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2020 ReaperCon Diorama WIP: Leave the Little One to Me

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Yes, a 2020 ReaperCon WIP! And a massive undertaking at that. I'm trying very hard not to nerd out and put this whole project into, er, Project. There's just so many pieces to keep track of, that maybe I'll just use this first post to keep track of things.


Some background stuff, starting with a quote from the "Paint a giant robot! Group WIP" where I wrote some of what's planned:


I've had a bit of a dio/vignette planned for two years. Might as well jump in and get it done. I've got a bit of a home-brew stompy-robot fleet in work, notionally placed within the CAV universe. So, this time the "enemy" is going to be a Wight. But, I can't just paint it. No, no. Things must be done.


Back up a bit. This round's home brew robot is a Gremlin. Human piloted, generally a utility walker. I'll have lots of options, such as tankage, cargo, rockets, guns, winches, radars, etc. all put upon one base vehicle. The home brew world is a bit of a human refugee situation, with some friendly exos that don't typically like several of the biomes humans are able to live in, thus have opened those up to human refugee settlement. The Gremlin is used everywhere, so when invasion happens, those are pressed into service (it's also one of the backstories in the CAV:SO if I'm not mistaken; else it's an older story).


You can read the rest of that post here: Paint a giant robot post and a second one to see where I'm going with this: PLA print post in same topic


Biggest takeaway is that, while useful, my PLA printer can only do so much. I have a resin printer backed on Kickstarter, but considering it's now 3 years late, I don't think I should hold my breath on it ever showing up. Especially when I can get a new Elegoo Mars resin printer with more capability for relatively cheap (<$300). The PLA machine was bought with both hobby and household goals in mind, and it's served well. But the resolution just ain't there! More on that down the posts.


I also had the chance to gain some experience on  paper plants at ReaperCon (Main post for that in the Terrain section post here: Vellum Paper Plants - Alien Jungle (WIP)


Basically, I have the scrap booking machine to make my own alien plants:


I took the opportunity to take Greg Zuniga's "Paper, Plants, and brass etch. Oh My!" class specifically to learn how to work these model train standards. We played with some paper plants, brass etched, and some of his own creations on vellum (plugging his Wicked Elf Miniatures store front if you want to see the offerings; not a link and least I could do). I'm especially proud of the lily pad with lotus flower. From that class, I got a list of companies that make paper plants and brass etch. Looked at all of them, and nothing really stood out as alien enough to me. Plus, being CAV/N-Scale, things weren't the right size. Oh, I could have probably worked something out, but the overall number of plants weren't that different. Sure, three companies may make paper ivy plants, but they're all ivy. Or wheat. I need different!


So afterwards, my mind started plotting. I probably have the tools to make my own vellum plants! I've got a really good artist store (Guiry's) and picked up a packet of #90 vellum sheer trace paper which feels very much like what we used in class, but possibly a little thinner (55 lb, 9x11.5, medium weight, translucent). I've got a crafty wife with a Silhouette Cameo, a machine that can cut shapes out of paper, that she wasn't using any more. I've got several CAD programs (decided on FreeCAD since I'm designing the mechs in there), both a PLA and a resin 3D printer, and a lot of imagination. All I need now is some tests to see if what I'm doing is even possible, and then open up a full blown WIP in the terrain section of the forums (funny how that has now happened, huh?).


Which now leads me to this WIP. This is going to tie all those pieces together. The robot WIP will still be to get a good camo scheme, but that print job is not going to be used for the final diorama. Instead, that will be the resin printer's job. So, let's break down the WIP work that I can see so far, and will be edited later to add things and mark completions.


Tasks to be completed:


Figures Needed

  • Wight (being pulled down backwards, caught by hidden lines)
  • Gremlin Unit 01 (stole a supply crate and ran; actually just bait to get the larger CAV to follow)
  • Gremlin Units 02 and 03 (trip line pair, successfully snagging Wight across the chest)
  • Gremlin Units 04 and 05 (trip line pair, successful across another part of the chest)
  • Gremlin Unit 06 (burner unit, cut Wight's left gun in two)
  • Gremlin Units 07 and 08 (trap door unit, hiding entrance to jungle path with camo doors strapped to them)
  • Gremlin Units 09 and 10 (trip line pair, successful across right thigh)
  • Gremlin Units 11 and 12 (trip line pair, broken cable across chest, possibly falling over from sudden jolt)
  • Gremlin Unit 13 (ECM unit, some large radar dish looking thing)
  • Gremlin Units 14, 15 and 16 (cargo units, loaded up with stolen supplies and headed out)
  • Gremlin Units 17, 18, 19, and 20 (gun units)
  • Gremlin Units 21, 22, and 23 (missile units)
  • Gremlin Unit 24 (large gun unit)
  • Gremlin Unit 25 and 26 (junked units; scavenged for parts?)
  • Gremlin Unit 27 (2nd style missile unit)
  • Gremlin Unit 28 (personnel carrier unit)


Wight Conversion

  • Right Leg: cut from pelvis; reposition
  • Feet: cut off both feet and swap positions since the tread is only on one foot
  • Base: cut away from right foot, possibly keeping full base around left foot
  • Left arm (maybe): cut gun into two pieces, having one falling to the ground after being cut by a heat lance/chainsaw rope


Details to be included

  • Camo doors at front leaving marks on the dirt path, but hiding the ambush from the main trail
  • Pieces of old broken larger CAV units around
  • Wight gun cut in two, maybe showing inner details. May have to 3D print an add-on piece
  • Dust being kicked up by the stolen crate (going to try using dyed cotton) IN WORK
  • One cable snapping dynamically, with several bends and twists (superglue on thread?)
  • Multiple vehicle tracks around camp
  • Campfire and tents for people
  • A latrine
  • Other camp details (laundry, chairs, sports equipment, bored carvings, etc)


Jungle Plants (V=Vellum cuts, B=bought, S=Sculpted, F=Found, P=Printed)

  • Large lotus flower like plants, but dry land and maybe odd colors with a large conifer cone growing from the middle (V)
  • Jester hat plant (balls on stems around a central point) (V) COMPLETED
  • Spiky yucca like plant (V)
  • Jagged leaf plant (V)
  • Tentacle plant (V)
  • Tripod trees (three spoke trunks) (V)
  • Large palm fronds (S)
  • Coral like trees (P)
  • Horn tree (lots of horn shaped leaves from a central trunk) (P, V)
  • Ball vine (like ivy but with odd leaf shapes) (V)
  • Cabbage-like jungle plants with large wrinkled leaves (V)
  • Fuzzy vines (thin wire coated with static grass) (S)
  • Anything I can buy from N/HO scale train setups and painted alien-ish (B)
  • Reaper figures that can be clipped and painted to be plants (B)
  • Odd trees with strange leaf shapes (onion shaped) (V) IN WORK
  • Random grass-like jungle plants (V) IN WORK
  • Stem ends from mandarin oranges (seriously, pull one off and look at it, stem towards the ground) (F)
  • Anything and everything else (VBSFP)


Base mounting system

  • Design and print modular tiles with bristles on top (basically, Bristle Block toys)
  • Allows mounting of all the above jungle plants
  • Fill in around plants with thinned plaster via a syringe to create the ground surfaces
Edited by Pegazus
Updated link for onion leaf to start of project subtask
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So, to start with, here's the difference between a design for the PLA printer versus what I've got for the resin printer.





Edited by Pegazus
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Continued the onion leaf terrain WIP: LINK


But I also did a bit on one of the details. I want some dust being kicked up by the crate being dragged behind Unit 01, but don't really know how to do that realistically at that scale. Time for some experiments with cotton!


First step was to glue some cotton down. I used PVA (white) glue, some superglue, and gel type superglue. Maybe they do a different shape.




Next day I pulled off the cotton with tweezers, shaping things a bit by doing that and getting rid of most of the cotton. I only show the gel-style below, as it looked the best, but all three glues really did exactly what I wanted.




But that's quite large for what I really wanted, so I redid the card, this time with soaking the cotton in some diluted light brown paint. I messed up the lower right hand side, as I was trying to get a small dot or line, but the toothpick spread the glue too much. Thinking I can maybe use the edge of an old knife blade to get the exact sharp edged streak I want. That's why the top left cotton is there. This time I put just a small dot on the card with the toothpick dipping into the glue.




Doing the same pulling of the cotton after things dried over dinner resulted in the below.




It actually looks very light brown in real life, but doesn't look that much different here. I think what I might do is try some brown ink instead, possibly letting the cotton dry first before gluing to the card. May get a better result. But, that little tiny spot did work a lot better, so I'm hopeful I can get this work.

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Worked a bit on the vegetation front today. LINK HERE.


I tried working up a bit of a bristle base, something with a lot of little cylinders that I can use to stuff pieces into, and then cover up with a slurry of ground material. FreeCAD does NOT like round objects, and I'm contemplating just going with squares. I figure it will be nearly the same result as they'll only be about 0.6mm wide. That, or I can just use my full blown work machine and give up any pretense of having it available (anything I make on the company's software technically belongs to them, unless I fill out some forms and get approval and that's just not worth the time). So there's that.

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I've fully pressed all the leaves from the onion shaped sheet I cut out. You can see the post HERE. But what intrigues me is the UV curing light with the 3D printer resin. That's going to come in super handy. I'm also pondering what I can sculpt with it as well. Maybe some spikes, little flat shapes, squiggles, etc. I'll let my unconscious self dream up some ideas tonight and work them out over this weekend.

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After fighting a recalcitrant networked hard drive all weekend, I finally managed to put in some time and details on the leg and thigh of the Gremlin. I'd worked the pelvis sometime before, so I'll toss its update in as well. I'm planning to try to assemble them properly tomorrow or Tuesday, and then on my hobby day Wednesday, I'll print it out on the resin printer to see that the details do in fact show up well enough. Might have to increase the thickness or rethink things. At this point, the details are just randomly put in as whatever I thought looked cool at the time.








Forgot the foot pictures!




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Took the day off to do some hobby stuff, and while I didn't do as much as I'd like, I did get some resin prints! Here's what I printed first. It's a full upper and lower assembly of the Gremlin and then I tossed in some accessories from the Exo Castrum kickstarter. I figure why design containers when I can grab something commerically? The hexagonal thing is supposed to be a power generator, but scale it down to fit on the basic cab platform, it's a fuel container! I also printed a mess of little square crates, again scaling them to put four of them on the platform, and they are meant to be stacked, so I could possibly do eight. Made everything hollow and put drain holes in all the containers.




What I got out, I can't use.


The legs didn't print at all. The little supports failed, and I had fiddled with them quite a bit so maybe I messed something up there. But overall, NONE of the details I've put in showed up in the cab! I have to look really close to see anything at all, and I don't really like that. It won't make for a good figure and if it isn't a good figure, it's not going to be a worthy ReaperCon entry. Here's what the cab assembly looks like.




Oh, and I also chipped the corner when getting it off the build plate. Now, that damage can actually add character to the piece, so I was okay with leaving it. But it's so small, and the details are pretty faint. In the picture above you can make out just a bit of the top panel and the canard panels. What to do?!


First thought was to double the size of the figure. However, I've got that previously printed piece, and holding it up to its eventual adversary, it didn't look good at double in my mind. At that size, it was going to be almost as big, if not bigger, than the Wight. That ruins the whole David vs Goliath vibe I'm going for. Decided to at least try 1.5X the size I originally designed.


Here's what is currently running in the printer.



Those of you with attention to detail will notice that there's not a lower assembly any more, and that there are two sets of legs. I'm trying two different ways of getting those legs out. If I lay them horizontally, it decreases the print time and maybe it'll be a bit stronger of a print since things are flat and can maybe support themselves a bit better. But I worry that some detail is just going to float away. We'll see. The other legs are upright, and flat footed. They should print fine without supports.


Additional lessons learned: Make the holes big! I made them 2mm, and when the print came out it looked like they'd fuzzed and become pin holes. That doesn't drain resin that well. And when I was trying to pop the containers off, it really felt like I was going to crush them. This second print does not make them hollow, and no hole needed. Since they'll be solid resin, I won't fret about damage because that'll be a much harder thing to do.


While the second print goes, I figure it's not a total loss. I can at least pop the prints onto the cab assembly to see what it should look like when things are bigger. I'm pretty happy with how this looks!




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I'm liking this a lot better. The little piece in the top right is the foot that broke off the standing leg while trying to pry the generator pieces off. I'm sure I can glue it back, if I wanted. I will have to see how taking the supports off goes.


I put the previous print on the top of the new print. The details are a lot more noticeable... but what about the size?!




Looks like it's still a relatively small vehicle! It's good! Even if it is just blue-tacked to the desk at this point for illustrations.




I did realize trying to get that above shot that gluing the pelvis onto the cab assembly is going to be an issue. I can probably PLA print an assembly jig to get that aligned quick and easy. I'd hate to have to do that for the legs, since each one should be in a different position for each figure.


I'm also contemplating what to do with the cab assembly. It sticks really hard to the plate, and I damaged this one as well, and in the same place. I could try putting it up in the volume and adding supports under it, but I think the features on the legs have shifted with that method. I don't think printing it on edge would be that good of a solution either, but it may be what I need to do. Of course, if I keep it as the basic cab assembly, and print out 40 of them on edge at once (I'm not sure of the numbers, but you get the idea), maybe I can get enough good prints that it works. Ponder ponder ponder.

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Been pondering my next steps and dealing with life, so it has been quite a month. Back at things now that I've got time off, and I've got some more plants to show off. Since these aren't vellum but just repurposed, I'm showing them in this thread.


First off, what do we have to play with today?




Why, it's a bag of shells, dollar store nails, and some clearance Christmas florals! Now, I played with the fake plant some, and it has a lot of glitter. A lot. Might have to shoot that with some spray paint first to just control the spread of Evil™, so let's work with the fake nails first.


Took the largest size and played around with cutting it up. That pretty much destroyed it and made it unusable. Perhaps. I've saved the pieces, and might use them for something. But now with new knowledge, let's start with the twin of the first.




Sliced it down the middle and flattened the end.




Switch sides!




And glue them together in this way. Repeat with a smaller size.




Then glue the smaller to the larger. I originally tried doing the smaller one on the outside curves, but they've got such different shapes that it would have popped off. So into the concave sides they go.




Now, I swear I took a picture with just the base coat of green, but it looks like I didn't. Rats. But this is what the new alien plant looks with some hastily added Golden Glow.




Not a bad looking plant! Might try doing an angled veining next time rather than straight vertical. And I don't like how the pieces tend to hide together. If I veined to the pointed end, doing that before I glued them together, it might look better. Or maybe I just run around the edges with the lighter color. Either way, I think this will add variety. Bought two boxes, too.


Swinging over to the shells, I started with one type of shell, then did another while I was waiting for the first one's paint to dry.




The technique was the same on both. Take a Dremel and make the ends flat so they can stand on their own.




Then a coat of green. Only caught a bad photo of the first shell. Man I'm bad at this photo-logging.




Then a semi-dry brushing of the yellow.






That second one really looks like a Christmas tree, so I tried making some different veins in it. That proved to be especially difficult due to the small size. I may try highlighting just the edge of it, rather than down the middle. I probably need to add in some brown spots here and there for visual interest. But there they are, three new types of vegetation I can add. I'll mix up the paint colors for the real ones, so that I don't have a uniform green field of plants, and probably use some different streak colors such as red, purple, and brown.

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