Monday 30 July 2012

Skull Rock!

As you may or may not recall, a while back I came into possession of a plastic skull, and over the past week or so set about turning it into an 80's-Chaos-esque piece of terrain that would match my recently built generic rocky terrain:

Unfortunately I don't have any fantasy Chaos to stand on it to display it to it's fullest potential (although it's only a matter of time, I've been reading pdfs of the old relams of Chaos books, and rolled up a Path to Glory warband since I've got a couple of miniatures lurking in the bits box I could use), so you'll have to make do with some old converted Obliterators:

Right, on to how I made this -

First of all, I made a cup of tea, essential for any sort of terrain-building project. I also cut out a suitable sized base from thick card, and started arranging the skull and cork bark (£1.39 from a local art shop - my first time using this, I've seen it look awesome in other peoples' builds, but it largely just looks like bark for me.. hohum...)

I decided that I wanted to install a floor inside the skull, and that I wanted it to be slightly recessed. To facilitate this, those locating lugs had to go:

Attacking them with clippers got rid of a large part of the material, and my 'not-dremel' smoothed out the rest. Well, I say smoothed out, the plastic the skull was made from was so soft that even at low speeds the 'not-dremel' seemed to largely melt it's way through, but a quick scrape with a sharp knife was enough to tidy it up after. Then it was time to build the floor:

Crunched up newspaper gives a base to stick the floor on...

I didn't fancy trying to cut out a precise match of the shape of the interior of the skull, so I started with a rough piece of card that mostly fit...

And stuck it in place, then blended it in to the edges of the skull using ready-mixed filler (poundland).

Some pieces of thin cork were then cut to fill the remaining gaps, which were glued into place and then once again smoothed out with copious applications of filler. Rather than using specialised spreading tools, I largely used triangular offcuts of card to smooth out my newly installed floor. Also, truth be told, it took several passes with the filler to get the floor to a roughly flat enough state that I was happy with (it didn't have to be showroom flat, as I' be texturing the piece eventually anyway).

Once that was done, it was time to start thinking about the stairs that I wanted to go up the side of the piece. So, I made a highly scientific template of the area that the stairs would cover:

This template got scribbled all over (as plans... developed midway through the build), and was used to cut out all the steps used in the piece. Although I spent a lot of time calculating how many steps would be needed (handily the thin cork I was using is 1/8" thick, making calculations very easy) I will admit that several lengths of stair were done on the fly, going with what felt right, until the very end where everything needed to connect correctly!

For example, the first length of stairs was built by cutting out a bunch of steps and gluing them together (using poundland's finest 'Hard as Nails'), not being overly worried about how much space they were taking up:

At this point I wasn't overly worried by gaps, as I planned to go back over everything once the majority of construction was completed and attack it with filler and debris to busy it up a little. The main problem with the first length of stairs though was that it was a little wobbly, being that each step was a thin bit of cork, and balanced on a pillar when I wasn't having to hold it together while it dried:

(Apologies for the dodgy arty angle on that last pic). In order to make sure that the piece was playable, I decided that rather than my original plan of uninterrupted steps up the entirety of the piece, there should be a couple of landings where miniatures could (safely) be placed. Also, at this point I decided that rather than continuing to build the staircase as I had, one wobbly step at a time, I should build a couple of flights of steps as self-contained assemblies, as that would be a lot more solid! And so I built these:

A set of steps to go immediately after the first landing;

And a set of steps to connect to the final landing - note the curve, the template was a lifesaver for making sure everything went together! Also, in between making these two sets of steps, I also made the final landing and the landings that would connect the two sets of staircases, but I didn't take any pictures of those steps so you'll just have to take my word for it. The cork bark that would make up the rear cliff-face was cut to size and glued in place, as well as having a notch cut out of it so that the final set of steps would be able to slot in place.

But here's how it all looks stuck together...

Note the support columns that will eventually be hidden by the cliff-face, and don't worry, that random stack of cork providing additional support is only temporary!

Then it was really just a case of filling in the gaps with a cork cliff-face...

Layer by layer, with filler and Hard as Nails to smoosh everything together, filling any other gaps as I came across them...

Working all the way round...

Putting in a little look-out post, and covering a gap...

Until it looks like this! At this point, my housemate pointed out that I should have put lights into the eyes. Alas, having spent a couple of evenings elbow deep in various fillers, it was too late for that though...

Then, before beginning to texturise the piece, comes my usual advice:

Stick a record on and away you go! The textured paint was made the usual way, although after a first application I found that it wasn't sticky enough to properly adhere to the plastic skull, so I added some filler (as the type I was using is the very rubbery type, rather than the type that is more like plaster) and then it seemed to cover fine:

Next, comes a rather silly mistake:

First thing in the morning, and keen to make progress, I rush outside to spray it grey. Halfway through spraying, as I'm looking at the piece something keeps bugging me. And then I realise that in my keenness to crack on, I've skipped the step where I add rubble and whatnot to busy the piece up (and secretly, to cover any rough looking spots). Bugger. Thinking 'to hell with it', I finish spraying, and once that's dried do the step I missed anyway:

Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things what order I did it in, as I had to go over the piece with some Adeptus Battlegrey anyway to cover any patches that the spray missed, so the patches of texture were painted at this stage too.

Then, as per my other terrain pieces, it got a good splashing of Vallejo Smoke, before being drybrushed with Codex Grey, Fortress Grey and Bleached Bone:

See what i mean about the cork bark looking like bark? Oh well, it's interestingly textured at least...

Et voila, the finished piece looks like this:

Bammo. Something every self-respecting child of the 80's Champion of Chaos would be happy to fight over. Although my lady love did suggest building a barbecue and a hammock to go on top, to make it some sort of Chaos Summer Holiday home...

In other news, the tally recently took a hit as I received this little beauty:

This year's Frothers charity mini, a beautiful mini for a donation to a good cause. Also, it's made of Trollcast, Trollforged's new megascience miniatures material - when I saw that it came in just a baggie in padded envelope, I was prepared for the worst, but it was absolutely fine! If you haven't already, have a watch of the Trollforged Toughness video over on their site - based on just this single example that I own, I'm starting to think that all miniatures should be made out of this stuff (it's light, it's tough, and as far as I can see the mould-lines are almost non-existant!)

Which brings the tally to:

58 vs 90 = -32