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Baugi

Hirst Arts? (Or...?)

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Hey all. I'm about to take he plunge into the dungeon terrain thing, and I had started building tile sections with pink foam, but then I had a vision of stuff breaking and paint rubbing off, ruining all my hard work. I'm curious about other techniques. So, a couple of questions.

 

1) for those of you that build your own terrain, what do you use? What are your preferred materials, and why?

 

2). To the Hirst Arts fans among us, what do you find to be the most versatile molds? I'd likely want some kind of versatile stone floor, walls, and somehing that could be used to build stone structures viewed from the outside as well (keep walls, towers, ruins).

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I've used the pink foam in the past for hills with no issue. I think my high school game club still has the 4' foam hill I made and it still looks good. I made that hill in 1996...

 

Not sure how well foam would work for dungeons though.

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First step is to figure out the style of stone you like more: chipped (gothic), fieldstone, or sand blasted (Egyptian). Each has what amounts to a starter mold that can work for dungeons or straight sided structures. From there, you might want to get the accompanying accessory mold and a floor mold of your choice. If you really like the hobby, then a basic block mold will help speed casting.

 

For example, you could start with the Gothic Dungeon Builder or the Village Inn mold, then add one of the floor molds, the Gothic Dungeon Accessory mold, and possibly the Basic Block mold.

 

On the fieldstone side, you could start with the Fieldstone Wall mold, a floor mold, then add the Fieldstone Accessory mold, and possibly the Fieldstone Block mold. The Fieldstone line has the nice addition of the Ruined Fieldstone mold.

 

Both have sets of round and octagonal tower molds.

 

Ron

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 Re piant rubbing off:

 

 If you've sealed the paint on the foam, it shouldn't rub off, although the one downside of foam is the tendency to accidentally get crushed.

I personally wouldn't make dungeon walls/floors entirely out of foam since "indoors" wargaming (as opposed to "outdoors" stuff like hills and trees) ends up having a lot of tight spaces that could cause someone to accidentally crush or split a piece, but it'd definitely be something you could use internally within the piece to add thickness/support without increasing the weight.

 

 The last time I made any serious dungeon terrain for gaming, for the walls I used a thin internal core of foam (sliced about 2mm thick) with an overlay of thin wood sheeting (1mm thick) on the outsides and just used plaster and/or greenstuff for the outer details..

But then again I tend to build for individual set pieces that end up being dioramas after I'm done gaming with them (and I'm personally pretty good at sculpting structural details really quickly), so that may be more work than you want to do with yours...

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It will depend on a couple of factors.  How much space you have and how mobile you want your stuff to be?  Foam is nice and light but can be damaged if it sees hard use.  If you aren't transporting it all over the place and you/your fellow gamers aren't particularly ham-fisted, then insulation foam should be fine.

 

As for the Hirst arts, you can build a dungeon with very few molds.  The big decision is whether you prefer the look of field stone blocks or the look of the Gothic blocks.  You can get a block mold and your choice or floor tiles for ~ $65 or so.  That's how I started out.  I quickly found out that you need a lot of casts to make anything of any significant size.  That's why most of the serious Hirst users ( cue Bonwirn) either have multiple molds or common pieces or they will built larger pieces (walls, floor pieces) and make custom molds to speed things up.  The more durable the material you cast (dental plaster is what I use) the heavier your pieces will be.  They will hold up to transport better but may be hard to move depending on the size.

 

I've got the tools to do both, but right now I don't really have the space or the time to go nuts with it.  If I can a dedicated area for casting I could mix up some plaster, pour my molds and leave them overnight/while I'm at work.  Then I could build up a large enough supply of blocks to build some things.  Until then, I have to set up, break down and clean up after every session.  Unsurprisingly, I don't cast that often.

 

Oh and another thing.  Bruce makes some very cool molds that can be kind of specific.  If you only need a few casts form a mold for a project and then aren't likely to use it again it can be more cost effective to buy the pieces from a licensed caster.  That way you get the pieces you need with out having to by the mold.

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If I had the free time and the funds to get set-up I'd be neck deep in Hirst Arts.  It's like legos on crack on gama radiation in power armor.

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I don't know anyone that has cast as much HIrst Arts stuff as Castlebuilder. Let me see if I can get his attention here.

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If I had the free time and the funds to get set-up I'd be neck deep in Hirst Arts.  It's like legos on crack on gama radiation in power armor.

 

 Amen, brother. Hell, if I ever won the lottery, I'd be building full-scale castles with those things.

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I can't offer anything on Hirsch stuff other than opinion...I'll bet your opinion is every bit as valid as mine. That said I've been making terrain of all sorts out of various types of foam for more than twenty years. I've found it to be light, durable, infinitely adaptable for all sorts of terrain including dungeons. If you apply a protective spray finish the paint stays on wonderfully...actually it stays on anyway, but it's more stain resistant with the spray. AND it's quite reasonably priced.

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Awesome ideas and suggestions here folks! Thanks so much. Lots to ponder.

 

I also just discovered the DM's Craft boards and the 2.5D concept.... Soooo many options.

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I have quite a bit of experience in making terrain (although no where near the museum quality of others on this site) and recently started with hirst arts. Hirst is good flexibility and sturdy pieces. I can attest that the right materials can survive drops with only minor damage. I can't say the same for some foam core pieces I've built.

 

It is a bit pricey for initial set-up (compared to foam for example) but subsequent supply purchases are very small.

 

My blog is chaulk full of hirst arts images and commentary for more info.

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For dungeon terrain, I really like Dwarven Forge stuff, especially the new plastic stuff. It has the durability of Bones figures and it's not too hideously expensive (and it's much faster to finish than casting blocks and gluing them together). And if you buy it prepainted, it's instant.

 

Downside: It's much less flexible than Hirst stuff ... but Hirst stuff is much less flexible than free-sculpting clay, too. You need to decide what you care most about.

 

I've built and played on large foam boards. You can get really nice effects, but I probably wouldn't go there for manufactured stuff. Its advantages are in recreating terrain, IMO. (Might be useful for natural caverns, though.)

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Heisler is right, I am a Hirst Arts fanatic.  To get started you really only need one or two basic block molds and a floor tile mold of your choice.  Fieldstone is my absolute favorite, but if you prefer Egyptian or Gothic style, there is nothing wrong with that.  If you have questions about Hirst Arts there are several of us who will be happy to help you out.  Start small, and if the bug bites you will soon be buying more molds.  We can all tell you our favorite way, but in the end it boils down to the style you prefer.  Just get Rastl and I going some time about the proper size of dungeon crawl walls.  We both love to argue with each other about it and neither of us will ever change our mind.  Neither of us is right or wrong, but we have to much fun arguing to worry about that!

 

As for using foam, you can do a reasonable job carving rock shapes into pink/blue foam.  I have seen some really nice models that were carved from foam.  It is lightweight, but it can be broken if it is not handled well.  Then again, Hirst Arts builds can get pretty beat up if they receive rough treatment.  (Just look close at some of my dungeon layouts)  Both mediums can be patched up if the bumps and dings aren't to major.  

 

Foam will cost less, but unless you put a lot of effort into carving it the final result probably won't look as nice as Hirst Arts or Dwarven Forge.  

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