5.25.2016

Leman Russ, Pt II

Hell—I wrote this up last week and never actually posted it.  Yay for you. Double post this week.

Sooooo, last time I got the layered sides cut out and glued together. This time I’m going to try to get the hull and both tread elements (for lack of a better term) done.  Yes, I’m sure there is a better term for what I’m calling tread elements. If you happen to know it, feel free to share your knowledge in the comments. 

The hull is pretty straightforward. Two sides and a long strip that connects them and becomes... well, the part we’ll see.  These are all big and simple, so I cut them all out with scissors.  Only took about ten minutes to have them all done and marked.

Helpful Hint—Because I’m planning on building this as a Destroyer, I didn’t make any of the cuts or adjustments in the hull that would normally allow for the forward lascannon sponson.  I may end up regretting this—we’ll see.  If you were making an actual Leman Russ (or variant) you’ll want to be sure to make those extra cuts.

I lined up two of the front-strip edges against one side of the hull.  Once I had them as close as possible, I clamped them with a pair of clothespins.  After about ten minutes I moved the first clamp along to the next edge, and then swapped out the next pin to the edge after that.  It took a bit longer to work this way, but it let me get much cleaner lines on the whole thing.  Once I had the whole strip attached, I let it sit for a few more minutes with a small weight on it to keep it pressed flat.  I used my smartphone, for this, actually.  It’s a good size and weight.
 
While it sat, I cut up some of the scrap cardstock into strips about 10" or 12" long and made some of those consummate Vs to put inside the hull.  It's worth noting that the hull has two heights, front and back, so I cut two different width strips for the Vs.  Note also that these went vertically—I want to have some support in case something ends up pressing down on the hull. Especially since that’ll be what I do next.

There’s a raised section on top of the Leman Russ where the turret usually mounts.  The shape is a bit odd, but it goes together very well.  The worst part is that—even with tiny tabs—you’ll essentially need to hold the whole thing from all directions until it dries.  So make sure you’ve got a good movie on. 

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I did not have a good movie on for this part...

Helpful Hint—If I was going to do a Leman Russ (or variant), this would be a good time to think about making some sort of socket for the turret.  Or you could just glue the socket in place, depending on how nitpicky your own gaming group is. Or do something clever with magnets.

Next up was the engine compartment in the back.  This is a little tricky because it runs up the back section of the hull and the back part of that raised section. This means there’s a slight angle along the back edge of the compartment.  It’s easy to miss, so watch for it.

With that addressed, this is an easy piece to build. I added a few extra tabs and glued the body together.  Then I added the detail frame on top.  Once that was dry, I glued the whole thing in place.

Once all this was done, I glued the last wall in place and sealed up the hull.  It took a tiny bit of wiggling and pressure to make everything line up just right, and then a few more minutes of waiting.  Once the glue had a good hold, I set it down on its side with a book to hold it in place.

Next up was the treads.

To make this easier to follow along, I’m going to try to refer to things the following way from here on.  When I talk about “the treads,” I’m going to mean the horizontal section, the part that (hypothetically) runs around the wheels and moves the tank.  The tread walls will be the pieces I built last week and the matching inside piece—the vertical sections.  The tread element will be the whole thing together.  So there’s one tread element on each side of the hull.  Make sense?  Hopefully that’ll cut confusion a bit.  Again, if you happen to know the actual terminology, feel free to share the correct names in the comments.
           
On this template, the tread is two sections.  Rather than join them, I decided to attach them to the tread walls individually.  I figured this would give me more space to work the clips and get nice, solid joins.  And it worked.   Once I had one attached, I added the second (the back section), and joined it to both the tread wall and the front section.

Helpful Hint—I glued them to the inside wall first.  If anything went wrong, it’s easier to replace all of those parts than the layered, detail-heavy wall I put together last time.

I did this for both of the tread elements. While they were drying, I cut some consummate Vs to go inside the elements.  I tend to pick up my tanks by the sides, so I wanted those sides to be solid.

Once I had the Vs in place and everything was dry, I glued the layered tread walls in place.  I lined them up, wrapped them in an old veggie bag (wax paper works, too) and set them under a few hardcover books.  Again—I made sure everything was lined up first.  It’d suck to have it dry crooked after all this work.  I left these to dry for about three hours and they turned out... well, fantastic.  Solid and strong.
           
Alas, all of that drying time on some of these pieces needed means I didn’t get quite as far as I’d hoped to this weekend. The big elements are done, but there’s still some detail work. So I think I’m going to stretch the “Leman Russ” portion of this out for one more week before I switch over to full Destroyer mode.  So to speak.

Or, it was going to be one more week before I forgot to post this last week.  Now it’ll just be up on Friday morning.

5.10.2016

Leman Russ

So, I’ve had it in my mind to build a Destroyer for a while now.  I’ve always liked the look and idea of them.  Much like the Basilisk (another favorite) it’s less a tank than it is a mobile platform for a single, massive weapon.  Plus, some of the folks I game with are starting to assemble (no pun intended) some pretty impressive forces, so having a dedicated super-heavy hunter gives me something that can die on turn one a lot...

That being said, I’ve decided to do these first two posts as Leman Russ posts.  The Destroyer is built on a Leman Russ hull, and it is one of the most popular tanks out there (after the Rhino, probably).  If somebody wants to build a tank company with nine tanks in it... this’ll be a good starting point.

An advantage of the Leman Russ being so popular is there are lots of different templates out there for it.  And for all the many, many variants of it.  Some brilliant ones by Patroch.  I dug through my collection and found a nice one from way back when—one of the first Leman Russ templates I ever saw, to be honest.  I’d love to give credit where credit is due, but the best I can find on it is a date (2000-11-15) and the word Bile, which might be a proper name or a handle or maybe someone created this template as part of an elaborate revenge plot?  If you know who created it, please speak up.  Regardless, it’s great and up in the STC Archive for your perusal.

One of the things I love about this template is its relative simplicity.  It has a lot of detail, but the whole thing is only four pages long. And all that’s on the last page is the standard turret—it’s really about three and a quarter pages.   I managed to fit about 90% of this on a single frozen pizza box.  So this is going to be cheap even from a cardstock point of view.

I’m going to start with the outer sides and work in.  This may seem a bit odd. but it means I’ll be able to get most of the treads and hull done in just two posts. Again—very simple template.

The sides of this template are layered, a lot like the Malcador I built years ago. It means a little more work, but it makes for a much, much more detailed model—and a much more solid one, too.  If you look at this template, sheets one and two each have both sides of a tread and three layers of detail (plus some other stuff we’ll go into later).  It’s worth noting that those inner layers, the two sides, are all angles, not curved. This is to help line up the tread pieces later.

Helpful Hint—The outer two layers have some fine detail work at the bottom.  The third layer is just one big ring, really.  Whenever I have to do pieces like this, I always cut out the inner bits before I cut the whole element from cardstock.  It’s much easier to work this way, especially with narrow bits like that ring.  Cut the element out first and it’s harder to hold and harder to work with.

Once everything was cut out, I set it out in order and started gluing sections on, one at a time.  I used my clothespin-clamps every step to make the edges stayed as flush as possible—especially at the top.  This is going to be a very visible edge, so it’ll draw a lot of attention. 

When all four layers were together and lined up, I let them sit for a minute to firm up. Then I carefully wrapped them in some old veggie bags (wax paper would work, too) and set them under a pile of books.  There’s a lot of glue here, and I don’t want anything to curl or bend while it’s drying.  Again—just to hammer it home—I made sure everything was lined up first.  It’d suck to cut out all this detail and then have it dry crooked.

I left these under the books for about... four hours?  I went out and saw Captain America: Civil War.  When I came back, they were dry, solid, and very flat.

And, believe it or not, the Leman Russ body is almost half done at this point.

Next time, I’ll assemble the treads and the hull, then put it all together.

4.26.2016

Paperhammer Basics

Long overdue.  Many thanks to the six of you who still check to see if this page ever gets updated.

I’m finally going to have some time to work on some new projects, but I thought it might be good to go over some of the basic paper-crafting elements first.  There’s a lot of stuff I skim over when I describe stuff, usually in a “just do this” way, and I figured maybe I should finally explain how, exactly, to do this.  That’d be helpful, right?

So, let’s start with the very basics...

I get most of my cardstock from food boxes—mostly cereal and frozen pizza.  It’s probably worth mentioning that most frozen food boxes tend to made of slightly thinner cardstock.  I’m guessing it’s a temperature thing.  Mailing envelopes are even a little thinner.  Regardless, it’s a good thing to keep in mind when plotting out which templates are glued to which sheets of cardstock.  Back when I built the Imperial Knight, I had a bunch of issues because the template is actually designed to work with paper, not cardstock.  That difference in thickness caused some of the more complex elements to be a little bit off—just enough to notice and cause problems.  So if something’s really elaborate... maybe aim for thinner material until you’re sure how it’ll go together.
  
The most basic paperhammer shape is a box.  It’s something you’ll use all the time, and it’s kind of the cornerstone of paperhammer.  All you need to remember about boxes is to make edges match—a 1” edge here meets a 1” edge there.  It sounds simple ‘cause it really is.  Check out this quick diagram.  Four sides, a top, a bottom.  This would give me a cube because all the edges are the same length.

(more or less the same—I sketched it quick in Paint just so we’d have something to look at...)

If alter the edges, I can alter the shape of the box.  Look at this example. I shrink all the side edges (but not the top and bottom edges) and now I’ll get a square, flat box.  This is the kind of thing I stick on larger models to add some detail and texture.  I could also go the other way—doubling or tripling the sides to make a long, rectangular box.  As I mentioned above, shapes like these are a cornerstone of the paperbuilding craft.  Even with nothing else, you can use several of them together to build scenery pieces, simple vehicles, and more.

This is probably a good time to mention tabs.  Trying to glue cardstock edge-to-edge with white glue is pretty much impossible, so it’s always good to add extra tabs on to the basic shapes. These are just the parts I bend and slip into the model so the glue has something to grab onto.  Some templates have them, but often they’re tiny little things that are all but useless.  Others don’t have them at all.  I add or enlarge on a case-by-case basis, and try to make note of where I do.

Helpful Hint--Always remember that tabs can be pretty much any size or shape because they’ll end up hidden inside the shape you’re building. The only thing I need to be careful of is overlap.

It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes I can skip a side and just use tabs.  If I know, for example, that my flat box is going to get glued to the side of the building, I can leave off that connecting side and just put four tabs where that side would go. It can make pieces sit a little cleaner sometimes, rather than gluing big flat surface to big flat surface.

Now, you can use these same techniques to build an elaborate box, something with a more irregular shape to it.  This diagram shows how I built the engine for the Gargant.  I used the five-edged side as my starting point, and that told me what all the other panels and edges needed to be, size-wise—remember, boxes are just about making the edges the same length.  I mirrored the other side, added some tabs, and put it together.  The triangular boxes I added on either side went together the same way.  Also remember that some shapes which look really complicated on their own (like that Gargant engine) become a lot simpler if you break them down into component shapes.

One term I’ve mentioned once or thrice is consummate Vs (which is a StrongBad reference, you heathens). I first used them, if memory serves, back when I built the classic Land Raider. Simply put, when I build a box (regular or elaborate), I’ll usually save some strips of cardboard close to one of its dimensions.  Then I trim said strips to be just 1/8 of an inch narrower.  For example, if that flat box up above was 3/4” deep, I’d try to end up with some strips that measured 5/8” wide and four or five inches long. 

Before I seal everything shut, I fold these strips back and forth (into Vs, or maybe Ws--just zig-zags, really) until they can fit inside the box. They end up becoming interior, load-bearing walls.  Sounds a little silly, I know, but these make boxes incredibly solid.  If you have any worries about how strong a paperhammer model can be, try a few experiments with strips.  They’ll hold up stacks of books, so a bump from a plastic Carnifex isn’t going to do much.

For the longest time if had to make a cannon or tower I built it as a paneled cylinder.  This is when I have a long card with numerous scores in it to create an octagonal (or decagonal or dodecahedral...) cylinder.  On the plus side, these can be easier to work with because they’re all flat surfaces. It’s much easier for things to attach to them, or to attach them to other things.  Also, it’s very easy to hide where the two edges of a paneled cylinder come together.

On the down side, paneled cylinders tend to look...well, kind of blocky.  They tend to make things look like polygon models without the skins.  It can also be a little tricky working out the diameter of one of these if you need a specific size and you’re not going off a template..

The flipside of this is a rolled cylinder.  Just like the name implies, it’s when I make the shape by rolling the cardstock.  On the plus side, it’s round and curved, which helps a paperhammer model look much cleaner and blend in on the tabletop.  Also, it’s much easier to work out how big the diameter of a rolled cylinder will be. 

On the downside... well, curves and cardstock don’t always go together well.  It’s much harder to hide the seam where the edges of the piece join.  Also, that seam is going to have a lot more pressure on it compared to a cylinder with lots of folds. Finally, that curve makes it harder to glue the cylinder to another surface.  So working with rolled cylinders means working a little slower and making sure everything dries solid before moving on.

Finally, tools. Really, all you need for paperhammer is your basic hobby knife and some sharp blades.  But over the past couple of years I’ve found a few other things that definitely make some stuff quicker and easier.  A good pair of scissors can help, especially when cutting out larger template pieces.  So can a straight-edge or steel ruler.  I use basic wooden clothespins all the time as miniature clamps. 

Also... hole punches.  These are probably the best investment you can make if you think you might be doing a lot of paperhammer.  I have three. The basic 1/4” one, a 1/8” one, and the 1/16” (which may be my favorite).  They can make perfectly circular holes or discs, either of which can make for great detail work on a model.  I use the 1/16” for rivets, which make things look amazing.  I know some folks will say 1/16” is too big for a rivet, but there’s such a huge history of things being excessive/oversized in Warhammer 40,000 that... well, I’ve never had any complaints.

So, now that I’ve gone over all of that... let’s build a tank.  Haven’t done that in a while.

However... that’s going to be in two weeks. I won’t be doing anything this hobby-related this Friday, Saturday, or Sunday because I’m  at Texas Frightmare Weekend (so I’ll be about 1200 miles away from my tools and glue).  If you happen to be in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, please stop by and say “hello.”  

Otherwise—two weeks until tanks.