before I could finish the rest of him.

Below is a trio of sketches of some guy intently focused on his laptop...a study of the "chin-holding positions of pondering".

This next sketch is one of my favorite modes of transportation. I love golf carts, but I don't play golf. I want to get one and have it all "tricked out" with mag wheels, flames painted on the sides, and giant fake exhaust pipes shooting out the back. Might as well throw in the hydraulics for some low-rider action, too...sweet ride.
Finished drawing the Stop sign just before a downpour of torrential rain. I have to take my other van in for an oil change this Saturday morning. We'll see what I sketch up then.

Friday, June 11, 2010

PAINTINGS - "STEMS Plein Air" Pt.5

I think the appropriate words are..."Woo Hoo!" I got a 3rd place, a 4th place and an Honorable Mention for my three paintings at tonight's opening of the STEMS Plein Air show! What a wonderful surprise and a great way to end the week! Above is the 3rd place piece "Evening at the Farmstead". Pretty dang exciting for the first time I've ever entered one of these contests...kind of makes me want to try this again!

The 4th place winner was "Big Yellow Tractor", and the Honorable Mention was "Tractor and Thresher". And that's not all...the Farmstead and Yellow Tractor paintings were both SOLD when I got to the opening! I'm not sure if there are cash prizes awarded...I honestly don't care. It was just good for me to get back out there and paint.

You can see where my stuff was placed at the exhibit. I'm sure at some point, the STEMS website will post the winners later, so you can get a good look. You can jump over there with this link...

My good friend and co-worker, Larry DeGraff, was out there painting, too. He had 3 Honorable Mentions in the show. It was fun to compare notes with him of our painting adventures. You can see some of Larry's fine paintings on his blog.

I just want to thank my sweet wife, Cat, for this whole experience. I wouldn't be painting at all right now, if it weren't for her encouragement a few years back. I wanted to honor her memory by participating in this event...I think she's smiling about now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

PAINTINGS - "STEMS Plein Air" Pt.4

Okay...I know I just posted last night, but I've got a new one that I just finished this evening after work. We're supposed to get rain for the next several days, so I figured I try to get one more done. I'm not keen on sticking a freshly wet painting in a frame, so this'll give me a few days of drying time before deciding on which ones to enter for the judging.

This image is of the little school house and big red barn entrance, just inside the Deanna Rose Farmstead. I'm pretty happy with the way I kept the strokes all loose and juicy, and I think I hit the late afternoon light about right. I'm leaning a bit towards entering this one, but the leading contenders are the two paintings of the tractor and thresher, and the Medicine Wheel Hut.

Thoughts anyone?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PAINTINGS - "STEMS Plein Air" Pt.3

This evening I decided to gamble...don't know if I won or lost. I reworked my Tractor and Thresher painting. The original was done on an overcast morning. I figured the layout was locked down, but I wanted to see if I could add some "jewel strokes" and punch up the color, contrast, and structure. There were some nice little orange clouds around sunset...don't think I did them justice. Overall, though, I think like it better.