Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Buildin' Bloggin'

Hey All!
A running entry on a pet project of mine, namely the Battle of Stalingrad. Pictured above is my first attempt at a ruined building using foamcore board, cereal box cardboard and PVA glue mixed with drywall mud. The design is rather simple and I plan on adding more detail in the next one which I have posted below.

One belief I have about wargame terrain is that it has to be playable. Its no good if you have this wonderful terrain that your minis cannot sit properly on. For this reason, I try and think out what is needed and what will cause issues with mini placement. For example, if this were a real destroyed building, there would be piles of rubble and debris scattered around the footprint but this would not allow minis to be placed. What I plan on doing is making up some rubble edge and corner pieces and butting them up to the building. This allows the rubble to be shifted out of the way in order to place your minis. As well, on the next building, I will have a removable back that lets you place minis on the individual floors instead of having to disassemble stacked floors.

The next building will be based on 4-floor concrete apartment blocks seen in pictures of the battle. I decided to make a building based on this picture:

I begin with the next building by laying out the basic idea on the foamcore with pencil. I plan on adding in a removable back after so only designed the three sides. Approximate heights and outer walls are sketched in, window/door cutouts marked and once happy, I draw in the fold lines with a marker.  Just remember to put the lines on the opposite side for inside corners!

For working with foamcore, you need VERY sharp blades - and many of them. For general straight cuts, a drywall knife with snap-off blades will do but window/door cutouts will require an X-acto. When cutting the folds, only cut through the first layer of paper, then bend. You will get a strong corner on one side and will have to add either a paper/cardboard edge piece or square corner to cover the exposed edge on the other.

Once I got the folds figured out, I laid the building flat and cutout the windows and door. You have to cut past the edge so the corners are sharp and any cuts that show will get covered up with PVA/mud later.

I find that its best to cut on the building outside as the inside opening tends to be less square due to the angle of the blade through the foam.

So I had some time this morning to add on the building...I enlarged the bottom windows and added sills made from cardboard.  I then added outside corners made from square-cut basswood bought from Canadian tire for 1 dollar for 3 feet. As well I added some detail work around the door.

I marked out the areas that would recieve damage and cut them out.

 I didn’t realize how true this was going to be! I ran into a problem when I attached the floor. I used hot glue instead of PVA and the work time is very short. Even with the floor reference line, the glue set before I could align it properly.

 The floor was crooked and caused the building to sit uneven…now what? I tried to remove the floor but it caused the walls to buckle and then I had a melt down…and smashed the whole thing into the garbage…it was probably save-able...but not after I crushed it... 

You know...I learned something today; sometimes its better to have to wait on glue to dry instead of trying to rush with something else...Hot glue = destruction!

When I was younger I used to rush when building plastic models, not waiting till glue or paint dried to do the next step and see the finished product and the results were predictable. It wasn't until I watched a friend building a Stuka, the same one I was building, that I realized the patience needed to do a good job. In the time I built mine, he had only assembled and painted the wheels and bombs. He took the time to plan and paint parts before assembly. He removed the parts from the sprue with a hobby knife, I broke them off with my hand; He painted things and set them aside to dry, I tried to glue wet painted parts together...

Once I took the time, my models improved dramatically and I became much less frustrated and truly enjoyed building. I think I need to revisit this lesson...

Other things I learned...

- Ergonomic license will be needed to model ceiling height extra high so you can get your mitts inside to place minis.

- Don't try to model everything, including extra floors; two or three is sufficient, any more becomes fluff.

- Plan everything out and use reference photos.

- Maybe im drinking too much coffee?

I'm not giving up. I will start again on a similar building and add to this thread.