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[personal profile] lederhosen
Have been working on a terrain piece for our D&D game: a stretch of river. So far, the process goes like this:

1. Cut pieces out of foamcore - one big rectangular bit for the base, two long thin bits to form the banks.
2. Glue banks on top of base with PVA, forming a sort of flattened U cross-section. Leave to dry.
3. Shave corners etc. to produce more natural-looking curves.
4. Use thinned PVA to seal the cut bits (because the propellant in spray undercoat will attack them otherwise).
5. Undercoat.
6. Paint: green for the 'land' bits and the very edges of the water, shading into blue towards the middle of the stream.
7. Varnish to protect the paint.
8. Use thinned PVA (which dries clear) to stick flock (effectively coloured sawdust) to the land bits.
9. Grumble because the thinned PVA never, EVER coats the whole surface properly, but pools via the magic of surface tension to leave large clumps unflocked.
10. Use more thinned PVA to fill the gaps from step 8 with static grass.
11. Use more thinned PVA to add some rocks to the river - a strip across the middle to represent a ford, and a few elsewhere for a more natural look.
12. More (non-thinned) PVA to attach lichen here and there within the riverbed for weeds.
13. Carefully place clumps of scenic grass (tall stuff) at the edges to represent rushes, also attached with PVA.
14. Keep propping up the grass until the PVA dries, because otherwise it will fall over.
15. Lay down a 'dam' at each end of the trough I've created with Woodland Scenics Water Effects. (This is a white goo, roughly the consistency of stiff toothpaste, that can be shaped, and dries clear - good for making something that looks like water but doesn't immediately flow away when applied. Rather like thicker PVA, which I suspect is exactly what it is.)
16. Use more Water Effects to create little eddies around the larger rocks.
17. Wait for about three days for the Water Effects to go clear.
18. Fill the riverbed with a thin layer of Woodland Scenics Realistic Water, a clear runny liquid about the consistency of thin honey that sets into a clear gel resembling flat water, submerging the rocks and lichen and the bases of the reeds. (The dams are needed to stop it from running out the ends of the scenery piece.)

19. Discover that when Woodland Scenics Realistic Water comes into contact with scenic lichen, it turns the lichen a scungy white colour.
20. Discover that when Woodland Scenics Realistic Water comes into contact with Woodland Scenics Water Effects, it turns the latter white again.
21. Discover that when Woodland Scenics Realistic Water comes into contact with PVA (thinned or otherwise) it turns the latter white again.
22. Frantically start picking out the now-submerged lichen.
23. Discover that when Woodland Scenics Realistic Water comes into contact with PVA, not only does it turn the latter white again, but it also destroys its adhesive properties. At this point this is probably a good thing, because it lets me get the lichen out with a minimum of fuss; as for the other bits, I'm relying on the Realistic Water itself to hold them in place once it sets.
24. Leave first layer of Realistic Water to set. Watch large patches of the carefully-painted riverbed turn white as the PVA and Water Effects turn from clear into opaque white once more. Attempt to persuade self that it looks like white water rapids. Fail miserably.
25. Ponder.
26. Pour in a second layer of Realistic Water.
27. While second layer is still wet, sprinkle with a fake turf (like very fine green sawdust), having learned lesson and tested this technique first. Sprinkle especially over the white patches.
28. Watch as fake turf sinks into the water, looking for all the world like pond scum - you can even see that it forms three-dimensional clouds caught in the 'water', not just a flat coating on the top. Almost all the white bits are covered up, and the few that are left look like bits of the rocks they're near, or maybe a small patches of bubbles.
29. Pretend I meant to do this from the start.
30. Plan something horrible for my D&D game, probably involving a party of hapless adventurers crossing an innocuous-looking river.

Honestly, I think most of my best moments in modelling happen while covering up screwups of one sort or another.
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