Posts Tagged ‘hobby’

I’m slowly getting to the point where the Morkanaut is done.  Right now I need to finish a few sections and then go over the model and make sure I haven’t missed anything.  While it may not be great in-game, the model is incredible and really fun to work on.

Photo Jul 13, 10 39 49 PM

Photo Jul 13, 10 40 13 PM


One of the most frustrating things in the hobby for me has always been seeing photos online in which the poster asks for criticism or comments on his painting.  You click on the picture, and… it’s blurry.  Totally out of focus.  Or not lit well enough.  Or sitting on a cluttered desk in the middle of a dozen other projects.  At that point, offering any sort of help becomes almost impossible.  Usually, the photo is accompanied by a quick “Sorry, phone camera pic lol”.

ork nobz jul 01

This picture was taken using an iPhone 3GS.

grots jul 01

So was this one.

Right now, the phone I’m using is several generations behind, but as you can see from the pictures, it’s still capable of taking miniature picture reasonably well.  Here’s how I do it:

lightbox jul 01

This is my lightbox – it’s about $45 on Amazon, and comes with two small lights(you can see on the right side, next to the tall desk lamp), and several different colored backgrounds.  It folds up for easy storage, and it’s what I use for all of my miniature and dice bag pictures.

You can find tutorials all over the place for how to make your own light box – I find it easier to just acquire one on Amazon.

The next thing you notice is probably all the lights – I have four lights set up around the light box.  These help to eliminate shadows and get the inside area lit as brightly as possible.  The two smaller lights provide a side light, and the desk lamp and the other work lamp(on the left; you can just see the shade) help with top light.  It’s a lot like lighting a stage for theatre – you want the actor(or miniatures in this case) to be well lit from as many sides as possible.  Now, it’s entirely possible to get even more technical and discuss color correction after taking your photos, but that may be a topic for another day.

To actually snap my photos, I use an app called Google+Snapseed – a search in your app store for “Snapseed” should bring up results.  It offers a ton of really useful ways to correct and modify your photos, including cropping, adjusting brightness and saturation, and more.  From the app, you can post your pics directly to Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Note the Moleskine notebooks I’ve set up in front of the miniatures – that’s what I balance my phone on to correct shakiness and get a good image.  If you do get a blurry picture, you can always delete it and try again – there’s no point in asking for criticism on a photo that you know is blurry.  Once you have a picture you’re satisfied with, I’d recommend cropping out as much of the empty background as you can.  One of minor pet peeves is when I see a picture of a space marine, and there’s a ton of empty space around the mini.  Crop it out; nobody needs to see empty desk/background.  After that, it’s a simple matter of saving the picture to your phone, emailing it to yourself, finding some way to get it to a place where you can post it anywhere you like.  I find Dropbox useful for this, personally.

And that’s about it for a quick and dirty primer on how to take good miniature pictures.  You can of course take this further, getting an actual tripod, a camera meant solely for photography, macro lenses, the works.  But this’ll do in a pinch, and goes a long way to eliminate “potato quality” pictures.

I’ve been roleplaying in various games like Shadowrun, Dungeons and Dragons, and so on since high school. I also started playing Warhammer 40,000 in high school, and in 2005 or so I began playing Warmachine. All of these games use dice of various denominations to determine a multitude of issues during gameplay.

I have always had terrible luck with dice.

I am the guy who will need to roll a five on two 6-sided dice(2d6) to hit an enemy model, and will roll a 3 and a 1. Or who will roll triple 1’s on a crucial attack roll. Or miss 14 out of 16 possible attacks, because the dice just aren’t cutting it. I’ve always been that guy.

People have commented on it, and I’ve always thought it was somewhat amusing, that I can’t roll high numbers to save my life. Until a few weeks ago, when it happened again, and my opponent said something along the lines of “I have bad luck with dice, but you probably have the worst rolls I’ve ever seen”. That was when I decided that I had to change something. I needed to take action and find a fix for my dice. So I approached David, my friendly local game store owner, and told him I’d like to order new dice.

I had used Chessex and Games Workshop dice for years, and due to being a Shadowrun player, where 6-sided dice are rolled in the dozens sometimes, I had a big block of 36 12-mm dice in the color “Strawberry”.  Meaning red speckled with bright green pips.  They’re small dice, and a handful is about a dozen dice.  I’d also heard that the Games Workshop dice(12mm, red and black dice with white pips) were often terrible rollers and not terribly well made.  “Superstition and poppycock!”, I cried.

In an effort to try something new, I ordered slightly larger dice – 16mm Chessex “Recon” dice.  Green with white pips.  These come in a block of 12.  As luck would have it, they failed to arrive in time for last night’s Warmachine games, so I made due with the only two larger 6-siders that I had in my dice bags.  And lo and behold…. my dice rolls were mostly average and not terrible.  I’ve come to suspect that one of the causes of my years of bad die rolls was the small size of the dice I was using, especially after the games I played last night.  So I’m very much looking forward to trying new dice and seeing the results.


Chessex – if any of your reps are reading this, I’d be happy to test any dice you’re willing to send my way!  I ordered the Recon, but I’m partial to any speckled dice you make, particularly Stealth, Ninja, and Water or Veronica.  *grin*

A few images of the crooked little houses I’ve made.





You can find part 1 of my tutorial on how to make these here:

I’m a nerd, and I freely admit it.  I get excited about dice, and roleplaying games, and moving little pewter miniatures around on a tabletop battlefield, pretending to be a great general.  (I have very little in the way of tactical skills.)  I think that’s part of the reason I really like sewing dice bags.  Everyone who games in some form or fashion needs a good dice bag, or at least that’s how I feel – and not just because I sell dice bags.  All those funny-shaped polyhedrons are an integral part of gamer culture, so why not have a snazzy way to carry yours and keep them safe?  I know that Knights of the Dinner Table can often be a roleplaying stereotype taken to an extreme, but just look at Brian van Hoose, who almost always has his dice bag hanging from his belt.

I’ve seen gamers keep their dice in little plastic compartmented containers, I’ve seen dice in ziploc bags, I’ve seen dice in Crown Royal bags.  Some people have “dice buckets” where the dice live, ready to be pulled out on game night.  Me, I’ve always had a dice bag, at least as long as I can remember.  My mom got me my first one, and that little black dice bag with the faux-leather rim stayed with me for almost twelve years, until I started making my own.  I’ve come a long way since that first dice bag, and there’s probably still room for improvement.

This summer I started trying to screen print designs on my dice bags, starting with a few orc skulls.  One customer put up a great review on his own blog, and you can read the entry here:

I love hearing about customer experience with my stuff, and it’s great to get good feedback.  One thing that I do sometimes worry about is my price point – my bags are listed in my Etsy shop, Greyed Out, for between $16 and $18, with $3.50 in shipping.  I think that feels a bit high to some people, but I also think it’s reasonable for what I offer, and here’s why.

I make all of these dice bags myself.  It takes about an hour, sometimes a little more, to sew each dice bag.  That includes cutting the fabric, putting everything together, stringing the drawstring, and so on.  Each bag has about $2 of fabric in it.  I purchase all my own fabric, and I don’t drive, so each trip to Hobby Lobby with public transport takes a while.  That also has to be factored in.  Add in the time to wash the fabric, then screen print it, let the ink dry, set the ink, and so on, and it all adds up.  I’d like to make at least some profit on each sale, and I feel that my time is worth more than minimun wage.  Sure, you can get a dice bag manufactured in China for $3.99.  But why do that when the alternative is something sewn right here in the United States by someone who loves what he does?  To me, handmade means quality, and I do my best to make each of my dice bags perfect.  I don’t send out anything that I’m not happy with.

That said, I do have some new designs to show off.  Check them out, as always, at and feel free to email me with any questions.  I do have wholesale deals available if you’re interested in carrying my dice bags in your game store, bookshop, etc.


White orc skull on dark green cotton canvas.


A second orc skull dice bag.


Red suede bag with a hidden Inquisition symbol inside.


Black cotton canvas Inquisition bag.


Open dice bag.








I’ve had a chance over the past two weeks to start collecting a Warhammer 40K ork army, beginning with two mobs of ork boyz(20 boys total, which will be combined into one mob of shoota boys), and a metal warboss with a twin-linked shoota and big choppa.  I had wanted to collect an ork army for the longest time, simply to paint and model, because orks have always been one of my favorite armies in the Warhammer universe, but I’d put off the army for a really long time.  Finally, I decided that it was time to start collecting, even if I won’t play for a long, long time.

The older metal warbosses and nobs(ork nobles) in particular had always appealed to me, so when I found a new-in-blister ork warboss on Ebay for $9+shipping, I jumped on it.  I’ve decided that the army will be a mix of Bad Moons and Death Skulls, whose colors are yellow and blue, respectively.  It should look great on the tabletop, when everything is said and done.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that my warboss is Uzdreg da Bloo Bearded, who got a hair squig stuck to his face and earned the admiration of the Death Skulls that snuck aboard his space hulk.  I’ve modeled the beard onto the warboss’ head with green stuff, and I’m excited to see it painted and done.  The body of Uzdreg is also slowly getting finished, and I like how the skin and armor turned out.

The yellow Bad Moon armor is done in a series of consecutively lighter brown coats, starting with P3 Battlefield Brown and ending in several washes of GW Yriel Yellow.  It’s going to take me forever to paint all the ork boyz.  But the end result will be stunning, I think.


Check out the pictures:


This is Uzdreg and the ladz.


It’s hard to make out, but here is Uzdreg and his beard.


Body of Uzdreg with a boy next to him for comparison. Warbosses are ‘uge!


And finally, Uzdreg’s choppa arm and some of the body armor he’s wearing.






I started work on my Beast-09 a few days ago, after tons of inner debate on how I wanted to pose him.  I’m still not entirely sure about the posing the arms will take, but I got his legs and base done tonight.


This will be the base.  I wanted Beast standing with a leg up on a slightly raised edge, both to give him extra height and to make him look more menacing.  The base here is cork with plasticard layered on top.  The idea is that it’s a concrete/shale slab that’s cracked.



This is the position the legs will take.  No glue, no pins, just the legs standing flat on the plasticard.  I’ve cut off and filed down the pegs on the bottoms of the feet.  Initially I planned to pin one of both feet.



And here is the final position of legs+waist on the base.  I used green stuff in the peg-holes, and made sure to position both feet flat on the card of the base.  The green stuff will be curing overnight.  Instead of pinning the feet, I glued them down so that the green stuff will be in the position I want it to cure in.  I’m hoping that the final model will be stable enough to stand without pins, especially once the cork is glued to the actual base.  Here I’m using a Games Workshop monster base as a square platform for the cork to rest on.  Previously I used a pencil to trace the inner circle of the 50mm Privateer Press base onto the monster base, so I can easily tell where the edges are, to avoid too much cork overhang.  (Hint: the outside edge of a Privateer Press 40mm base fits perfectly into the inner ring of a 50mm base.)



This is the first model in a very long time that I’ve started putting together before priming/painting.  I’m curious to see how well it goes, since I’m so used to doing everything in pieces and then glueing at the very end.  Originally I wasn’t planning on glueing the legs to the card, but wanted to make sure that the legs stayed flat while the green stuff epoxy cures.

That’s it for this update.  Thanks for reading!

I painted him to match my Zerkova, which was fun since I ended up really liking the scheme.  Additional battle damage/wear was done largely with thinned down Bloodstone, and I stippled it on in places as well.  The base was done after I saw the “concrete basing” preview for the latest No Quarter magazine, and I kept the slate-like look because I liked it so much, rather than going for a more concrete-like color.



On a random note, Spriggans are a pain in the butt to photograph, thanks to the way the carapace slopes at the front.  I tried my best, though.

I’ve been playing miniature tabletop wargames since high school, which means that I have a good 15 years of gaming under my belt.  I started playing Warmachine in 2006, shortly before Superiority was released.  Miniature storage has always been one of those afterthoughts, because why spend money on an item to lug your miniatures around when you could buy more miniatures instead?

It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve begun thinking more about storage and transportation.  I have several pieces of Sabol foam, which serve well to hold about a third of my collection.  It’s just enough to carry a selection of my most-used Khador models to the game store, and since I know how to sew, I put together a very rough and tumble messenger-style bag to put the foam trays in.  The bag isn’t the greatest in the world, and I worry that one of these days it’s going to snap a shoulder strap and send a few hundred dollars worth of miniatures crashing into the concrete.

I’ve been eyeing the miniature transport bags that Portable Warfare makes ever since I first found out about them.  Their bag is called the Sergeant, and although I don’t own one, I’d like to talk a little bit about the bag.  Early last year, I had a brief email conversation with Chris Strecker from Portable Warfare.  I value great customer service, and Mr. Strecker was incredibly courteous and helpful in answering the questions I posed. Though there are other options in the market for miniature transport, I am inclined to put my faith in Portable Warfare thanks to that particular experience.

The Sergeant measures 12″Hx13″Wx7″ and comes in 4 colors: Gunmetal Gray, Army Green, Chaos Pink, and their newest color, Tactical Orange.  From the pictures on their website,, it looks as if the bag is made from a durable nylon material similar to the stuff used in hiking packs.  In addition to the main compartment meant for holding your foam trays, the bag has a front pocket for holding several rule books or card binders, and two velcro pockets in front of those.  The two sides of the bag have mesh for holding drinks.

Portable Warfare offers two different foam build-outs for the Sergeant, as well as offering the empty bag if you already have foam.  The empty bag is $40, and the two foam load-outs are $77 and $86, respectively.  Although as I said I have no personal experience with their bags, the Sergeant seems like it would be perfect for taking several army lists worth of miniatures to the local gaming store in safety.  13″ worth of foam should be enough to transport a generous selection of warjacks, infantry, and other miniatures for a fun night of gaming.

The Portable Warfare bags come with Blü Foam, if you don’t choose the empty option.  From what I understand, the foam has a more rigid bottom layer, making it a little easier to pull out of the storage bag.  I’m always worried when I lift my current foam trays out of my homemade bag that I’ll spill miniatures everywhere, because they do much better with two hands of support under them.  The $77 foam load out comes with more 2″ trays, while the $86 option has a lot of 1″ trays for infantry-heavy armies.

I haven’t been collecting many miniatures in the last few years, since money is tight, and that’s part of the reason I sewed my own transport bag – two yards of fabric was easier to justify than a transport bag – although I have to say that out of the available options out there right now, Portable Warfare’s product seems like the best choice available, and I can’t wait until I can pick up one of my own.  The Tactical Orange in particular seems like a great option, because with a bag that color, you will never misplace it.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I keep meaning to update this blog more often, and then I end up forgetting or simply get busy with life.  I have an update today, though!

I actually just finished a big order of dice bags for Game HQ in Oklahoma City, so if you’re a local, expect to see those in the store soon.  They’re getting a dozen of my reversible bags, a dozen suede bags, and a dozen of the standard adventurer’s bags.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to be working on more dice bags to build up a stock in my inventory, and I’m also planning on bringing that plushy cyclops to life.  I’ll post a picture a bit farther down in the blog post of the idea.


Hobby-wise, I’m painting Warmachine miniatures again.  This time I have a Spriggan on the painting table, with Beast-09 to follow later.  The Spriggan will follow my Zerkova theme, lots of darker, muted wintery colors with only a few plates of my unique Khador red.  The main colors of the Zerkova theme are Cryx Bane Highlight for the main color, with shadows and highlights provided by mixing Thornwood Green and Hammerfall Khaki into the CBH.  It works really well.  In addition, I’m planning to add a lot of battle damage to the Spriggan, much like my pink Karchev.  Right now I’ve got a lot of the base work done, and next come all the finicky tricks to make it look good.  I’m also doing a slightly different base – I took the idea from the NQ #40 preview that we saw recently, and doing a slightly raised concrete base.

Privateer Press recently released a few preview videos of their upcoming projects, and in addition to being stoked about the new colossals, I’m also really looking forward to the Iron Kingdoms RPG reboot.  They had a great piece of art in their video, showing a gobber settlement, and that has me wanting to make more buildings.  I have several that still need painting, but I also want to make a few more.  I’ve been toying with the idea for doing the buildings for a gobber logging camp.  It would be somewhere at the edge of the Thornwood, near the road that Khador hacked through the wood to attack Cygnar during the Thornwood War.  The camp has been there long enough that the buildings are permanent additions, and there’s a thriving community of entrepreneurial gobbers working to profit.

I’m also still trying to sell my chaos space marine army, with no luck so far.  I’m actually a bit surprised, because from all reports and rumors chaos marines will be one of the first updates in the new edition of Warhammer 40,000, and may actually be included in the box set.  Going to keep trying to sell it, because there’s no reason not to, and having it gone would save some space in our closet.