Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Building a Display Board Part 4: Inset Bases and Finishing Touches

This week sees the conclusion of the tutorial on how to build a display board. Before we proceed let's look back to week two, where we started work on the chaos warp gate. In week two we went over how to start the foundation for the warp gate, now we'll continue where that post left off.

Before we get started we'll need these materials:
7. Dreadnought base sized hole cutting bit
8. Monster base sized hole cutting bit
9. Infantry base size hole cutting bit

From our previous work we have one layer of the warp gate complete, but we want it to have more depth, so we'll proceed by tracing two more complementary layers to attach to the base layer.

For the second layer I focused on building an interior to the gate's energies by cutting tendrils that reach towards the center. This will work to make the piece appear less linear.

The third layer will add dimension to one side of the gate. Don't worry about bridging the left and right sides with an arch, they will be attached independently to the gate on their respective sides.

With all three layers cut out place them and see what layering order looks best to you. This was my original order. I decided that the central layer would contain the gate's sole arch and use the other two layers to add depth to the piece.

To shape the foam, cut off the hard edges with an xacto knife. This will make smoothing the edges and making transitions form layer to layer much easier.

Use a fine grain sandpaper to sand the piece. Folding the paper to differing widths allows you to create broader and sharper grooves. I held the paper loosely and sanded recesses around the "tendrils" to give them prominence. After that, I folded the sandpaper tighter and created sharper detail grooves. This process emulates the undulations you might expect from something that is semi-liquid or energy based.

The initial shaping of the gate's levels shouldn't be 100% complete before assembly. Remove any unwanted hard edges and get the basic flow you would like to achieve first. More shaping for the gate's final appearance will happen after you assemble the layers.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Building a Display Board Part 3: Rubble, Roads, and Warp Energy

A good couple of weeks of construction has gone into our display board at this point, and now is a perfect time to step back and get some perspective before we move on. Let's revisit the very first schematic I made for my demon display board a few months back.

As you can see, my grandiose ideas for the board have been altered somewhat. I've pared the buildings down from seven to 2 1/2 (one is merely a flanking facade for a statue), and the general layout has been compressed. This is what I mean when I refer to "letting the board tell you what works." I was a bit off in my estimates for the scale, and when reality set in during construction, I simply altered my plans and went with the flow. Remember, this is a good thing! Let realism assert itself in the construction of your piece, things that should work, will, and those that don't, won't.

That being said, step back and take a look at your display board, and then at the initial schematics you wrote up. Now that construction of your piece is well under way, a little more planning will help determining how you should proceed. Looking at my piece, I have a good foundation, but there is something missing. At this point in construction I don't know what it is yet, but I will soon find out! How do I know this? Because the piece will tell me, it won't look right until it is complete. Don't get frustrated if your piece isn't looking quite the part yet, there's still plenty of time to figure things out.

With the main buildings in place and the road marked off, I'm ready to proceed. However, two main features are still not present on the board: the warp gate and the fallen statue. We'll get to those in a bit.

As for the materials we'll need this week:
1. Felt-tipped marker
2. Styrene sheet roadway (more info below)
6. Glue applicator (can be as simple as a flat piece of extra foam board or a sturdy paint brush)

As a general rule, get all your foundational components onto the board first. In my case, this leaves the road to be completed. I'm using Plastruct's cobblestone (product code PS-74) for the pavement of my roadway. One package of the cobblestone held two sheets, which was just enough for my uses (If you need more than two-feet of roadway, etc. buy more than one package).

Styrene sheet is very easy to cut and scissors are recommended for a clean straight edge. The warp gate in the north-west corner will be spilling warp energies into the city and tearing up the landscape it touches, so the road will be modeled as if its being sundered. To do this I simply marked the road with a felt-tipped marker and cut along a jagged pattern to create an uneven look of devastation.

With the road placed, mark along the edges with a felt tipped marker.

The roadway will be laid into the board within a depression. To create the depression, take your wire brush and brush parallel to the lines drawn for the borders of the road. Apply a moderate amount of pressure to remove 1/8-1/4 inch of foam.

To get an even depression, pull the brush perpendicular to your previous brush strokes. This will remove any foam left by the gaps in the bristles from the parallel stroke and create a smooth, even surface.

An appropriate roadway depression should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch in depth.

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