Dio-Bolical Monday No: 42 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 20”

For the first time in quite a while I set myself an objective and achieved it!

This last week I painted the other two Gripping Beasts peasants and managed to get three of them based and in situ.  The fourth figure although painted will be situated in or on the Barn.  Well that’s the plan anyway.

The first of the two figures below is the one which will join the other two as you will see shortly, the other is the one for the Barn later.  I also painted the figure for the Barn in slightly brighter colours, the aim being to ensure he stood out a bit and provided some colour contrast to what will be a lot of brown colour befitting a wooden structure.  Neither figure is brilliant but for what will be seen of them when the diorama is complete they will work just fine.

Once again all the photos aren’t great.  I was to lazy to get my camera out and so once again used my iPhone.


With the three figures now painted it was time to get them onto the main base.  Some preparation was needed first using some Milliput which once dried was given a basic paint job just in case any of it could be seen after it was given its textured top coat.


With that stage out of the way it was time to get each figure in position one at a time and complete the groundwork around each one done as I went.  Working in such a tight space is never easy so after laying down a bed of watered down PVA for the texture to stick to I found the best way to get the stuff where I wanted it, and to cover the bases the figures were on, was to use a drinking straw to blow it around.  Any stuff that got on the figures could be easily brushed off afterwards.  Progress and completed images below.


Something else which I manged to get done was a couple of ducks.  I have three others to do but here are the first two painted as Mallards.


Finally for this week I thought I’d provide you with an overview image of what the base is looking like at the moment.


Not sure what I have in mind to do this coming week.  I thing I’ll I’ll do a few more animals if I can as they are small and fiddly and contrast that by starting work on the Barn maybe.


Dio-Bolical Monday No: 41 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 19”

Not getting much done is now becoming the new norm, however, this week I managed to get two figures painted.  These weren’t figures I had originally earmarked to buy and paint for this diorama but I discovered them several months ago, thought they would fit in perfectly with what I had in mind and so I recently purchased them.  If I hadn’t bought them now then it would have been to late as the diorama would have moved on and I wouldn’t have been able place them where I wanted them to go.

The figures are a four piece peasant set and came from Gripping Beasts.  They were nicely sculpted and although they came with tools of their own I elected to use items which came with the Tabletop World accessories pack instead.

Not the best of photos I’m afraid as I used my iPhone to take them.  Now I know most people like their iPhones but alas I buck convention.  I hate mine with a vengeance and think it’s the biggest piece of shit going.  I’ll go further, I hate all Apple products too.  Needless to say my kids think I’m mad but I much prefer Samsung and just as soon as the contract I’m on ends I’ll be going back to them.

The figures need a little dry brushing but I’ll do that when yey are in situ and I don’t need to man handle them any more.


The aim for the coming week is to paint the other two figures and if possible get them placed on the diorama.  Ordinarily that would be a formality but not these days.  I’ve also got to start painting some of the birds and animals I bought.  Like these figures, some of them need to be completed and placed on the diorama before I box myself in.  Looking further ahead at what needs doing I still have the Barn to be painted, 12 mounted knights and half a dozen or so other foot figures.  Not entirely sure if they will all fit in yet as space is starting to get tight but time will tell.


Dio-Bolical Monday No: 40 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 18”

This was another slow week but progress is progress right?

At some point I’m going to have to sit down and see just where my time goes.  They say you slow down as you grow older but from a modelling and blogging perspective if I go much slower I’ll stop!

Having said that it looks like that decision might be taken out of my hands before to long anyway if WordPress have there way.  I’m no IT guy and don’t profess to understand all the ins and outs of the latest storage/viewing issues which has been doing the rounds but it certainly doesn’t sound like good news ro me.   I don’t get anything like 10,000 views a month, a thousand if I’m lucky, but my storage is at 95% and that would be a problem.  I don’t know how simple it would be but deleting the images from old posts would be one way forward perhaps.  Ironically, if the blog was to stop I’d find more time for my modelling!

I suspect I am not alone in that my ratio of followers to those who I actually exchange comments with is very low.  As I already have a TIM email account I’m wondering if the way forward is through email news letters?   Food for thought maybe but time to get back on track.

So what did happen this week on the diorama?

Well first up I took delivery of the order I placed for the chickens, rabbits, etc. that I placed last week.  Further more they have all been prepped and primed and waiting to be painted.  I thought I’d spare you a progress image.  Quite what I will do with them remains to be seen but in theory they will add a little more interest and detail.

What I did manage to get started and completed was another figure.  On this occasion the figure is a Merchant and was again purchased from Otherworld Miniatures.  As a Merchant I had him down as the Mill owner.  Here he is below.


Having painted him the question then was where to place him?  With the overall image I have in mind for this diorama I settled on him being on the bridge.  From here I figured he could survey all that is (or will be eventually) going on.  So next we have a couple of photo’s of him in situ.


As I said at the beginning of this post, progress is progress.  I’ve given up planning what I’ll do next because nothing I’ve tried to do just lately has gone according to plan.  Barely do I start before I get derailed.  What I get done next will be as much as a surprise to me as it will be to you.


Dio-Bolical Monday No: 39 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 17”

Life’s juggling act continues unabated.  Keeping five balls in the air was challenge enough but then along came a sixth.  I gave up being a Parish Councillor along while ago but was asked by some very nice people if I could help them to try and win a very nasty battle they are having with the village c**t and his female henchman they’ve nicknamed Putin.  Now I could never hurt a living creature and have only ever truly hated one or two people in my life but these two people I could happily kill and sleep soundly afterwards.  Accordingly I couldn’t say no and with that I gained a 6th ball in the air and even less time than I already had to get any modelling done.

The good news is I did manage to get some work done in the form of another figure painted and put in situ.  Photo’s of the little chap, another figure from Otherworld Miniatures, are below.


Progress is progress even though things are going much slower than I’d like right now.  No need to panic just yet though as I have until November to get this one completed.  Hopefully it will be done well before then but if I carry on at this pace it will be touch and go.

The only other thing I managed to do was order and take delivery of some more figures.  Four peasants to be precise along with some ducks, pigs, chickens, rats, rabbits and a badger.  No idea where they are all going to go or when they will get done but they are all important details to be added as far as I’m concerned.

Looking ahead I think another figure is on the cards for the coming week.  If I can get some additional prep work done I’ll be happy too.


Dio-Bolical Monday No: 38 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 16”

This week was all about getting back into the hobby.  In fairness my motivation was relatively high, time to move on and all that was my rallying cry, unfortunately the amount of affordable time wasn’t great.  As I concluded last week, the aim such as I had one, was to get started on a figure.  From the 18 figures I’ve bought so far I decided to start with the Blacksmith.  The figure is from Otherworld Miniatures, their “Non-Playing Character’s” series.   Not much to say about the little chap so straight to some images …


… and here he is outside his abode.


As well as getting the first figure done I managed to get a little more ground work completed.  Not  much, just another bit of hedgerow and part of the ground work around the tree.  Just some basic filler with some texture added and a few tree roots.  I’ll complete the front once I’ve decided on some figure placements.


The only other thing I managed to do this week was paint some Irish Wolfhounds.  They might need a little more work on them and I haven’t decided if I will use them yet.


Next week looks like it will be tough on free time too.  Its that time of the year when winter has turned to spring and all of a sudden there are plenty of jobs to do outside.  To make matters worse the weather is looking promising so I’ll be hard pressed to make excuses to SWMBO for why I should be indoors.  Hopefully I’ll get another figure done once I settle on which one to do.  On a final note I just got a message from WordPress to say it was my 5 year blog anniversary.  Who’d have thought it?


Dio-Bolical Monday No: 37 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 15”

It’s impossible for me to start this post without providing you with some background on a personal event which unfolded over many months and weeks ago.  Please indulge me before I eventually move on to this weeks real blog narrative and the progress, or lack of, in respect of my Death and Taxes diorama.  All will hopefully become clear.

The personal event occurred on the 16th February when my father died at the age of 95.  He suffered a heart attack last August.  It was his second, the first coming some 35 years earlier when he was 60.  Unfortunately it was clear to see from his second one that his speed of recovery would be much harder given his age.  In reality he never did get back to where he was and slowly over many months he began to decline.  I recognised this and knowing that I would need to provide mum and dad with more support than had been previously necessary I made some personal life adjustments which included hitting the nail on the head of my Wednesday and Saturday blog posts.

All went well for a while but the day my daughter and her boyfriend left to go to Costa Rica for 5 weeks was the day things really took a turn for the worse.  I’ll spare you and myself the details but several trips in and out of A&E  over the next five weeks resulted in his last admission and the end of his life.

As previously stated dad died on the 16th February.  This was also the day that he and mum had been married for 70 years.  Not quite the celebration we had in mind but stragely poetic.  It was also the day my daughter flew back from Costs Rica.  Sometimes you can’t make these things up can you?  My mum and I were with him at the time but my brother, despite a valiant effort to arrive at the hospital after a three hour journey, missed him by 20 minutes.

At this point some of you might be wondering how I managed to put out Dioboloical Monday posts during this time.  The simple truth is I didn’t.  They were all produced weeks and weeks ago and scheduled.  All I’ve been doing is responding to your comments.  Why?  Well oddly both my brother and I increasingly had the feeling that something big in our lives was on the cards and we some how knew as far back as last year that our dad’s time was growing increasingly nearer.  For my part I threw myself into my diorama and made significant strides with it and produced blog posts along the way which I then scheduled in advance to appear week after week.  I knew the time would come when modelling would be halted for as significant period.  However, events have now caught up, I am now back “live” and the simple truth is the amount of progress I have made over the last 5 weeks pretty much amounts to the square root of fuck all.  In fact I haven’t picked up a brush in that time and I’m wondering if I can ever be bothered to do so again.


Now the words you’ve just read above were all written at 07:30 on the 3rd March, the day of my dad’s Funeral.  An odd thing to do you might say but I needed to do something to kill the time and some how typing that seemed appropriate.  The time now as you continue to this read is 07:53 on the 6th March and I’ve just picked up on drafting this post once again.  It’s rather like “Back To The Future” this one isn’t it?

So what has happened since the 3rd and the 6th March?  In modelling terms nothing.  A post prepared way back will appear this coming Monday.  It’s all about the changes I made to the tree.  As you read this you will have already had an opportunity to see that post and possibly comment and had a reply from me!  Boy this is becoming increasingly weird isn’t it?

With the funeral now in the past it is time to move on and I am hoping to pick up on the diorama again once my mum is settled back home on her own after being with us for several weeks.  Between now and Monday week, that’ll be the 14th March I aim to get something done no matter how small just so I can get back into the saddle so to speak.


Today is the 13th March and for the third time I am back drafting this post which will be published tomorrow.  Over the last week a lot has happened although very little of it in modelling terms.  On a personal level mum is now back home.  An emotional time for us all and there is a need for things to settle down a lot more as we adjust to a new normal.  We will get there for sure but I think the journey will be a long one.

On a more positive front I did manage to make some progress on the diorama.  Not a lot but enough to ignite my interest and, if time permits, get back into things once again.  Realistically progress is going to be slower for a while but it is what it is for now.

The first thing  I had to do was remind myself just where I had got to and how best to proceed next.  I did think I’d start painting some figures but as it has been a while since  I’ve picked up a brush I decided instead to do some basic ground work.  In the scheme of things I felt there was less chance of things going wrong!

The area which received my attention was around the Balcksmiths building.  Some filler was laid down which when dry has had some texture added to it and was then allowed to dry once again.  I used some more plaster board to create a small rock face, applied a few layers of paint and then added some static grass and vegetation.  I also set about making a piece of hedgerow which was the most creative element of the work I did.  Below are a few work in progress photo’s.


For the hedgerow I used some artificial horse hair which I bought when I went to Telford last November, it looks like this.


I cut a strip off of the main block and then started to pull it a part as it was far to thick in it’s current state to look natural.  Hedgerows in Devon where I live are far from regular in shape other than when the farmers are annually required to cut them, at which point they end up with a nice flat top of even height.  Left to grow naturally some of the plants such as Hawthorn grow tall and develop into trees.  I didn’t want to add another tree, not least of all because the hedgerow will be close to the “recently” made oak tree, but I didn’t want a neat uniformed hedgerow either.  To resolve this I took some natural plant roots and added them to the artificial horse hair.


After dabbing a variety of paint colours to the horse hair and adding some static grass, flock and leaves I ended up with a hedgerow that I was pleased with and which I then fixed into place alongside the Blacksmiths building.



As to the overall diorama the current state of play now looks like this.


As mentioned earlier, not a lot has been done this week but on the positive side I’m up and running again, well sort of.  As part of my review of where I am I also made a very rough list of things I still have to do.  In no particular order the list looks like this.

  • Paint and construct the barn
  • Fix the oak tree in place and do relevant base work
  • Make one or two more hedgerows
  • Paint some of the 18 or so figures I have bought
  • Buy the half dozen or so figures I haven’t bought (or found yet!)
  • Check out suitable animals to buy and paint
  • What other accessories need to be bought?
  • Look at fitting out the inside of the buildings
  • Make a note of the bits which look finished but aren’t!

Plenty more to be done and I’m not sure what I’ll do next.  As I’m still working with various time constraints I think I might start work on painting some figures.  It’s been a while since I actually did any and I think it will be much easier to pick a figure up and put it down again if I can only snatch and hour or so at a time.

Until next week.


Dio-Bolical Monday No: 36 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 14”

All the time I was painting the Blacksmiths building I had half an eye on the tree I had made.  I wasn’t happy with it and knew that I would need to do something about it or it would bug me forever and a day.  I decided to start over.

Out came the florist wire and I spent several hours bending and twisting the wire into shape until I came up  with a tree shape I liked.  The main branches on this one would not be so far apart and as such I would be able to produce a less sparse and leafy canopy.


It was looking good and I was pleased and so next I put it on the base to get a feel for what it would look like in a mock up against the buildings.  I didn’t like what I saw.  It was a nice enough looking tree but it was to small.   Oak trees are bloody enormous and this one needs to look like a mature adult tree not one going through pubity.  It needed to look more like this one in the field opposite our house only in leaf.


Here we go again!  Start over or …or … or…?

Then I had an idea!  A light bulb moment.

What if I could combine this tree with the other one?

Somethings you just have to give a go and I couldn’t shake off the idea so there was nothing for it but to strip down the first tree and see what could be achieved.  Either I would end up with one decent looking tree or two shit ones fit for the bin.


A test fit followed and it looked to have serious possibilities so out came the glue followed by the Milliput followed by the filler and several hours later I got to this stage.


Allowed to dry the next stage would, once again, be to get some paint on it.  This would hopefully start to make it look a little more like a proper tree.  Brown and black diluted oils along with some dry brushing got me to this stage, albeit with more paint work to be done.


After some further painting I was ready to move to the next stage.  Now normally I would start adding Sea Foam for the smaller branches, however, on this occasion I decided to go with a different approach.  Although I like the look of Sea Foam it’s very delicate and becomes brittle.  Instead I went for a technique using wadding that SWMBO had.  The wadding was dyed and immersed in a mix of water, PVA and paint and then stretched out over the branches of the tree.  Bit by bit each piece was teased out and layered over the branches.  With so many more branches this time around I felt confident this technique would work.  This got me to this stage.


Looks crap doesnt it?

But then it was time to apply some static grass and Noch leaves of various shades.  I started with a sample piece to make sure I was on track with the look I was after.  If I had to start over it would be easier to remove one section rather than the whole lot.


I liked the look, in fact I was very pleased with it so it was time to boldly go …

No holding back and in a short matter of time the tree looked like this.


I was more than a little chuffed with the result.  The next step was to do a little more dry brushing and reapply ivy to the trunk and some of the branches before eventually considering it complete.


Looking ahead I need to think carefully about when I fix it permanently to the base.  That might not be for a while pending what access I need to allow myself but that will be determined all in good time.

In the meanwhile below is a before and after image of the tree.  The before image being the first tree that I wasn’t happy with, the second one being the adapted tree which I like.  Let me know what you think in the comments if you have time.

Next I think I will start work on the base work around the Blacksmiths building and think about how I intend to make some hedgerow.


Dio-Bolical Monday No: 35 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 13”

This week unusually went to plan.  Well from a modelling perspective that is.  The aim was to get the outside of the Blacksmiths painted and that is what I managed to achieve.

As gar as colour schemes go I went with pretty much the same as I had done with the Mill with the brick and stone work and all the timber elements all painted in the some colours.  This wasn’t out of laziness but out of logic.  Although the buildings could have been built at different times and therefore weathered differently I figured the rock, stone and timbers would have all come from the same quarry and woodlands and therefore chose to maintain an element of uniformity.

As the painting methods, colours and paints used have all been referenced in earlier posts I am going to be bone idle and not repeat those details again here.  I’ll spare you more words this week and just move on to the images instead.


With the Blacksmiths all but done it was time to fix it to the main base and start working on the surrounding base area.


Well that’s as far as I got this week.  Not sure what I’ll do next week.  On throne hand I want to do more on the Blacksmiths base work, on the other I need to deal with that tree.


Dio-Bolical Monday No: 34 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 12”

This week I finally got to start on the Blacksmiths building.

I began with the inner living area and used the same paint scheme I had used on the various sections of the Mill.  Not as intricate as the Mill to do but painting the windows and frames still took a little while to complete.


Satisfied that the inner section looked OK I moved on to the forge area, the section of the building I was most looking forward to doing.  The walls were again painted grey, given a black oil wash and then dry brushed with a variety of mainly grey shades and a little sand and white.  The floor was done in much the same way but when it was dry I brushed on some weathering powders – Vallejo Pigment Desert Dust and Humbrol Earth and Rust.

Painting the various tools proved a little tricky.  They were difficult to access and required me to hold my brush much further up which was uncomfortable and afforded me less control.  Once I stopped wavering it around I managed to get somewhere!

Although not visible from the photo, I broke up a couple of burnt matches and placed them in the fire to add more texture and realism.  I nice touch but one which I suspect will go unnoticed for ever unless I mention it here!


The unpainted section at the rear is where the tool rack I painted a week ago is situated.  The image below shows the rack and other accessories I painted followed by an image with the tool rack and bellows stuck in place.  You can just about make out the fire burning too.



At this point I decided to spend some time on developing the ground work where the Blacksmiths would be positioned.  I figured I would return to painting the outside of the building while the ground work was drying.

I drew around the outside of the building to determine the boundary line and then set about laying down some filler.  The Dark grey you can see in the photo below is carved plaster board which I used to create rock facias to the left and right of some additional steps I carved.  The plaster board was then painted with the dark grey as the foundation colour.


That’s as far as I got this week.  Next week I will move on to painting the outside of the Blacksmiths.


Dio-Bolical Monday No: 33 – “Death & Taxes: The Earls Visit – Part 11”

I’m not sure it was a plan as such but I ended last weeks post by saying I would start work on the Blacksmiths building.  That had very much been my intention but good intentions don’t always translate into good actions and that was very much the case here.  As seems to be the case these days life got in the way.  A series of major distractions, none of them of my making, meant I couldn’t get a clear run at some painting.

I’m sure we all have our different approaches to painting and mine is that when I start on something as sizeable as a building I like to have a good few hours at a time so I can really get absorbed into what I am doing and trying to achieve.  It became clear early in the week that this wasn’t going to happen.  Whatever chance I got for doing things was going to be very stop and start at best.  Realising this I decided to spend my time on one of the very boring but essential aspects of the hobby – preparation.

I hate doing the preparation of figures.  If they are multi-part I hate gluing and there is no pleasure to be had from removing mold lines and priming.  The more I think about it now the more I realise that this is has a large bearing in why conversions have never floated my boat.  Personally I think conversions are great.  The idea of creating a unique figure appeals to me greatly but they require cutting and gluing and that’s for me where it all goes wrong.  So, with a disruptive week very much on the cards I identified the current “hate” jobs I could work on a bit at a time given the constraints I was working under.

First up I decided to take a look at some of the figures I had already purchased, specifically the 12 mounted figures I bought from Mirliton in Italy.  The first thing I noticed was that I had a base problem.  The horses were all molded onto reasonably thick metal bases which when stuck to an MDF bases would make them stand taller than I wanted.  My plan, one I’ve used before, was to stick the horse to an MDF base so that I can better grip it for painting and then set the base into the ground work of whatever it is I’m doing.  The problem here was the ground work would have to be set much higher than I wanted given the work I’d already done and that didn’t sit well with me.  It just wouldn’t have looked right.

The solution I came up with was to cut out the shape of the metal base from the MDF and then set the horse into it.  To stop the horse from then passing through the MDF I then stuck some card underneath the MDF.  This then reduced the height to the level of the MDF which was just what I wanted.  Not a difficult job but and one I could pick up and do whenever I had a few moments to call my own.


Horses done I then set about priming them and then took a look at the mounted figures themselves.  Now originally I had hoped to use mounted Footsore Baron’s War figures in this diorama but most of those they produce are in fighting mode and that wasn’t what I was looking for.  This left me with the need to search the Web which in turn led me to Mirliton.  Not a company I had used before but they had what I wanted so I took an expensive punt on them and made the purchase.  The figures themselves are fine.  They needed a little clean up but nothing much which for me is always a good sign.  The downside was they comprised of numerous parts.  The Footsore figures are almost entirely single castings although some figures such as the knights come with a separate shield.  The same cannot be said for the Mirliton figures.  Each figure comes with a seperate body, legs, head, sword, shield, strap, neck collar and in some cases helmet and lance.  Not a big deal I know but laid out in front of me they just yelled GLUE and I hate gluing!

Being the brave little soldier that I am I diligently set about the task in front of me and bit by bit the figures got assembled and primed.  I also had the presence of mind to number each horse and rider so they could be accurately paired once they had been painted.


All in all this boring task got completed and in due course I can look forward to actually painting them, the fun part as far as I am concerned, further down the line.  This job done I did manage to get two other things done.  The first of which was priming and painting some of the accessories which will either get dotted around the diorama or will be attached to some of the buildings.


My final task of the week was unplanned and came care of a comment from Dave Stone who commented “Which way is the river flowing ? Am I right in thinking it goes from the side with the wheel to the dock, if so is the boat the wrong way round?”.

An excellent observation to which I replied “That’s a very good point Dave and constructive ones are very welcome. To be completely honest I had not taken that into account so now you’ve got me thinking. Logically the boat couldn’t be rowed over the rapids and rough water. It could be rowed up stream but would have to be turned around to be rowed back down stream as and when. Further logic would suggest that the boat would be tied up parallel to the jetty but it’s to late for that now. If I was tieing the boat up I’d tie it to the front of the jetty as I have done and also to the back to keep it steady and from drifting off. However the boat looks like it’s a drift already and hasn’t been securely tied at the rear (because I never thought to do so!) so I think the best option is to attach another rope to the rear of the boat and the jetty and claim it’s got lose!”.

In response Dave came back with “That was the best solution that I came up with as well, and at least it’s an easy fix adding a rope, rather than trying to move the boat, as repouring resin can leave marks, and show where it’s been changed”.

Great minds think alike as they say so I set about the task or remedying my oversight.  For completeness here is a before and after image of the boat in the river as it now looks.


Not an exciting post this week but progress is progress and like it or not the boring stuff has to get done as well.  Hopefully this coming week will settle down and I can make a start on the Blacksmiths building.