Oil paintings by Duff

Sunset Wreck by Duff

During 2015 and 2016 I started oil painting, using the Weber range of water-based oil paints. These paints are easy to apply, wash out in water and are more environmentally friendly than traditional oil paints.

Here are a few of my paintings from 2015 and 2016.

Bunyip Creek by Duff
Bunyip Creek
The Old Fence by Duff
The Old Fence
Secret Falls by Duff
Secret Falls
Lavender Trail by Duff
The Lavender Trail
Tropical Wave by Duff
Tropical Wave
Sunset Wreck by Duff
Sunset Wreck

I hope to do some more oil paintings when time permits.

Happy painting,


Hail Caesar 28mm Imperial Romans

Hail Caesar Imperial RomansI’ve been painting legions of Imperial Romans for the Hail Caesar miniatures war game. These are 28mm miniatures, about the height of a 50c Australian coin.

I have completed a number of units. I think they have turned out alright. Originally I used the transfers for the shields but then reverted to using a base red for the shields and leaving off the shield insignia. In my opinion it helps to achieve that sea of red that I am looking for on the battle field.

Here are some shots. I also have painted up some Praetorians, veterans, auxiliaries, a scorpion and some cavalry. Photos of these to come, although you can see the Pretorians in the rear of this first photo.

These Romans have taken me some time to paint, as I have worked slowly at it over the past few years.

Close up of Romans
28mm Romans by Duff
A finished Imperial Roman unit
Rear view of Imperial Roman unit

Happy modelling,


Giant Axis & Allies Board

Giant Axis & Allies Board
Giant Axis & Allies Board

I recently planned to have a game of Axis and Allies (Spring 1942 Version 2) over the Christmas break with some fellow gamers – one of whom was arriving from interstate, and so I grabbed the game from the cupboard, dusted off the box and laid the board out on my billiard table, thinking this would make for a great playing field – plenty of room for the four of us to stand around the board, discuss strategies and make battle. Yet the board looked rather small sitting there in the middle of the billiard table which is 10 feet x 5 feet).

I thought to myself ‘how good would it be to have a Giant Axis & Allies board, one that fits the size of the billiard table’. We were playing in two days time so I had to get to work if I was going to make this happen.

Old board on new giant board
Original board laying on top of the giant board. The giant board is 2.1 metres x 1.2 metres.
Pieces on board comparison
Same amount of pieces on the original board (left) as on the giant board (right) for Western United States.  No longer cramped!

First, with a simple search on Google, I found that the board that I have in my Axis & Allies set was already scanned onto the net. So I copied the image into photoshop and then enlarged it so that it was 1.2 x 2.1 metres in size ( a size I had determined would fit nicely on the billiard table) – a large file! The image was blurry at this size, however this was okay because I then redrew the whole board using the original image merely as a guide.

The board that I have in my set is the dark board with the almost blackish water and dark brown,grey land. Personally I don’t enjoy this board’s colours and have often thought of buying the later version with the more earthy coloured land masses and blue seas. So I changed the colours on my giant board to greens and brown for land and blue for the oceans. I then added sea and ocean names that are not on the original board, and also continent titles – Europe, Asia, North America etc.

Smooth as silk
The professional contact finish makes the board smooth as silk.


Giant Axis & Allies board close up
Giant Axis & Allies board close up. Sea names not found on the original board have been added.

Another feature I included that is not on the original board is setup symbols. On each land space that requires pieces for the start of the game I then added the appropriate symbols. This makes setup so much easier.

Starting pieces now on board
Starting setup symbols (see Eastern United State) were added to the board on all land areas that require starting pieces, making setup easier and faster.

It took me approximately 18 hours to recreate the board in photoshop. It could probably be done much quicker, however, I’m a bit of perfectionist when it comes to these sort of things. The next morning I made some phone calls to 6 different signage companies who do print on demand and ‘one offs’. Each was on on holidays (it being the period between Christmas Day and New Years). The 7th company I rang were situated miles away, across the other side of the city, yet I gave them a  call anyway. So glad I did. The gentleman happened to be doing some work that day and when I told him what I needed and that it needed to be ready the following day, he said he would do it!

He did the job, printed, finished and delivered it the afternoon of the day before we were to play.

Gamers posing over board
Tactical discussions around the giant board. The billiard table is 10 foot by 5 foot. The board is 2.1 metres by 1.2 metres. Allows enough room at the end of the table for battle rolls etc.

The board is professionally printed, mounted on 5cm armour board and coated with a protective contact. It is incredibly smooth and durable. The printer did an amazing job and it was a terrific surprise for my fellow gamers when the arrived to see the giant board awaiting on the billiard table. The game was played with zest and was very enjoyable, however we ran out of time and so there was no victory outcome, although the Allies definitely had the upper hand.

Axis islands fit more
Much easier now to have multiple units on the Axis islands.

When the game is not being played I store the board on my study wall. It is affixed with mounts that keep it flush and stable, but also allow for quick removal ready for the next big game!

Giant board on study wall
Giant board mounted on study wall. Easy to get down for the big game.

For others wanting to create their own giant Axis & Allies board, there are some good posts on gaming forums that describe how one can do this. Please do not ask me for the photoshop file. I will not be giving this out or selling it as this would breach the intellectual property rights of the game developer. This board I created purely for personal use … and it makes Axis & Allies (already a magnificent game) even more enjoyable.

Happy gaming,


Giving my loco the rustic treatment

I recently purchased a second-hand On30 Bachmann porter 2-4-0 loco for my narrow gauge wall layout, (which I plan to build over the next few months). The other day I set about repainting the loco because I was not comfortable with the weathering.

Well tonight I spent some time giving the loco a rustic overhaul.

I began by dabbing on some rust effect using a Humbrol Rust Wash, placing a fair bit on and then rubbing it back. The wash worked really well on the metal boiler. Was a little more difficult to get the desired effect on the plastic frontage.

Added some rust effect to the boiler
Added some rust effect to the boiler

Next I ran some Humbrol white wash down the side of the boiler and then rubbed this back to get a leached effect.

I was not happy with the plastic cabin (not rustic enough for my liking), so I removed it and then set about building my own cabin out of matchstick wood and PVA glue.

Began creating my own wooden cabin
Began creating my own wooden cabin

I tried to match the cabin to exactly the same size as the plastic cabin, and managed to get it fairly accurate. I placed some diagonal supports between the roof struts to strengthen the structure.

Cabin walls done. Just needs a roof.
Cabin walls done. Just needs a roof.

I was unsure whether to go with an iron roof or keep it timber. I chose timber this time. For my next narrow gauge loco I will go with an iron roof. Below shows the completed cabin sitting next to the plastic original.

Custom wooden cabin next to original plastic cabin.
Custom wooden cabin next to the original plastic cabin.

I stained the cabin with Citadel Agrax Earthsade wash. It is a dark brown wash which seeps into the wood giving it a great rustic finish.

Cabin stained in Citadel Agrax Earthshade
Cabin stained in Citadel Agrax Earthshade

With the cabin in place I then set about creating a similar effect for the front buffer, ensuring the coupling could still move freely and be easily replaced in the future. Below you can see that the chimney still needs weathering and the iron plate below the buffer needs some work.

Cabin in place and a new wooden frontage.
Cabin in place and a new wooden buffer. Chimney stack still needs weathering.

With the front buffer completed I then created a similar rear buffer, ensuring once again that the coupling could still move freely and be replaced easily in the future. I then positioned the whistle on the roof.

Rear wooden buffer in place.
Rear wooden buffer in place.

Next I weathered up the lower portion of the chimney stack, then added an axe and a roped keg (with drinking mug) to the front buffer. With these in place I then hung a think chain on the right hand side from the cabin roof.

Threw an axe and keg with a mug on front. Hung a chain on the right side.
Threw an axe and roped keg with mug on the front buffer. Looped a thick chain on the right side.

Below is a close up of the roped keg and drinking mug. Both the axe and keg I obtained from an old Warhammer Fantasy sprue. They are not to scale but incredibly close. I think they look the part.

Close up of the roped keg and mug.
Close up of the roped keg and mug.

Next I added some weathering to the inside of the cabin. In this photo you can see the bell rope coming in on the left hand side through the firewall.

Inside the cabin.
Inside the cabin. Bell pull to the left coming through the firewall.

A full photo of the right had side. Very fond of the axe wedged into the front buffer. If anything the chain is slightly too big. Might replace with smaller links in the future.

Right side shot. Loco is on its way to rustic.
Right side of the loco, well on its way to becoming rustic.

A view of the left hand side. I also looped a chain from the cabin roof on this side and then added the bell pull rope.

Strung a pull rope for the bell.
Hung a pull rope for the bell, using wire painted with Citadel Kommando Khaki..

I’m not finished yet. There is still plenty to do, such as weathering the wheels and pistons, adding a driver and some kindling to the cabin, weathering the top of the chimney stack and adding some further weathering to the rear metal and cabin floor. I’d also like to rework the rust effect on the rear and add some weathering to the iron plates beneath the buffers. There are a few more gadgets I have ready to place on the loco too. More to come.

Happy modelling,



On30 Bachmann 2-4-0 Repaint

In my last post I wrote about a narrow gauge On30 lumber locomotive that I purchased for a good price. It runs well but I was not happy with the weathering and I wanted to paint the timber a wood colour or give it a stain, and so I decided to repaint the loco. Below is how the loco looked when I purchased it. Great engine and runs fine. Seller packaged it very well too.

On20 Bachmann narrow gauge locomotive
On20 Bachmann narrow gauge locomotive bought recently and decided to repaint.

So I set about breaking the loco down and rubbing back the existing paintwork. I then gave a spray of Tamiya Red Brown to the cabin and buffer and hand painted the lantern with Italia Flat Dark Gull Gray. I then hand painted the bell with P3 molten Bronze.

Stripped back loco, sanded and a coat of Red Brown added to wood areas.
Stripped back loco, sanded and a coat of Red Brown added to wood areas.

Next I spray painted the boiler, cabin roof, cabin floor, stack and coal bunker with Matt Black.

Matt black sprayed to cabin roof, cabin floor, stack and boiler.
Matt black sprayed to cabin roof, cabin floor, stack and boiler. Note: I accidentally broke off the whistle. Nothing that a bit of hobby glue can’t fix.

I then added some Citadel boltgun metal to the buffer iron and hand painted the boiler front end with P3 Thamak Black. Gave the boiler nose a fresh coat of brass and Citadel Evil Scarlet Sunz Red.

Front of boiler hand painted with matt black and lantern painted in Italeri Flat Dark Gull Gray.
Front of boiler hand painted with P3 Thamak Black and lantern painted in Italeri Flat Dark Gull Gray.

Next I detailed the engine room with some highlights of Citadel boltgun metal and gave the gauge pipe a coat of brass.

Added some hair line metal to the  engine room and brassed up the gauge pipe.
Added some hair line metal to the engine room and brassed up the gauge pipe.

Finally I gave the railings a coat of boltgun metal and the whistle and metal piping a coat of Molten Bronze.

Touched up the boiler nose with red and brass. Coated metal rods and whitle in P3 Molten Bronze, railings in metal using Citadel boltgun metal paint.
Touched up the boiler nose with red and brass. Coated metal rods and whistle in P3 Molten Bronze, railings in metal using Citadel boltgun metal paint.

Quite happy with the result so far. It’s a shame the golden shine of the bell cannot be seen in these photos. The only things I have not been able to improve on is polishing up the badges on the side of the front boiler area and getting the scratches out of the lantern glass. What would I do different next time? Thinner spray on the wood areas. I lost some detail on this part but hopefully the weathering will bring this out again.

Next step is to get some weathering happening and to paint up a driver.

Repainted loco ready for weathering
Repainted loco ready for weathering

Happy modelling,



Narrow gauge study wall layout

I recently purchased a second hand Bachmann On30 lumber locomotive. I’ve always wanted one of these locomotives and the price was good so I took a chance. To test the loco I laid down some Peco Code 55 track on an 1800mm x 140 mm hard board and and wired it up to my Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) power unit, which my brother (who built the unit) named it aptly “The Ducks Guts” – mainly due to the heavy duty capacitor discharge unit (CDU) that it runs.

On20 Bachmann narrow gauge locomotive
On30 Bachmann narrow gauge locomotive

Anyway, the loco runs well! I love its shape, however, I’m not fond of the weathering, so over the next month I plan to give it a repaint and a fresh rustic look. [Editor note: View later posting for respray.]

Another shot of the loco. Great looking train but needs a new paint job and some better weathering.
Another shot of the loco. Great looking train but needs a new paint job and better weathering.

Having tested the On30 loco, I realised that my test track would make a great wall layout for my study. The 1800 mm x 140 mm baseboard would fit nicely on the study sidewall.

Dimensions of study
Dimensions of study
Wall layout approximate position
Wall layout approximate position

So I set about adding a Peco turnout and point motor so that the layout has a small siding. The turnout uses two push switches and associated LEDs to select and display the route, of which I will mount these onto a track plan fascia at one end of the layout.


Wall layout for study. Narrow gauge On20 using Peco 55 gauge track.
On20 narrow gauge wall layout 1800 x 140 mm for my study. Narrow gauge On30 using Peco code 55 track.
Peco point motor, wired above board. Will cover this with a structure.
Peco point motor, wired above board. This will be covered by a structure.
Using a twelve pin plug so that I can  easily plug in my PWM power unit. Using push switches and LEDs to select and display route.
Using a twelve pin female socket so that I can easily plug in my PWM power unit 12 pin male socket. Using push switches and LEDs to select and display route. Yes, I know the soldering is below average. I’m the first to admit that I can’t solder to save my life. The wiring, which  runs along the back of the baseboard, will be hidden behind scenery.

Well that’s it so far. I will post more as I continue to build.

Happy modelling,


Brisbane Model Train Show 2015

This  year was the best year yet at the Brisbane Model Train Show. I attend the event in the hope of being inspired by at least one layout. This year there were many good layouts, which was great to see. I think Brett and the gang at AMRA have done a great job in presenting Brisbane with its best train show yet. The quality of layouts was the best I have seen yet. In fact, the layouts that stood out for me were British Iron and Steel Corp (great rust and weathering effects), Coff’s Harbour (the fishing dock with rocking boat), Tall Timber Tramway with its intricate logging setup, Rosedale (always a favourite with its Four X pub), Willy’s Creek (love the scenery, creek work and the fellows cooking up moonshine in the top shed), Wallaville (fantastic cane farming layout) and the Peak Ridge Kohle Museum (nifty N scale module). A great day out, plenty of chats with the enthusiasts, easy parking, steam train rides and the largest line of attendees at the gate that I have ever seen. Well done AMRA! You have my thumbs up. Photos below.

Brisbane Model Train Show 2015
Brisbane Model Train Show 2015