Tuesday, 16 December 2014

the docks and bridge take shape

I have made a fair bit of progress over the last few weeks, mainly on the objects that will take up the bulk of the board- the Wharfs for the docks. Now  I find when working with Foam card that the corners of buildings and flooring levels need protecting or they'll get damaged and need repairing very quickly, and this project was hopefully going to be able to sustain some batter as I'm probably going to donate it to my local game store as a demo table. With that in mind I decided that  I would use L shaped coving from my local hardware store along the exposed edges, it would serve three functions- protecting the foamcard, creating a right angle I could build on, and adding a decorative element to the exposed stonework of the docks. I really recommend coving if you are building large structures for those reasons, there are some fantastic patterns out there and you can make some really sturdy, pretty structures.  I'm not drilling or screwing anything for this build for various reasons, so I used PVA glue and double sided tape to attach it to the card, leaving an inch clear at the corners for decoration later-

I'm using wooden slats, just under 2" in width to create the walls of the docks, these will give it the strength it needs to survive people leaning on it accidentally. I attached these using more glue and tape after measuring and cutting them to size. I made the small Wharf in the centre, the long top wharf section and the central section the Factory will sit on were all made as separate sections for transport, and to give a modular element to the board for future projects. 

Whilst down the DIY store I also picked up some white PVC coving, again in an L shape, sections of this are really handy for buttressing corners to give more strength and retaining a 90 degree shape, I used them at various points along each wall, and to attach the wall corners together more firmly.

I set all this to dry, and whilst I was doing that I decided to see how it looked next to the painted sections- not too shabby if I do say so myself:) the size is perfect and the coving looks good. 

Now, during all this I'd also been casting out latex brickwork sections (as you can see the moulds are weighing down the large section in the image above) After letting it dry for a few days (latex shrinks a little as it dries, and it's much better to let it shrink when it's not glued to something vital...) I needed to start cladding the wooden walls with it to add texture. I measure the height and marked it all out (see below) Then attached it in strips using a combination of both superglue and PVA glue mixed together, the superglue to hold it in shape and the PVA for the stronger bond as time passed. 

This stage really didn't take too long at all, and will really add to the look of the table as a whole when it's done.

I used some hard styrene plasticard to make plinths at the end of each dock, and more of the PVC L shape to make pillars beneath it, a wooden reel cut in half provided some bollards for anchoring vessels to finished off the front corners (will do something on top of the bollards, not sure what yet.) I want this table to look a bit manky and overgrown, so I used a lot of superglue and sand to build up thick textured areas to paint as moss and weeds, I focused on the areas that touch the river, then added patches across the rest of the table to bind it all together. (I use superglue because a drop of glue with sand dropped onto it will create a great 3D shape that can be layered up into something very strong and textural, it gives you more control than PVA and works faster as well)

At this stage I also added the cobble mat I bought from a Christmas store (recommended by a fellow gamer on A Wyrd Place) and blended it in with yet more superglue/sand, a wire running under the cobbles at one side would connect to a broken lamp post later on. 

The below image is much more like the final layout will be, the 'blank' area of water in the middle will be filled with smaller boats, jetties and debris.

After all that boxy construction I needed something a bit more challenging, so I started on the bridge. This would be a bit different to most bridges I've built in that I'm only building one end, so it's going to go up, but not back down again... I find the best way to make curved bridges is to build a simple frame with long runners, add slats across it and then add the final surface over the slats (in this case more cobbled matting) I drew the initial curve freehand, then neatened it up when cutting, and used that as a template for the other side and the runners. 

The first runners would be attached to either side about 1" below the top, leaving a raised wall along the bridges length. I just used PVA on these and let them dry fully overnight as I needed them strongly attached for the next stage. 

A while ago I sculpted some steampunk buildings for a friend (Martyn Dorey of Model Display Products), and they gave me some templates to work from, one of which is a resin mould of a simple two storey building, the resin cast was imperfect which left some amazingly realistic weathered brick texture that left me itching to use it when the right project came along, and this seemed to fit.  A guild toll booth on the bridge, extending down to a platform over the water to double as a customs house was the plan, and the first thing I did was built a wooden floor, steps and desk to fit inside it, as well as a thin second storey (later there'll be a resin safe and bed in there to finish the furniture off)

I drew rough planking on the Balsa with a scultpting tool, and impressed nail holes for a bit of extra detail. a ridge around the inside lets me place the second floor nicely, I may opt to either block the windows with shutters or put a pile of junk on the second floor to avoid creating the best snipers nest ever.

I'm a fairly regular visitor to St Fagans museum near where I live, and the Toll booth they have there has a whole ream of rules written on a plaque on the outside, I figured the guild would be similar, so I added some paper signs to the outside of the building, a notice board to the front and a large billboard to one side where I'll paint an advert for the Star Theatre I think. 

The struts on the side of the bridge had dried at this point, so I built up the legs with simple foam card (and some more 'L' PVC for extra rigidity) and added the first few slats for spacing, I also cut out the section for the toll house to fit into which would rest on one of the legs,  needs as much stability as I can give it!

The stone platform beneath the House is foamcard again (actually it's the bits from the bridges arches, waste not want not) with thin card covering the exposed foam in a brick pattern. I made sure to make this as sturdy as possible to help spread the weight of the resin building.

Here's the building 'in situ' with an Oxford Mage trying it out, it's fine for a 40mm but a 50mm may struggle, not a huge issue as they won't be able to get through the door anyway:) The bottom picture shows the bridge in place with the platform over the barge allowing another access route across the table (which is why it's there)

Glueing slats....

lots of slats....

I thought I would show the bottom of the bridge at this point so the structure is more visible, 

I added some pillar tops on the legs, as well as a long raised section at floor level on the outside, all carved into more architectural shapes, and then as before I clad the bridge in latex brickwork (once again the versatility of latex shines here- I can bend the sheets to the shape of the bridge for a more realistic structure). More superglue and sand moss/weeds finished this side off, but it also cleaned me out of latex, so the other side will have to wait till I get more...

So I sprayed My Dropzone commander resistance instead... 

As well as the Toll house, I painted up the inside (which will be gaining a fur rug due to another great tip on A Wyrd Place) added a half finished card game, some posters and other papers. Again I'm not going to go into colours as such as my techniques are very simple and there are better guides to wood etc out there, but if anyone wants to know just ask. 

Last thing before bed was to wetbrush the outside of the booth, I'm using a grey emulsion taster pot for the base colour across all the stone to keep it matching, and the resin took it pretty well, though it took a few coats to get it solid on the inside, so I'll possibly do something else in there (plaster effect probably)

Thats all for now, probably until after Christmas as I have a lot of visiting, partying and general ne'er-do-welling to get through until at least the new year.. any questions on anything just leave a coment:)

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