Mediterranean Island Pirate Mega-Map ReaperCon 2012
Quote:SpiderHawk said:
Spray paint will texture foam in many cool ways.

Quote:wdlanghans said:

Quote:HobbyDr said:
Wave delved cliffs...........I think you've hit it on the mark.

Yeah.. spot on! This table is going to be sooooooo  Cool
I have made some progress with texturing the east side of my island.

Here are some pics of the south side with the natural staircase leading down to the cove. I made some small caves at the waterline to give myself some areas for potential detailing later, hidden stashes of rum, secret get-away rowboats, etc.

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I am still working on the arches around the cove, but I have made some progress.

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To make working on the undersides of the arches easier, I flipped the map upside down for part of the time I was working on them.

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This roughing in of shape and detail is fairly quick going. Hopefully I will get the island itself roughed in by the end of this holiday weekend. Next step after that will be to start on the causeways and ruins.

Back to work.   Big Grin
Quote:Melly.Monkey said:
The shapes you have going here are amazing. This is going to be an awesome table.   Big Grin

Quote:MUMSY said:
The shapes you are achieving remind me of old lava cliffs off the Napali Coast in Kauai. I enjoy watching your tables come to life.   Big Grin

Thanks Melly and Mumsy.  Smile

I had not considered the dark volcanic rocks of places like the Napali coast. What has struck me is that this technique would lend itself well to glaciers and icebergs, but I like the volcanic angle too.

I am really enjoying the freedom of this project and find myself wallowing blissfully in the pleasure of making organic shapes.

Making "realistic" hexes is fun, but I am finding this first foray into freeform terrain quite pleasurable.

The east side with the cove is pretty much finished. Now on to the west side.   Big Grin
OK, I have roughed in the rocky parts of the whole map now.

The west half is finished.

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I am happy with how the south coast cliffs came out...

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And I am happy with how the stone looks under the foundation of the northwest tower...

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But the breakwater, natural steps, and lighthouse hill look a little bit "fuzzy" to me right now. I may tweak them some more later to see if I can get them to look more natural.

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Here are a couple of shots showing both halves together.

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I am leaving part of the collapsed arch section around the cove unfinished for now.

One of the elements that needs to be included in the map is a shipwreck. Rather than just have a shipwreck as decoration along the coast or out in the ocean, I decided I wanted to incorporate it into the action.

The story will be that a ship tried to enter the cove through the southern broken arch section, not knowing about the rocks just below the surface left behind when the arch collapsed. The ship broke up on the rocks and later pirates used the wreck as a bridge to cross over to the nearby spire.

I may also make it look like the pirates have salvaged some of the bits of the wreck to create a lookout post on the spire as well as to make a means to get up there.

For now, I am leaving the level one terrain in place to aid in placing the spire on the wood base when I glue them on.

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The next step, now that everything has had its rough shaping, is to reinforce everything.

Ideally I would have locked each layer together with angled toothpicks and skewers as I glued each layer down, but, because I wanted to save time (and interrupt my spouse as few times as possible to help me align the layers as they were being glued), I skipped that step.

In some respects I am glad I did skip that step as not having the toothpicks and skewers in place freed me up to carve anywhere I wanted without worrying about hitting wood.

A quick break, then back to work.   Big Grin
After a bit more tweaking to the west coast area, it was time to go on to the next step.

I realized that I should probably cut my map up into 2'x2' sections before adding all my reinforcement. That way I would not have to worry about accidentally running into a toothpick or skewer with my thin fragile hot wire while cutting.

Step one was to clamp a board to act as a guide fence exactly 2 feet from my cutting wire.

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Because the north side of my map is already straight, I was able to slide my map slowly along the wood guide and cut the map in half lengthwise.

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Cutting these two pieces into 2'x2' squares was a bit trickier as the map did not already have a nice flat edge running north and south. To solve this I created one.   Smile

Using some 1/4" plywood, I made a sled that could slide along the guide fence. To keep the maps level I added a second scrap of wood on the other side of the cut. Before placing the maps down, I added some pieces of no-slip rubber foam so that the plywood and maps would slide together.

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I then placed the maps into position and temporarily taped them together so that they would not slide relative to each other.

To further keep the foam from sliding across the plywood, I added a large stone to press them together. (The orange ball is filled with sand and acts as a second weight. It was placed on the other side of the cut to keep the side sticking out over the edge of the table from falling off as the cut was made.

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After that cut was made, I was able to use the new straight edge against the guide fence without need for the sled.

A few minutes later and the west side of my map is cut into six pieces.
(The pieces do not look like 2'x'2 squares because the ocean around the edges also takes up part of the squares.)

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Now to do the east side of the island. It is thicker and a bit more complicated, but will pretty much follow the same procedure.

Back to building.   Big Grin
The slicing is all finished now.

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Next step, reinforcement and gluing to bases. After that, further detailing.

Back to work.   Big Grin
Quote:Shakandara said:
Shouldn't there be one more set of slices, at the midline? The chasm in that section of the table is deceptive, as it makes you think it has already been cut.


Quote:pendrake said:
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What are you going to do with all those little chunk-lets of foam?  Cry

@ Shakandara - You are correct. According to my original plan, there should have a been one more slice to the east of the chasm.

When I laid out my original cut lines for the 2'x2' grid I did not know just how much carving I was going to do to make my eroded coastlines. After I started carving I realized that I was either going to have to make the east side of my chasm far less deeply carved than the rest of the island in order to preserve my original cut line, or I was going to need to move my cut line.

In the end, I decided to let myself carve as deeply as I needed to to get the eroded look I was going for and just move this cut line wherever it needed to go to make the east side of the chasm strong enough to stand on its own. After everything was carved, I realized that if I shifted this cut line 5.5 inches to the west it would be inside the chasm itself and there would be no need to cut the foam at all.

This is good because the east side of this map is where most of the action is supposed to take place as units maneuver in and around the ruins that will be there. Moving the cut line to the west makes this flat area all one solid piece.

(The original cut line is the tiny dashed one on top of the map to the right. The new cut line is the solid one on the craft table to the west. Things look a little off in this picture because the empty space of the chasm was compressed when I tossed these all on the table for the group shot. There should be at least 6 inches of space between the east and west sides of the chasm.)

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So, the rest of the map will stay a 24"x24" grid, but this set of four maps will have two 29.5"x24" rectangles and two 18.5"x24" rectangles.

If I had known how deeply I was going to carve from the beginning, I would have either moved the chasm west enough so that the east side of the chasm had enough support to stand on its own after the cut was made, or I would have moved the chasm east enough that the standard cut was inside the chasm.

Hopefully this 5.5 inch shift will not prove too problematic.


@ pendrake - Yeah, there are a LOT of foam crumbles of all different sizes.

At first I started putting them in the large purple bucket (18"wide by 8" tall) thinking that the container would be more than enough to hold them. When that filled up before I was even done with one side of the chasm I knew I was in trouble.

For now I have them swept into large piles under my work tables. (No point in trying to keep the floor too clean until I am done making a mess right?) Eventually I will put them into a large garbage bag. Any that will not fit in there can be thrown away.

My thought is to hold on to them to see how I can use them in terrain making. I plan to use some of them in the bottom of the chasm and around my ship wreck in the cove to create boulders sticking out of the water.

I will have to do some tests to see how robust these crumbles are after a few coats of PVA glue and paint. If they are sturdy enough I may just hold on to them for future projects.   Smile
Quote:kerinst said:
I KNOW I KNOW!!! Mars landscape   Smile

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(WARNING: Much text, few pictures.)

Well it has been an interesting few days.

Things were delayed a bit as I got sick over the Easter break just in time to miss having fun with my nieces and nephews.   Sad

Once that got taken care of it was time to work on the bases.

First step was to pick up most of the foam crumbles left over from my carving before they started getting mixed up with sawdust. I kept a bag for later and tossed the rest.

(The keepers are shown below with a spray can for scale. I should be good on foam crumbly bits for a while.   Big Grin  )

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When it came time to base my foam, things were not easy as I had hoped. I made the mistake of pre-cutting my bases before I sliced up my large map.

When I cut my boards originally, I figured that I did not need to be that neat because my plan was to make the bases a bit smaller than the maps above. This was on purpose because I wanted my foam to extend a bit past the wood bases to insure the tightest fit possible between map sections. Making the wood smaller meant it would never bump into nearby wood bases and cause gaps in the map above.

What I forgot to think about though was that I was going to use my wood bases for the water around my island. If I wanted my water to not have any breaks in it, I needed my wood bases to fit flush together. This oversight combined with my not perfectly exact slicing of the foam (and change of the base dimensions around the chasm) meant that I had a problem if I wanted to use my original base boards.

My ultimate solution was to go out and buy six new 2'x4' sheets of plywood with nicely straight and square edges that fit well together.

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These were then custom cut up to provide bases for map pairs that fit tightly together. Any gaps that were created were put between 4-map sets where they would not be seen during regular play as the big map would be separated into three discreet tables.

(Here you can see some of the bases being assisted by clamps from my extensive collection. More on clamping adventures in a moment.)

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In the middle of my cutting and gluing bases, I needed some more clamps. Rather than move things out of the way, I just stepped onto one of my stacks of plastic milk crates to reach the clamps hanging over my table of foam maps waiting to be glued.

Unfortunately, I did not look closely enough at the stack as I stepped onto it. I failed to notice that the two crates were not actually locked together but were instead just sitting on top of each other at an angle. They stayed in place just long enough for me to stand on top of them, then slid apart.

One surprised grunt later I was sitting on the floor with an interestingly dented shin and torn toe nail. Just enough pain to drive the lesson home without any permanent damage.

Sadly though, my wildly flailing arm did a perfect elbow slam right into the center of one on my waiting foam arches. The full weight on my body hit the most fragile part of my map with a deep crack and crunch of foam. This was enough to distract me from my injuries and the thought of my spouse telling me again about the consequences of rushing as it interrelates with hurting myself. I picked myself off the floor and checked out the damage.

Thanks to my tendency to way over build things, even though the foam had not yet been based or covered in layers of PVA, the web of skewers I had hammered through the arch held. My precision elbow strike had hit exactly where it would do the most damage, but only the bottom layers of foam broke. The top layer held with only a partial crack. I glued the joint in place and prepared to reinforce the arches later.

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Rather than wait until the pieces were attached to their bases, I decided to reinforce the ramp and arch section now. Some custom cut plywood pieces and some spray glue and these things are ready for tournament play.

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The plan is to cover and blend these pieces into the rest of the terrain later when I add my textured coatings (PVA glue, drywall mud, and sawdust).

Now I have to head out to the store to get more glue before I can base my last four maps.

Happy (and safe) building to you all.   Big Grin
OK, all the bases have been attached.

Here are a couple of views of the island as a whole with all three sub-maps pushed together for display purposes.

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And here are some pics of the three sub-maps as they will be used during actual play.

[EDIT - The maps ended up being kept together during play with different games staying on their own parts of the map.]

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Now I am ready to have fun adding ruins and roads and other surface details.


One thing of note, I have been having difficulty this time around with the plywood bases not staying completely adhered to the bottom layers of foam. This might be because I did not use enough Super 77 spray glue, or because I tried to only spray one of the two surfaces being bonded, or because I did not clean the dust off the boards enough before gluing, or some other reason.

If this continues to be an issue, I will see about getting some extra PVA into the gaps when I coat everything. I would use screws or the like drilled up through the underside of the bases into the foam to help lock things together, but since these maps do not have frames and need to lay flat, that is not a choice.

I will keep an eye on things and see how the issue progresses as I move on.

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