Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Warmachine Table Part 2: Stones of the Earth

I apologize for not writing for a couple of days.  I have been similarly affected by the massive power outage which is currently plaguing the US East Coast.  Fortunately, I'm staying with my girlfriend in Boston while I wait for power to return to my school, but I have been busy playing games instead of writing blog posts.  So hooray for that, at least!  Today we will return to our regularly scheduled blog with the second part about my making my Warmachine table!

Clay and Sand

This is where we left off last time
The general plotted and planned how he would use the natural terrain to his advantage.  "The battle will soon be upon us and we need to prepare the earthen battlements!"  He ventured out from his headquarters to survey his environment, connecting himself with the Earth.  "Aha!" he exclaimed, "I have found exactly what I need!"

Joint compound covered everything
Waterfall area covered in joint compound
Once I had finished carving out the foam on the board and lamented the mess on my floor (I seriously found styrofoam bits for the next few months), I was ready to prepare the board for paint.  In case you are unaware, spraypaint does not behave well with certain foams and can eat away at it, leaving some annoying craters and preventing you from truly covering it with paint.  My solution to this problem was to cover the foam parts of the board with a sturdy material that would both protect the foam from regular wear and tear and accept the spray primer: joint compound.

I took the joint compound and plastered it liberally all over the board.  This was pretty messy but actually pretty fun!  At first, I used a putty knife to spread it on, but realized that I did not have as much control as I really wanted with it.  The putty knife is great when you're working to fill a gap in a wall (the typical purpose of joint compound) but I wanted to slather it over some pretty uneven surfaces.  I decided to use a large paintbrush to apply the compound instead, and it worked much better.  Besides having more control over how the joint compound was distributed, the paintbrush also gave some good texture to the board, which was important for the following step.

Finger-texture of the waterfront
Cliffs and road.  This is when I realized I needed clay
One thing I want to note is that I did not like the way the beach looked with just the joint compound on it, because beaches can sometimes have some neat patterns in the sand, and I wanted to make the beaches shallow water areas initially, and needed some way to differentiate between the shallow and deep water for game terms.  So, I used my fingers in the joint compound to make some wavy textures.  To this day I'm still not sure whether I like it or not, but I decided to keep it.  I also used my fingures to texture the beds of water and the roads - again giving some texture and visual cues for me as to where things were going.  I decided to add some modeling clay to some parts of the road to even out the cliffs so it seemed more like an actual road, as the joint compound wasn't enough to "smooth" it out.

The Stones of the Earth

Now with basing!  Note the clay on the elevations.
Once the board was covered in joint compound, it was time to apply some texture to it.  Since this project began in late October of last year, it was difficult for me to go out and buy sand in bulk (not really sandbox season anymore), which I would normally use to coat over the joint compound to give another layer of protection and the final layer of texture to accept the paint.  Instead, I walked outside and found the sand volleyball court on campus and collected a large sample which contained sand, some big rocks, and the occasional twig.  Perfect!

The upper river and cliffs

Note the larger rocks and debris near the river mouth
I also wanted the larger rocks by the waterfall
Once I had my basing mixture, it was time to slather it on.  I put the mixture in a big pyrex baking dish and added some wood glue to the mixture.  I stirred the mixture and then applied it with a large paintbrush.  One important thing to note here is that the sand was light enough to be suspended in the glue mixture, meaning when I dipped my brush in the mixture, it was mostly sand and some organic bits.  I used this technique to paint all of the flat surfaces, but I waited to do the water.  At the end, all that was left was this slurry of glue and mostly large rocks and debris that did not get picked up by the brush, so I just poured it out into the waterway, distributing the rocks somewhat evenly.  This gave me the effect I was looking for!
The eager general ran back into his headquarters with his sample of Earth.  "This is exactly what I need to make my ideal battlefield!"  He began to wildly imagine where each grain of sand and each stone would go, how it brought the battle closer to life for him.  Each stone had a story, a purpose, and he wished to use them to show the great power of nature.  The more realistic his battlefield became, the better control he would have over his opponent's perceptions, and the battle would surely be his for the winning.

Coming Soon - Part 3: The Winds of Life
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