In this final installment, I'll show you how I constructed the desert-themed buildings for the Atomic Mass Games Star Wars board.
As with most scenery projects, the first step was the concept sketch. I drew the designs for the buildings for the client to approve. The structures are evocative of Tatooine architecture but, as I mentioned before, can stand in for any desert planet.
I also drew full-size footprints for each building to ensure that they would fit within the area of the board, and to make sure that the rooftops and balconies had enough surface area to accommodate the models' bases.
From there, I moved on to the actual construction. I framed out the buildings with foam core board, glued together with hot glue. The curved sections were made by making V-cuts into one side of the board (taking care not to cut all the way through). The cuts allowed me to bend the board around a curved brace underneath.
The curved portion of the beveled edge of the roof was the trickiest part. I ended up cutting small panels of foam core board and individually gluing them in place all the way around. The edges, and any gaps, were covered with Liquid Nails construction adhesive.
To achieve the sandstone texture, I covered the surface with Elmer's Wood Filler putty. I smoothed it out with a putty knife, but left it a bit rough in places. Once the putty had completely dried, I used a Mouse sander with fine grit sandpaper to sand the surfaces smooth, but not too smooth. The intent is to leave some of the craggy recesses showing.
Here's how the buildings look after being sanded. I cut the windows out after sanding because easier to cut the hole and then add some filler around the edge than to spread filler on the wall with the holes in the way. The dome was made with a styrofoam half-sphere from the craft store. The support braces were made from 1/2-inch insulation foam, and the wall on the rooftop was made from two layers of foam core board, coated with wood filler and sanded. They were made separately, and then glued in place. I used more wood filler to full the gaps around the attachment points. The doors were resin cast components that were glued in place after sanding and, as with the other parts, wood filler was applied to smooth over the joins.
To make the stairs, I used 1/4-inch plastic L-strips and glued them to a flat 45-degree ramp. They were attached after the sanding of the main wall, and then pressed flat against the wall. The outer edges of the steps were sanded to make them smooth and even, and then the wood filler was applied to the outer wall and sanded.
With the core building structures finished, it was time for the fun part: Tech details! These are the main "generators" on the outside of the buildings. I started each one as a small box built from styrene plastic and added detail with small cuts of styrene rod, tubes, and sheets. More greeblies were added using parts from the neck of a moisture vaporator, some random WWII model kits, and guns from the snowspeeder/ airspeeder kit. The pipes are made from thick floral wire, and styrene rods.
The vaporators that attach to the buildings are all magnetized to they can be removed for storage, and so they won't break if they are bumped during play. The awning is built from a piece of thick styrene card, slightly melted with a heat gun to give it a little "sag." Crates are piled around the awning posts to give them more stability.
That little green bit was part of a dollar store toy. The railing was made from thin floral wire inside a styrene tube. The tube was bent around the balcony, and the ends of the wire poke out so they can be inserted into holes drilled in the wall. The support posts for the railing were made the same way, but the tops of the posts are sanded with a concave recess that the rail was glued into.
That short stocky bit next to the vaporators was made from a medicine bottle cap that had a perfect shape, a model base, a small PVC plumbing coupling, and a model car hubcap for the fan on top. I kept all of the tech bits separate so I could paint them and the buildings without having to be careful when working around the details.
To paint the buildings, I primed them black and then sprayed them with a medium brown, and gave them a dusting of GW Wraithbone. I drybrushed them with a mox of ochre and bone colors, and then washed them with a thinned mix of Liquitex Burnt Umber Transparent Ink and GW Tau XV-88 brown. I blotted the surface with a paper towel (no alcohol this time). When the wash had dried, I drybrushed the surface color back up, hitting the edges with the brightest highlight of bone and white.
The doors were painted with either Formula P3 Bloodstone, or Tau XV-88 and then P3 Moldy Ochre. They were washed with the brown ink mix, and then highlights drybrushed up. Finally, some rusty metal chips were applied with a sponge.
The vaporator components were primed with GW Wraithbone spray, washed with the brown ink mix, drybrushed, and sponged with rusty metal chips. the tech bits were primed with grey, and went through basically the same process. The cables and pipes were picked out with dark greys and rust, and all the buttons and lights received a touch of color. The final step was to glue and the tech in place and add some final streaks of rust, and glue black foam core board inside the windows (to black them out).
Here's a look at the completed buildings:
And once again, the finished board components all together. It's awesome to finally see studio models on the boards I built, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Star Wars: Shatterpoint shakes out!