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, March 25, 2013


    Just a short post to show the latest in the 40mm Robin Hood set. This time... Will Scarlet.

    Again, this one was started many years ago and was set aside to work out the details while other projects were completed.

     I'm still not particularly interested in adding 40mm products to the Highlander Studios lines. I simply enjoy sculpting them.

    If anyone is interested in purchasing them, there are currently six figures: Robin, Little  John, Tuck, Scarlet, Marian and Alan a'Dale. The last two should be completed in a week or two. These were designed with a 1000AD to 1100AD version of Robin hood in mind.
     I'm planning to continue with Nottingham personalities when these are finished. These could be commissioned and designed to your liking with the purchase of this set.
     Here's the link to the Robin and Little John post. ROBIN AND LITTLE JOHN

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Road Goes Ever, Ever On

Quick Easy Roads

      The bane of my gaming existence is terrain making. I enjoy having highly detailed, realistic items on the board, but when I start building them I soon lose interest due to the length of time they take to build. I've wanted some decent city streets and roads for my games for a while. I decided that that I'll eventually build fully detailed modular boards. In the interim what do I do for the game in a day or two? My solution was to build some serviceable road sections as quickly and cheaply as possible. Here's the result when added to the game table.

     The following is a tutorial on how I made my quick and dirty roads. I hope it provides some inspiration and simple instruction to those who want to make something similar.

Gathering the Materials

     The first step I took was to take a look around my studio and see what materials I had on hand. Using items that were already available made the project essentially free. The cost of the materials if I were to purchase them again would be less than $20 for 30 to 50 feet of roadway in 15mm scale. The time involved to make this first set was around 4 hours including decision making and trial and error on a few test parts. I ended up with about 10 feet of roadway. Back to the materials.


      Materials and Tools:

      Black Fun Foam: I had 12” x 18” sheets on hand. Actual dimensions are slightly less than that so there was a good bit of left over material that wasn't wide enough or long enough for the road sections I wanted. They were used as test pieces and will be used in other projects like sidewalks later.

      White Paint: I actually chose an off-white. The actual color and brand of paint is a matter of personal choice. The paint on hand was Folk Art – Tapioca. Yellow would be a good additional color for different road styles. I kept this first set simple.

      Weathering Powder: I had some Vallejo – Concrete here. You can use whatever brand or even chalk pastels. I wanted a light gray to mute the road surface when I was done.

      Platinum Gray Primer: It's not shown in the picture. I used a cheap, sandable automotive primer.

     Tools: Steel ruler, 1/4” flat, #1 and #2 round brushes, X-acto knife, ball point pen and pencil.


     Designing the pieces was the most time consuming part of the project. I wanted roads that were scaled for 15mm gaming. I chose to go with a 3” width. That's slightly over scale for a 22 foot wide road, but most of my vehicles are slightly larger than 1/100 scale and I figured a little extra room to move figures wouldn't hurt. I arbitrarily chose 9” and 6” lengths. That ended up providing me with a good bit of flexibility when laying out my first town. The intersections, corners, and curves will all be based on 6”x 6”, 9”x6” or 9”x9” rectangles.

      These techniques will work for whatever scale you happen to want to play. You'll need to adjust the road widths and/ or lengths to meet your specific needs.

     I used two sheets of Fun Foam and decided to lay out 1 T-intersection, 1 intersection, 2 6” lengths and 4 9” lengths. I marked the measurements with a pencil and cut them out with the knife.

     I experimented with different painting techniques on a couple of scrap pieces and found that the fastest way to get good coverage was to simply apply a light coat of primer over the parts. I allowed some of the black to show through.

     Using the #2 brush, I lined the edges of the roads. I free-handed them, but you could just as easily line a straight edge along the side and paint them that way.

     At first I painted the center lines by drawing them on in pencil and painting over the lines with the #1 brush. But then it hit me that I could just line up the straight edge and paint them them to the lengths I wanted without the extra step. I didn't do any real research on line lengths or spacing for this set. The goal was speed, not accuracy. I'll take some time to get measurements for the next sets. For now, I have the impression of roads with dotted lines.

     You could stop at this point and have perfectly serviceable terrain. I wanted more wear. So I added some cracks and small potholes. You can get as crazy with this as you like. These were drawn on with a ball point pen.

     The last touch I added was to apply the weathering powder. I used my fingers to dab on blotches and then smoothed it out with the 1/4” brush. I brushed parallel to the lines for the most part, but I also brushed down into the cracks to mute them a bit.

     Here are a few shots of all of the pieces. Total time spent was about 4 hours.

     The work flow on the next few sets should be a little more streamlined. I'll be adding more straights, some different sized intersections, different line styles and some curves.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sculpting is Re-sculpting

     Cold Wars has come and gone. February has come and gone. And still I haven't been able to take a month off to focus solely on new Highlander Studios projects. And with the new commissions from the show, I may not be able to until May. My apologies to folks who are waiting for specific Space: 1889 or Gideon's Dust or ZD3 items, but in the current economic climate, I'm ecstatic to have more work coming in steadily. I'll get to the personal stuff as I can.

     I mentioned in an earlier post that I've been working on a project for Rastlworld Minis. I want to take some time and show a bit of what's going on with that. It has been one of those projects that I love and hate at the same time. Actually, hate is far too strong. But there are a lot of challenges with this set of figures that do vex me. I'm slowly working them out and the end product should make the frustration along the way worth the time and effort.

    These are a set of Napoleonic Pin-up girls dresses (partially) in British Horse Artillery uniforms. I'll start with the completed piece and move to the unfinished ones.

     The first design challenge was how to make these one part castings. Sculpting the sabre for each one has it's own set of problems and to allow for a single piece cast I'd have to fill in areas between the saber and the body on each figure. So the saber is a separate part that can be attached to all of the girls with a little bending of the hanger straps. The saber still needs some work on the visible side of the handle and a bit of shaping all around.

     This figure is the template for the other four. Not all women are built the same, but this one will be  a general guide for proportions and bulk throughout the project. Getting to this point required a whole lot of adding putty, shaving areas off, adding more putty, Slimfast diets all around for the girls as they got a bit Rubenesque... You get the picture.

     This girl is in the final stages. I need to go in and clean up a few areas, finish the detailing of the helmet, and add a spyglass, hands and sleeves. These parts are usually sculpted last when I work because they get in the way of other details. And oh the details...

     The second major challenge was the details. I've not done a lot of scrolly, lacy bits with any previous sculpting. I have no need of it in 15mm and I tend to get assigned projects that don't have any. One needs to walk a fine line between adding enough putty to stick to the current surface and making the detail fine enough that it doesn't look ridiculous. There is also mold compression and ease of painting to consider. Did I get the right combination of factors? All I can say is I'm learning.

    The next three have the basics roughed in and are less complete. I still need to define a few body areas before I add the rest, but with two almost completely under my belt, things will go more quickly.

     Check out Rastlworld Minis to see what other cool things they have going on.

Rastleworld Minis

     So... no rest for the wicked. My schedule for the next several weeks in order of priority is:

               1) Rastlworld Minis girls
               2) Tekumel Project priests and priestesses
               3) Splintered Light projects
               4) Rebel Minis projects
               5) Goblin Factory ashigaru sword and bow

     I also get to work in three painting commissions and my own projects as time allows.