Mar. 1st, 2007 09:11 pm
lederhosen: (Default)
[personal profile] lederhosen
It's that time again... the time when I upload a bunch of photos and clear out the camera. Some cute dog pictures and a lot of modelling ones (not the sort where I take my clothes off, the sort where I build things out of foamcore).

Dog-Or, waiting for Christmas lunch.

Impersonating Dali's clocks:


Menacing the castle:

Rey made this for our car antenna:

If you know what this means, you're a very sad geek:

And, modelling stuff. I've been making some foamcore buildings for gaming lately, and for [ profile] brandtotter's birthday I decided to make him a little step pyramid to go with his Lustrians.

I started by cutting a square base and four long vertical pieces; these form both the walls for the central pit, and the left-hand side of each stairway. This worked well, but meant I had to position all four of them at once and hold them as the glue tried, which was a bit tricky.

Next, I added four shorter pieces to form the supports for the right-hand side of the stairs. Outside the supports, eight sloping pieces - these will be the walls at the side of the stairs - and outside those, eight three-tiered pieces.

Next up, I cut 48 steps (plus a hollow square piece to cap the stairways) and glued them in place, one by one. The standard GW technique is to just build up the stairways with solid slabs (so, a 10cm-long piece, then a 9-cm piece on top of that, then an 8-cm piece, and so on), but this wastes a lot of foamcore and makes it tricky to get the height right at the top; doing it my way, the vertical supports already control the height of each step, and the foamcore is strong enough that it can cope with being hollow. I usually work on 50% overlap, so the front half of each step is exposed.

I carved out a little bit from the edge of each step to give it the appearance of wear; this requires a sharp scalpel. In fact, most of this requires a sharp scalpel; I changed blades a lot.

I also glued in the side walls for the first tier. A large L-shaped piece will rest on top of those, and the stepped vertical pieces that run alongside the stairs. (The inner two edges of the 'L' are unsupported; if I was doing it again I'd probably add supports there for a little extra strength, but the foamcore is strong enough that it shouldn't matter.)

To the right, you can see a separate top piece (upside-down in this shot); this can be placed over the pit to give the pyramid a flat top, or left off if you want a sacrificial pit.

Next up, and I probably should've taken more photos along the way, I built up the second and third tiers in the same sort of way. To conceal the joins and make it look more like a stone-block construction, I faced the tiers with rectangular bits of pasteboard, into which I'd carved esoteric-looking symbols. Once the glue was dry I shaved the corners and edges with a fresh scalpel blade so adjacent pieces would look like they were part of one stone block. I also rubbed all exposed foam on the stairs and walls with glue, to give it a little protection from wear and tear and to stop the spray propellant from eating the foam (although this doesn't seem to be as big a problem with foamcore as it is with polystyrene).

Then I sprayed it with a stone-look paint ('Gotham Grey'). There's a fair bit more that could be done on this, e.g. flocking and further painting to bring out the carvings etc, but that's for [ profile] brandtotter to decide.

And a photo of the top. Before spraying, I glued gravel in the bottom of the pit, to be painted up as glowing coals if so desired.

This was the first time I'd used that particular brand of paint; I think it worked nicely for this construction, but was much too coarse for my castle, which is good to know in advance. I also learned that it was coarse enough to cover a lot of little flaws, and almost completely concealed the wear and tear I'd painstakingly carved into each of those steps...

I've also been working on a foamcore castle for my own game. This isn't finished yet - I need to face it with pasteboard and then paint - but the basic structure is done. (Though I'm not happy with the gatehouse, and will probably rebuild it at some point.)

To get into the castle, you climb a fairly long ramp (in full view of the walls) and then make a ninety-degree turn to get onto the drawbridge leading to the gatehouse; the bend is intended to inconvenience battering rams and troops moving in formation. On the inside of the gatehouse, another ramp (here obscured by the gatehouse) leads back down to ground level, dividing the courtyard in half; the right-hand side is generally kept for animals and cargo, the left-hand side is for milling around in. At the back of the courtyard is a stairway leading up onto the back wall, which is the lowest one; you'd then move around clockwise, until at last after several flights of stairs you reach the top of the keep.

On top of the keep is a stone tower, added several hundred years later. At the front, near the gatehouse, there's another retrofit: a wooden watchtower. Both of these are built as separate pieces, so they can be used on their own, and the castle is made in several manageable-sized chunks.

A view from the front of the castle:

Top view (I didn't align the walls carefully enough before shooting, as you can see):

Angle view:

The courtyard. The sloped building up against the near wall is the stable; to the right is the keep, and at the back is the barracks. The inside ramp has a tunnel cut through it so you don't have to walk all the way around.

Close-up of the inner ramp, and the stairway leading to the back walls. I've since added buttresses to the walls, and smoothed out the end of the ramp with some poly-filler. You can also see the arrow slits in each of the wall crenellations, allowing defenders to shoot from behind cover.

Top of the keep, and the tower. Note that the tower stairs get much steeper towards the top. The gryphon isn't part of the structure, but what are towers for if not perches for flying beasties?

Another view of keep and tower:

A closeup of the wooden watchtower. This is made of a fairly hard wood (not sure which one), drilled and pinned with brass rod; the 'ropes' glued around the joins are mostly cosmetic. Platform is made of thin strips of the same wood; there's an access hole in the middle (mostly covered here by the figure, though you can see it in some of the previous photos). Eventually I will add a handrail, a roof, and something less terrifying to climb than a knotted rope. And maybe a gong for attracting attention.

Originally I'd intended to paint this, but I don't think it needs it; sometimes wood actually does manage to look like wood.

(Many of you will already have noticed that a real-life tower of this sort would be much stronger with diagonal bracing, instead of just square boxes. I considered that, but it just wouldn't have looked right; I wanted an 'exposed and precarious' look.)

The keep, at an early stage in construction. The stairway ends abruptly, thirty feet above ground level, because it will connect to a wall piece.

Another piece of the keep. I found it much easier to attach doors and doorframes to walls before attaching those walls to the rest of the building. The door itself is from a Warhammer 40K building set.

The tower, under construction. It's basically just one big stairway built around a central column, with the outer edges of the stairway supported by arches. This took a LOT of planning, because the stairway is nowhere near as regular as the others in the castle - it goes around a lot of corners, it has arches rising above it to support the next level up, and it gets steeper as it goes. At the moment it ends with a flat space at the end of the stairs, allowing some flexibility as to what I put on the top.

In the background, you can see the plans for one side of the tower.

Some of you will probably have noticed a resemblance to some of Escher's buildings. This is deliberate. The rest of the castle is built in a simple-and-practical style, vaguely Norman; the tower is a much later addition, by a different breed of masons who were more interested in showing off.

Here's a closeup, showing the arches and some inner supports for the stairs, along with guidelines:

And next, the stairs. For Brandt's pyramid, I just had to cut forty-eight 1cmx5cm rectangles; for this one, I had thirty-nine steps, and they were almost all different from one another. In this one, the first three steps are in place and #4 is about to follow; the notches are to accommodate the arch supports rising up to the next level of stairs, overhead.

When it got to the steps between arches, this got very fiddly indeed - I had to work each step in between arches, twist it around, push it down into its place, then work a scalpel blade under it and lever it out again, before applying glue and working it back into place once more.

And then I realised that I'd gotten the angle of the step the wrong way around. Fortunately, I was able to fix this one just by flipping step #4 upside-down. This sort of mistake is why I dry-fit pieces before applying glue.

Further up the stairway.

I'll probably post some more pics of the castle & tower once they're faced and painted, but that won't be for a long time yet.

Date: 2007-03-01 12:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
wow that castle is amazing! You must have incredible patience!

Date: 2007-03-01 01:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love your models!

Date: 2007-03-01 01:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There is nothing about this post that did not reek of awesomeness.

Also I am a very sad geek. I blame [ profile] silverblue.

Date: 2007-03-01 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There is nothing about this post that did not reek of awesomeness.

Apart from the dog. Who just reeked.
From: [identity profile]

Date: 2007-03-01 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am now worshipping you from afar.

Date: 2007-03-01 05:11 pm (UTC)
cavalaxis: (geek)
From: [personal profile] cavalaxis
So very very cool.

Re: stone fleck. Reasons why you should always always always do a test piece first, even if you think you don't have time.

And it looks awesome, even if the details did get a bit obscured.

How are you planning on finishing the castle?

Date: 2007-03-02 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Reasons why you should always always always do a test piece first, even if you think you don't have time.

Yeah, I really should be more scrupulous with that (see near-disaster story here). In this case I knew roughly what it was going to look like, and I didn't much mind whether the stone came out looking rough or smooth; obscuring details just looks like weathering. For the castle, I want a hard stone in good repair, so it needs to be a finer stone (probably the GW stone spray).

I think most of the details will come out again with a bit of inking and/or drybrushing; it's hard to see from that particular angle, but the spray didn't really fill up the carvings, it just made them harder to see because the colour variation overwhelms the shadows. Painting should fix that.

How are you planning on finishing the castle?

One of the things I did after those photos were taken was slicing up some foam 'rocks' and gluing them to some of the walls, to give it the look of something that's been built on existing terrain.

Next step, after remaking the gatehouse, is to cut out a lot of pasteboard 'bricks' - I have several different thicknesses to stop it looking too uniform - and cover the walls with them. (Also, some fancier pieces for windows etc on the keep). Then I'll spray with the GW stone coat, and paint. I'll probably give the tower a different treatment, but I haven't quite decided on what yet.

Date: 2007-03-01 08:40 pm (UTC)
ext_4120: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
The foamcore stuff is amazing! And more so because you showed the in-progress shots and talked about how they were constructed. If you'd just shown the finished objects, I wouldn't have fully grasped the awesomeness.

Date: 2007-03-02 02:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yer so hardcore ;)


lederhosen: (Default)

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