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Dan's Build Journal #3 - Sewers (COMPLETE)

Dan S

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Dan's Build Journal #3

Sewers - Abandoned Smugglers Tunnel


Ged took a deep breath to calm his nerves and then instantly regretted it, as the stench rising up from the old sewer entrance made him retch involuntarily.  Reaching into his side pouch the young rogue pulled out a small vial of purple oil, uncorked it and then dabbed a copious amount in the space between his nose and upper lip.  Lavender Oil, thats what the old drunkard had recommended, though truth be told the solution only made the stench slightly more bearable.  The rogue carefully descended an old and very rotten wooden ladder into the underground sewer complex, the air was still and heavy and the only noises, the scuttling of nearby rats and the occasional sound of dripping water.  Ged ignited his torch and pulled out a crumpled old map.  


It was common knowledge that in his youth the old drunkard had served as a smuggler for the local thieves guild, and after several weeks of plying the man with drink and trying to befriend the old retch he had finally revealed his secret.   Decades earlier, the old man and his crew had used the sewer tunnels to smuggle contraband and stolen goods in and out of the city, that was until they had allegedly disturbed some ancient horror sleeping beneath the water and were forced to flee, abandoning their camp and their treasures.  Ged couldn't help but smile to himself, he knew the old smuggler to be an honest man, and there was no doubt in his mind that the smugglers cache would be exactly where he had been told, however Ged didn't believe in monsters, the old smuggler was a notorious drunkard and he probably got spooked by his own shadow after a few too many ales.  Having now gained his bearings the rogue carefully refolded the old map, and set off towards his prize confident that this was going to be an easy and profitable payday.


Navigating the old tunnels proved an arduous task, the floor was slick with slime and it would have been easy to get lost within the complex labyrinth, but the smugglers map proved true and after about 30 minutes Ged arrived at the tunnel that had been marked on his map.  The tunnel was long and Ged's torch did little to penetrate the darkness more than a few feet in front of him, unperturbed the rogue slowly started down the eerily quiet passageway, until....  SPLASH!


Startled the young rogue spun about, hand reaching instinctively for his dagger and eyes straining to see in the darkness.  Ged momentarily caught sight of several circular ripples radiating outward from the centre of the sewage canal, before the disturbed water settled back down to its prior stillness.  Ged, crouched low and and holding his breath in order to better hear his surroundings continued to scan the surface of the water.  After several moments of silence, he sheathed his dagger and stood up straight, it was probably just a rat he thought to himself.  The next few minutes passed without incident until young Ged neared the end of the tunnel and finally came upon his prize.  Stacked high were dusty old chests and coffers, caked in a decades accumulation of spiderwebs but still full of valuables, there were piles of gold and jewels, paintings, rare books and other works of art.  Most of the books and artworks were ruined, rotten from years sitting in a damp environment, but the gold, this would set up a man for life.  Trembling from excitement, Ged unfastened his backpack and eagerly began filling it with anything that looked valuable.  So engrossed in the task at hand, Ged didn't hear the disturbance in the water, he was blissfully unaware of his encroaching doom until he felt it tighten around his leg.  Looking down in surprise the young rogue had no time to time react before the long green tentacle yanked him violently into the water and complete darkness, terrified the young man tried to to scream but only succeeded in flooding his lungs with the rank sewage water, his desperate thrashing lasted but a few moments and then complete silence, the only evidence of the rogues passing, his torch slowly burning out next to the smugglers cache.



Completed Project Pictures:






 My Other Build Journals:



First off the elephant in the room.  I appreciate I have literally just started 'Build Journal #2 - Ancient Ruins' which has only had one post so far, unfortunately that's had to go on temporary hold.  My last piece of foamboard isn't quite big enough to support the planned build and I do not have anything else strong enough to hold it and so I've had to order some.


Rather than waste my last weekend off work, I figured I'd start work on one of my smaller quicker builds which should keep me occupied until the foamboard arrives.  This ones going to be a photo backdrop of a dark, dirty, fantasy sewer system.


Preparing the Masonry

For this build I am going to be using 'Hirst Arts Mold #343 - Underground Brick' and casting the blocks from Dental Stone which is a lot more durable than plaster.  Luckily I had prepared a large batch of these blocks at the same time I was making blocks for my Ancient Ruins build and so I was ready to go straight away.  The first job was creating a back wall for the project, which took around an hour to both experiment and dry-fit something I was happy with and then glue it all together.  At present the wall has some pretty obvious and unsightly 'seam lines' where you can tell it is just a bunch of blocks glued together, that will be fixed later.




Laying the Foundation


For the foundation I used a sheet of 6mm foamcore, which I then cut to the length of the wall.  I then measured and cut a block of polystyrene using a hotwire tool which will serve as the walkway above the sewage water.  I glued a second piece of foamcore (this was the offcut from the first piece I had cut to size) and glued that to the back, this is to give the wall a bit more support once glued to the base.  I quickly tested the fit (but didn't yet glue the wall to the base)





Preparing the Walkway


The walkway was made out of Sculpy, a modelling clay that needs baking to harden.  I used a Greenstuff World texture roller to imprint a stone brick floor pattern into the clay, test fitted it to the polystyrene and then cut it to the right size.  The flooring was then baked and glued to the polystyrene once cooled (This shrunk slightly in the oven, if you look at the next picture the wall slightly overhands the path now).  I added a brick wall against the the polystyrene where the water will eventually flow, but the height was just off, to fix this I glued some old foam bricks I had laying around to the edge.  These are a lot bigger than the bricks of the wall and floor, however as edging pieces they seem to work well, I textured these with a scumpled up ball of tinfoil.  Finally I attempted to fill the gaps and seamlines where the blocks meet with some home made spackle.  I rubbed dry powdered plaster into all the gaps and then used a soft haired makeup brush to gently dust away the excess which had gathered and filled in the detail of the brick work, once cleaned up I spritzed the entire thing with water to soak into the cracks and dried plaster.  I may need to do this a second time, but its already looking a lot better. 




Creating the Waterway.


To finish up the waterway, I built another wall section and placed it a few inches out from the first, I then cut away the excess foamboard to keep the build neat and compact.  As the clay floor I'd made ended up a little uneven in places, the back wall no longer sat flat and there were gaps as a result, especially under the final buttress (not that obvious at the angle I photographed it above, but it was quite a large gap).  I ended up filing all these gaps with some sculptamold, I also made some small debris piles around a few of the buttresses.  To finish off the whole model was primed white ready for painting.






Edited by Dan S
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Initial Paintwork


I started by painting the brickwork with a Red Oxide artists acrylic paint, I then drybrushed over some shades of orange in a random sporadic patches to give some variation in the brick, I then did the same with light grey to accentuate some of the brickwork (For some reason my camera has over-emphasised the grey, it looks a lot more subtle in person.  I really need to learn to take accurate pictures).  For the floor I mixed up an earthy brown colour to serve as the base colour.  Once dried this will also be drybrushed.


That is all I have time for this morning.  Once I have finished with the drybrushing the next step is going to be to apply a dark grimy wash over everything to give it a rank dirty underground feel.



Edited by Dan S
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5 hours ago, Glitterwolf said:

Nice progress!

My main concern with stuff like this is storage..

I also love to build things, but where to put it..


Oh the quest for storage space is a very real problem, I am currently in the process of re-purposing an old wardrobe into a storage unit, by adding some inner shelving.  This is where I aim to keep all my backdrops once finished, the vast majority of them I've planned to be quite compact and small like this one and I estimate I should be able to fit at least 4, possible 6 on each shelf.

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Finishing the floor and weathering the brickwork


With the basecoat on the floor dry I moved on to drybrushing, working in some stone colours and gradually getting lighter.  I then mixed up a somewhat diluted sepia ink wash to add some contrast and definition to the stones.  Once that had dried I painted the debris piles around the buttresses in an earthtone.  At a later stage I plan to go over these piles with some powdered pigments to give them a more natural look, but cannot do that until I have finished applying all the washes.





With the floor almost complete I mixed up another Sepia Ink wash, this time a lot more concentrated and started coating all the brick work.  I used a tissue to blot away the wash in a few selective areas, creating subtle gradients in the colour of the wall.  The paint that pooled at the base of the wall was wicked up with a tissue, however some was left and feathered to blend into stone of the floor, giving the illusion of a build up of grime.  I used a drying retarder in the ink wash, and so I'll need to wait until everything is dry before I can add the final weathering to the brickwork, but I think it is already starting to look quite convincing as is.




Much like my previous project, I have now run into a little setback.  As I had not intended to start this project so soon (I had a whole ancient ruin to build first), I do not have all the greeble and decor to hand to bring the project to life.  I have a few items on order that should arrive next week sometime, so I will probably resume work on this then.  On the bright side, my foamboard arrived today, so I can resume work on the ruins project, I'll probably end up bouncing between the two projects now, it will allow me to be a little more time efficient as I wait for things to dry.


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Final Weathering


Normally for this sort of weathering I would use an oil paint dot filter technique to create the grimy streaks and water marks on the walls, however I recently obtained a set of weathering pencils and really wanted to test them out.  I used a mixture of browns, black, greens and sandy colours to create the vertical streaks, which I then blended with a wet brush.  In my inexperience with the pencils, I possibly over did it, whilst dry it didn't seem like I had added a lot of pigment to the wall, however as soon as I touched it with a damp brush  I quickly lost control and made a bit of a mess.  I'll stick with the oils in future.  For the slimey build up, I dipped a green pencil into a pot of water and then stippled and feathered the wet pigment onto the base of the wall.




Setting the Scene.

The idea behind this backdrop is that the local thieves guild once used the sewers to smuggle contraband in and out of the city until they were forced out by some ancient horror that has taken up residence in the tunnels.  The plan is to now turn the tunnel into a long forgotten smugglers camp, untouched since it was abandoned years earlier.  The first of my greeble and decor arrived today, so I did a little test fitting before painting.  They are all Reaper accessories, including Wooden Crates (SKU77248), Barrels (77249) and bags and jars (77250).  I also have a small rowboat on the way, which is what the smugglers would have used to transport their goods through the tunnels and some other small details.




I also want to add 'the creature' into the water I just haven't decided what I want to use yet.  The issue I have is that I made the sewage canal quite narrow (5cm wide), which limits the size of the monster I can fit in there.  I suspect I am probably just going to add some massive tentacles emerging from the water to give the impression there is something big lurking down there, and leave it to the viewers imagination.  However if anyone has any alternate ideas that they think could work, I am open to suggestions.  The submerged troll from the Bones 5 Billy Goats Gruff set would have been perfect here, its just a shame it wont be released any time soon.



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1 hour ago, Glitterwolf said:

If you take a look at the Spell effects Tentacles from Reaper, those might come in handy!


Wonderful piece so far!



Those were actually the tentacles I had in mind. :lol:

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6 hours ago, lexomatic said:

You could always waterline your own troll if you jave another lying about? Or get one to use for parts (rough chopping a leg or an arm for display here and there).


I'd considered it, its just a case of finding an appropriate miniature I like the look of, and that wouldn't look out of place if I cut it up to make it look like its swimming.  At the minute I am leaning towards one of the basilisk models, I wouldn't need to cut it, and with its upper back and head just cresting the water it would look quite convincing as a swimming monster (it would also give me an opportunity to add a statue or two to the scene for a little petrification flavour).  I'm in no rush to decide however, I m focused on my ruined keep project at the moment and don't intend to resume this now until I am finished with that.




4 hours ago, snitchythedog said:

This might be an idea. Scratch built model with a submerged monster.

You tube video


I have actually seen that video, it was one of my inspirations for doing a water based monster scene, along with this video here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHYIoZpXK_o


I thought it was a really cool idea.

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Not a massive update, but I wanted to show that I was still plodding away on this (albeit slowly) and that I'd not abandoned it.  Firstly all of my greeble and decor has arrived now and so I have settled upon the components that will make up the smugglers forgotten cache.




Nothing is fully painted yet, and each component is still very much WIP.  The treasure chest pile, large wooden crate, the wooden ladder and mound of coins all came from a Mantic Terrain Crate.  The row boat is a cheap 3D print that I found on Ebay (It was surprisingly hard finding a 1/56 scale row boat, Reaper do a really nice one, the Dreadmere Fishing Boat, but I couldn't find it in stock anywhere).  The two small crates were the last of my Reaper crates (SKU 77248), the Jars are also Reaper (SKU 77250).  I've also now settled on my creature, I am going to use Reapers 'Spell Effects: Shadow Tentacles' (SKU 77367) to give the impression of something lurking below.  These are actually a lot smaller than I was expecting, and so they will need extending or boosting in order to breach the waterline.


Anyone who has seen any of my previous projects will know that I like to go heavy on the flora in order to breath some life into my projects, which isn't going to work in my underground scene.  As such I also started to make some subterranean mushrooms and toadstools using greenstuff, they are very basic and nothing too fancy, I am next going to drill a small hole beneath each cap and use flexible metal wire for the stems.  Finally with the greenstuff I had left over I attempted to make a mooring bollard as an anchor point for the rowboat (The type you see on shipping canals for small barges, see below).



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Canal Bed

For the bed of the sewer's canal I scattered sand and chunks of cork along with a few bigger pieces of slate.  These were glued down with PVA and then painted with a mix of sludgy greens and browns before I applied a black wash to the whole floor.  My home made washes use a drying retarder and so it is now going to need a few hours to dry before I can finish it off.  To finish off the bed ready for adding the Resin I still need to give it a quick light drybrush and add greeble such as skeletons, broken crates and other miscellaneous items that have been lost to the depths.




Spider Webs

In order to make the smugglers camp actually look like a long abandoned and forgotten place I'll be adding decades worth of spiderweb accumulation... Fun!

The first task was to build a sturdy frame from which to attach the webbing.




To do this I used a 2mm acrylic rod that I had purchased for drool effects.  I heated the rod using a small candle until it started to melt, at which point I would slowly start to pull the now softened plastic apart which produced long, very fine and rigid lengths of transparent plastic.  These were then snipped down into smaller lengths, and very carefully glued to the model in rough spider web patterns with superglue.


With the frame set and dried it was time to apply the webbing.  For this I used Greenstuff Worlds Spider Serum which is a fluid that when blown through an airbrush produces a mist of very fine web like strands.  I've had the serum sat on my shelf for about 3 months now, but this was my first time using it and I was a little apprehensive about messing it up.  In the end it worked surprisingly well and lets be honest, for a moment there I felt like spiderman :lol:.  The only thing to add for anyone who sees this and is interested in the spider serum, it is extremely messy, it goes without saying that unlike me you should use this stuff in a well ventilated area, preferably with a mask.  Despite being very careful with my airbrush the stuff goes everywhere, the fibers just start to float around the moment they hit the air (Its really cool stuff though, I have Reapers Little Miss Muffet mini sat on my shelf at home which I am now motivated to do something with).






Edited by Dan S
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