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Tuesday, August 28, 2012
As I was working on the Wrath of Kings table, questions were popping up in the comments section that I wasn't able to get to. I mentioned a few weeks back that I'd address them in a Q&A post, so here we go. Feel free to add to the questions in the comments section at the end, and I'll get to them as well.
Questions and Answers
Neil Hubbard asks: "Could you explain how you get a nice finish with the static grass please?"
The trick to getting a consistent finish is thinning the wood glue just a little with water. It should be the consistency of melted ice cream. Then paint it on evenly, thick enough to not have any dry spots, but not so thick that it runs or drips. Then pour the grass overtop. Pile it on so it completely covers the glue. (I'll use an entire shaker of grass on a table but once dry, most of it gets collected back up.)
Then gently press the grass down with your hand. This ensures that the grass really gets into the glue, and isn't just sitting on top. Let it dry overnight, and then dump off the excess. If you've got a vacuum it will help get any stray grass fibers out of the nooks and crannies.
I'll mix a few colors to get some variation, like on the Wrath of Kings table, or apply a layer of flock, let that dry and then add patches of grass in the center for a more layered appearance. Most of the terrain I made at Privateer Press used the latter technique.
Anonymous wants to know: "Where do you buy your pink foam at?"
My pink foam comes from Home Depot. Funny story about it: Not too long ago Owens Corning sold insulation foam boards that were a lighter shade of pink. Now all I can find is the darker pink foam, the one with the big picture of the Pink Panther on it. This foam seems denser than the old stuff, and it doesn't model as well in my opinion. But it's got the same serial number, so maybe it's a change in formula to save costs and we're all out of luck. I can't find the light blue foam anywhere. I've been to every Home Depot and Lowes in my area and no one has it.
There are also different styles of the boards, some have a flat edge, some have a tongue-and-groove edge. One store only carries boards with a 2-inch alternating lip cut out of each side, useless for making modular tables! Lowes only seems to carry its own brand of awful foam, covered with a peel-away film and only in a 1-inch thickness.
If anyone has a line on where to find the blue foam, I'd be very grateful.
Mananarepublic asks: "What did you make the "walls" for that mold in and do you have to coat the mold with something before you cast it?"
Luka pretty much covered it in the comments, but I'll just clarify– The mold box is made out of PVC card. It's a little lighter than styrene, but still thick enough that it doesn't bow under the RTV. It glues pretty well with super glue (in fact so well I had to destroy the walls to get the box apart).
I don't coat the mold with any release agent; the RTV pulls out pretty smoothly. When we made molds like this at GW, I believe we sprayed a release agent on the part just to be safe. When the piece I'm casting has foam or wood parts, I will coat them with a thinned layer of wood glue to seal them so the RTV doesn't bond to the porous surface.
Something else I learned: Make sure your rubber spatula is actually plastic, and not silicone, or the RTV will bond to it. Usually I just peel the excess RTV right out of the mixing bucket, and off the stir stick and spatula. Now my spatula has a blue skin hanging off of it!
Luka added: "It certainly looks like there's tape on the outside, but the inside corners appear shiny. I can't tell whether that's tape as well, or if he's glued them to prevent the silicone from escaping between the strips."
Both, actually. I super glued the walls together, and then put packing tape around the outside to make sure nothing popped apart under the pressure of the RTV or leaked out of a tiny crack. If you look closely, you'll see that I started to add a bead of hot glue around the inside, but quit because it was difficult to get the glue gun in there, and it was overkill anyway.
I don't use Legos to build the walls mainly because I'd be afraid of the RTV leaking through the tiny cracks between bricks. I think Legos might be more expensive than the card, as well.
On July 15, redmanphill asked: "How long did it take you to make this much progress?"
That was after "Part 2" so this was two weeks into the build, probably close to 80 hours. Most of the first week was spent gathering supplies, planning, and building the crate, with minimal time spent on actual table construction.
The entire project (including the miniature painting) took around 200 hours. The blog posts were up to date with the construction each week, so you were watching this get built in (sort of) real time.
TheBugKing asks: "A question on the commission process: How do you decide on cost? I've done a few pieces where I tried to estimate each section of a board and it got prohibitively complex."
I estimate the cost of the materials and supplies and how much time it will take to complete the piece. I try to work out a quote so I'll earn a respectable "doller-per-hour" rate after deducting the material costs.
For me this works better than billing at an hourly rate that could wind up costing the client more than they were expecting if a project runs long. They get the piece at the price quoted and the responsibility is then on me to work efficiently to keep my time and budget in check.
I went a little long on this project, but I kept track of the expenses and time involved, so I'll have a better analog for next time. The more work you do, the better you get at estimating time and costs.
Mr Saturday ased: "Maybe I missed it in the post, but how did you do the foam stones? Are they individual bits?!"
If you mean the rocky cliff on the back side, yeah I sort of glossed over that. Here's a little more explanation on how the stones stones shaped up:
The trick to making effective rocks, cliffs, and such is in hiding the separation between individual chunks of foam. Each "boulder" is not a separate piece (that would take forever), rather the rocks are cut into a piece of 2-inch foam. They are built up in layers, and each piece of foam is angled or turned so there's no recognizable "stair-stepping" effect.
These are colored photos from the previous blogs. Each colored section is a single piece of foam, to give you an idea of how the pieces layer and jigsaw-puzzle fit together. The blue rocks are single stones that I glue in to fill gaps and break up any straight lines.
I cut away the layers of base foam and replaced them with chunks of sculpted 2-inch foam.
And finally, Rob Akins asks: "So, when can we expect to see your own line of resin scenery hitting your online store?"
Someday, Rob. Someday. Who'd buy it?
That's all for now. I've got some commission models to work on, and a weekend of Blood Bowl coming up. Got to re-read those rules because I haven't played in years. The last time I rolled a block die was in 2004!
Thanks to everyone for the questions and for following along!