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Modular Sci-Fi table WIP

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Hello everybody.


While I am waiting (and waiting... and waiting) for my minis for the Here be Dragons! Diorama, I started working on my Infinity minis. Now, the idea is to get back into gaming, and also to pull back into the hobby my wife, my brother and my best friend.


I started working on the minis, but then got caught up with making a nice looking table. I got inspired by the internet, but a lot by Dadcube's recent thread (here!). Scratchbuilding terrain (and stuff, in general) has always been a passion for me. I cannot match the great paintjobs out there, but I can build nice looking stuff that looks great, because it is original and one-of-a-kind :)


After some weeks working on it, I thought I would share. Perhaps this can inspire some of you, and feel free to also share ideas and tips.


All pics are from my cellphone and under yellow, household light. Sorry :/


Another note: I work with centimeters. If you need to do a conversion, think that an inch is about 2.5cm


So 25cm = 10 inches, and 1 meter = 100 cm = 40 inches (I know this is off and only for you to get rough measures).


We started thinking about a 1.2x1.2m board. This board would be made out of 16 30x30cm pieces that could be arranged in different dispositions. These will include streets, modelled in the middle of the pieces.


This is a sketch I made on a little piece of paper to share with my friend over the phone:



The "theme" of the board will be futuristic-clean-oriental. If you are familiar with the Infinity background, we are thinking about making this with touches of YuJing, sorta like a merge of ultra-modern Japan and touches of cultural China. We will see where this takes us...


The board: Being in Argentina we don't have a lot of materials available; or at least no big stores like Michaels, or hobby stores. This means we have to use our creativity to find stuff that works!


That being said, my friend works in design so he is familiar with a lot of materials and techniques. He suggested a certain foam type that is dense... upon inspection I believe this is very similar if not the same that is used in the US for insulation. It is called "Polifan" foam here, and is used to carve out letter for signs, 3D logos, etc. I got a 60x100cm board for about 10USD. The minimum thickness is 2cm.


We cut the 16 squares out of this foam board. We also got some plasticard for later detailing (probably the most expensive thing yet). I also got a big plank of "grey cardboard" as it is called here; it is the kind of stuff architecture students use here for their scale models.


Cardboard plus some supplies (white glue, craft paints and clear acetate sheets*) can be seen here:



* the clear sheets, intended for windows and stuff, is actually a pack of "clear plastic A4 covers" that was laying around the office; they used it as a clear cover when spiral-binding reports. I don't think they will miss one pack, plus they haven't bound reports in a lot time with PDFs now).


(next post with more!)

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I decided to start with a straight-road section as a "test" piece. This means I will try most stuff with it first, and roll the changes into the other tiles. Unfortunately sometimes I am in the mood of cutting more roads in the tiles, and this creates a more back and forth advance with the "test tile" (or "tile-0") as I develop colors, technique, etc.


I traced the design with a ballpen and a rules. The road is right in the middle, 8cm wide. This worked out ok since the base for a Zond (a medium-size base) is about 4cm wide, so too mid-size bases fit the road. I then marked a .5cm "sidewalks strip" (I don't know the word in English), and then the tiling of the floor are 2cm-wide squares.




To create texture and volume I used the butt of a brush (actually, an old brush that now is a modelling tool) to create the depressions. You can see how it turned out here:




Now, the street. My original idea was to actually do the sidewalks as a raised area, so the street at foam-level would be in a depression. I decided that would be too much work, so I worked a way to simulate it. Basically, I placed my knife as horizontal as I could and carved out the sides of the street going to the sideways. A picture is better at explaining it, check it out:




To texture the pavement I used Dudcube's excellent advice in using aluminium foil into a ball and pressing it on the surface of the foam. Worked great! I also cut out a grilled section from a terrain set I got from ebay (cheap from some russian plastic kit) for added detail:




Next: painting!

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Painting. I needed some method to get them done fairly quickly. With a test piece, however, you can try stuff.


But the main method is paint the road a medium-light grey (whatever color I had in craft paint; I used up with I had with the first tile so had to change colors later, hopefully it would not be too noticeable). Then wash black.


TIP: be really sure that the paint is dry. I mean, really dry. I was used to painting minis and that paints are so diluted in my palette they dry in minutes; this is straight-from-the-pot paint and takes a while to fully dry. It can be helped out with a hairblower if you are impatient and tend to mess up with it -several times- like me.


Paint was applied directly on the foam.




The black wash was also applied over the tiling, so that it goes into the grooves. I do that everytime I wash the roads, with the leftover black, to deepen the effect. So far, so good.


I tried drybrushing grey on the road, without much success. I haven't drybrushed a mini in some time (I do thinned coats now) but somehow I cannot do that with so little relief, so big and messy brushes (craft brushes, actually, on I had from painting the house). I either ended up with too much paint there, or nothing at all.


On way to apply color back on top has been to sponge the gray lightly (kind like drybrushing) on there. I call it dry-sponging :)


I actually moved on from here to doing some more tiles, but will show with more pics of this same tile-0.


I painted street strips there, by making an stencil with masking tape (here it is called "paper tape"). I could not make it NOT to bleed :( I tried thick paint, thin paint, painting away from the borders, using an sponge, everything :((


So after painting them (with a craft paint "antique white") I had to go back with black and cover all the bleeded areas. I also painted the recesses with full black and even "painted" some new creases. I found out the effect is a little cartoony but at this scale, and from a little distance, it looks great.






More or less finished with the paint, I detailed the border of the sidewalks with a "bamboo green" paint I found and liked, it is a light, dull green (YuJing's faction logo is light green).




This is also taking in consideration of doing the street lights and decour in reds and yellows (warm colors). So the street-level is to be green and blue-ish in tone.


I found a dark-blue-black called "Payne Grey" and also washed the pavement giving it a blueish hue that I like :)

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Still to do to the test tile is picking up the grill with some metal paint, and cleaning up the floor tiles with some white. Also, do the holes for what we envision will be the swappable street lights, fixing other stuff like signs, bus stops, benches, etc, that I am working on :)


Some more tiles I am working on (you can see progress also via pics):




I cut one side groove too deep trying to perfect the method and so decided to fill it out with some exposed tubing (two drinking straws cut to size, PVA glued in place. The "connector" between them is the same straw cut along and then glued connecting them; the cut is hidden under the road):




I got some help with the painting until the TV and consoles got too alluring:





Three of the "solid" sections. I looked up some designs online to make them more interesting:




I am an scavenger now... I keep looking at stuff and thinking how it can be used somehow. For example, this little paper thing my daughter got as decoration below a little cupcake... a beautiful design that then was held in place with two sided tape, then a heavy "dry brush" with grey, and now that crossroad looks great and ready to receive a center statue, sometime :)





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Yep, looks really nice. Of course that pic had a wet wash (of black, and I messed up a grey highlight because it was not dry), but after drying, touching it up, deepening the sides and creases with pure black... it is even better. More blended in, but still extremely eye catching. I will take another pic today and post it.


I am working on the street crossing strips, and messed them up. Then I found out something my in-law was about to throw to the trash and... it is going to look great :)

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So, pics of the two straight-street sections mostly finished, except for metals and touch-ups.






This is the cross section with the mess I did painting the first crossing. However, I found my in-law was about to throw away a plastic strip that was kinda of a security harness for the package of her new fridge. And it is... just perfect. A 1cm flat strip, with a nice criss-cross texture! Check it out:






Hopefully you can see the texture in the pic. I will cut it down to make the crossings and glue it down.


I will probably do that tonight. I also need to think about the lightposts and other features. To anchor them into the tiles, I thought about doing holes in it (doh!). My friend pointed out that repeated movement would break the foam; so our idea now is to do the hole, but glue a tube inside so that the lightposts or stuff slide into the tubing and does not erode the foam directly (and the inevitable bumps won't press the foam sideways directly, contained into the tube).


For the lightposts I am using the wood sticks that get distributed here as disposable sushi sticks:



They are slightly oval shaped, but they fit into McDonnalds' drink straws, so all free stuff.


Another concern I have at the moment is sealing. Spray sealant, I believe will harm the foam unless it is acrylic. I am thinking about using wood varnish in a thick coat; but it is also very very glossy. Perhaps that will not be a problem for the table thou.

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Thanks for the comment. I am looking at what product is an urethane sealer... al references I find in Argentina seem to indicate this is a product used to seal and finish wood floors (here it is called "plastifying the floor")?


Can you point out what type of products you mean, and what are they usually used for? Many times it is not clearly labelled here as such, but if I know what it is used for I can track a suitable substitute :)

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I found stuff here that has the same description and use than these: http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/interior-clear-protective-finishes/


So I guess I need to try it. I am interested in smokingwreckage question thou, if you have access to the stuff and can try it on styrofoam, since I don't want to spend money in something I will through away :(

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Thanks Dadcubed, yes, your work was an inspiration. I always liked scratchbuilding and converting, probably more than painting, and your thread got me going again... plus we needed some kind of board for playing :)


These last two days have not been very productive thou (I usually only have a couple hours after dinner before it gets too late for bed). I spent probably half an hour sanding the edges of the plastic cuts for the pedestrian crossing on wednesday :(


But then I helped my daughter do some plant pots out of scraps (well, I did 98% of the job, you can see them on the cutting mat in the picture below) and sanded down a scrap of styrene to perhaps use as a barrier.


Yesterday I decided I wanted to do some little painting and added some color to that scrap. I also added a small piece of acetate that went into a mix of fluo green and Future polish after making some grooves in it. It does not stand up that well to photos, and I might need to add more color to the grooves, but right now it works as a kinda force-field barrier.





The styrene piece was a scrap, sanded down to a trapezoid-ish shape, scratched for simulated damage with knife and fingernails. I also transferred texture by pressing and rolling the side of my xacto knife on it. I pressed the tip of a BIC pen cap into depressions that will be "warning" lights on it, then painted it with Gesso.

Let it dry for a day, then applied tape to block out the stripes, painted the yellow first, then the black.


Now it needs a drybrush on the black to pick up texture, a little shading on the yellow for texture and re-defining the boundaries with the black; painting the lights with a bright green + some OSL (probably, to test the technique in something stupid and not my dragon diorama!).


I think it also needs some borders to define its shape, so I will perhaps paint a couple toothpicks metal and stick them to the sides like "supporting" the field. Perhaps add something to the top of the, like generating the field? I do not know yet :)

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Your city board is looking pretty good, i will watch this through completion.


Since you play Yu Jing, upstart trouble makers that they are ;-), you could always paint a very faint army symbol into the center of that circle you got from sponging the doily on the road.


As you said, the army symbol is roughly the same color as your strips along the road, it would blend in very nicely as long as you used the same sponging technique and kept the paint lightly applied.



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