Mediterranean Island Pirate Mega-Map ReaperCon 2012
@ nealcrankshaw - There will be a great deal of reinforcing all around, maybe even some "armor" cladding here and there. I usually build assuming my terrain is going to be used by inebriated gorillas and sugar-hyped two year olds.  Smile

@ pendrake - That is a really cool idea. I will have to keep that in mind for future projects. This time around I think I will be avoiding such clear and fine evidence of sedimentary layering.


As my spouse has noted, I always manage to find the most time intensive way to do things in my pursuit of a certain look.

In this case I think I have found a method of texturing the foam to reproduce the look of crumbling stone like this.

[Image: 15815796359_b5f04dd575_o.jpg]

Unfortunately, that involves grabbing the foam with a pair of pliers and ripping out a small chunk over, and over, and over. It gives a nice effect, but it only textures about one square centimeter at a time... I will do some experiments and post about them later.

I will have to decide if I want to throw in some smoother volcanic ash layers like these for variety (and to speed things up   Smile ).

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I will just have to see what how things look as I start working on things.

Back to work.   Big Grin
Quote:wdlanghnas said:

Quote:ableman33 said:
I have a bunch of fish tank decoration pieces that I may use for parts of this island, especially including the scattered bits around the temple.

Perfect choice  Big Grin

This is really taking shape, I think the height of the piece really adds to it's epicness

Quote:ableman33 said:
As my spouse has noted, I always manage to find the most time intensive way to do things in my pursuit of a certain look.

Your not the only one   Tongue

Quote:Thumper said:
Well ... 2 sets of pliers work better than 1   Tongue
I have a hard enough time keeping my wife's hands off my pieces, in this case I'd probably hand her a pair of pliers   Big Grin

I'm assuming this build is coinciding with spring break, so I'll be expecting regular updates while I'm stuck at work wishing I was "playing" on such an epic build as yours   Wink

Quote:Munin said:

Quote:Thumper said:
I have a hard enough time keeping my wife's hands off my pieces...

Yeah, me too. My wife constantly has her hands all over my piec... Oh, you're talking about terrain.   Wink
This board is looking pretty awesome and I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Quote:pendrake said:
[Image: 15379542344_1e2cab8f05_o.jpg]

MHO here: I think this rock arch is volcanic ash deposit (the pitted looking surface) from the grass down to the first major horizontal striation. (Where the grey pitted area abruptly changes to bright, chalky white.) At that point down to the waterline I think it is all sedimentary deposits. (The various bands of color.)

Are we each calling different areas sedimentary?

I can't help but carry on trying to think of less time intensive techniques for you. Have you considered trying to make the pitted, ragged area by mashing things into the foam instead of tearing chunks out?

If only you had a hand tool that was like a meat tenderizer mallet but instead of regular little pyramids you had irregular, even jagged chunks of stone. I think* this is build-able:

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This is the plastic lid from ... something (a vitamin bottle, a mayonaise jar ?) with some stones carefully packed in and held there with a layer of epoxy. (*This is my great failing: if I can 'picture' it I think it is build-able.)

Theory here is a 2-3 inch lid, mashed in, turned, mashed in, turned, mashed in, turned, mashed in, turned, .... moved sideways a bit repeat repeatedly --- might allow you to go faster than one square cm at a time. With the added benefits: no enormous pile of ripped out foam chunks, the right stones transfer a micro texture as well as poking larger pits.

Shakandra said:

Quote:ableman33 said:
Unfortunately, that involves grabbing the foam with a pair of pliers and ripping out a small chunk over, and over, and over. It gives a nice effect, but it only textures about one square centimeter at a time... I will do some experiments and post about them later.

I textured approx. a 4'x4' area of my dungeon crawl using a method very similar to this. I can say without a doubt that I am less sane for having done so...

Good luck.  Wink


Thanks for all the input, ideas, and humor everyone.  Smile  Your posts make it much easier to stay on track and keep plugging away at these projects.

@ pendrake - That homemade tool is a good idea and it might work great for a different material. Sadly the foam I use is too dense to take impressions like that. These extruded polystyrene panels (both the blue and the pink) can only be deformed with great effort, and even then they just make dents or small tears, not impressions.

I have found it close to impossible to make any decent detail just by pressing with a tool. The material either springs back unmarked, leaves a low broad dent, or tears from the pressure. For example, I have tried rolling over it with heavy sharp rocks and chunks of concrete. All I managed to do was rough up the surface a little and make some small cuts in the surface that mostly closed back up.

Pretty much the only way I have found to texture this stuff reliably is to carve it with knives or melt it with heat.


More WIP pics soon.   Big Grin

Quote:Thumper said:
I know what you mean.

I've tried to texture extruded foam as others have with a favorite rock etc... and it did very little.

Looking forward to the update ...

Quote:Munin said:
Another way to texture extruded foam is with spray paint. It gives it a kind of crumbly, eroded texture that might actually work really well for the top (volcanic ash) layer in the picture shown above. For any areas that you don't want to texture this way, just tape them off or hit them with a protective layer of PVA glue.

@ Munin - I have considered that idea. The problem with using spray paint on raw foam (or acetone or any other solvent) is that it is difficult to have the kind of level of control I like. Plus, if I painted an area and it did not dissolve enough, it would be difficult for me to go back and dissolve more because it would now be protected by paint.

I have considered doing some experiments with my heat gun on some scraps to see if I can get a look that I like. That might give me the degree of control and the ability to potentially go over an area multiple times that I am looking for.
OK, I have been roughing in some more details. Nothing much compared to previous posts, but enough to share (and keep me working).

The edges of my terrain were looking a little too sharply defined and clean cut for the earthquake to have happened 1,500 years ago. Here I took a little off the edge by the coast and some from the middle of the chasm across from the stormtrooper. Taking some from the coast here made the access to the future bridge even more restrictive and interesting.

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Here I took a little from the west coast. You can also see where I have added a foundation for some temple ruins. Again, the pillars are just temporary stand-ins.

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Over by the natural staircase to the beach on the southwest corner of the island, I broke up the coastal edge some more and added some taller pieces to further encourage units coming up the stairs to head for the middle of the island rather than skulk around the edges.

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Here you can see the two foundations I added. These will end up being on the edge of the first 4'x4' sub-map.

While the cove centered map and the chasm map have lots of interesting features, the first map with the beach and ceremonial ramp was fairly flat and plain. I decided to add features along the edges to break up the flatness and make thing more visually interesting while also centering the players' attention on the middle of the map where the battle is intended to take place.

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To break up the perfection of the ruined light house separating the ceremonial ramp from the beach on the west side of the island and to make it even more clear that units should not try to go straight at each other along the west coast from the two staging areas, I collapsed some of the promontory.

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Along the ceremonial ramp on the west side of the island, I added a cylindrical foundation for a broken statue. I also put up some walls along the ramp to keep large units from just running straight over the ramp into the center. These walls will be damaged and decorated with ancient carvings and/or columns. I have already roughly broken off the first corner of the wall to make it easier for hands to place units along the ramp.

(Before adding the walls, I carved out the ramp with my HotWire hot knife. It is not the nicest cut in the world and will require some attention later to cover up my mistakes. I realized too late that I wish I had made this ramp like the other one leading down to the cove. There I left rectangular holes. To make the ramps I simply cut and glued together appropriately sized rectangular blocks then sliced the blocks in half diagonally with a hot wire before gluing them in place.)

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And finally, over at the cove on the east side of the island, I have roughed the ramps leading down to the cove. Eventually I will carve an arch into the top of the foam tunnel above the short ramp.

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To help reinforce the thin north wall along side the ramp to the cove, I have glued a piece of 1/4 inch luan playwood to the outside. I stopped the board short because the cut that will separate the map into 2'x2' pieces will pass through here. I will be gluing a smaller piece of plywood to the remainder of the thin wall leaving a gap between the two pieces of wood for the cut.

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That is it for now. Back to building.   Big Grin
Here are a couple of pics to show you what the grab-and-pull-out-small-chunks-with-pilers method of texturing looks like. I changed the lighting a little between pics to try and get the bumps to show better.

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Next I tried my heat gun.

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On flat foam I was unable to get more than a slight waviness as the foam melted slightly.

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I then applied the pliers ripping method to some foam and hit that with the heat gun. The heat smoothed everything out. The resulting shape reminds me more of melting glacier ice than stone.

[Image: 15814416078_db91dd0654_o.jpg]


I then decided to see just what kind of damage I could do to foam with a heat gun. I turned the fan on the gun up to high and held it just above the foam for a minute, drilling down into the foam.

It made a very interesting shape, like a cross between a flower and a crater. Due to all the melted foam, the resultant structure is quite hard.

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For this project at least, it looks like the heat gun is a bust, though might use it a little bit at a distance to melt any crumbs or sharp edges left after all my messing around.
Quote:Melly.Monkey said:
OOOoooooo, that crater-esque thing is neat.   Shy

Quote:nealcrankshaw said:
Nice and organic... perfect for Tyranids

Yeah, it is a really cool shape. Definitely something to keep in mind for future projects. Sadly though, it does not match up too well with my current Mediterranean meets pirates theme.   Wink

Back to building.   Big Grin
I figured I would start working on texturing my cliffs in the chasm where mistakes or changed techniques would be less noticeable.

Around 20 minutes with a pair of pliers gave me some nice crumbles I might make use of later, and some cliffs with some reasonably interesting textures.

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Hopefully the seams between sheets of foam will not be too noticeable later on, especially after the PVA coats go on. (This rough texture will likely soak up a LOT of PVA, similar to how the sides of my Canyon Hex Map project did, making them really hard and tough.)

One thing that I have noticed is that putting this rough texture along the cliff edges keeps the eye from noticing much of the innate curvature of the cliff. It looks much more flat and homogenous now. Maybe I can keep messing with it, ripping out certain horizontal layers a bit more deeply say, to get back some of the visual complexity.

Decent painting may help too...

Oh well, I am committed now.   Smile

Back to my pliers.  Big Grin
Quote:stubbdog said:
Your work area is way too nice and neat. It needs to be much more cluttered like mine...   Big Grin  Big Grin  Big Grin

@ stubbdog - Thanks. You should have seen my garage/workshop a couple of days before I started this project. A few months back I had to empty out all my science cabinets up at my school and bring that stuff home. My workshop had all surfaces (floors and tables included) buried under the stuff. I have made some headway into getting it all out of the way, but for the most part I just smashed everything wherever I could find room so that I could swivel my worktable around.

The underside of the other three tables are pretty much solid rectangular prisms of compressed fossils, catapults, rocks, helium tanks, slinkies, and other repurposed toys. The density down there is such that it is starting to distort light rays, a fact that I will use to excuse any bad photography in this WIP thread.   Big Grin


Kneeling down with pliers in hand, considering the task ahead of trying to remove a fair amount of foam volume to get some undercutting on my textured cliffs, that reptile/gorilla part of my brain that is always trying to think of how we could do a given task with far less work kept rubbing its chin with thick contemplative fingers.

My budding frustration just wanted to stab into this thing and rip it apart rather than just nibble at it slowly with pliers that needed to be opened, closed, opened, and cleaned with every bite.

What I needed was a dagger, or a crowbar, or a screwdriver. Something sharp and thin enough so that it could stab into the foam and yet strong enough for me to yank sideways with satisfying brute force, hurling out big rough chunks in a machine like flurry of destruction.

My gorilla brain grunted with a grin and reached for the perfect tool...

[Image: 15814415998_1c4af17d87_o.jpg]


The chisel can be stabbed into the foam to an appropriate depth easily, while its strength and flat cross section make pulling out a big satisfying chunk easy.

After five minutes I had carved away the underside of the rough cliff face, giving some curve and interest to the profile and mimicking how wave action and water would have undercut the cliff.

[Image: 16001793265_01edc89f74_o.jpg]

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Here are some comparison shots with the taller companion cliff face of the chasm that has not yet been textured.

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I think I can work with this technique, tweaking my application and switching between the chisel for rough shaping and the pliers for smaller stuff near cliff tops and the shallow rises across the board.

Back to more destruction!   Big Grin
Quote:Thumper said:

Quote:ableman33 said:
My gorilla brain grunted with a grin and reached for the perfect tool...
[Image: 15814415998_1c4af17d87_o.jpg]

Tim Allen would be proud ... though he would want MORE POWER!

Enter a Binford Cliff Excavator 2012:
[Image: 15814539560_71a6049d99_o.jpg]

Quote:HobbyDr said:
Oh, okay, okay, I see where you're going with this. You're working that realism angle, aincha? When all else fails, just make it look real. Clever.   Wink

Wave delved cliffs...........I think you've hit it on the mark. Very nice. I like your use of the chisel. Score another point for the primates!


@ HobbyDr - Yeah, you caught me. I just do not have the head for fantastical terrain, so I am forced to stick with copying nature and hoping nobody judges me too harshly.   Big Grin
In truth, I see my stuff as more inspired by natural materials and formations rather than being well crafted simulations of them. Case in point, the "chunks" I am removing from my cliffsides are far too large for this scale.

But thanks for the vote of confidence.   Smile


OK, I have finished with the two large cliffs that make up the sides of my chasm. I added some more detail, making the bottoms more undercut and the sides more curtain-like from years of erosion. I feel this gives enough visual and shape variation to keep things from seeming too linear.

I went a bit pic heavy on this post. I just really enjoyed both the results and the process of creating these shapes/textures. Also, as these are the largest cliffs I will be using these techniques on, this is the best canvas on this project for exploring this method.

Some of the shots used a single overhead light to get some shadows so that the 3-D nature of the shapes would be more apparent. It is far easier to see all the curves and bends in the foam in person. No matter what I try, the "helpful" features on my camera continue to even things out making the carving seem flatter and less interesting that it really is.

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Now to carry this technique around the rest of the island.   Wink
Quote:stubbdog said:
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These types of low cliff beaches lend themselves well to cave formation which should provide lots of opportunity for fun details assuming I can find the time.

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Based on your inspiration pictures, one thing I would suggest might be to not try to use your "chunky" style on every part of your cliff walls. But, as you can see in the examples, they vary between chunky and smooth eroded in different places...
@ stubbdog - While it is true that some of my inspiration pics have smoothly eroded layers, I have decided to go more for the look in these pics.

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Going with this crumbled look has several advantages:

Firstly, most of the rest of the cliff areas I will be texturing will be much shorter than the tall cliffs of my chasm. This means there will be less room to place contrasting layers.

Secondly, having all my edges be crumbly will make a nice contrast with my large mostly flat play areas and the clean straight lines of my ruins. Not only is such contrast visually pleasing, but it also helps the players instinctively know which parts of the terrain are not intended to be played on.

And thirdly, the method of creating this crumbled look is quick, forgiving, and fairly easily scalable for a consistent look ranging from my 1 inch steps in the terrain to my 8 inch tall chasm cliffs and sea arches. This method enables me to quickly create complex 3-D shapes with intricate surface details that should work with paint and shadows in interesting ways.


At first I had considered going with smoother sides, at least in some places, but after working with this method and considering the above observations, I have decided to go with the crumbled look for all my non-ruin edges.

When combined with varying shades of paint, water staining, wet and dry looks, and bits of plants and scrub, this should make for some interesting terrain.

(Add to all of the above that the fact that if I were going to have differing layers, geologically I should have had them present in the cliffs I just finished. It would seem a little off for the sides of my island to have some smooth layers while the complete cross-section of the island that is the chasm does not. At this point, for good or for ill, I am pretty much locked in to the crumbled look.)


I have to admit, knowing the kinds of details I want to add once the basic terrain is finished and that I only have 6 weeks before the convention makes me a bit worried. Given the size of this map, that this is my first project at this play scale, and that this is my first non-hex terrain, I feel I should have started something like this months ago.

Ah well, fast, furious, and fun right?   Big Grin

Thanks for the suggestions. Back to work for me.   Big Grin

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