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Thread: And Cardboard turns into masonry! Homemade 1/1000 terrain -A tutorial of sorts-

  1. #1
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    Post And Cardboard turns into masonry! Homemade 1/1000 terrain -A tutorial of sorts-

    This thread is conceived as a kind of blog where I will share the process of creating my first terrain piece in 1/1000 scale. You will see what I did, and where I went wrong, hopefully helping people new to modelling terrain in Sails of Glory.

    Please consider I am not in any way as talented as many people here. My terrain has serviceable looks, but is not hyperdetailed. If you like what I did, you will surely be able to replicate it. You will probably do better, in fact.

    Let's get started!

    - - - - - - -

    Step 1) Choosing what to build

    The first step in my voyage through terrain making was to have a clear picture of what I wanted.

    I decided I wanted a centerpiece for my table, but I didn't want it to be too big, since I intuitively feel Sails of Glory works best with small islands and reefs that hinder maneuverability, while larger islands may became just a way to reduce the surface of the table. And now go on reading to witness how I go against my own advice next xD

    With a game such as Sails of Glory, rooted in fascinating history, I could not just create generic islands. I wanted something with a similarly rich history which transcended my limited ability to make a good model. So I started researching about island fortresses in the Napoleonic era.

    I wanted something as small as possible, which had played a role in the conflict. The forts in small islands near the coast built to help defend France and Britain from an invasion looked like a good fit.

    Among those, I chose Saint Marcouf, a French fort built in a small island to the north of France very shortly after Trafalgar

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    I chose this landmark for the following reasons:

    -It's unique looks and visual appeal.

    -It is reasonably well documented.

    -It's on the bigger side of what I wanted, but as a centerpiece, it should do.

    -It seemed easy to build since it includes little to no complex geometry that should be noticeable at 1:1000.

    -Saint Marcouf is actually composed of two islands, Ille du Large and Ille du Terre, with barely 500 meters of water between them. If I'm happy with how Ille du Large (the one with the fort) turns out, I can model the other island and use both in a 120*90 play area while being geographically accurate. Hooray!


    There are drawbacks, however. I feel I will need additional small terrain pieces to give my games more variety, since Saint Marcouf is rather on the larger side of what I wanted. So, if you don't mind me asking, Do any of you fine gentlemen know of some kind of island with a bit of Napoleonic history to it, measuring less than 100 meters? Preferably well suited for an European theatre of operations. Thanks in advance.

    During the following days I will be posting work in progress pictures of my rendition of the Ille du Large, as I write the proper descriptions for each step. I hope you will follow me through this experience!
    Last edited by 2500kgm3; 12-28-2015 at 06:54.

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    Very interesting, I hope to see more of your work.

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    Waiting for next post :)

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    Just what is missing from the Sails portfolio Longino.
    I also await developments with interest.
    Rob.

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    Some History of the islands: (Especially the Nautilus!)

    During the French Revolutionary Wars the Royal Navy held the islands for nearly seven years as a strategic forward base. In July 1795 British sailors and marines from the Western Frigate Squadron under the command of Captain Sir Sidney Smith in Diamond occupied the islands. Smith dedicated several gunvessels, including Badger, Hawke, Shark, and Sandfly, the latter purpose-built for the role, to provide materials and manpower for fortifying the islands and establishing a naval garrison. Royal Engineers helped construct redoubts and shore batteries that detachments of marines and Royal Artillery, who augmented the sailors, helped man. In December 1795 the crew of Shark mutinied, in part because of the harsh conditions on the islands, and handed her over to the French.

    The islands served as a forward base for the blockade of Le Havre, a launching point for intercepting coastal shipping, and as a transit point for French émigrés. The British repelled a major attack on 7 May 1798 by French troops at the battle of the Îles Saint-Marcouf, with minimal British but heavy French casualties.
    The Nautilus (1800).

    The islands almost made naval history in late 1800. On 12 September Robert Fulton sailed his submarine the Nautilus, to Growan, near Isigny-sur-Mer, a small harbour near the islands. His objective was to use his submarine to attack the British gunvessels protecting the islands. He made two attempts, but each time his targets sailed before he could reach them. Then bad weather as winter approached prevented any further attempts.[1] Although Fulton continued work on his concept, he never again threatened the islands.
    French control

    The British returned the islands to France under the terms of Article 3 of the 1802 Treaty of Amiens; the last British forces left the islands in May 1802. Napoleon ordered the islands fortified and the work began in 1803. The primary defences consisted of a fort on Île du Large, 170 meters in diameter. The main structure is a circular fort with a diameter of 53 meters, with 48 firing ports for cannon on two levels of 24 casemates each. This work was completed by 1812. There are seven underground chambers and a cistern. The fort could accommodate 500 troops.

    In 1840 a lighthouse was constructed within the fort. German forces destroyed it during World War II.

    Later construction, between 1860 and 1867, added a quay, a powder magazine, and a semaphore station, the whole encircled with moats carved into the rock. In 1871, 200 Communards from the Paris Commune were incarcerated here in deplorable conditions. The total complex covers 2.5 hectares. The quay has since disappeared, reclaimed by the ocean.

    On Île de Terre, the fortifications date to between 1849 and 1858. They consist of a shore battery and a guard house capable of housing some 60 troops. Neither island was ever attacked again, or at least not until the 20th Century.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Union Jack View Post
    Some History of the islands
    Thanks for the history reference, Union Jack

    Now we have a clear target. It's time to make templates!

    Step 2) Getting ready

    Before grabbing the knife, I find necessary to make some preparations.

    First, I decided which image to use as a plan for the island. In the end I chose to follow the satellite images available via Google Earth instead of closely following the drawings of the era for two reasons:

    -Being able to measure the island using the proper tool in Google earth made it easier to determine actual size and makes it easier to scale the model. Some times it's really hard to figure out scale in old, hand drawn plans at low resolutions.

    -It seems the water level has risen over the years, and Ille du Large is not really large anymore. Since I'm trying to keep my terrain as small as possible for gameplay purposes, I justified ignoring the age appropiate plans that show a bigger island and go with the smaller version.

    So I started drawing the outline of the terrain, the fortifications, and any other thing I considered important.

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    Then scaled it to 1:1000. I had tried with 1:2000 before, but it looked so wrong next to the 1:1000 ships that I decided to go with the proper scale and don't mess with any other option. Having ships raised half a centimeter by the base during gameplay doesn't do any favours to terrain in the right scale, but it is way worse if the terrain is smaller than it should!

    Finally, I printed plans of the islands with a grid of one centimeter. The regular plan will help me when trying to model and sculpt on top of the island, but I also printed a mirrored version of the plans which will be useful when I transfer the outline of the islands to polystyrene.

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    Since I am working with several centimeters thick struded polystyrene the angle at which the knife enters the polystyrene through one side can cause important deviations on the outline drawn on the opposite side. Therefore I wanted to draw the outline of the island in the side of the polystyrene which was going to be glued to the base I was using, as it shhould be the one closely resembling the outline of the island. Given that this drawing would end upside down glued to the base, I used the mirrored plan to make sure the actual island outline was not mirrored when not upside down.

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    I first drew a grid equal to the one in the drawing in the polystyrene, labeled it, and used it as a reference for copying the outline of the plan, but there are many other ways to transfer a drawing into a polystyrene surface.

    I also made templates with the shape of the cardboard pieces which would become the fortifications main building. I usually think about model buildings as onions, as I add layers of cardboard cut in shapes over previous layers to detail them.

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    Actual modelling comes next! I promise xD

  7. #7
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    And now, it's time to get our hands dirty!

    Step 3) Obtaining the general shape of the island

    Once I had the outline of the island clearly drawn into the polystyrene block, I cut the polystyrene in that shape. After I had removed any excess polystyrene, I also cut a piece of a plastic sheet in a similar shape a couple of centimeters bigger as a base using my new island-shaped polystyrene block as a reference. You may use any material you want as a base, as long as it doesn't change shape when wet.

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    You can see here the outline of the island, beyond the moat, has been also given a sloped shape using a knife, in order for it to resemble a rocky shore. Within the moat, the main fort piece has had its outline cut, but work has not started yet on the hills and walls. The plastic base I used is clearly seen under both polystyrene pieces. The inner piece is not glued yet, but the outer one is glued to the base using pva glue, sine the vapours of superglue melt polystyrene.

    I slowly went on with my knife, cutting small pieces of polystyrene away until I got a rough shape similar to the one I was aiming for.

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    You will notice I am greatly overemphasizing the vertical axis, as everything is taller than the real element its inspired by. I think it helps the terrain stand out in the playing field since, as ships in sails of glory sail 5 millimeters or so over the water due to their bases, realistically proportioned terrain might not look capable level of blocking line of sight to the batteries. Thats a personal stylistic choice you may probably disagree on, so feel free to keep realistic proportions.

    Next, sanding and cardboard buildings!

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    I have the experience that this kind of emphasizing of height helps terrain in most wargaming as otherwise a hill would be hardly noticeable on a gaming table that still takes your breath away while walking it on the battlefield.

    It's a little along the way of making terrain a little "cartoony" to make them look real because realistic doesn't look real on the table.

  9. #9
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    This is proving a really exciting project for me as I contemplate my coastal strips and harbour project.
    You have reminded me of some technique of polystyrene work which had been pushed to the back of my memory since I last did one of these some years ago now.
    You are both quite right about the height of objects.
    I also make them slightly brighter than in real life when I paint them to make the contrast with shadowed areas more pronounced. I find that this also helps with the deception.
    Rob.

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    Thanks a lot for your kind words. I'm really happy to be encouraging some of you with your own projects, and I'm glad you agree with me in the "cartoonyness" of scenery. In the end, due to the vertical axis and some other decisions I made, the resulting piece will not resemble the original island as close as I had thought it would, but the inspiration is still there.

    And now, we go from a rough geometry to something resembling an island with a fort.

    Sanding and detailing

    First, I started sanding the polystyrene surface to get softer edges. I did a light sanding on the rocks surrounding the fort, while heavily sanding the grass covered hills.

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    Then, I started cutting cardboard according to my templates to create the general shape of the main building of the fortress.

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    I added some details in layers of thinner cardboard to that building, and started cutting cardboard and gluing it to the polystyrene to simulate masonry walls.

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    You will notice I added some plastic cylinders from a plastic rod I found laying around to mimic the old cylindrical towers which, if I recall correctly, were destroyed in world war two.

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    Finally, our island is ready to get some texture and paint on it!

    Given that I am posting one step each day, the next (and last) post will be tomorrow, It will be my way to celebrate the year 2016! Happy new year everyone!

    EDIT: What kind of sorcery is making my images to turn and be displayed upside down? they are oriented properly before I upload them! Can someone help?
    EDIT2: You were right, it was just a matter of my phone needing a "this side up" sticker.
    Last edited by 2500kgm3; 12-31-2015 at 14:06.

  11. #11

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    Looking very good. I'll be anxious to see the conclusion tomorrow.

    As for the inverted images I have no idea why that might be occurring? If you go to the original post, see if you can 'manage' the images. A separate box should come up on screen and you'll see if the images are reversed there? You might be able to alter them there? Beyond that I have no clue.
    "It's not the towering sails, but the unseen wind that moves a ship."
    –English Proverb

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    The inverted images are most likely due to posting from a smartphone or pictures taken by a smartphone. They are so smart they attach orientation information that turns the images correctly if the program used can handle it and not otherwise. Therefore the same pictures can look correct sometimes but not always.

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    Well, that's advanced technology for you.
    My cannonballs stay the right way up no matter how they are loaded.
    Bligh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    Well, that's advanced technology for you.
    My cannonballs stay the right way up no matter how they are loaded.
    Bligh.
    I guess that speaks volumes about the training in your fleet xD

    It`s time to finally end this project!

    Texturing, and painting

    I first mixed some fine sand and watered down pva glue and applied it with an old brush on the areas covered in grass, to get some texture and cover any deep knife cuts which I could not sand away.

    After it dried, I pproceeded to start painting right away with dollar shop acrylic paint. In retrospective, I should have applied some kind of imprimation layer (by brush if possible, since the gas from spray cans will also melt polystyrene) beforehand, since some paint started chipping away when I applied a final layer of very watered down brown paint to the whole model.

    I found out grayish greens worked best as the base coat for grass. Then, I used a mix of green and yellow to dry brush the grassy areas and have the texture stand out a bit more.

    For the masonry, I went with a darker, brownish yellow instead of the grey of the actual fortification for no real reason other than I didn't want it to stand out TOO much in the battlefield I started with darker colors on the ground and recesses and went with lighter tones as I went up. The color choice for masonry is one of the things I feel I might regret the most.

    In the end, everything was covered by a very light brown ink. Here you can see the finished piece:

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    Thanks a lot for your feedback and encouragement! What should I do next? Ille du Terre maybe? do you have any suggestions for smaller islands?

  15. #15

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    Excellent! I've no doubt this will make any game session come alive along side the ships on the water. Well done!
    "It's not the towering sails, but the unseen wind that moves a ship."
    –English Proverb

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    Now that would look good on any table. Great job and very professional looking in the finish too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2500kgm3 View Post
    I guess that speaks volumes about the training in your fleet xD

    It`s time to finally end this project!

    Texturing, and painting

    I first mixed some fine sand and watered down pva glue and applied it with an old brush on the areas covered in grass, to get some texture and cover any deep knife cuts which I could not sand away.

    After it dried, I pproceeded to start painting right away with dollar shop acrylic paint. In retrospective, I should have applied some kind of imprimation layer (by brush if possible, since the gas from spray cans will also melt polystyrene) beforehand, since some paint started chipping away when I applied a final layer of very watered down brown paint to the whole model.

    I found out grayish greens worked best as the base coat for grass. Then, I used a mix of green and yellow to dry brush the grassy areas and have the texture stand out a bit more.

    For the masonry, I went with a darker, brownish yellow instead of the grey of the actual fortification for no real reason other than I didn't want it to stand out TOO much in the battlefield I started with darker colors on the ground and recesses and went with lighter tones as I went up. The color choice for masonry is one of the things I feel I might regret the most.

    In the end, everything was covered by a very light brown ink. Here you can see the finished piece:

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    Thanks a lot for your feedback and encouragement! What should I do next? Ille du Terre maybe? do you have any suggestions for smaller islands?
    Excellent modelling skills. Superb! Salute.

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    This is graet

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    What a beauty Longino. Well done.
    Rob.

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    Thanks for this, I am trying to work out a way to do this for my games too!

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    Very nice!
    Especially the painted sand makes great grass!

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    Turned out great looking!

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    Thanks a lot for your kind words. Creating that island was a pleasing experience indeed.

    I just played a game featuring this terrain piece. It was not a great experience, however. I made plenty of mistakes when I set up this "scenario"

    -The play are was way too big for four ships.

    -One lone, large island in the center of the table was not a great set up.

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    In the end, both fleets spent the evening dancing around the island and no cannonballs were shot. The experience itself was a failure.

    It seems this kind of island, while small in real life, is a very large piece for Sails of Glory and, as such, it should be used not in the center of the table, splitting the battlefield in two, but in the edges of the playing field, reducing the surface of the gaming area without functioning as an obstacle for fleets to meet head on.

    Next time I will try to restrict the playing surface to 90*90 or 90*60 if possible, with terrain on the edges, not the center.

    And to get more terrain to use near the edges of the board, I will try to build the Ille du Terre, but I am realizing I need more "really small islands" and reefs. Any suggestion?

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    Good job!

    Ya somos dos de la C. Valenciana ;)

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    I finally added some more pictures to my thread on how I make terrain.

    http://sailsofglory.org/showthread.p...Making-terrain

    There are sandbanks in the end.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2500kgm3 View Post
    Thanks a lot for your kind words. Creating that island was a pleasing experience indeed.

    I just played a game featuring this terrain piece. It was not a great experience, however. I made plenty of mistakes when I set up this "scenario"

    -The play are was way too big for four ships.

    -One lone, large island in the center of the table was not a great set up.

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    In the end, both fleets spent the evening dancing around the island and no cannonballs were shot. The experience itself was a failure.

    It seems this kind of island, while small in real life, is a very large piece for Sails of Glory and, as such, it should be used not in the center of the table, splitting the battlefield in two, but in the edges of the playing field, reducing the surface of the gaming area without functioning as an obstacle for fleets to meet head on.

    Next time I will try to restrict the playing surface to 90*90 or 90*60 if possible, with terrain on the edges, not the center.

    And to get more terrain to use near the edges of the board, I will try to build the Ille du Terre, but I am realizing I need more "really small islands" and reefs. Any suggestion?
    I think the solution to the island problem might be to have it in one corner - this has worked in our land games with forts and the like.

    I have used small 'Games Workshop' hills and terrain pieces as islands with great success. I may even scrape some of the flock off the edges and put sand there if I get enthused enough!

  27. #27
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    That is an excellent piece of modelling, Longino. Well done!

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    Super Job Longino! You deserve a "How To" medal.

    Hello Eric! Give this man a medal!

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    What a magnificent edifice. I agree it ought to go into the "How To" section.
    Rob.

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    Thanks a lot to you all. You're really encouraging, shipmates!

    Going back to my usual job schedule has taken a heavy toll on my modelling and hobby time. I'm back to a single night each week! (If I can get my daughter to sleep at a reasonable time!)

    That means many more planning time, and way less hobby time to execute or even write down what I planned. But even then, I am going on producing scenery. As I told you before, I always planned to build Ille du Terre after Ille du Large to complete Saint Marcouf. My gameplay experience with Ille du Large encouraged me to continue the project as the landmass that is Ille du Large will be pushed to the sides of the playing field for gameplay purposes, and a second island of a similar size will help balancing the battlefield near another edge, allowing me to change the shape of the battlefield to something other than a rectangle.

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    Since that experience also showed a big centerpiece is a liability in Sails of Glory, but I still wanted to have something for the fleets to avoid. I decided to modify my plans and create a pair of very small islands too, roughly the size of the cardboard islands included in the starter box. These have no real life reference at all, unfortunately, but should be more suitable to stand between two fleets.

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    In fact, I was more loose with historical references regarding ille du Terre, since it's much less interesting than ille du Large. The silhouette and beach placement is accurate, but I did not reflected accurately which areas are covered in grass or not, neither did I care about areas of higher and lower land in the interior of the island. It just ended that way after cutting through it, which was faster, and not that much was lost since it's not a very well known island.

    Painting should come next! I also started sketching some "playing field configuration plans" using this scenery. will you, experienced sailors, give me feedback about them if I post here?

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    Richard

    Default

    Of course! - I would not worry about strict accuracy of the defences, unless you plan on doing historical engagements, after all, as I have discovered, most of the ship models are a bit inaccurate representations of their historical counterparts!

  32. #32
    Landsman
    Spain

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    Dec 2015
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    C. Valenciana
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    Longino

    Default

    So, here come the pics of the painted pieces I put together:

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    As you can see, the new pieces are built using exactly the same process I followed for the first piece, which I went through earlier in the thread. In total, I've built Saint Marcouf (Ille du Large and Ille du Terre) plus two small islands that have no real historical counterpart but should be more suitable as obstacles between the fleets without causing any gameplay problems, unlike large islands.

    I hope to put them to use pretty soon! With these pieces, I have nothing else in mind to should build for my Sails of Glory games. Do you have any suggestions? why? Anything cool?

    As I told you before, my intention is to show you some battlefield options using these pieces, hoping you can give me some advice or use your superior knowledge to prevent glaring mistakes I might have made. I think I should start another thread for that, maybe in mission discussions? I will link to it here once I'm done getting the diagrams ready.

    This is a sneak peek for that post: setting 08, wich reproduces at 1:1000 scale the propper location of both Ille du Large and Ille du Terre:

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    Is the wind blowing in a balanced way? Is there enough area for ships to manouver? is it, in fact, too much open area and ships will never clash? is terrain getting in the way of the fun? That's the kind of questions I want you to answer.

    Thanks for your support, everybody
    Last edited by 2500kgm3; 01-17-2016 at 15:10.

  33. #33

    Default

    They all look awesome!
    "It's not the towering sails, but the unseen wind that moves a ship."
    –English Proverb

  34. #34
    Admiral of the Blue.
    Baron
    England

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    Rob

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    Looks fine to me Longino.
    Really the best way to find out is run a few trials.
    Rob.

  35. #35
    Ordinary Seaman
    Guatemala

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    Kentucky
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    Gustavo

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    These is amazing! Thank you for sharing!
    Arma Virumque Cano

  36. #36
    Ordinary Seaman
    United States

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    Jan 2016
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    New York
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    Name
    Robert

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    Wow nice work Longino those islands will add some nice detail to a battle.

  37. #37
    2nd Lieutenant
    Great Britain

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    Nov 2014
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    Northumberland
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    Richard

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    Yes, I agree! I think you will be able to play on that table ok!

  38. #38
    Landsman
    Spain

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    Dec 2015
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    C. Valenciana
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    Longino

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    Thanks a lot to you all!

    In case anyone may have missed it, here are the terrain schemes I plan to try as soon as I can. If you have any feedback, please keep it coming!

    http://www.sailsofglory.org/showthre...he-battlefield

  39. #39
    Admiral of the Blue.
    Baron
    England

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    Rob

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    I can't understand why I never gave you any Rep for this unless my Rep Cannon was out of action Longino.
    I am now going to remedy this as you greatly influenced my own work just concluded.
    Bligh.

  40. #40
    Captain of the Fleet
    Master & Commander
    UK

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    South Glos
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    Chris

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    I am late looking here, but absolute superb modelling, luckily my rep cannons were loaded

  41. #41
    Midshipman
    Poland

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    Nov 2014
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    Świętokrzyskie
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    Name
    Kamil

    Default

    Superb job, looks excellent Longino

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