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jdripley

The Iron Skull

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For going on 5 years now I've had a home-brewed Arena rule set for Warlord that I have played with friends. It's a quick battle where everybody has 4 models, when they die they come back the next round, and you just try to rack up kills faster than your opponents. When we first came up with it we'd make arenas out of whatever terrain bits we had lying around. Very hodge-podge. Recently the arena game has come back to mind, but this time I want to step up the scenery. No more "counts as" terrain for my arena battles. No sir! I plan on making some custom-built arenas to brawl in. First up:

 

The Iron Skull!

 

This arena is designed after the look of a human skull, with pillars and obstacles in the pattern of the eyes/nose/teeth.

 

The overall dimensions are 24" x 18" and the highest features will be 2-4" high (haven't decided yet.. 2" is easier to play around, but would 4" look better?)

 

Pictures to follow in following posts!

 

 

(space reserved to post links to the other arenas I have sketches for:

The Blood Pit

Die-Angle

The Castle

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Ok, here's some pictures.

 

Here's the sketch, base board, and some tools:

post-3006-12910741316026_thumb.jpg

 

And here it is cut out and drawn in:

post-3006-12910742316191_thumb.jpg

 

Next I taped the walls onto the sides. The base plate is 3/4" foamcore/foamboard, and I decided on 2" high walls, so I first cut out strips of cardboard 2.75" high, then I began taping it from the bottom to form the wall. Prior to taping it I bent the cardboard in the directions it needed to curve to lower the chance of getting some crazy hard angle someplace I didn't want it. Picture:

post-3006-12910743637741_thumb.jpg

 

And here it is, all put together and mostly ready for texture:

post-3006-1291074389333_thumb.jpg

 

Still need to make some fine tuning adjustments to the exact locations of all of the bits in the middle so that they're more or less even. The next step is going to be texturing the walls which I will do by smearing joint compound onto the walls and middle surfaces and then carving stone shapes into the joint compound as it dries. There's loads of room for slop in that stage so I'm not too concerned with getting all of the pieces exactly true.

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interesting start

 

kinda reminds of a table terrain that was at Reaper. Thou it just a giant skull at the end of an arena that is built around it.

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That's really cool. I see you are using blue tape to hold it together. Is this painter's tape? Are you going to secure the nose and eye pieces down with something stronger?

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Good eye, painters tape it is. I'll be texturing all of the 3d portions with joint compound which will further solidify the structures - so no, nothing stronger than painters tape. I actually use painters tape alot in my terrain making and have never had a problem with it.

 

School's done for the day so I'm going to get more done on this. Last night after posting and Starcraft (woo hoo Wildbill and that last game with the ling victory!) I made a tool to help with the texturing and tried it out on a few surfaces. Working great so far. I'll probably take one process picture and post with pictures again when all of the walls are textured. Later on this afternoon I think.

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Here's a picture in-process of texturing the walls. I don't recall the website where I found this technique, but it's a pretty good technique - very forgiving. Carving foam into a final shape always gives me fits, and while I think that a well-cut foam surface produces the best looking results, I do not think these results are too far below foam, and if you're not a master cutter, these results will be BETTER than foam surfaces.

 

The basic idea is this: Grab a small bucket of joint compound (mine is 1 gallon), a regular knife from your silverware drawer, and a toothpick. If you want even rows of stones, you need to make a tool to give yourself accurate spacings (see below, the thing that looks like a telephone pole - it's just a popsicle stick with toothpicks glued on every 1/2 inch).

 

Slop joint compound onto your walls. You're going for no more than 1/8" thickness. Wait a few minutes for the compound to get a little stiff, then run your tool along to make your rows, then use your toothpick to carve joints between specific stones in each row. As you work you'll get JC built up on your toothpick tip, make sure to wipe that off from time to time as it makes your lines lose definition. Let it all dry overnight (if you've globbed it on too thick, best to wait 2 nights). You then take a medium/fine grit sandpaper and knock off the high edges - as you score it with the toothpick little pieces will "point" up, and you want to knock those down. You CAN get fancy and go back with an exacto and clean out all of the little cracks and crevices and make it look all super... on a smaller project where the fine details are very important I'll do this, but on a big project I don't bother. Give it a good dusting to remove the particles, and you're ready for paint! All in all, it's a fairly easy and economical way to create a "castle wall" look.

 

post-3006-12911446897929_thumb.jpg

Here you can see my tool (popsicle stick w/toothpicks), knife, JC, toothpick, and a portion of the wall as it dries.

 

On a project this size, scoring the lines between stones gets rather tedious. My best advice is to do a WIP article on a forum so that you have a very reasonable excuse to stop, take a picture, transfer the file online, write out a few paragraphs, etc. Currently I have all of the interior walls complete and the two "teeth" complete (since the last picture I removed the middle tooth for aesthetic an pathing reasons - used the remaining "tooth" to break up the space between spawns 1 and 2, which I also moved closer to each other). I still need to texture both eyes and the nose. I will be texturing the outer surface as well, but I do not think that I will carve rocks into them. I may just put a thin layer of JC on the outside, and I may tape it so that it looks even and neat and so that it loses the cardboard look. Leaning towards the thin layer of JC.

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More progress today, but nothing picture worthy. I have finished texturing the inner walls and have began to texture the outer walls. It looks essentially the same as the last picture, except the texture you see on the far wall is everywhere.

 

The big thought item I have left is what to do for the spawn points. I have this idea in my mind of making up these fancy glowing magic runes that are 2" diameter circles. Another idea is to make trap doors using popsicle sticks - nonfunctional trap doors of course. Or maybe a stone floor pattern would fit the bill? I can't decide! Fortunately I have time, I will be texturing the exterior walls bit by bit over the next few days, I'll be spray primering the walls and painting them, and only then will I need to decide on what to do for the spawn points.

 

The floor of the arena will be sandy. I've got some sand colored paint that I'll basecoat the entire floor with, then I'll brush PVA glue onto the surface and dump sand on it - pretty basic texturing there. And when that's done the project will be finished! Woo!

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I have taken a little time off from this project, but this afternoon finished putting the joint compound on the walls. After a brief sanding once it's try (tomorrow) I will prime it all and give the walls a nice wash. I'll post photos after that step.

 

 

I have been thinking plenty on the respawn areas. My initial thought was to have some form of a disc or square that the models must have their bases on/touching. but perhaps it would be easier to have some sort of a post? That way I don't have the opportunity to flub up freehand or something crazy like that. I'm thinking basically a toothpick in the center of the spawn area, and modifying the rule to "models must spawn within 1" of the spawn post." I'll paint each post a different color, buy a blank D6 and color one of the colors on each side and call it a day. Probably use a toothpick for the post if I go that route.

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Lawgiver, thanks for the push away from the post/pillar idea. You're right, that would have looked pretty bad. In the end I decided upon plank flooring. I needed to run to the store for more gray primer so I picked up some thin balsa wood while I was there. Used an exacto to carve a plank pattern into each. I then printed out some numbers, 1-6, and glued them to each spawn marker.

 

I also did quite a bit of painting tonight. I still have a few touchups, mostly to cover goofs, but the painting is essentially done for now. The spawn markers got washed brown, the walls got sprayed gray and washed black, and the floor got a slathering of sand color. It's starting to come together. Here are some pictures: in order, the walls, the whole thing, and a detail of a spawn marker.

 

post-3006-12916854224152_thumb.jpg

post-3006-12916854361485_thumb.jpg

post-3006-12916854446446_thumb.jpg

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This project languishes in a state of near-completion. It's mostly touch-ups at this point. Maybe by midweek next week I'll have it wrapped up. Looking pretty good so far I think!

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Well...

 

Now I'm done, but the camera is not at home, so...

 

Pictures shortly!

 

The only disappointing thing about how it came out, for me, is this: when I initially applied glue to the floor of the arena I missed some spots - so the first application of sand, of course, had some empty regions. I went back and placed glue in those voids and re-sanded, but for whatever reason those areas now appear a little too dark in relation to the rest of the floor. I'm considering applying a brown wash to the entire floor in an attempt to conceal that problem..

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Well...

 

Now I'm done, but the camera is not at home, so...

 

Pictures shortly!

 

The only disappointing thing about how it came out, for me, is this: when I initially applied glue to the floor of the arena I missed some spots - so the first application of sand, of course, had some empty regions. I went back and placed glue in those voids and re-sanded, but for whatever reason those areas now appear a little too dark in relation to the rest of the floor. I'm considering applying a brown wash to the entire floor in an attempt to conceal that problem..

 

No need. Large, dark brown spots = old blood stains.

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Ok, here are some pictures! Overall, I'm very pleased with how this all went. I eyeballed alot of things, and maybe next time I will be more precise in my initial measuring. Lately all I've been doing are hill and more organic sorts of things, which have a much gentler fudge factor than any sort of construction does. This makes me itch to get some games in! Here are a few general pictures:

 

 

post-3006-12925280920234_thumb.jpg

 

post-3006-1292528119313_thumb.jpg

 

post-3006-12925281336404_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

And here's the band, back together after many years: Hurk the half orc, team rogue; Kensington Overdeeps, team wizard; Arlington Crowe, team fighter; and Maximus Mortius, team generalist.

 

post-3006-12925281971225_thumb.jpg

 

 

Here's Kensington Overdeeps getting ready to rain the pain on the opposition:

 

post-3006-12925282117694_thumb.jpg

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this process as much as I did! If I make another arena I'll be sure to post up a WIP for it.

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