Welcome to the Highlander Studios blog.

I won't promise any earth shattering revelations here. What I will be trying to do is post some new products as I release them, share some thoughts on gaming and show some pics of games and other stuff that I enjoy. So come in and make yourselves at home.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Martian Artillery Set MkII

     I've set a goal for myself a few weeks ago to work on 3D modeling in Blender for 1-2 hours a day. During that practice I've found easier and faster ways to model some things. I've also learned a good deal of new techniques and commands. One of the items of business for these sessions was to clean up the Martian artillery drawings.

     I received my prints from Shapeways and found that scaling the models down from the 25mm deck plans was not enough to make them look like viable weapons for 15mm figures. The prints were huge. I get that some of the Martian guns are large, but I want them to look like they could actually be mounted on air ships and manned by a reasonable number of crewmen. So I scaled all of the models down another 40%.

     I was also able to use a Boolean modifier to add slats to the wooden sides of the cannons. I'm sure there was a simpler way to do it, but I don't know it yet. The simplified boards should print nicely at 1/100 scale and give a good visual effect.

     There were a few other areas that the printer thought would cause problems. So I made the pintle for the deck guns a separate part. This will also allow the customer to angle the guns up or down if he wishes.

     When I did the original models, I thought the lob gun was too large. So I scaled it down 40% before the printing. It was the only model I liked the look of next to the Martians when it came back. That's how I decided on 60% for the other models.

     I don't get to put in all of the time I'd like on 3d modeling, but the couple hours a day during the work week has really improved the work flow. I'm starting to remember that when I model some parts, I need to do some detailing or smoothing steps first and then simplify the mesh. By doing that, I've been able to cut down the size of the files by 50- 60% for most projects. That makes email delivery and printing a lot easier.

     Now I think I'm ready to go back and tackle the British weapons. I was having the opposite scaling problem with them. The models scaled from actual technical drawings were just too fine and small to print well. That is also a problem for mold making and casting later on. Fingers crossed, people.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful for a Day of Giving Thanks

     Over the past few decades, I've built a practice of incorporating gratitude for all things in my life. It's not easy sometimes remembering that even that guy who cut me off in traffic has some small part to play in shaping my world or that even the unpleasant stuff has its lessons to impart. I must admit that I'm not 100% diligent and sometimes I'm just grateful for the chance to exercise my expressions of profanity. What can I say? I'm a work in progress.

     On the surface it would seem that another day of giving thanks is redundant. But on Thanksgiving day here in America I am truly grateful for a day of giving thanks. It's a day where the folks around me are a constant reminder that I am one lucky guy and blessed beyond any imaginable degree that I deserve. Today I am especially grateful for the chance to stay at home to relax and do the things for which I am truly thankful.

     I got to sleep late, make brunch and mimosas for the girls, do some housework, work on some 3d models, fill an order for a customer, spend time cooking, talking and watching TV with my wife and have my favorite non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Some of these things may not seem worthy of gratitude. But then I think of the alternative... not being able to do them.

     So... here's my simple prayer to share with you all. "Thank you for all things." Try it out when the good stuff happens, but I find it especially useful when things are tough.
The non-traditional dish

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Martians Artillery Requisitioned

     I've had the chance to get back to some 3D modeling lately. I'm trying to do about 5-10 hours a week to keep my skills fresh. It seems to be working.

     This week's project was to return to the Space: 1889 line. I've had to back burner most of the Highlander Studios projects for a long while, but things are starting to fall into place again. The models this week are for Martian artillery pieces. They've been designed for Aero/ Naval platforms first. Later I'll add some field carriages.


      I've been using a combination of Space: 1889 sources for the modeling; Cloudships and Gunboats, Cloudships and Gunboats Deckplans and Space: 1889. I've had to extrapolate a few general shapes and simplify the design for mold making.


     The rogue and the heavy gun will be on a separate carriage. for two reasons. First, it's easier to make the molds that way. Second, it allows me to exchange the carriages for the field mounts for later packs.

Lob Gun

     I placed all of the guns in one master file. That's why you'll see the previous models in some of the pictures. From the master file I selected each individual part and saved it as a stereolithography (.stl) file for later scaling and preparation for printing.

Heavy Gun

     The heavy gun is basically a rescaled rogue with an extra bump at the breech.

Rod Gun

     The rod gun and sweeper are modeled as one piece with the pintle. I've cut the pintle at the point where the bottom flare ends. The rod would take up a lot of space in both the printing try and the mold. It might also have caused some casting issues in the long run.

Light Gun

     The light gun is made to be mounted on the gunwale. The reference picture shows it roped in place by the pins sticking out of the lower bar. You can also see that learning has occurred here. I finally discovered the limit renderability button that will remove the other cannons from the scene.

     While rescaling these I was surprised to see how big they actually were in comparison to a figure. But using the 25mm deck plans and cardboard figures as a guide, they seem to be correct. Well as correct as an imainary VSF piece of equipment can be. We'll see how it all turns out when I have the actual models to compare.

     Oh, almost forgot. The final product will be scaled for my 15mm line. Sorry 25mm and 28mm enthusiasts. I don't have a license for those sizes.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

First Crowdfunding Finished

     I'm happy to say that my first crowd funding experience with Ed at Two Hour Wargames was a success and all orders were shipped by the projected date at the end of October. It's a relief to have that first experience completed. It's also exciting because I can now offer the figures for sale on the website.

     Here are the new packs available as of today.

GID-02     Zombie Apocalypse Survivors     $6

GID-04     Zombified Survivors     $6

GID-05     Zombie Rednecks     $6

VIC-01     Ape Man Set     $5

     Yeah I know, these aren't zombies or survivors. They're just new additions to the website.

     I also have the Urban Fantasy Set coming for Fall In.

GID-03     Urban Fantasy Set     $6

     I'll have these available at the show and on the website after my return.  You can find the Zombies at the Gideon's Dust page.

Gideon's Dust minaitures

     And the Ape Man at the Victoria! page.

Victoria! miniatures

     Look for more additions around mid December.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Just What the Plague Doctor Ordered

     The past four to five weeks has seen some significant changes around the Campbell household. I've been struggling a little bit while I attempt to adjust to the new schedule of physical activity and tracking food for myself, appointments and physical therapy sessions for my sister-in-law and taking care of extra duties around the house so my wife can actually get some rest after twelve to fourteen hour work days. So when we were invited to a Halloween party/ wedding reception on the first weekend of November, my initial reaction was less than enthusiastic.

     I'm not one who really likes to dress up for Halloween or other costume occasions. It's not that I don't enjoy the idea of it, it's just that I usually have trouble coming up with a costume idea that I both like and that will work with my chunky build and often limited finances. I put things on the back burner to simmer while I dealt with the chaos of life around me. On Sunday I realized there were just six days to go. Luckily an idea had been taking shape... the plague doctor.

     But I didn't have a hood, hat or robe. Some modifications to the theme were needed. Inspired by the following masks, I decided to update the 16th century guy to somewhere roughly around the turn of the 19th century.

     Now if only I had some leather, leather working tools and the skills to use them. No joy there. What I did have around the house was some poster board from a starship deck plan project, some brown paper and cardboard from our recycling box, and a whole new slew of ideas to try using a modified paper mache technique.

     My overcoat would be substituted for the robe. A scarf and mask would take the place of the hood. I recently purchased welding gloves and wing tip boots that I could wear. I only needed to make the mask and the hat. I won't talk at length about the construction, but here are some progress shots as the pieces came together with a few notes on materials.

     I started with a poster board mask. Patterning is a bitch for me so it was a lot of estimate and fit it later.

     Here the mask is being covered with a brown paper and polyurethane mache. These were the materials on hand which became a happy accident. The final material is waterproof, tough and flexible.

     The hat is constructed from corrugated cardboard with poster board over card board strips for the sides.

   The mask now has details added in cereal box card board. And the holes for the rivets are drilled.

     It was spray painted white with a walnut stain rubbed on it. The beak has been stitched and the metal work painted.

     A strap made from a belt was added and the rivets were placed. These are 1/2" brass fasteners.

     About the same time I finished the hat with a paper mache covering, hat band from cereal box, and stitching all around.

     The final mask details were made from electrical fittings; some kind of insulated plastic bushing.

     The hat was spray painted orange brown with the same walnut stain rubbed onto it. It came out a rich, non-uniform red brown. Very close to what I had envisioned and very little effort.

     Some pics of it together:

     Total out of pocket expenses for the hat and mask came to $11. Time involved was about twelve hours. Well worth it though. I can honestly say this project was a real sanity saver. It gave me a creative outlet that was a departure from my daily fare. It was calming, centering and energizing at the same time. Just what the plague doctor ordered.

      Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Robbie Zombie

     When Ed at Two Hour Wargames asked if I'd like to sculpt some figures for an All Things Zombie Indiegogo campaign, I jumped at the chance. One because I like zombie games. Two because it was a chance to get involved with the nuts and bolts workings of a crows funding campaign. And three because I really like working with Ed. So off we went.

     The basic plan was to sculpt 5 survivors, 5 zombie versions and 5 other zombies. There were some stretch goals added. We reached one for some urban fantasy figures, which really got me excited.

     The I did a test piece (actually a set of two pieces) way back in December of last year as a sample. This first survivor and zombie set was a military type with a SAW.

     The next four sets I was able to sculpt during the fund raising period. We did a hunter, a business woman, a female ganger and police officer.

     These were sent to the mold maker early on. You can see the sets of metal masters here.

     For the other set of zombies we decided on six instead of the usual grouping of five figures. These were to be one smart zombie with a shotgun and five more random types. For several years friends of mine have been telling me to make zombie versions of my Rednecks. This was the perfect opportunity.

     So Zeke became the shotgun wielding smartie.

     Mitch, Darla and Robbie became three of the others.

 And two other random zombies were added.

     For the stretch goal Ed wanted a werewolf,

     a pair of urban spell casters,

     and my favorites, the urban vampires.

     I'm happy to say that sculpting wrapped up last week and these last eleven figures were sent off to the mold maker. We should be well on target for our October delivery. Depending on his schedule we may even be a few weeks early. Fingers and toes crossed, people.