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Thunderbolt Mountain's New Wood Elf Champion - Part III


Wood Elf Champion
Product #
8041
Manufacturer
Suggested Retail Price
$10.50 USD


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2bit elroy Supporting Member of TMP writes:

Yeah, DOW scored the big marketing coups like Xerox and Kleenex. Its great to have your product's name become the generic name for all types of the same or similar stuff.


Revision Log
29 December 2006page first published

4,587 hits since 29 Dec 2006
©1994-2014 Bill Armintrout
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spooktalker Fezian Inactive Member of Null Horizon writes:

Creating a Wooded Display Base

Thanks to everyone who have been following these articles. The final one here describes the process of making the display base.

Materials

  • pre-cut wooden display base
  • stain and gloss varnish combo
  • .02" plasticard
  • 1/2" styrofoam sheet
  • Liquid Nails Small Projects glue
  • Plastic cement
  • PVA glue
  • CA Glue, e.g. Zap-A-Gap
  • Aquanet hairspray
  • Krylon Crystal Clear varnish
  • spray matte varnish (e.g. Testors, Games Workshop brands)
  • black spray primer
  • Custom-brand Pre-Mixed Concrete Patch
  • DAS air bake clay
  • Sand
  • coarse ballast
  • Coarse tallus
  • rocks from the backyard
  • Woodland Scenics Medium Green Static Grass
  • Woodland Scenics Burnt Grass Static Grass
  • Woodland Scenics Field Grass
  • basil and oregano
  • Sweetwater Scenery sagebrush tree armatures (from a "grove pack")
  • Sweetwater Scenery tree fibers (I found these totally unnecessary)
  • Sweetwater Scenery Poly-Fiber
  • AMSI Dark Tree Texture blend
  • AMSI Medium Tree Texture blend
  • AMSI Light Tree Texture blend
  • A few scraps of lichen
  • A few washers or coins
  • Pastels:
    • Red brown
    • Ochre
  • Craft Paints:
    • Delta Ceramcoat Dark Burnt Umber
    • Folk Art Burnt Umber
    • Delta Ceramcoat Territorial Beige
    • Delta Ceramcoat Mudstone
    • Folk Art Burnt Sienna
    • Delta Ceramcoat Hippo Grey
    • Delta Ceramcoat Quaker Grey
    • Folk Art Yellow Ochre
    • Folk Art Wicker White

Concept

Carin Meier at Thunderbolt Mountain gave me free reign as to the base. I had been wanting to create a wooded environment ever since I saw the fantastic sagebrush trees available at Sweetwater Scenery. This was a great excuse to do something a little bit extravagant, and I went for it. I ordered up a supply of materials, and began to plan the final stage of the project.

The first decision was how to display the figures. I wanted the two figures to share a display base, but since they are two versions of the same character, I couldn't have them share the same space exactly. I decided to make a diptych of sorts. In comics, sometimes a single character will be shown in multiple places in the same continuous environment. The panel frame separates the figures in time. I figured I could divide the frame of the display in a similar way, creating two isolated places in the same hillside.

Constructing a Wood Base and Frame for the Scenic Elements

A frame for the hill

I hired a friend to make the wood of the base out of cherry wood.

When I had the finished product, I built a frame out of thin plasticard to house the hillside. At the two right angles, I used angle bar to give it rigid support. At the other angles, I glued a crossbar to support the frame as it dried (later I removed these, as they were an obstruction). Plastic cement is fantastic stuff because it fuses the two parts together more or less seamlessly.

I left a small overlap on the corners, and then sanded the corners completely flush with a fine-grit sanding block. In this way, the joins are all but invisible.

Then I stained the wood with a rich, glossy, dark stain/varnish-combo.

Constructing a Hillside

Rough shape of the hill

Next, I filled my frame with a layers of cut styrofoam. I used styrofoam because I had a thin sheet of it handy, but insulation foam is a little easier to work with (if you have it). In this case the styrofoam worked great, and since it would be completely covered with concrete patch anyway, the messy edges weren't an issue.

I glued the styrofoam in place with Liquid Nails. Liquid Nails is ideal for either kind of foam, because it won't melt the foam like CA glue will.

Important: At this stage, I only glued the foam to the frame. Do not glue to the wood base. Do your gluing with your wood base close at hand - this way, you can make sure the angles and measurements are perfect before you glue. If they aren't, fix them at this stage.

A tip I learned in hindsight: Place some loose nickles or washers underneath the foam when you're gluing it in. Don't glue the nickels/washers to either surface - leave them loose. This creates a thin space between the foam and whatever surface it's on. This is important later, because the Liquid Nails has volume and it can prevent the scenic element from laying flush on the wood base.

At this point I also glued on several pieces of plasticard where I wanted the figures to go, and I also made holes for the trees. I let the project dry overnight at this point.

The concrete patch gives the hill a tough, textured shell
Underside

After collecting and washing some rocks from the garden, I was ready to create the surface of the hill with the help of concrete patch. I used Custom-brand Pre-Mixed Concrete Patch, which I believe is under $5 USD for the 32 oz. tub from Home Depot. I can't recommend this stuff enough. It lays down easy, has a slightly gritty texture, has low shrinkage, and while it's not sticky when wet, as it dries it works like glue. When cured, it's tough but with a little bit of flexibility, and can be cut, broken or sanded without difficulty.

I wanted a rocky embankment in front, to meet the wood of the base seamlessly. I placed a few scraps of plasticard loose on the surface of the wood base where the edges would meet. I built the hill up with the rocks and concrete patch at the same time. I used a sculpting tool with a flat head to shape the patch. (In a pinch, a screwdriver would also work.) When it was dry, a few of the rocks needed to be pulled up and reglued for security, but most were firmly embedded in the patch.

I had traced the bases of my figures where they would be placed, and had left these areas blank.

The base once it's been textured with sand

At this point, I was ready to add texture to the hillside. The texturing materials I used, listed fine-to-coarse, are:

I painted white glue on the hillside, and sprinkled on my textures. Always glue your texturing materials either in a mix all-at-once or in stages fine-to-coarse. I chose the latter method, as it let me have a little more control. Rather than sprinkle the talus, I placed these small rocks individually. Finally I placed small bits of masking tape over the holes for the trees (so the foam inside wouldn't melt), and sprayed the whole thing with black primer. (Oh, and as I was texturing the hill, I did the bases of the figures in the same way.)

All the texture in place. The figures have been done to match