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Dan S

Dan's Build Journal: Hobbit Edition (FINISHED)

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Dan's Build Journal #1

Bag End


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Greetings all!


I recently undertook the task of creating several display pieces to serve as scenic backdrops when photographing my miniatures, however being the procrastinator that I am, I have instead found myself with an ever growing pile of unfinished projects.  In an effort to break this cycle I am no longer allowing myself to start new projects until my current one is complete. I figure a progress journal would be a great way to hold myself accountable, and hopefully by sharing my build process even inspire others into giving diorama building a try.


Anyway, without further ado here is my current work in progress, a good old fashioned hobbit hole, my interpretation of Bag End.  I managed to pick up a cheap and incomplete resin kit (front wall and chimney) on Ebay a while back.  I painted it about a month ago, and it has sat on my desk gathering dust ever since.  Today I finally started to put in some real work on the build.


29/05/20  -  Laying the foundation.


The first job was to lay the foundations of the build.  I hot glued thick polystyrene sheets to an old photo frame and then cut them to shape using a hot wire cutter.  The challenging part was then getting the front wall to fit convincingly into the hill, being an incomplete kit, the front wall was completely rectangular and just didn't look right no matter how I positioned it. To fix this, I measured out and then cut some thick card stock in to triangular sections, and then cut some thinner strips to match the wooden beams on the front of the house.  I then glued these to the house so that the walls now followed the contours of the hill more organically.  I also made some curtains using some old fabric (The original kit has holes for windows and I needed to hide the polystyrene behind them).


Next I mixed up some Sculptamold and started to cover the polystyrene and base of the picture frame before adding some rocks that I had cast previously with Plaster of Paris (They are probably hard to make out in the photo, as they blend in with the white sculptamold, but once painted they should stand out nicely).  With that done I decided to call it a day, and give the sculptamold the night to fully dry before adding any paint.  And that is pretty much how I spent my Friday afternoon.


Apologies for the poor picture quality, I took the photo during the evening in poor lighting with my ancient phone camera.  I'll get some better pictures up once I have something more substantial to share.



Edited by Dan S
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12 minutes ago, Glitterwolf said:

That looks awesome already!


Thanks, its still far from complete, but it is starting to take shape now.



30/5/2020 - Laying down some colour and preparing the minor details.


I started off by painting the rocky outcroppings using the Leopold Spot wash technique, before base coating the hillside brown.  It is a very quick and dirty basecoat and whilst it may look a patchy mess at this point all this area is going to be covered in grass so I am not too worried.


Next I started work on a stone pathway, the paving stones were created using an old paper egg box, which I carefully tore into rough shapes.  The reason I used egg box, is because the card has a very rough bumpy texture which gives a great stone effect when painted.  These were then glued to the base and overcoated in a layer of modpodge, which when dry and hardened will serve as a protective barrier when I come to paint them (It will help when applying washes, as it will prevent the paper soaking up and absorbing all the wash like a sponge).  I'm going to leave this to dry overnight before painting.


Finally I started work painting a well for the garden.  The well is a D&D Deep Cuts model by Wizkids, I removed the transparent plastic water piece that came inside model, and will eventually fill it with resin for a more natural looking water.






well then.png


Edited by Dan S
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31/5/20 - What a difference a little grass makes


I was pretty excited about today, my favourite part of any diorama build is applying the static grass, which instantly transforms and brings a project to life and you can finally start to see the piece you have envisioned in your minds eye.

Before that however I returned to the 'Egg Box' footpath that I prepared yesterday.  I was not quite pleased with the branching path I laid down leading to the well, and decided to remove it.  The rest of the stones I painted with a mix of greys, browns and ocres, and then blended them together with several dark washes.  I used a hairdryer to speed up the drying time.


Next I masked off the rocks, house and chimney with masking tape and coated all the ground in PVA glue before applying my first layer of static grass, a 2mm spring grass.  Using a spray adhesive I then layered 2mm Autumn grass, followed by 2mm winter grass to add some different hues of colour and give the grass a more natural look.  On the actual hill I also used some longer 4mm and 6mm grasses as I felt these areas would be a little more overgrown and unkept.  I had a bit of a disaster removing the masking tape.  The two triangular corner sections of the house which I'd made from cardboard both had paint peel off as I removed the masking tape (The rest of the model was unaffected).  I am not sure whether I should touch up the damaged areas, or just leave it as weathering, a happy little accident and Bob Ross would say.  What do people think?


Anyway I'm fairly pleased with the progress so far, the build still still looks incredibly barebones right nowbut that should change once I start work on the garden.   On another note, does anyone know of any companies producing scale gardening tools in 25-28mm scale? (Shovels, Rakes, Pitchforks etc?)


P.S - I dont know why my curtains photograph so brightly, they are the same shade of red as the door in real life, its like my hobbit hole has red eye!




Edited by Dan S
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End of day progress.  The trees were made using Seafoam (A dried plant cutting popular with scale railroad enthusiasts), which was painted brown, coated in a spray adhesive and then covered in static grass to mimic foliage.  All the other plants with the exception of the clump foliage came from Diorama Presepe.


I actually ran out of glue at this point (I thought I had a lot more), so the project will be on hold for a day or so until I can pick some up.  


Final jobs are going to be:


  • Add more plants/flowers
  • Build a picket fence.
  • Fill the well with water
  • Smoke coming from the chimney.
  • Paint up a couple Reaper Halfling Farmer models I have gathering dust, as well as a few animals (Reaper Familiars)


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Well it turns out I am not going senile after all, I did in fact have another pot of glue, it was just hiding from me.


Anyhow, I managed to get a good chunk of the garden completed, the plants are a mixture of Diorama Presepe, World War Scenics and a small handful I made myself.


Edited by Dan S
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it might also function as a nice scenic photobackdrop for painted minis.


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2 hours ago, Glitterwolf said:



it might also function as a nice scenic photobackdrop for painted minis.



That's the plan! ::D:


I have a nice Lem, Halfling Bard (60011) and Vistaril, Quillscratch, Wizard (03393) I think I could pass off as Bilbo and Gandalf.


02/06/20 -  Birds and Walls


I had originally planned to build a picket fence to section off the lawn area of the garden,  however last night I found some old XPS foam bricks I had forgotten about, and figured stone walling would probably better fit the rural countryside feel that I was going for.  This has presented a couple of challenges and in hindsight, ideally I should have built and laid the wall at the start of the project whilst I was at the sculptamold phase. 


The first issue is that I now have to build and paint the wall separately from the base, as it would be next to impossible to paint and not get inks and washes all over the grass.  Now this may not sound like a big and normally it wouldn't be, however the second issue I have is that the ground is not completely flat, there is a lot of subtle undulation, and so building the walls separately from the base as opposed to building them directly onto it means that the sections will not sit flush with the ground. 


So in summary I could either glue the bricks directly onto the base to ensure the wall fits snugly and evenly into the ground, but then risk getting paint and ink all over the grass, or I could build and paint the walls separately at the risk of the walls fitting poorly to the base.  In the end the best compromise I could come up was to build the wall seperately, but to test fit and reshape it to the diorama after gluing each individual brick (Which is why the base of the walls look a little curved right now).  I plan to texture the stonework using the 'Aluminium Foil' method before I paint it, but don't have any at home right now and so the walls are on hold for the time being. 


In the meantime I've started work on the first of my wildlife, this WIP is a crow from Reapers 'Familars VII' pack (02969), I have filed the skull base off, I dont think it would have suited the tone of the scene) and plan to perch him either on the chimney or the well.



Edited by Dan S
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Well here it is, I think I am pretty much finished with this build.  I have a habit of going overboard, and would probably still be pottering away on it few weeks if I didn't stop myself.


The final touches included; texturing and painting the wall sections I made a few days ago, adding a few more plants along the perimeter of the wall, adding 'water' to the well and perching the raven on the chimney.  I am fairly pleased with the end result, now I just need to paint up a couple of halflings!


Anyway, I dug out my lightbox so I could take some decent pictures of the end result.







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13 hours ago, snitchythedog said:

Love the groundwork.


Thank you, it is actually fairly easy to emulate, I pretty much learned by watching this video by Lukes APS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FWCD_MMD_M


The only difference is that I lack his fancy static applicator, and so used a vacuum from a couple of centimetres away to try and coax the grass to stand up. 

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