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Cheap (free) sci-fi ship/space station terrain


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So, like the title says, we're here to make some good, sturdy, cheap terrain. This will never win prizes, but it will look good and stand up to some abuse. Plus, it's CHEAP. 

Please feel free to take and change any/everything that I show you below to make it yours. 

 

Here's what you'll need:

Plastic canvas (AKA granny grating) used for needlepoint. You can get this at Michael's and similar stores. (Sewing/crafts shops for those not in the US) This comes in a few different sizes; get the one you like. I use the smallest one I can get; it scales better with 28mm figures, IMO.

Mod Podge

Knife/cutting tool of some sort

Sharpie marker

Vinyl floor tiles--available at DIY/home improvement stores. Home Depot gives away free samples like the one shown below. These are a good size to make corridors. They'll probably look at you funny if you try to walk out with 50, but a half dozen or so shouldn't be an issue. Grab whichever ones you like; we don't care about the texture on the top. You can also get a a box of larger squares for $18-20. I picked up one box, which has enough tiles to cover 20 square feet. Again, get the cheapest ones they have, you're not using the top, so it doesn't matter what it looks like.

 

Not shown: some cardboard from an empty cereal box or whatever source of thin cardboard that you have.

Random detail bits

 

20221128_125854.thumb.jpg.b68c11e628079f2bb87ff3c33c666f84.jpg

 

Measure and mark the top of the tile to show you where you're going to cut. In this example, I'm making a corridor, so I placed a couple of spare 30mm figure bases side by side, added a few millimeters on either side and then marked the area I'm going to cut off. This step is up to you, make your corridor as thin/wide as you  like. If you want to go with only one base width, you can simply cut the tile in half and get 2 corridors from each tile.

 

20221128_125249.thumb.jpg.84fe326e4fffaaf7aa4426ca914e5eab.jpg

 

Ok, I goofed up and didn't take pictures of the next 2 steps, so I'll try to describe it. 

Use the tile you just cut out as a template to trace and cut out an equal sized piece of the grating.

Next, flip your tile over and remove the paper backing. Now, coat the uncovered adhesive with the Mod Podge.

   Why not just stick the plastic grating to the adhesive on the back of the tile? In my experiments, it wasn't a very strong bond. Also, by leaving the       adhesive exposed, you're asking for lint, dust, dog/cat hair, and all manner of other junk to get stuck to your sci-fi corridor. By coating it with the       Mod Podge, you eliminate that problem.

Ok, take your piece of plastic grating, and stick it down on the Mod Podge covered tile. Put something heavy on it and leave it to dry for a while. 

Technically, you're done and can stop here and paint you new terrain.

 

Try to imagine the below picture without the cardboard strip on the side; kind of plain and boring, right? 

 

20221128_161601.thumb.jpg.314be6129f4287bd630157649d27b8ce.jpg

 

Ok, so let's add some more detail. Grab an empty cereal box, cut some strips from it, and stick them down with the Mod Podge. I made 2 long strips, and used an old ball point pen to score lines in them to show that they were separate deck plates. (They didn't show up well in the pictures, so I colored them in with my sharpie; you don't need to do this.) Experiment with your deck plates. You can make them thinner or thicker, place them only on one side or right down the middle, or even go across the tile instead of lengthwise like I did.

 

This is what you'll end up with. You can also stop here and paint your corridor if you're happy with it.

 

20221128_174745.thumb.jpg.32d04911623e8f1a28f7ec6968902dc1.jpg

 

If you want to go further still, you'll need to find some interesting looking junk to stick down as shown below. (You can buy stuff, too, but that's not cheap). The stuff I've used is junk from my job that would've normally gotten thrown away. If you don't happen to work someplace that produces interesting junk, you can take apart dead pens to get pipes and a few interesting looking mechanical parts. If you've got an old electromechanical device of some sort that you're going to throw away because it doesn't work, take it apart first and strip if for parts. If you've got kids, broken toys are a good source for parts, too. Use your imagination!

 

20221128_175204.thumb.jpg.7b6b2d5a4a57fee29a657dd74422d8c2.jpg

 

A quick reminder, though: putting all that neat looking junk along the edges cuts down on the amount of space for figures, as shown below. Without the stuff on the edges, I can fit 2 figures side by side. With it there, it shrinks the hallway down quite a bit. Dry fitting and experimentation are key here.

 

20221128_180007.thumb.jpg.8d6b9e9b5d74d0f1afde50deeb5e68a1.jpg

 

 

 

I hope that you found this interesting/useful in some fashion. Even more, I hope that you feel inspired to give this a try. If you do, please take some  pictures and share them here. 

If you have any questions, please let me know.

 

 

BTW, I don't have a painted example to show (yet); I'm doing this as part of a bigger project and plan to paint it as one large batch. I'm also working on doing some walls, too. I have a few things to finish working out before I share them.

 

 

 

Edited by Chaoswolf
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Genius ::D:. It had never occurred to me to use Granny Grating for floor textures, but it's so blindingly obvious that I can't understand why I never noticed before 🤪

 

I picked up some cheap floor tiles recently with a hexagonal pattern on them, but this will provide a bit of variety - I may even use the hexagons for rooms and this for corridors.

 

The pipes and pens are good as well. However, I find that I always end up creating spaces that are incredibly difficult to reach with a paint brush with such an approach, so I'm curious to see how it looks when it's finished

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On 11/29/2022 at 10:23 PM, Inarah said:

Thanks for sharing. I hope we get to see how it turns out. 

 

BTW, plastic canvas is easy to cut with scissors. 

 

I hope so, too. If I can maintain my current enthusiasm for this project, you might even see it in person at Reapercon next year.

That's a very good  point, than you for mentioning it.

 

On 11/30/2022 at 2:31 AM, Glitterwolf said:

Looks good!

Always cool to see what people come up with.

 

Thank you! 

It's not entirely my own idea, though. I actually found the idea to use vinyl floor tiles as basing on a fantasy gaming blog somewhere. I just tweaked it for use in a sci-fi setting.

 

On 11/30/2022 at 3:46 AM, zemjw said:

Genius ::D:. It had never occurred to me to use Granny Grating for floor textures, but it's so blindingly obvious that I can't understand why I never noticed before 🤪

 

I picked up some cheap floor tiles recently with a hexagonal pattern on them, but this will provide a bit of variety - I may even use the hexagons for rooms and this for corridors.

 

The pipes and pens are good as well. However, I find that I always end up creating spaces that are incredibly difficult to reach with a paint brush with such an approach, so I'm curious to see how it looks when it's finished

Thank you! Don't feel bad, I wouldn't have thought of it myself had I not put a couple minis down a piece of graph paper and started thinking the pattern would look good as the deck on a spaceship. I won't take credit for the idea; I'm sure someone has thought of it before I did.

 

 

So, I've made a few more lengths of corridor like the one I showed above. I still have a lot more corridor I want to make, but I have also started thinking about rooms. 

So far, I've got: Engine room (this one is only one with any progress on it)

Armory

Sickbay/medical room

Cargo Bay

Crew's quarters (I'm thinking of one large room with lots of bunks instead of a bunch of individual rooms, but we'll see)

Science Bay/Laboratory--I'm making 2 versions of this: one normal, and one smashed/wrecked. The wrecked one will be the cause of the zombies/mutants/Frankenstein's monster that is plaguing the ship.

Any rooms I'm missing? Or any other ideas?

 

Also, when I first conceived this project, the first consideration was modularity and ease of transport, so I went with the idea of only floors with no walls. Then, I came up with the idea of doing the walls as separate pieces, so everything would still be (relatively) flat. Now, I'm thinking of a hybrid between the 2 ideas, with certain rooms being fully assembled with (probably the majority of) the other rooms being just floors with separate walls.

What do you think?

 

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Rooms you might add:

    Bridge

    Brig

    Life support control center    
    Holo deck

    Gun turrets/weapons bay

    Smuggling bays

    Escape pods

    Transporter room

    Shuttle bay

    Captains quarters

    Observation deck w/ hot tub

         (Ok maybe that’s just my ship)

 

I saw a post somewhere about a portable set up for a space ship where they didn’t do hallways but used small plastic bins for rooms, then put them together in whatever configuration that was needed.   The bins were stackable.  You might be able to use your rooms as storage holders for your hallways, making the transport footprint better.  
 

B


Found the posts I referenced above both on this forum and LAF.   Froggy the Great had a topic from 2014 ….  Starship build cheap.   Amazing stuff.    

Edited by Broonkah
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Just a quick update to let you know that I'm still working on this. 

 

I've added a small room, 2 corners,  and an intersection.

 

I still need to add some small details here and there, but they're almost ready for paint.20230115_193355.thumb.jpg.46790b81bb2daade34e6e9bbd66a5d02.jpg

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