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Massive Voodoo Water Base (No Minis)


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Standby for massive dump in 3... 2... 1...


Chopping this up into a few pieces for easy posting/consumption.


Where I've been: Video games (Xumenicus#1118, if you're on Battle.net), bought a new house, running a fly fishing tournament for a treehugger non-profit, part-running my treehugger fly fishing non-profit local chapter, some other random stuff, and yeah -- here we are. I promise to paint more. Seriously. I just need to paint and sculpt more. I also need to fish more. And game more.


I guess this is a thing: Apparently, I need deadlines in order to get anything done. This time around, since I couldn't make it to RC2017 (travel budget blown on BlizzCon), I aimed for a couple different challenges over at Massive Voodoo: http://massivevoodoo.blogspot.com/2017/07/mv-challenge-2017.html


Objective: Make a water-themed base. No central miniature, no real focus -- just a base. And it has to be mostly water.

Disclaimer: I'm not at all confident, or consider myself proficient with clear resin. I wasn't sure how good/bad/terrible this piece would turn out, so I didn't spend days painting this. It's got a few rough layers of highlights, a few rough layers of shadows, and basically I just wanted to turn something in, have fun doing it, and not stress about being good enough to win. The MV crowd is amazing -- I was just trying to get closer to touching the sun. :)


Supply List: Wood, coping saw, cyano super glue, wire, green stuff, sculpting tools, paint, brushes, old brushes, Ease Release 200 Mold Release Agent, plastic Solo cups, nitrile gloves, popsicles sticks (fox mixing resin), Castin' Craft® Clear Polyester Casting Resin, small sheet of plasticard, duct tape, Tree House Studio Clear Acrylic High Gloss Coating spray, sandpaper (100, 200, 400, 600, 1000 grit), Woodland Scenics Lichen, Woodland Scenics Water Effects, fly tying thread, level for leveling the curing area


I did a few sketches one night so I could figure out what to do, and this is where I ended up. I thought about doing a waterfall, or something cooler, but I was kind of in a time crunch, and only had 3 weeks, especially since things are still calming down from moving.





Picked out a piece of wood from my scrap pile...




Went to work with a coping saw until I had a pleasing, interesting shape...





Learning from past mistakes with trying to get green stuff to adhere to wood, I opted to seal the wood this time. I used cyano, and 2 old brushes. It actually works really well as a wood sealer ( http://www.woodworkersjournal.com/cyanoacrylate-everything-you-need-to-know/ ), but you need to be extra careful due to the amount being used -- more of a chance to glue yourself to something, glue to project to something, and the fumes will sneak up on you real quick, and burn your eyes or nose. Fair warning. Be careful.





I opted to use green stuff for the project. That's where my comfort zone still is, even though I'm trying to work more with Beesputty and ZBrush. The bit of twisted copper wire there is to support an additional column. Do an image search for "limestone underwater caves", and you'll see where I'm going with this.










A little more...





Starting the tree. Do a search on "limestone cliffs trees roots", and you'll see where I'm headed even more.




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Tiny tree branches. 24 gauge untwisted copper wire. Living dangerously.





Not going for anything perfect. Was planning on putting some leaves on the tree, and doing an autumn scene. Because it's autumn.





And I like all the weird interesting things that fungus does on trees.





I wanted to sculpt some fish. Really proud of my 15 minute coelacanth, here. Don't overthink it, don't overanalyze it, and do a couple quick 2-5 minute sketches from reference photos, and then just sit down and do it.





I made some crabs, too. I somehow missed taking pics between priming and basecoating.





Little further along...





So, I spent like an hour trying to figure out how to tint my resin in a gradient, so it'd be darker near the bottom, and clearer up top. For the life of me, I couldn't remember how I did it on my Dagon diorama, and it was sitting in a case at my LGS, so I didn't have access to it (and it was midnight, so I couldn't make it down). I found some progress pics from my old phone, and saw that I did progress washes on the ground to darken up the deeper areas. Doh. Not an option here -- too much going on. I ended up airbrushing it, and it only took a couple minutes.





NOTE: Take a minute and actually look at that right there. I'm really happy with that. Sure, I wish I had painted it better, but I wasn't sure how it'd come out after I poured the resin. Either way, I'm happy with my work right here. I'm going to come back to something like this later on -- maybe a dwarf in a cavern, or Frodo chatting it up with Gollum -- I don't know. But I like this. Letting go of this, and not knowing how it would come out on the other side, was really tough.

Edited by Xumenicus
Wanted to add that last line of comments.
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Tried to dam up the piece as well as I could. This is fairly thin styrene -- maybe 1mm. Duct tape. The plastic and tape together are watertight. It took a few minutes to really cinch down the plastic around the base, though.


USE A RELEASE AGENT. Before doing your final dam construction on your piece, spray your dam with a release agent like Ease Release 200 Mold Release Agent or Smooth-On Universal Mold Release. Follow the instructions on the can. Do NOT get any on your piece, except where the dam contacts your base. The release agent will keep you from gluing everything together.





This is where that disclaimer way up in my first post comes in. I didn't know how this would turn out, if I'd get air bubbles, if I'd have trapped air (tried to engineer everything so that wouldn't happen), if the resin would set clear -- really, a whole lot of things. Before you do something like this, you should spend a few minutes emotionally distancing yourself from what you're about to potentially destroy.


Resin Used: Castin' Craft® Clear Polyester Casting Resin. You can get it at Michael's, Hobby Lobby, online. It comes in a metal tin with a tiny dropper bottle of curing agent. It's smelly, but it sets in a couple hours, and you can de-mold in 24 hours. It takes a day or two for most of the smell to dissipate, and maybe a week for it to be maybe 99% gone, unless you really put your face on it.


Tint: I actually DID tint it, but only a little. I used a couple drops of paint (not the best thing), and mixed it in. The water based acrylic doesn't play well with the polyester, but if you stir well, you can get the particles mixed in enough for a decent tint. They sell tints, but...who plans for that? Plus, cost, especially if you're only doing a small piece.


Process: Follow the instructions. Try to pre-measure your estimated volume in another cup. I pre-measured 5 ounces, and baaaaaaarely made it. I should have done 6. When you pour, do little bits at a time, slowly, and slowly slosh it around to get good coverage on everything.


LEVELING: Don't forget to level your resting surface! It takes a minute, but you'll be way more pleased with the result.





Wait. It's gonna be a long 24 hours. This piece got to about 120 degrees when the curing agent kicked in. It was hot. I kept it in a bathroom that nobody used, and kept the fan on. Don't leave it outside in the cold -- the resin needs the heat to cure. And, like I said, it'll melt your mixing cups. I didn't use polyethelene cups -- they're more expensive, and this was a small project. I mean, you probably should if you were doing huge pours, but this is a small project.





24 hours later -- de-mold. Hopefully, everything cured, and it's not all goopy and sticky. This came out way better than I expected. It'll be murky from the release agent, but hey! This is pretty good! And yes, I made a tiny school of fish, too. :)







Sanding: In order to get that ultra smooth, glossy finish, you'll need to sand your work. I used the same process that I used on my Dagon diorama -- 100 grit for any large nubs that need to come off, but by and large, start out with 200 grit. Get an even finish, and then scale up to 400 grit, 600, and then 1,000 grit. This will leave you with a somewhat opaque mess.


USE WATER! Water will help keep dust from collecting, and from going everywhere. Do this in the sink, or in a little basin, or something. Either way, use water to wet sand it.





Once sanded and smooth, leave it out in the sun to bake for a couple hours to make sure everything's dry. After that, give it a few good coats of high gloss clear acrylic sealant. Don't be stingy -- you want the surface to look wet. Also, don't soak it, or you'll get drips. I used Tree House Studio Clear Acrylic High Gloss Coating on this, but after doing some research, I found some UV-resistant sealants, and I think for longevity, and to keep your pieces from yellowing, you'd want to use something with UV resistance.




What happened? I'm not sure. I noticed it after sanding. You can see it in the previous pic, too. The resin shrank ever so slightly that it pulled away from the bottom of the base. I'm not sure if the inside surface of the resin was uncured, and zip-cured when the water hit it, and it turned cloudy, or if the cloudiness is a collection of sawdust and sanded polyester particles that were forced into the separation during the sanding process. In any case: BEFORE SANDING, APPLY A UV-CURING NAIL POLISH TO EXPOSED AREAS WHERE ACRYLIC MEETS YOUR WORK, AND CURE IT TO PREVENT WATER SEEPAGE. Don't use air-dry -- it won't dry if it seeps in.





Check that out. It's like a sandy beach with seaweed on a calm day.





Edited by Xumenicus
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PROBLEM, from my daughter: Where are the waves? Yeah, waves. SirLarpsAlot suggested using Woodland Scenics Water Effects to build up some waves.





I had never used it before, and him, SEEMING LIKE HE HAD EXPERIENCE WITH IT, sounded like he knew what he was talking about. It took 3 applications with an old paintbrush, as well as using a blow dryer to speed up the drying process, but I love how they came out.


Also, he had zero experience with it, and I was unknowingly being used as a guinea pig.

After I had some waves, though, it threw off my whole final vision. I had actually been out a lake a couple weekends before this for a treehugger lake cleanup day, and the scene reminded me of these giant piles of driftwood on the windy edge of the lake. I ended up repainting the tree like driftwood, and was pretty much done. Look at the coelacanth poking his head out from the shadows. Awesome, huh? Planned and unplanned. That's one of those "It'd be cool if..." and "Wow, it actually kinda worked" kind of things.





Done, except my daughter came by again and was like, "That looks like when we were at the lake, and we spent all afternoon cutting fishing line off all that driftwood." It was an amazing idea. I had some 8/0 dun colored thread -- I couldn't find anything smaller. If I do this again, I'll try to find smaller, but this worked well. I put a lure at the end, too. You can see where the Water Effects by the tree are still cloudy and drying.










More finished. I have some fancy backdrops from Hangar 18, but they seemed distracting, so I went with black paper instead. Photos are all taken with a Samsung Galaxy 7 phone.





All in all, I'm glad it's done, and I love how the surface looks. I'm totally not at all happy with the end result an inch below the surface, though. The refraction from the curved surface takes so much away from the sculpting work I did that if I were to do this again, I'd only do half the level of detail, and maybe put in more lichen. Or maybe use flat sides instead of a curved one. This has made me seriously rethink a few underwater dioramas/bases I've been wanting to do.


I need slightly better pics. The lightness of the driftwood against the darkness of the rest of the base seems to get washed out. I'll have to play with my settings a little more.


Edited by Xumenicus
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I've been afraid to look up other entries. I'm sure there are at least a dozen that are off-the-wall amazing. I thought about doing the Mad Max one last year, and the robot one just before, but after seeing the final entries -- yeah, none of my ideas would have been even halfway as cool.


We still got stuff done, though! /highfive

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3 hours ago, Xumenicus said:

I've been afraid to look up other entries. I'm sure there are at least a dozen that are off-the-wall amazing. I thought about doing the Mad Max one last year, and the robot one just before, but after seeing the final entries -- yeah, none of my ideas would have been even halfway as cool.


We still got stuff done, though! /highfive


Holy broccoli, Then I’m looking forward to see the other entries.. except that mine is gonna looking completely out of place haha!

But yeah, we got stuff done, and had fun doing it!


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1 hour ago, NecroMancer said:

Have you ever tried completely submerging a miniature in a water base?  I have a figure I really want to try it out on but am afraid it might have weird effects.


Not completely submerged unless you count the coelacanth I sculpted for this, but I've done half-submerged here: http://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/71496-dagons-emissary-reapercon-2016-parts-03707-and-03497/


Mathieu Fontaine did a really great one maybe 5 or 10 years ago, but if I remember correctly, he used multiple pours in an attempt to keep bubbles at a minimum -- that's why you can see thin layers of bubbles in the final product (instead of potentially lots of bubbles). The article of how he did it isn't up anymore, though.



14 minutes ago, Sanael said:

@Xumenicus, this is amazing. Really stunning, and I love the vignette you landed on with the fishing line in the tree. great work.


can you give the overall dimensions of this cylinder, please? And am I reading properly that this was all one pour of resin?



@Sanael -- The base is about 2" in diameter. And yes, this was done with 1 pour. I don't have a vacuum chamber for degassing, but I did sort of a poor man's de-gassing by slowly pouring the resin back and forth 3 or 4 times (really can't remember) between 2 cups. This helps to both to mix it a little more, but also gives any problematic bubbles a chance to pop because the stream going into the next cup is somewhat thin.


Doing that also consumes resin because it adheres to the cup walls. That's why I really should have mixed more, and just barely had enough mixed for the project.

Edited by Xumenicus
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