Category Archives: Stefan

Laser-Cut: A Miniatures Paint Storage Solution

A Little Back Story

I’ve been painting miniatures for a few years now. It started with  RPG characters and villains then moved to painting the minis for my board games as more and more board games are now including minis with their games. When starting out I used artist acrylic paints I had a who bowling ball bag filled with paints from my college art classes. This was fine up until last month. I was curious and purchased some Vallejo paints, just eight, enough to paint my Han Solo and Rebel Saboteurs minis for Star Wars Imperial Assault. I’ve been converted. The quality of the paint, ease of application and the minimal waste due to the dropper bottles was all steps above my artist paint. Let me also focus on that, artist paints, I just wanted to note that I did not use craft paints, I painted with the more expensive artist grade paints for years. Even those higher end paints would still have colors within the same brand that had course grit pigments that would leave an undesirably thick layer that would quickly cover up all the fine details of the miniature.
Continue reading Laser-Cut: A Miniatures Paint Storage Solution

Laser-Cut: Suburbia Insert

I Have An Organization Monkey On My Back. He Is Not To Be Ignored

I’ve recently come across a board game called Suburbia. I must own it! So now I do and there goes my board game budget for the month. I always loved the Sim City games while I was growing up, physically not mentally, that’s still an ongoing thing. I purchased Machi Koro a short while ago. It’s a great game, simple to teach, great art work and a generally bright and cheerful game. Unless you bought the Harbor Expansion and you’re not the one who owns two Tuna Boat cards. Then you hate the game, that horrible evil game in a cute little bow. If you like Machi Koro but want something a bit more advanced in a similar theme them Suburbia is the way to go. I compare it to being Pandemic compared to forbidden Island.
Continue reading Laser-Cut: Suburbia Insert

Laser-Cut: MTG Mana Station Box

My Lands Need A Home

After ditching the standard cardboard card holders and upgrading to a wood box from Hobby Lobby for my EDH Magic the Gathering cards I realized I was using a lot of box real estate on my basic mana cards.

Laser cut Magic The Gathering label dividers for art supply box
Laser cut Magic The Gathering label dividers for art supply box

I had just purchased some Danish Oil and I wanted to see what a more natural raw looked like since up to this point I had just been staining or spray painting all the wood projects like my Cards Against Humanity box.

Watco Danish Oil with Varathane Polyurethane
Watco Danish Oil with Varathane Polyurethane


I dimensioned the box to hold cards in sleeves and I figured about 150 of each mana type plus about 150 non basic lands should be the length I need. I got a design I liked and let the laser cutter do its work. To prep the box for assembly I pre-sanded the surfaces with a 220 grit paper being sure to sand with the grain. I wanted keep the laser cut burnt ends look so I didn’t sand the edges but instead just wiped them down with a damp rag to get the soot off to assure the glue would make a solid bond. Continue reading Laser-Cut: MTG Mana Station Box

Laser-Cut: DiceMasters Dice & Card Storage Box

Avenger Dice Assemble!

I thought I’d give my endless Magic the Gathering habit a break and see what Dice Masters had to offer. I like the simple nature of it. Not having 1,000+ cards released each year can really make deck building a quick and enjoyable process. The biggest problem I ran into quickly is storage. I tried using little plastic storage bins bit those were a real pain to try to pick my dice out of. I wanted something that would fit on my game shelf in a clean manner that would hold a multiple sets in one container. My cousin got the official dice masters Avengers Vs. X-men storage box which looks great but that means I need one for each set which means I need to have 2,3,4+ boxes spread over my tables as I go through them trying to build my deck of epic-ness. “Well that solution to game organization are we going to try tonight Brain?” “The same game organization solution I try every time, TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!, wait, no… a box, I’m going to make a box”. This would be no simple box. It needs trays to hold dice which need to hold dice in a manner I can easily remove and organize. The box needs to be small enough to fit on my game shelf. I typically use one of my larger game boxes that fit cleanly on my game shelf as a upper size limit, Pathfinder: Adventure Card Game. It will also need to fit enough cards to hold 4 full sets of cards, a dice mat, instructions, handmade dice bag , and a doughnut. I say that because I could really go for a doughnut right now. Continue reading Laser-Cut: DiceMasters Dice & Card Storage Box

Laser-Cut: Star Wars Imperial Assault Insert

Making Everything Fit

Star Wars imperial Assault AssemblyDesigning an insert requires 3 design challenges to be overcome; fit, form, and functionality.


Ideally the game should fit within the box after an insert has been made for it as Zip-Lock bags duct taped to the sides of the box lid may not have best appeal to it.  When starting my design process I layout all the components in stacks next to my trusty ruler and calipers and start measuring everything. Typically I start to sketch out some concept layouts just to get an idea of the possible ways I can orient components, do I want playing cards to lay on their side to save height or set them vertically? Next its time to move to doing some rough sketches in my modeling program so I can see what interferences may pop up and to better account for all the different dimensions of game components as well as the space that is used by the inserts themselves. Here’s an Isometric view of a basic test layout I’ll run through to see how the different component boxes will layout and to see where I can steal a few millimeters here and there to make better fits elsewhere. StarWars IA WireFrame This process can be a lengthy and frustrating one if you have lofty goals. I had those. My main goal for this insert was to fit the core game of Star Wars Imperial Assault and all the currently released and announced miniature and base game expansions for 2015. As of May 13t, 2015 there was a possible 55 small miniatures (miniatures with bases with a 1 inch Continue reading Laser-Cut: Star Wars Imperial Assault Insert

Sewing a Dice Bag

Prepare Your Eyes for Soft  and Cute Awesomeness!

I made a dice bag for my DiceMasters game. Now I can make dice bags because why not? I thought it was time to play with fabric for a while. Is there a medium I wont try? Molten Lead, I have to draw the line somewhere and that seems like a good one.

DSC_0111 (700x625)

They’re reversible too so I can play around with that too. Best of all for DiceMasters the bag stands on its own even when empty.

DSC_0113 (700x632)

If you have the hardware needed to make a dice bag and want to make a dice bag but have limited sewing skills the check Tiffany Teaches. Her step-by-step guide was all I needed for making these. Thank you Tiffany! You rock. The fabric is Chibi kawaii Super Hero.

Laser-Cut: Hive Box Improvement

A New Home For My Six Sided Friends

I like hex tiles. They’re like squares but with so much more gaming potential. One would think that with such a elegant simple strategy game there would be an equally elegant and simple storage solution that came with said game. Not so much. While I do think the little portable plastic zip bag that the game box could be a neat thing to bring on trips or whatnot I’m just bothered by the fact that the box which contains such well fitting components contains 60% air. Its like a Yahtzee game box. A game that contains 5 Continue reading Laser-Cut: Hive Box Improvement

Laser-cut: Cards Against Humanity Box

So it begins

One of the first boxes I thought I’d try was to make a Cards Against Humanity box that would fit all the cards of the core game and all the current and a few future expansions. I recently got access to a laser-cutter and combines with SolidWorks I started to experiment with a design that would meet my requirements of storage needs and have dimensions that wouldmesh well with existing board games so I could reduce clutter while still fitting in cleanly with my current collection.

Laser Cutting: The Learning Curve

Laser cutting can be tricky at first. You really need to play with the machine for a while trying to future out what small variations in settings can do. A bit too slow and you’ll end up making edges that are closer to a charcoal pencil then a clean Continue reading Laser-cut: Cards Against Humanity Box

Costumes: Blasts from the Past

During the college years I did manage to find some time to throw together some costumes. The following are a few of the costumes that were finished enough to see the dark of night during a Halloween gathering.

The Red Shirt That Survived

This costume came into being because I had just bought Sara a new sewing machine and figured I should tackle a project to see what I could do with the new toy. I purchased a Star Trek the Original Series pattern from Katarra8 on Etsy since it was said to be the easier to follow pattern according to a few posts I found on a great Star Trek costumes forum

Fabric was purchased from Micheal’s, a cutting wheel was added to the project (Those things are amazing) and I had played with the sewing machine enough that I felt confident in sewing both straight and curving lines.

I am not naturally gifted in the ways of fabric. Its confusing. All the straight lines make perfect sense until you hit a curve, like those that connect the shoulder sections to the chest and suddenly you’ve sewn a section in a manner that had one section of fabric come up 3 inches short and you sitting there just playing WTF on repeat in your head. Knowing how to fit curves and add tension to the fabric at the right time is something that will definitely plague me for the next few projects. I’m a super newbie to this craft so I try not to get to discouraged but after you’ve ripped a seam for the 3rd time it makes it hard not to throw it into the fire pit and roast a couple of marshmallows off of it.

In the end I was mostly triumphant as we can see in my super proud surviving Redshirt pose

Stefan as a Red Shirt (Start Trek) Survivor.
Stefan as a Red Shirt (Start Trek) Survivor.

Since I was playing off of the idea that I was a Redshirt that was sent of in one of the more active away missions I wanted to play around with a little bit of fight effects makeup. I went to my local costume shop and picked up some of the better quality makeups they had.

Makeup shopping list:
-Ben Nye: EW-4 Master Bruise Wheel-Ben Nye: Final Seal Spray
-Initial face prep powder

I got my start by watching a few videos on Youtube to get an idea of the right products to buy and proper blending techniques, like THIS video.

Stefan as a Red Shirt makeup closeup
Stefan as a Red Shirt makeup closeup

I know I did well at this because during lunch at my companies Halloween gathering I found out that there was a rumor that most of the people outside of my team thought I had gotten into a car accident the evening before.


Aperture Scientist

After having just thoroughly enjoyed the  game Portal and being a back in the day fan of Halflife I wanted to pay tribute to the hard working scientists from Aperture Science. This was a pretty simple task, buy a lab coat, obtain a company logo, get a custom security badge made, some random props and accessories and look smart. Check and check.
I was super pleased with the badge I got custom made from Etsy:

Aperture Labs Badge
Aperture Labs Badge

The final assembly

Aperture Scientist
Aperture Scientist


Skeleton Face

Likely my all time most rushed costume ever was a simple makeup application so I would look like a skeleton in a low lit room. Got the cheapest junk Halloween $1 makeup from my local grocery store. Found some Dia De Muertos face paint images but figured I wouldn’t have time to get those right so i just found a couple of skull images on my laptop, got some cotton swaps and sat in front of the mirror until I figured it out. It did take two attempts to figure it out at about one hour minimum per attempt.

Here’s Trial one where I was still figuring out the layout before dealing with blending and details.


Makeup Test
Makeup Test

Final Result

SkeletonMan. (crummy cellphone image)
Skeleton Man.


Finch Mask

There was this manga called I Luv Halloween created by Benjamin Roman. I really like the main character’s, Finch, look so I figured I’d see if I could try my hand at clay modeling and mold making. This was one of my more ambitious projects that I only gave myself a few weeks to throw together. That amount of time was far from what I needed. The mask came together well enough. The clay I selected was one that would harden nicely in the oven. The idea that I would have the time or money to make a mold from this while juggling college was no well thought out. The mold never happened and I was left with a very heavy mask that I had to make a wire mesh helmet to hold the weight. Its was heavy and overall very uncomfortable. On top of that I was never able to locate the orange wig to complete the look. On the plus side somehow Benjamin Roman found my post of this mask on DeviantArt and gave me props for my work, small world.

Finch Mask
Finch Mask

Sadly since the mask was made so thin it had a little accident and cracked so I made lemonade out of the situation by painting it and mounting it to an old frame and now its a nice piece of wall art.

Finch Mask

Dragon Slayer: Scalemail

When someone asks you what you did over the weekend probably one of the most nerdy responses you could muster would be “I made chainmail!”.

To have a connection in our costume theme both Sara and I are incorporating scalemail. I chose the larger sized tempered high carbon steel scales from The Ring Lord. I wanted a more worn look “Authentic battle Damage!”, which I felt would be a good contrasting look when compare to the cleaner look Sara’s scalemail dress will have, which would more reflect a guy who’s been out in the world gaining his experience points and getting beat up from time to time. The pattern is the basic one also shown on the websites tutorial videos. The process is surprisingly easy but rather time intensive. I found that using a towel as a work surface keeps the area clean but most importantly it as a bit a friction so that all the scales you just assembled aren’t constantly shifting and slipping around while your working. I use two mini cheap pliers simultaneously to handle all the ring bending and scale handling. I find the smaller pliers allow me to still use my free fingers to grab stuff while not having to constant set them down.

Scalemail Workspace
Scalemail Workspace

After a couple of after work assembly sessions I got most of a full sheet done.

From the back side of the sheet of scales the ring pattern that holds the scales together:

Ring assembly
Ring assembly

And the result of all those hours hunched over a pair of pliers:

Scalemail assembly
Scalemail assembly

At this point I just need to repeat this process to get one more strip of scales.  The next big step is to work through the best method of attaching the two together and the system that the final assembly will attach to so that this can be worn.  Attaching the scalemail to your body is usually fairly straight forward; you make a enough scalemail until you have a shirt shape then you just throw it on and bind up whatever side you left open since this stuff allows no stretch. For my plan I’m only applying scalemail to the lower torso, between the sternum and hipbones as you can see in my concept sketch.

Dragon Slayer Concept A
Dragon Slayer Concept A

I need to design some kind of suspenders system or have it mount to the interior of the future leather chest plate