It’s storytime. Grab your blanket and a snack, it’s a long one.
My local buddies got hyped on Infinity recently, and I dove onto the hype train head-first.
Less recently, I was given the Military Order starter box for Panoceania years ago as a birthday present. It was partly a way for a friend to invite me into a game he really enjoyed, and partly his wanting to challenge me as a painter. It was an incredibly thoughtful gift that got put on a shelf for far too long, largely because I was too scared of the smaller, more detailed miniatures. (Turns out, they’re ridiculously fun to paint.)
When we decided to start learning the rules and playing semi-regularly late last year, I went whole-hog into the terrain. I immediately had a concept in mind for the table I wanted to build – I was (OK, still am) high on The Martian and all things space and Science-Fiction, and wanted to do a research station on an alien planet that had some military presence – maybe the research was Top Secret, maybe there are hostile aliens… Either way, I envisioned a desolate red planet (heavily inspired by Mars), with rock formations, high-tech science station buildings, and some accompanying military buildings and support systems (like a landing zone, construction equipment, radar antennae, etc).
As we were all surveying the available terrain options, I fell in love with Warsenal’s pieces. Warsenal is one of the premiere MDF terrain studios for Infinity terrain, boasting an official license from Corvus Belli – their terrain is in the pictures in the game’s rulebook. Warsenal’s Cosmica line is perfect for the science part of the expedition, and their Comanche pieces would contrast those nicely and function perfectly as the military outpost portion. Just like my wife and shoes, I seem to have expensive taste. Luckily, I planned on doing my rock formations out of dense pink foam, and I could save some money there.
I didn’t want this terrain to be slap-dash or done quickly. I wanted it to look good, and I wanted to spend my time on it and really make it look nice. The terrain pieces themselves are practically sculptures, and Infinity is a very cinematic game, so I felt like I could really let myself run wild on the terrain and go overboard – and that would be OK.
However, since this was my first encounter with masking and airbrushing MDF terrain, I started with the simplest and cheapest bits I had, some Comanche Mantlets. These are designed to go on walkways and other exposed areas to provide cover. They’re six parts each, and about $5 for the pair – perfect starter pieces.
I originally used masking tape, but since I couldn’t see any of the engraved lines through the opaque tape, that didn’t work well at all. Packing tape, however, worked really well – it cuts effortlessly, and it’s very cheap. There are some mistakes on the Mantlets, but they’re not very visible, and it was good that I learned on something simple.
Having bolstered my confidence with the mantlets, I selected a Comanche Pillbox for my next project. Considerably more involved at 22 pieces, it’s a relatively simple box with some nice corner railings and a roof rack. The roof is removable, and the interior features some lockers and floor detail. All of the MDF parts only feature engraved detail on one side, so the interior walls are rather spartan.
Here’s where I encountered a major issue with the packing tape that I hadn’t seen with the Mantlets: the tape took some paint off with it!
This could have been because I used Krylon spray primer, it also could have been that I didn’t wait long enough for the paint to dry before putting tape over it. At first, I was mortified that I’d ruined all the careful airbrush work thus far and that I would have to start over again. Then I realized it was fine – I was going to weather the piece anyway, so this would just fit right in. Crisis averted!
It was around this time that I started listening to podcasts about Infinity while I was at work (I had lots of repetitive testing and data entry to do – podcasts make that bearable). One of them was Mayacast, run by Tom Schadle and Kip Parcell. They do a quarterly painting contest called the Masterglass Contest, and for Q1 2017, they were doing terrain as the subject. It could be any one piece of terrain, from any manufacturer.
It was running from Jan thru March, but I found out mid-February. That’s what I get for starting in the podcast backlog, instead of the latest episodes. So, I had about a month to finish the piece. I had two colors down (I hadn’t painted the floor or done the red accent lines yet), but I was facing a wall of Sentinels on my painting table that needed to get done.
There was a major effect I still had yet to work out, inspired by the way some of Warsenal’s bases are painted.
Those are completely flat bases with etched details, much like the MDF terrain (in fact, they’re just acrylic sheets). The way they’re painted, though, they look like overlapping plates with raised and recessed details. I wanted to apply the same effect to the panels on the Pillbox. So, I arbitrarily picked the sun to be off one corner, and highlighted the edges of the plates accordingly.
Here’s the effect, pre-weathering (note the Sentinels in the background):
It’s a bit heavy handed in some places (like the shadows on the white panels), but the effect is achieved nicely.
After this step, I applied weathering, and airbrushed the exterior lights. Finally, I added some posters and warning signs (which both science types and the military are very fond of), and weathered them a bit to make them feel as if they’d been on the installation since it was commissioned.
I don’t have many details on those steps, I had to do them over the course of about three evenings, and just didn’t have the time or presence of mind to take in-progress pictures. I’ll be taking several WIP pictures of the second pillbox (and the other terrain pieces) as I paint it, and I plan on doing a tutorial. It’s been far too long since I’ve posted one of those. I’ll cover methods, paint colors, etc.
For the competition, I knew the quality of the pictures could make or break an entry, so I went all out. I set up my fancy mat on the floor and threw down the (kinda crappy) foam rock formations I’d made for my D&D campaign (which happens to involve a red desert right now). I also quickly finished up the three Order Sergeants I had been hastily working on throughout our local “slow grow” league we were half-heartedly running. They would help populate the terrain piece and give it some action. Add in some good lighting (daylight bulbs) and … viola!
Here’s the final piece:
Did you hear that?
I’ll go check it out.
Hey, come outside and help us look!
Why? It’s nice and safe in here.
I’ll uh… I’ll just stay here and supervise. You go look.
So, that’s my first piece of MDF terrain for Infinity. I’m super happy with how it turned out. There are some things I need to do differently next time, but the list of things that were successful is much longer.
As for the contest, you can see all the entries here, on Facebook, and here’s the podcast episode where they discuss the contest entries (starting at 1:09:00). There are some fantastic pieces in the album, and it’s a great source of inspiration for terrain – there’s several original and scratch-built pieces which are amazing.
In the end, Tom and Kip picked my Pillbox as the Masterglass winner! They really liked the 3D effect, the weathering and the sign and poster details. They liked that I was able to do so much with such a simple terrain piece, which is really rewarding since that was one of the goals of the project. My award is a custom engraved drinking glass with the Masterglass logo and my name! In addition to that, several participants were randomly picked to win terrain pieces and models, which is an awesome way to encourage everyone to continue to participate in the contests and share their hobby.
I definitely encourage you, Reader, to participate in contests – local or otherwise. It’s a great motivator to step up your work, and in my case, to get things finished!