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Secret Weapon Miniatures - Tablescapes, Fallout Style


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I'm converting some Secret Weapon Miniatures "Tablescapes" terrain tiles to have a retro post-apocalyptic look for some Fallout-themed games for Necronomicon Science Fiction Convention - Tampa, FL (2017). My primary tools are some Japanese "plastic clay" and Apoxie Sculpt two-part epoxy putty.

(More information on the convention, in case y'all are down in Tampa, Florida in October and want to check out the game.  I'll be using a bunch of Reaper minis, too.  ;)  --> http://stonehill.org/necro.htm )

 

The "plastic clay" (pictured below) is pretty much the same stuff as Instant Mold in the US. It comes in ingots, and consists of a plastic with a low melting point, so I can boil a mug of water in the microwave for a couple of minutes, then dunk the plastic in the water, and it turns soft and pliable -- then, I get some pliers (mindful of the hot water!) and squash the plastic against a surface with a texture I'd like to "lift." Once it cools (a trip to the freezer can hasten this), I can peel off the plastic, and now I have a temporary press-mold -- and when I'm done, I can cut and re-melt it to use again.

 

Apoxie Sculpt is your basic epoxy putty (similar to Magic Sculpt, Magic Sculp {sic}, and a number of others), useful for press molds, solidifies over the course of few hours, and can be sanded down once completely hardened. It's much cheaper than "green stuff," but far inferior to the green stuff for especially fine detail (such as sculpting faces on 25-32mm scale minis).

 

So, my basic plan here is two-fold: for my Fallout (Savage Worlds) campaign, the unifying theme is that of a "road trip," so I want ROADS, and I need wrecked junkers along the way. There's no way I'm going to smash up this pretty O-scale truck I picked up, so instead my plan is to get impressions of the hood and grill, so I can add some '50s-ish car parts to my "Scrapyard" board, and a rusty hood and fallen road signs alongside a heavily eroded roadway through the wasteland. (I also posted photos of progress on converting Rolling Hills tiles into "wasteland eroded highway" in an album on my "wall," but I haven't figured out how to attach those here as well.)

 

I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm just making this up as I go along. I reserve the right to back up, chip off pieces of dried epoxy putty, repaint, and try again, if it doesn't go well. The HIPS Tablescapes tiles are pretty durable, and the deep details give me good anchor points to add some putty details, but I don't want to bulk them up overly much, or add too much weight, as that defeats the purpose of having these modular lightweight terrain tiles to cart to game stores or conventions.

 

 

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2017-07-07 Snapshot #1: Scrapyard Tile.  I didn't actually ACCOMPLISH anything on this particular tile this morning.  This is basically just to size up some of the stuff I'm working with.

 

My plan is to "Fallout-ize" this and some other Tablescapes tiles by introducing a few more "retro" elements to the details. In this case, I plan on using the Japanese "plastic clay" to make temporary texture molds off of the hood and grill of this 1:43 scale toy truck, so I can have a circa 1950s-ish truck grill amid the debris, and a hood alongside a broken road. Above is the "natural" Apoxie Sculpt (gray), which I'll be using for the faked truck parts, but I scraped the bottom of some cans of black-dyed Apoxie Sculpt for some of the next steps.  (As I said, I'm making this up as I go.)

 

 
 
 

 

 

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2017-07-07 Snapshot #2: Street Crack Textures.

 

First, I used some plastic clay to squash down on one of my "Urban Streets (Clean)" tiles to get impressions of some clusters of cracks represented on the surface, to make some temporary texture stamps.  The board up top is what I'm working on to make the tiles usable: spray-paint to give the street a bit of color, some pumpkin orange as "rust" for grates and grills, and several passes of dribbling brushes soaked with whatever crud was at the bottom of my paintbrush cup into the gutters and cracks in the hopes of it drying up and looking like detritus left after run-off.  Later on, I may try cramming little pieces of sprue painted up as tin cans, and wads of paper to suggest trash clogging the drains.  These particular street boards I want to look "cruddy" more than "post-apocalyptic," because I may get more use out of them for modern-day games.  I haven't yet decided on what to do for street markings.  Maybe an arbitrary cross-walk somewhere, and some dotted lines, and whatever signs of weathering I can do to make it interesting, but no fallen road signs or wrecked car parts or skulls in the gutters, or anything that TOO strongly brands this as "post-apoc."

 

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2017-07-07 Snapshot #3: Eroded Road WIP.

 

I have a number of "Rolling Hills" tiles that I've painted up in browns and greys of the wasteland, but since my campaign has a "Road Trip" theme to it, I want a few desolate stretches of broken-up roadway. I have the remains of a set of black-dyed Apoxie Sculpt I picked up to experiment with, and the stuff is MESSY (because, well, it has black dye worked into the putty, and that gets into everything and is very hard to clean up). I've still got a bit left in the container, so I thought I'd finally work on using the last of it up.

 

Toward that end, I put several lumps of putty down on the textured surface, to try to get the impression of a road so neglected that cracks in it have formed, then the road has started wearing away. For the finished product, I hope to have 3 of these tiles done up, and to have some bits of wreckage by the sides, and other setting clues. If it turns out that later on I need "plain" wasteland tiles, I can always pry the putty back off again afterward, and repaint it.

 

 

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2017-07-07 #4: Eroded Road with Initial Texturing.

 

I used the plastic clay "texture stamps" from Snapshot #2 to smash out the wads of epoxy putty and to -- I hope -- squash out any fingerprints left on them. (Some folks really gripe if they see a hint of a fingerprint on any of my putty projects.)

 

I used a dull hobby knife to tear a few crack "deltas" out - areas where a crack met the edge of a pavement piece, and it looked like a good spot to be eroded/broken to make another gap. Next steps for this will be to go back after it's at least partially cured to tear up some of the edges (they're too smooth and rounded and putty-like right now), and to reestablish the border of the road (as some of the putty pieces squashed out over the line).

 

I intend to lightly paint the pavement pieces a dark grey, then give lighter-grey highlights via dry-brushing. At some point I may attempt some faint remainder of a center line, but that'll be very broken up. I plan to also include some junk alongside the road (a mashed truck hood, a fallen road sign, etc.) to further "brand" this for a Fallout setting piece.  I'm not going to likely use this for "generic fantasy" games, nor for a typical location in a modern Ghostbusters or superheroic game, so I don't mind going all-out on "Fallout branding" however I can fit that in, just as long as in the end the tile is still MOSTLY flat, so I can stack these things back in the box.

 

(Oh yeah.  Another nice thing about these tiles is that they come in a nice big box with some extra room and a plastic handle.  I may need to reinforce it with some duct tape, but I have some viable storage and transportation right from the get-go.)

 

 

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2017-07-07 #5: Transition Piece ... or Future Expansion.

 

I mixed up a bit more putty than I absolutely needed for the first board, so I used up the rest of it on the next board. I suppose I could leave it pretty much like this (just with some more painting) and treat this as a "transition" board from eroded roadway to open wasteland. That will really just depend on how much the remaining black-dyed Apoxie Sculpt holds out. (I'm scraping the bottom of the little plastic pail at this point, and I've got an uneven remaining amount of Part B to Part A, so it will probably take longer to fully cure.)  I don't envision myself buying another set of the messy stuff, and I also don't want to switch to "natural" gray midway through the project, as it'll get much harder to accomplish the same visual effect.  I'd really like THREE boards of "broken road" -- even if one of them has pretty sparse representation of pavement -- so if I run out, I may have to switch to the gray stuff anyway.

 

I'm deliberately trying not to cover up any of the "boulders" visible on the board.  Why destroy interesting detail?  However, I might repaint some of them darker to look like little bits of broken pavement, if it seems to make sense given their location.

 

P.S., the dribbles of water are just that: water.  I dunk my temporary texture stamps in water for each application, so the putty doesn't rip up and stick to the plastic.  I don't know if it's just my imagination, but the black-dyed putty seems to be worse about that than the "natural" grey epoxy putty.  (Or, probably, it's just a lot more VISIBLE when it does.  The plastic doesn't stay translucent white for very long after I've been working with the black-dyed stuff.)

 

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Slight progress over the weekend (as most of my effort was toward painting up some minis for next weekend's installment in my Iron Kingdoms campaign):

 

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For the freeway pieces, I scoured the last of the black-dyed putty from my old Apoxie Sculpt pails, and made little "pavement islands" for a heavily-eroded roadway.  I started running out, evidently, as the rightmost piece has ended up being a "transition piece."  While digging through my bits boxes for Fallout-appropriate road litter, I found a number of Bones "formerly integral" bases that had more of a shale-like look, and incorporated some of those onto the transition piece.  Some blended in better than others -- I may have to go back and shave some of those pieces down again, or just get more serious about it and mix up some of the "gray stuff" putty and simply paint it black and do whatever touch-up is necessary to make it blend in.

 

For the scrapyard pieces (three of them on top, out of a collection of 16 total) I included a few hoods, fenders, and grills, using some Instant Mold to get impressions from some toy cars (mostly 1:43 scale -- a 1950 Ford pickup and 1948 Woody -- but I had a 1:32 scale 1920s roadster that I got the grill impression from, and without context the piece looks fine to me in the scrapyard).  I painted a few of the pieces black before gluing them down, but the rest I just left putty-gray for a little variety.  (I'll be plastering them all with rusty paint and so forth, but I figure there's no reason to do everything the same way, if I want this scrapyard to look varied.)

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19990242_10211638930321336_7640817055694

 

To paint the pavement, the black putty served well enough as the base.  I sloppy-painted all the tiles in Graphite Gray (dark cool gray), then went back and dry-brushed with Denim Blue (light gray-blue).  I tried freehand for the lines on the sides of the road (Graphite Gray for the outer, right-hand line, and Golden Yellow for the left, median line, with the implication that there's a median and then another two lanes going the opposite direction somewhere off the board) -- but it looks too thin and halfhearted.  For the center line, it was time to break out the masking tape.  My spacing isn't realistic (at least based on real-life examples in my area), in that I've got the 2-inch-long dashes separated by gaps of 2 inches (in real life there'd be a greater interval between the dashes, based on the examples I've seen), but I need an interval that'll match up across boards, and I mostly want to convey the IDEA of the center line.  (After all, my scales aren't realistic on most of the Plasticville O/S-scale buildings I'm using, but if everything were realistically scaled, I'd soon run out of table.)

 

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And here's where I am with the masking tape removed.  I was able to "recycle" the masking tape guide for all three freeway boards.  The lane may look a bit roomy with my 1:43 scale "Red Rocket" pickup modeling (and, yeah, I know, he's driving the wrong way -- but nobody's enforcing traffic laws anymore in the Wasteland).  However, once I put the Nuka-Cola Delivery Truck on the table, I'll be lucky if it manages to squeeze between the lanes.  Trucks in this universe get HUGE.  (And the roads in the Fallout games are ridiculously tiny.  I'd hate to try to drive anywhere in Fallout Pre-War Boston.)  Next, I think I'm going to go back and thicken the road-side markings to be more consistent with the center lines (which I think are about 1/4" wide, and 2" long).  Another thing I need to do is to put in some pieces of scrap plastic (where appropriate) to represent the reflective inserts in between the line dashes.  Fallout-universe roads appear to have those.

 

I slathered some Pumpkin Orange on several pieces of scrap, and dry-brushed on others, to start rusting things up. I plan on going back and forth with a splatter-brushing, stippling, dry-brushing, and washes on the scrapyard before I go in and do any serious detail work and cleanup.  Printed paper elements (fallen road signs by the road, signage in the scrapyard, discarded boxes, etc.) will wait until most of the sloppier painting is done.  Since I want to be able to stack these things (more or less), I'm trying to keep the thickness of any additions to a minimum, and to fit them into recessed areas when possible.

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1 hour ago, lowlylowlycook said:

Excellent work.  I have a sudden desire to so who make 28mm construction cones :lol:

 

Brilliant idea!  Hirst Arts Castlemolds "Factory Accessories Mold #331" has some construction cones as part of the set ... and I have a friend who HAS that mold (as part of his unfinished Robo-Rally board project), so maybe I can borrow it.  :)  I wouldn't glue them down here, but it'd make great scatter terrain.  (I wonder how I could make some passable "squashed" cones?  THAT might be something worth incorporating into the terrain, if it's flat enough.)

 

If this were a more sci-fi setting I might be able to get away with spare super glue caps.  (I keep those because I keep thinking, "Hey, this might be useful as a bit for something ... some day.")  Alas, in the Fallout games, construction cones are quite obviously just old style construction cones.  (War ... war never changes.  And apparently neither do a lot of other things in the Fallout universe, despite being in The Future.  ;)  )

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On 7/7/2017 at 2:26 PM, malefactus said:

 As a fan of the Post Apocalypse setting & terrain in general, I'll follow your developments with interest.

 

 

Ooo!  Do you perchance have any pictures of post-apocalyptic terrain projects posted?  I'd be very curious to see your take on the genre.  :)  

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On 7/11/2017 at 6:58 PM, Jordan Peacock said:

 

Ooo!  Do you perchance have any pictures of post-apocalyptic terrain projects posted?  I'd be very curious to see your take on the genre.  :)  

 

These are meant for my friend, Justin's 40K games. Page #1 is mostly desert style rock formations, but from page #2 on there are some some structures that might work as Post Apocalypse terrain:

 

 

...I did these a few years ago.

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On 7/13/2017 at 0:19 PM, malefactus said:

 

These are meant for my friend, Justin's 40K games. Page #1 is mostly desert style rock formations, but from page #2 on there are some some structures that might work as Post Apocalypse terrain:

 

 

Nice!  The desert-style rock formations would probably work well for parts of the Wasteland, but the rusty, oozing machinery and tanks could certainly be at home in a post-apocalyptic setting as well!  And, hmm, I must have seen at least part of that thread before, as I discovered that some of the pictures I was inclined to "Like" ... were instead marked with an option to "x Unlike" -- well!  We can't have THAT!  I must have liked them before and then, alas, forgotten about them.  :(  How sad!  I'll try to do a better job of remembering this time around.  :)

 

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Okay, for the next steps, I want some more appliances and machines with a Fallout look for wreckage in the Scrapyard, and some wrecked cars for my Urban Streets and for my Rolling Hills wasteland highway.

 

For the cars -- I found a bunch of McDonald's Happy Meal "Pixar Cars" toys (circa 2006) for $5 including shipping, used.  Several of the Radiator Springs characters have a "retro" look that I think could work for Fallout (though Luigi is based off a 1959 car, and might be a little too late-era for the Fallout look without a bit of work).  

 

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Now, the cartoony mouths and big eyes don't fit the look at all, but fortunately most of the toys have a separate plastic piece inside that actually has the "eye" decals.  Minus that, I end up with something that could pass for a junked car missing the glass.  "Flo" (far left) is the easiest, I think, as the car only has a very tight "lip" to hint at a mouth, and that's easily enough filed off.  "Doc" (blue, second from right) is pretty easy, too, since the grill passes for a mouth, but the toy has a wind-up key on the side, and that'll require some surgery.  "Luigi" (yellow, far right) is more problematic, as there's some sort of hex-key bit sticking out from one hubcap, and then there's the sunroof that's been transformed into a ... toupee?  And then there's the grinning mouth.

 

Probably my biggest challenge would be with Ramone.  I guess it was cost-effective to have an insert for the windows on the other cars for the "eye" decals, but for Ramone, with the pin-striping on the paint jobs (yellow and purple cars, 2nd and 3rd from left) and the special decal-printing that would have required, perhaps it was an economic decision to just go ahead and make the windows part of the same body, and to print them.  Sadly, there's no contour at all to indicate the edges of the windows -- it's all printed.  I could try using a Dremel to cut out windows, but at this point I might be better off just trying to remove the whole roof-and-window area, and then either trying to build up the car as a convertible ... or else find some suitable piece of plastic that I could use to try to transform it into a retro-futuristic "bubble-top" car.  (Finding one that would fit would be bad enough; for bonus points, I need to find TWO.)

 

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The first real challenge, though, was that the screws had an odd triangular screw head -- and I had no matching tool to fit.  I suppose a tiny-enough Allen wrench might've done the job, but I didn't have any that small.  Fortunately, I discovered that I could use the tip of a pair of needle-nose pliers to accomplish enough of a proxy to remove the screws.

 

 

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Here's the interior of the "Flo" car, showing the gray plastic insert for the windows.  Once the car is opened up, the gray piece can be easily removed, since it's just slotted in place without any further screws or glue.  Alas, I can't remove the friction motor without losing the rear wheels.

 

 

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So, since I can see the car interiors now, I probably ought to put something inside.  I got out some Japanese "Plastic Clay" and some epoxy putty, and used a 1:43 scale toy car as a model for seats.

 

 

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And here's as far as I got with the cars this morning.  For "Flo," there's just enough room for two seats.  For the rear area, I put in some "greebles" that should be visible through the rear window.  The front seat area was pretty tight, so I didn't bother with a dashboard.  I used some putty to lock up the works of the friction engine and front wheels, and to make some blobs on the sides of the tires to suggest that they've gone flat.

 

For "Doc," it only had one set of free-turning wheels.  Apparently its little "gimmick" is that it could be wound up from the side, and then it would spin donuts -- the wind-up engine located in the center had a pair of hidden wheels, and then one third wheel running perpendicular: the rear "wheels" are just a couple of non-functional bumps on the undercarriage.  So, I was able to remove the wind-up engine entirely, and used putty to freeze up the front tires (to which I also applied some more putty to represent "flats").  I used putty to gap-fill the area on the door (and if it's not perfectly smooth ... it'll be a dented, rusty area anyway), and a couple of big holes in the floor.  This one was roomier inside, so it gets front seats, a dashboard, and a rear-seat "couch."

 

I still haven't sorted out a strategy for "Ramone."  It's likely to wait until I stumble across some vaguely bubble-like piece of plastic (I don't mind if it's cracked or scuffed) that could be the right size/shape for a roof -- or I get brave enough to try to tackle the windows with the Dremel.  "Luigi" might get a bit more work, but I'm toying with attaching some 40K bits to give it a new "grill" that might possibly make it look a little more early-50s in real-world aesthetic inspiration, if not necessarily that "futuristic."

 

For now, I'm opting NOT to go with base-coats.  I kind of like the colors already on them, and there's no way I'd be able to get such uniform coats on my own.  Rather, from here I think I'll try some painted rust spots, some "rub-in" grunge (e.g., dark grey paint, sloppily applied, then daubed off with a tissue, leaving some in the cracks), and dry-brushing.  I might try using some blister plastic for broken glass windows, but I'm not entirely sure how to solidly attach that, so I'm likely to just skip it (except, perhaps, for having some scraps of clear blister plastic "glass" permanently "lying" on the hood, seat, floorboard, etc., to hint at previous trauma).

 

 

 

 

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For more Scrapyard decor, I picked up some vending machines and a fridge.  (It was the fridge I was really looking for, but when I saw how suspiciously similar to Nuka-Cola vending machines these other pieces were, I had to look into them as well.)

 

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I got all three resin pieces from Mad Imp Miniatures, which seems to have some relation to Stone Skull Studios (who put out a 3D terrain prop Kickstarter some time ago).  Although the masters might be 3D printed, I didn't see any hint of scan lines, so that was either some really fine printing, or else someone took the trouble to file the surfaces smooth before making molds to cast resin.  Casting quality was pretty good -- I didn't notice any bubbles.

 

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The bottoms required a bit of shaving and filing, but that didn't take long.  The resin is hard, and can be filed down without too much trouble.  There were irregular seams across the sides, but for most of the surfaces, I could barely even tell -- and for those few cases where I could, it was on a flat surface, and thus easily filed and gap-filled.  (I took the picture above before the putty had completely hardened, so I didn't get to sanding it down smooth yet.)

 

In addition to using these pieces in their self-standing state, I plan on getting some Plastic Clay impressions of the "not-Nuka-Cola" vending machines so I can make some wrecked versions poking up from the piles of debris on the Scrapyard tiles.  (A few of my early experiments on that are actually partially visible in the background of some of my "Cars" WIP shots.)

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      The ground texture anchored in the paint. Bits of this came off at various points during the process,
      but the PVA did its job quite well, considering.
       

      The Raw Umber did a good job of tying everything together, and let bits of the Burnt umber through
      for some lighter patches.
       
       
      Process - Boulder Paint Touch-ups
       
      As much I wanted to get to the main event (flocking!), I needed to touch up the lower edge of the boulder; there was no way I could hide all of it. So I did a quick and dirty touch up with the same wet technique I used to paint them initially: a base coat of grey, and once that's dry, watered down browns, greens, and blacks to create color variations, moss, and dirt. Finally a quick homemade black wash added the final touch. I also used the black wash to mark out some rivulets that would have carved their way out from the crack and create a bit more variety in the soil. Then finally, I could move on to the most anticipated bit: the flocking!
       

      The initial stripe of grey paint across the bottom of the boulder. I wasn't too meticulous; the water
      from the next layers smoothed out the transitions between the existing paint job and the new one.
       

      An example of some of the blotches and colors I was applying. Unfortunately I don't have a picture
      that includes the black wash.
       
       
      Process - Flocking and Final Touches
       
      The flocking itself was relatively simple. I used three shades of Woodland Scenics Fine Turf:
       
      Burnt Grass - T44 (highlight) Green Grass - T45 (base) Weeds - T46 (shade)  
      First, I applied PVA glue that had been slightly watered down, just enough so it's almost a liquid but not quite. Then, I sprinkled the highlight into the more open areas where the grass would be drier, the shade into wetter and more covered spots, so near the rock and crack, and then covered everything with a healthy dose of the base. I didn't use a lot of the highlight because I was worried I'd overdo it, but I could have used more as the base really takes over if you let it. I tapped off the excess flocking that hadn't been absorbed by the PVA before using a tiny bit of Coarse Turf (Medium Green - T64) to create a little bush in one side of the crack, and one out in the open. I used a toothpick to drop a bit of regular PVA where I wanted the bush to go, and then just stuck it in place. After about an hour elapsed, I sealed the whole thing by spraying it with the 6:1 water/PVA mixture and leaving it to dry overnight.
       
      The final touch was to use black paint to seal the white edges of the foam core.  I'm very pleased with the end result, and it's solid as a rock. This will certainly be able to stand up to some abuse without losing any flocking or texture. Thanks for reading this far!
       

      Two more glamor shots of the finished piece; this is the first one. You can just spot the bush peeking out
      of the crack in the middle, and some cat litter "stones" in the field.
       

      Here's the other side, with a bush on the left and a "wetter" appearance around the crack. Some of the
      lighter Burnt Umber is also peeking through at the front left edge.
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