Archive for September, 2011

Wargaming Terrain – How to Make Creeping Vines

As promised I thought I’d do some quick instructions on how I made the green creepy vine on the rocks. I picked up some push molds from the mold hut on ebay, the vines are specifically mold number F112 I’d recommend getting at least two it will speed up production. The mold hut has a heap of molds which would be handy for decorative bits on scratch built terrain, some others I picked up are G113, A115 and F147 but there are literally 10+ others which look handy, just have a browse:

Molds from the Mold Hut

The problem with vines is that they are traditionally bendy and conform to the shape of the object they grow around and over. I’m sure there is some ultra expensive bendy specialized rubbery molding agent. However as I was looking for a cheap solution I tried a few different Gooey type sealants I had laying around the house. As it turned out the cheapest one was the best, it doesn’t stick to the silicon mold once dry (no special release agent required), after doing 20 or so molds of the vine I’m not seeing any mold degradation so it appears to be silicon safe.

The only drawback is it needs at least 4 hours to dry before you try and remove the vine from the mold, this however isn’t to much of an issue if you have two molds you set them up before going to work/school then pop them out on return, set them up again pop them out just before bed and set them up again and pop them out in the morning. So you can do about 3 cycles a day and on a weekends if your around the house you can do 5 or 6 cycles producing between 6-12 vine segments. The goo in question is the cheapest Acrylic gap filler you can buy in those long tubes, downunder it costs $2 per tube although you do need gun to squeeze it out ($6-$10) most people probably already have the gun laying around the house. You can also buy the stuff coloured but this more than doubles the cost to about $5 a tube, I also couldn’t find a nice green (brown in below pic).  This is not a Silicon based gap sealant you will have terrible problems painting the vines if you use a silicon based sealant it has to be a plain acrylic gap filler:

Acrylic Gap Filler

Now the easy part grab some of your Acrylic gap filler you only need a tiny amount less than half a teaspoon full per vine mold. If you squeeze to much out simply wrap it up in some kitchen cling wrap/film which stops it from setting and you can then use it later to fill a mold.  If you have the plain white gap filler you can colour it at this stage with a small amount of paint or green ink just mix it in well. Try as much as you can to push the sealer into the mold to fill in all the gaps. Once your happy that you’ve squished the sealant in as much as you can hold a toothpick on either end and run it across the surface of the mold. You’ll need to push down reasonably hard, however if you push down to much you’ll scoop the acrylic right out of the mold, if this happens just push some more gap filler back into the mold and re-scrap with your toothpick. Whatever you do make sure you scrap fairly quickly otherwise a skin will form and you wont be able to scrap. Additionally don’t worry if the surface facing you is not perfectly smooth it’s the glue side:

Molds Filled and Scraped

I timed my test piece at night in late winter early autumn (about 18C or 64F) and 4 hours seemed to let the acrylic set enough for removal. However leaving it as long as 24-36 hours only made it easier to remove. To remove the vine simply bend the mold away from the vine and then gently lift it out remember to be gentle some parts of the vine are very thin. If you do happen to break the vine in half or pull a  piece off all is not lost either save those two bits for when you need a short piece of vine or use a tiny amount of acrylic gap sealer to join them back together. You will notice a little bit of flashing around the edges of the vine, as far as I can tell that’s pretty normal I think a combination of the type of mold and using acrylic goo as a casting material are not exactly optimal:

Vines demolded (left-front, right-back)

Leave the vine to dry for another few hours or overnight if you can and then simply trim any unwanted bits hanging of the edges away with a pair of nail scissors. I’d recommend buying your own pair rather than stealing borrowing your other halves or parents as all hell will be raised when they find bits of gooey acrylic gap sealer all over their nail scissors. Your handy $2 shop/Golo type establishment should have nail scissors for $3-$4 a pair. If your hobby table is anything like mine, it is some form of mimic hobby table that eats tools and so I’d recommend buying two pairs. Two nice trimmed vine segment:

Vines Trimmed

Next up paint the vine segments in the base green  colour (or any other colour you like), it’s easier to give the vines a base coat while they are not glued to your piece of terrain. If you found a nice coloured green acrylic goo or dyed your acrylic with paint or ink you wont need to worry about this step unless it’s not to your taste. Here are a couple of my vine segments painted green and ready to be used on my next piece of terrain.

Vines Base Coated

At this point I tend to stockpile vine parts ready to be used in a small jar. I have about a dozen in the jar ready to go, a dozen segments gos a long way the two rock terrain pieces used 5 and 4.5 vine segments each so it stretches a reasonable distance.  To use them simply mock the segments up were you’d like them to go a long your piece of terrain (Paint the terrain first). You will need to trim off the odd leaf (save them they do come in handy) and clip the top and bottoms so they fit together and align.

Mockup showing One and Half Vines

I’ve used both super glue and white PVA glue to glue the vine segments in place, I prefer the PVA as it gives me slightly more time to adjust the position of the vines. When you place your first piece make sure it’s about 5mm (1/8 inch) up from ground level, then simply glue the additional vine pieces in place. The small gaps and the missing base stem simply fill/build up with a small amount of acrylic gap filler and once dry paint green to match. Next I simply painted on some thin white lines as leaf veins and then lightly washed and highlighted the leaves with a lighter green paint:

Vines Glued and Detailed

You can use the above acrylic gap filler in other molds just remember if the piece is thicker or more dense it will take longer to dry before you can demold the piece.

Wargaming Terrain – Rocks

It has been sometime since my last post. I wish I could say I’ve been sitting around doing nothing but watching movies unfortunately no such luck. I’ve been tied up at work, trying to get more exercise and fixing the house up a little which hasn’t left very much time for creating blog posts or spending much time on my hobbies. I do have a backlog of “stuff” to post about and a pile of things I need to finish so I’m going to use Ye Olde blog to help me get things finished. I have been doing some small amount of hobby stuff, basically working on some more traditional foam, balsa wood and plaster terrain and the rocks below are some of the first pieces I’ve finished.

Must be a thing with wargaming terrain creation everyone normally starts with rocks. Good news I didn’t start with rocks these were just the first I managed to finish. I started by building a ruined tudor house and some scratch built tree’s. Unfortunately the house still needs to be painted and I need to create a few more tree’s before I post about them.

The rocks are a fairly standard build of foam cut rocks, I think there’s literally a million “how to’s” on making rock’s so I wont go into great detail about cutting foam etc etc you can see tutorials here, here, here and here for tutorials on how to make rocks and cliffs. A few minor comments that I noticed while cutting my rocks;

  • Avoid having any 90 degree edges, go have a look at normal rock formations very few 90 degree angles.
  • Do seal the foam with white PVA glue before trying to use a spray undercoat unless you want the I’ve just been dissolved by acid look
  • Use whatever foam you have at hand; depron, blue, pink, yellow (extruded polystyrene) or normal White polystyrene bead sheets just get some and get started.
  • If you can build a hot wire cutter, it’ll take you a few hours but save you a heap of time and stop that tearing you see when you use a craft knife…even a  sharp one can catch.
  • If you are cutting foam with a hot wire cutter make sure you wear a mask or do your cutting outside in a well ventilated area. I see very little about the fumes the various foams give off as the cutter melts them but they smell terrible as you cut them so I suspect the fumes are in the not good for you bucket.

I’ve basically finished two small rock stands. I mounted a 6mm sheet of depron to a masonite base and rounded the depron to make it seem like a small hill. Into the masonite bases I glued 3-4 small magnets so that later these can be used as hill toppers on larger flatter hills. The rest is your fairly standard wash and dry brush. The bones I cut from some kids toys I found in a go-lo store $2 and you get a packet of four dinosaur skeletons which provided a heap of bones although they are a little out of scale (Pic below). The human skull I’m not sure what it’s from I just had it laying around:

Dino Skeleton Toys

The vines are probably the most unique part that I haven’t seen used on terrain before, although I’m sure someone probably has. Basically I grabbed a mold for food vines and used this to cast some vines segments and then fit them together into a long creeper style vine. I’ll do a post later this week covering how exactly I used them and what to use to get cheap bendy segments.

Rocks One

Rocks Two

I’m fairly happy with how the rocks turned out although they could probably use a little more weathering and maybe some lichen on the rocks but for a first attempt I’m happy to leave them as they are for now.


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