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Dan's Build Journal #4 - The Ranger's Camp (COMPLETE)

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Dan's Build Journal #4

The Ranger's Camp



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Well its been almost two weeks since I finished my last project, and that itch start a new build has flared up again.   This time I am going to attempt some type of Ranger/Woodsman's Camp, which compared to my last couple of projects should be quite a straight forward and relatively simple build.


Laying the Foundation.

To build the foundation of this project, I cut out a piece of XPS foam to serve as the base and then used blocks of polystyrene which I'd cut with a hot wire tool to form the very basic shape and contours of the landscape.  I want give to the illusion that the camp is quite secluded and well hidden and so it is going to be set up in a small clearing at the base of a wooded hill.  I'm going to build the hill so that it sweeps around the camp, shielding it from three sides.


During my recent Ruined Keep build, I'd started working on an LED campfire, but got cold feet and ended up abandoning the idea scared that I'd mess up and spoil the project.  This time I am going to go for it.  I removed the outer casing from a cheap flickering LED tealight, cut a small hole in the XPS foam base, and then hot glued the tealight into the hole so that only the LED was protruding above the surface.   I'll come back to this at a later stage.




The next stage was to get nice and messy with some Sculptamold, which I used to reshape the contours of the hill into something a little more organic and natural looking.  I also added several plaster of paris rocks that I had left over from a previous project to add a bit of visual interest.  The rocks were originally created using Woodland Scenic's Rock Moulds.




The Sculptamold is applied quite thickly in places, and so it may need an extra day to fully dry.  In the mean time I have a bunch of accessories to paint up and prepare, including a woodsman's lean-to, a roasting spit and a sitting log which I will likely start work on over the weekend.



Edited by Dan S
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Initial Paintwork.

I prepared the base in pretty much the same way I prepared the hill on my recent Hobbit Hole project, so if you followed that build then this is probably all old news to you.  I started off by painting all the stone work with the Leopold Spot technique, I used Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna as my base colours (Acrylic paint, watered down to a wash) which I dabbed on sporadically with a heavily loaded foam brush allowing the wash to soak into the plaster and flow where it will.  I made sure each rock was approximately 1/3 Ochre, 1/3 Sienna and 1/3 left white.  Once dry I applied a more heavily watered down Burnt Umber wash over all the rock in order to blend the colours together whilst still allowing the under colour to show through.  Finally I went over everything again with a final black wash.


With the rocks complete I then painted all the floor in brown acrylic paint ready for flocking.




Building the Firepit

For the firepit I super-glued down small pieces of fish tank gravel to form a ring around the LED.  Then within the ring, in order to hide the battery housing of the LED I applied very fine grit, which was glued in place with watered down PVA.  Once the PVA is fully dried I intend to paint the grit yellow, and then highlight in oranges, reds and blacks to (hopefully) look like a bed of glowing coals and embers.  After that I'll add firewood on top to hide the LED.  I've no idea how this is going to turn out, working with LEDs is new territory for me,  I've seen a few tealight campfires and the results are always hit and miss, so fingers crossed!




Applying the Grass

I used a static grass applicator to lay down the grasses.  I started with a 2mm spring grass which I applied all over the model, I then used a layering spray and added some patches of 2mm Autumn grass over the top.  Finally I switched to a winter grass, focusing it mainly on the higher ground and adding some longer yellowish patches starting at a 2mm grass and working up to a 6mm grass.   




I left a patch of un-grassed area around the the firepit, which looks 'off' and pretty ugly right now.  Once I have painted the log and lean-to I am going to scrape away and feather the edges of the grass in areas that would see the most footfall, leaving it more patchy and bare in places. Finally I'll use dry weathering pigments to give the earth a more natural look.  The plan is for the ground around the camp site to look more like the ground in my recent Ruined Tower build:



Edited by Dan S
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Final ground work.

As mentioned in my previous post, I went ahead and scraped away and feathered the edge of the grass so it looked thinner, more patchy and worn around the camp area.  I then used Vallejo powdered earth pigments to dust the exposed ground giving it a range of hues and a more natural look.  (Its been a busy weekend, I didn't realise until now that I'd not taken any WIP shots of this stage)


The Camp Fire

I repainted the ring of stones around the fire pit so that the rocks looked more uniform.  I then painted the grit in the base of the pit yellow, dry-brushing over gradually darkening shades of orange and red.  I finished off by highlighting the tops of each piece of grit in pure black.  It is quite a messy rushed paint job, but that is not a big deal as most of the coals will be obscured by the fire wood and ash.




The next step was to create the flame.  To do this I used a hot glue gun and created a swirl around the lightbulb, which I tapered to a point.  Before the glue fully set I used an old brush to scour some lines through it and then gave it an all over yellow wash, once dry I gave the tip a red wash.  The idea being the light given off would look a lot more fire like as opposed to the pure white of the LED.




With the flame finished I moved on to the firewood, I cut small pieces from a thin twig and glued them together in a pyramid shape around the flame.  I then used a black powdered pigment to dust the edge of the firepit and base of the firewood to give the impression of a build up of ash and cinders.




I still need to tidy the fire up a little, the black pigment got everywhere and I need to try and vac some of it up, but other than that the fire is pretty much complete.  The only issue now is that the fire (Because I build it around an LED) doesn't look to scale with the rest of the camp, it is a bit on the big side. 


Anyway here are a couple of shots of the fire all lit up in varying degrees of low light, I'm quite pleased with the effect.



Edited by Dan S
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I am super busy at the moment and progress has slowed right down, however I had a free day today and managed to get a good chunk of work done.


Preparing the Camp.

Starting with the lean-to I painted the underside in various shades of brown before giving it a quick wash and drybrush.  This was just a quick and messy paintjob as it is very difficult to make out the underside once it is flipped over.  I painted the top in the same way (but using green).




From there I went a step further, I applied a layer of PVA over the top and then sprinkled on several shades of flock, followed by a patchy layer of static grass.  I then finished off by gluing on some dead leaves.




The sitting log was just painted with a simple drybrush (thought I'd taken a picture, but it seems I was mistaken).  At the moment I have mixed feelings about the camp elements as the scale doesn't quite look right from piece to piece.  I haven't decided yet, but I might end up swapping a few pieces out, I have a small tent which would probably look more to scale than the lean-to (although I like the look of the lean-to more).



To make my trees I use Seafoam (Cuttings from a dried plant, which are popular with model railway enthusiasts), which makes really convincing trees with a little work.  I started off by spraying the trunks and main branches brown (I also had a few plastic pine tree armatures which I also sprayed brown).




Once the paint was dry, I sprayed the trees with a spray adhesive and then used a flock box to add the foliage.  A flock box is a nifty little device that uses an electric current to draw static grass to an object in this case the trees.  If you have ever seen someone make candy floss/cotton candy that is the best way I can describe it, it is like making a static grass candy floss.


For the seafoam trees I used different shades of 2mm static grass, for the pine trees I used a darker and longer 4mm grass, as it looks more like pine needles.  Finally I started gluing the trees into place.




I underestimated how many trees I would need, I could probably do with adding a few more (3 or 4) once I have time again.  Following that plan to start adding the undergrowth to make the wooded area appear more dense and and overgrown.

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I like it.

However keep in mind that in a forest, grass won't grow under the trees.

There will be a lot of branches, leaves, ferns, mushrooms ( depending on humidity) and it will look more brown than green there unless it's all moss.

Even then there will be more variation in colour, some grey some brown.


I hope this helps a bit, not meant as critique, trying to help you to achieve the most natural look.






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Liking this lots. Your groundwork is spectacular.  If you want to do your own pines search miniature pines on you tube and look for the video from phillipstevens007.  I have used his technique and it works.  The only thing you have to build is a jig.  I built mine from scrap.  Nice thing about it is the trees cost pennies, are all individual and you can build them as tall as the length of the bead on the jig.  If I want I can make pines up to eighteen inches tall with this one.




Edited by snitchythedog
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On 8/7/2020 at 3:40 PM, Glitterwolf said:

I like it.

However keep in mind that in a forest, grass won't grow under the trees.

There will be a lot of branches, leaves, ferns, mushrooms ( depending on humidity) and it will look more brown than green there unless it's all moss.

Even then there will be more variation in colour, some grey some brown.


I hope this helps a bit, not meant as critique, trying to help you to achieve the most natural look.


Constructive critique is always welcome! And I completely agree on the points you made.  I had actually considered a more earthy forest floor (I've been watching HighEye Workshops forest tutorials on youtube, and wanted to give it a try myself).  However I am now back at work and no longer have the copious amount of free time I had been blessed with these past few months, and so I opted to strike a compromise between realism and quick and easy.


Also with the build I have in my head (I plan for a thick ring of vegetation around the camp to make it the focal point), I'm not sure you will even be able to still see much of the ground below the wooded areas, with what I have in mind.  I'll try to get a picture up soon to better illustrate what I mean.


22 hours ago, snitchythedog said:

Liking this lots. Your groundwork is spectacular.  If you want to do your own pines search miniature pines on you tube and look for the video from phillipstevens007.  I have used his technique and it works.  The only thing you have to build is a jig.  I built mine from scrap.  Nice thing about it is the trees cost pennies, are all individual and you can build them as tall as the length of the bead on the jig.  If I want I can make pines up to eighteen inches tall with this one.


I watch a lot of scenery and diorama builders on youtube, and I cant say I'd heard of that guy, but I am now subscribed, those pines look great.

Edited by Dan S
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Bringing the woods to life

Today I made a start on the detailing work.  As mentioned in my reply to Glitterwolf above, the plan was to box off the camp area with a ring of foliage, grasses and bushes etc in order to make the central camp the focal point, whilst still maintaining a lot of visual interest in the background. 


I started off by making some additional seafoam trees to fill in some of the gaps, I also made some smaller seafoam shrubs in the same way the trees were made.  Next I started adding additional foliage and bushes using Javis clump foliage, and Greenstuff World's flowery bushes.


I am about halfway done now, I still have a lot more plant life to add, as well as some small details around the camp such as the bed rolls, a chopping block and a pile of fire wood.  I am also contemplating building a new spit (The one I posted the other week is too small and wont fit over the fire).   Overall, despite a lack of free time I am pretty pleased with the progress so far, the project is slowly but surely starting to come to life, and I am really pleased with the effect that camp fire has.



Edited by Dan S
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Finishing Up

There was a fair bit more I wanted to add to this, however my home situation has changed quite drastically these past weeks and I am really struggling to find the free time right now.  Whilst I may return to it at some point in the future to add those last details I talked about in my last post, right now I think I am probably about ready to call it done.   I looks good enough for its intended purpose of a scenic photo backdrop.  Since my last post I have filled in a few more of the gaps with various flowers bushes and grasses, but little else.


There is probably not going to be another build journal anytime soon, but hopefully I will find my way back to it in a few months time or so.  Anyway, here are the final pics. 












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