Monday, December 13, 2010

How To: Wolfbrother Army Display Board

December Howl!

Thanks for paying attention everyone! Merry Christmas etc.

The Wolfbrothers HelWinter Division performed well and scored well at NeonCon. The Army paint, Thunderwolves, and Army board all got a lot of attention. Thanks again!

Army Display board is not worth a TON of points but sure adds a great deal to the army in lots of ways. The project itself was an obstacle and learning experience that will have profound effect on future projects.

I didn't want the Army crammed together in Nice little square blocks on a 2ftx2ft square. I wanted to make sure there was space to spread the scouts and Twolves around a little, plus some levels to help literally display the army. Snow has been a major component of the Wolfbrother army for many months now and it would add its own challenges. At this point in the Army's development I have a simple process to achieve pretty good snow results on the individual bases, and I was sure the effect would not duplicate well on the large terrain piece - the last item necessary on the board would be a lot of textures and depths to make the snow work.

I didn't exactly accomplish all of the goals, but the end product was good enough. The main drawback being that this board is too big to really carry around a Casino convention. It wasn't as bad as some other boards but it wasn't exactly easy to transport. Although it does look great, it wasn't that practical after the initial paint scoring. 

I wasn't sure how to do any portion of the board really. None of the tasks or techniques were really new but I haven't really taken on a project like this in many years.  I didn't have any time to throw away and of course I didn't want to waste any of it throwing together a horrible looking display board. Knowing full well that the snow at the end of the project was really the key, I dove in head first with about two weeks left to the tournament.

I wanted and needed levels to avoid crazy over crowding. As it was the end product was barely just enough room. I was concerned about travel and a whole host of durability issues: couldn't be too big or heavy or light or fragile. I watched hours of youtube videos and re-scoured the internets for simple how-tos that would fit my needs. At this point in the process I didn't have a ton of creative juice to go around.

So at any rate I started with a standard corkboard. Lightweight and sturdy. Had a nice frame already installed. This was a popular option on the internets, and it was perfect. Apologies in advance for any lack of photos, the production staff here is a bunch of dawgs.

I used original tacky glue at first to hold most items together while everything got its shape. Then good ole elmers glue to actually make stuff. Plastic imperial symbol from some GW terrain kit. The bunker started life as a tree I think - I found it in a box as packing material for a fancy lamp. Some doors and other Space marine bits glued in place on little square chunks of foamboard. Oh yeah, I used foamboard for all the build up. Not every layer is a full piece of foamboard. Lightweight but durable.

The bunker had some holes that I covered with masking tape. I put each layer of foamboard down then cut it irregularly. The entire army was nearby and went on and off the board in its various stages many times. I sketched out the placement of vehicles, the thunderwolves, and squads with sharpie as I went.

Everything got a good smacking with the wood putty. I ended up using two different kinds, one was putty one was spackle I think. In the past I have liked the drier of the two but for this project and future ones the thinner wetter stuff seems best. I put down big globs with a large popsickle stick and then worked it around adding texture to some places and smoothing it out in others. I made a lot of terrain pieces when I was a kid and its important to create various seals on your project as you go along. So all of the exposed foamboard was covered well. Once this stuff dried I took a smaller wood wedge and worked over the whole board like laser sandpaper, getting rid of any rough chunks that will flake off anyways etc.

At this point the rough textures mean nothing, its all about layers. The large raised areas are intended for Rhinos/Razorbacks, the smaller snow banks are to help hide the black raised portion of the infantry model's base. On the left side of the board the terrain breaks up for the Thunderwolves and Wolf Scouts to have some stuff to walk over around and etc.

After a couple layers of putty the entire board was painted with cheap black paint from dollar store. Mostly as a final layer of protection before the next stages.

Masked off the Raised areas - not the entire surface, the perimeter of each raised spot has texture and will pick up more as we go.

Built a mask for the bunker, it has enough texture of its own at this point. Also the plastic bits will need protection, probably should not have installed them yet.

Krylon primer black all over, couple of nice even awesome coats on the frame.

Masked off the frame and back edge of ridge.

Bought tons of spray on texture when a local hobby store was going out of business. Very small cans perfect for this application. This was the gray.

Then white. I used some of this stuff before and always hated it, but it seemed perfect as my 3rd/4th texture, and was!

Did some artistic shading and highlighting with black/white spray paint. Some lines some overspray.

Playtesting for NeonCon. GrimBlood vs Eldar and Wolfbrothers vs Pedro

Pulled the tape off the raised areas and flocked them with "Tundra." At this point I glued the Imperial symbol into place. Added many layers of many different sizes of rocks. The whole goal being to break up the landscape with as many textures that would work. The rocks are all added by hand with thin strips or layers of elmers glue. I kinda focused the smaller patches of rocky areas on the lower right part of each area on the board, and large groups of rocks on the upper left of each area. There is a couple of happy little green lichen plants in there also.

Several layers of ink. Black, brown, red and green, in that order. Variously applied with arcane genius!

Ten layers of snow. The first layer is snow flock mixed about half and half with elmers glue. Army Builder snow has become my favotire. Thick snow putty applied very thin to all areas that will receive snow. On the edges or the raised areas this layer went down thicker. Of course in the edges and some groves extra attention was paid, because this was the last chance to fill or otherwise hide anything. The slurry goes down then a layer of fresh flock. I let that dry for a whole day. It looks absolutely horrible at this stage.

Then eight more layers of flock. Using a small generic craft brush I painted 1/3rd watered down elmers glue on to the existing layer of snow flock, careful not to soak the areas with glue or get glue on areas already without snow. It seemed important with each stage to not flock the entire area or even the same exact template of snowy area.

Between layer 9 and 10 I put down a layer of very thin watered down elmers glue over the entire board including the bunker. Almost the last seal. I careful during this application but made sure the existing flocking got a good soak. Let that get a good dry.

For the 10th layer I used less watered down glue, and piled the flocking high. Left it alone in the dark closet for almost a day to dry and be untouched. After a final shaking out in the yard I gave the bunker a simple paint job and coated the board with several layers of clear spray.

This project took about five days start to finish. Its main drawback is the bunker and the bits on the bunker for travel and transport are fragile. I will build a handle for it next trip. It IS lightweight but for tournament play its HUGE and not really great for moving the army around between rounds etc. 

The next board will need better technology.

Good Hunting!

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