Showing posts with label model. Show all posts
Showing posts with label model. Show all posts

Monday, February 12, 2024

Maker Monday - Project 1 - The Tall House

My wife and I have been dressing up our newly rebuilt house with furniture. That stuff comes in flat-pack boxes with tons of odd bits and foam pieces to protect the item inside. I noticed some great upcycle bits that I will be using for the first couple of projects. 

There is a ton of styrofoam in this packaging and I saved it all. The type I am upcycling is called EPS or expanded polystyrene which doesn't break down over time making it very hard to tip in the trash or recycling bin. 

I noticed that some of these companies are using small cardboard L's to get around using a lot of styrofoam and these bits are going to be the tip-top of these projects. 


Other handy bits found in packing are pieces of wood or particle board cast off the from manufacturing process. While heavy, it does fill space in a shipping box nicely. I have my cutting mat sitting on one, just so you don't think my table is a strange two-grained surface. 

Let's take a look at some of those pieces. 

I have my styrofoam and a couple of cardboard Ls on the cutting mat, plus Sarafina the Cat for scale. 

You will need your tool kit, styrofoam pieces, cardboard, heavyweight paper, and maybe some other items particular for your build, like popsicle sticks or stir sticks. 

What scale am I using? I call it "handy scale". Pieces are bigger than an inch and beyond that, I don't care much. I have both 15mm and 25 mm figures. I want the display pieces to be big enough to look nice but small enough to move around and store easily. I want to be able to use them for both 15 and 25 mm figures. 

I can set these parts to a scale like 1" equals 6 feet. In this case, the cardboard L is two inches wide (12 feet) and one inch high (6 feet). 

As I mentioned, the cardboard Ls are going to be the cherry on top of this project. They will be both the roof and a ready-made item I don't have to cut. 


I do need to make some measurements. The styrofoam (foam from here on out) is about 1 and 1/4 inches wide and much longer. When I match it up to the cardboard L, there is a 3/4 overhang. I can smoosh the cardboard to make this more or less by changing the pitch. This has the nice effect of making two different buildings appear to have completely different rooves with the exact same material. 

Each small L is about 4 to 5 inches long. The foam needs to be cut just a smidgen smaller than that, say 1/2 inch smaller so the overhang is close to the same all the way around. 

In the image, there is a very long piece of cardboard, about 12 inches. I haven't tried to cut it but I already know that I will use it for a different project as it is so tough cutting will be difficult. 

Speaking of size, let me apologize now. It's been a few years since I have posted on modeling. Mistakes have been made. What I need to get in the habit of is using GIMP to make sure every image is the same size. I didn't do that here, simply snapping a picture on my phone and cropping to whatever seemed ok. In retrospect, every crop is very not ok. It's annoying for me and probably distracting for you. 

I have sized up the foam I had in easy reach. The Ls match both, so I picked the skinnier, taller pieces for this model. This will be a Tall House after all. This particular piece is 4 inches tall making it about 30 feet tall plus an extra 1/2 inch under the eaves. This would represent a 3-story building. 

For D&D games, this would translate to a four-story building because there would likely be a dug-out root cellar or a crawlspace between the structure and the solid ground. This is highly variable as this building could be wood, stone, or block construction with the stone or blocks sitting on a rock base while a wooden structure simply resting on the dirt. 

I am not going deep into the weeds on this because how the building interacts with this ground is not only dependent on the material used but also the climate. If it freezes, you either need to be deep in the ground or right on top and no deeper. Both present construction problems in real life.

This reminds me, if you goof anywhere within this project, you can turn the building into a ruined structure. Ground heave, earthquakes, and fires have destroyed many, many ancient buildings. 

In my last post, I told you 3 lies. In this post, I will apologize 3 times. The second apology is about my 12-item list. I forgot sandpaper. We're almost there. You'll need sandpaper. 



In this picture, I line up the roof on the edge of the foam and push it over about 1/2 inch. This will give me a 1/4 overhang on all four sides. This is a very rude measurement and not entirely true for reasons I will explain later. 

This is a roughly built structure, so I just eyeballed the cutline. I want consistent lines, but not necessarily straight and square. I am shocked that the pencil is visible in the photograph. 

If your line isn't visible, use a ballpoint pen, not a marker. The ink can melt the foam and this is less noticeable with a ballpoint pen. 

This next part requires a bit of care. I'm working with a knife or wire foam cutter or maybe one other item, a hot knife. I forgot about the hot knife method until I opened my wire foam cutter and found one. The idea is that you put the knife in a flame and try not to stab yourself with a flaming hot knife. I am not a fan of this method. 

I used the wire foam cutter, but let me fill you in on a secret to using a foam cutter. 

Make a cardboard or tagboard jig or template. In the photo, you can see I simply aligned 2 cardboard Ls with the line. This was a mistake. The Ls are slightly smaller than the foam and it is only on 3 sides. This leaves a lot of wiggle room for the cutter. 

Well, that will be a problem. 

I selected the half-hoop cutter for this. I have a choice of two different probe-like wires and the half-hoop. I have poked myself with the probe-like wires so I wanted the one that can't poke me. 

These things get raging hot very quickly. They also cool just as quick. DO NOT touch, a couple of seconds can mean the difference between a cool wire and a 3rd-degree burn. Don't play that game. 

The wire is barely under Fahrenheit 451. It shouldn't burn paper, but could brown it. If you don't like burning smells in the house, open a window, go outside, or use your garage or basement.  

The trick is to move swiftly and smoothly as the wire radiates heat which melts the foam some distance from the contact point. This takes practice and the jig or template can help. Assuming you make it correctly, unlike me. 

The cut takes about 2 seconds to complete, maybe faster. Do not force the wire through the foam. Let the heat work for you. 

As you can see from the picture, I didn't move smoothly and my makeshift jig let the wire slide all over. I do have plenty of experience doing this and simply overestimated my skill. I am two or three years out of practice and boy did it show. 

I grabbed a piece of sandpaper, something I always have to run out and buy because I didn't have any around when I made my post about the 12 items you need in your tool kit. It took far longer to buy the stuff than it did to sand the block down. 

When sanding styrofoam, use steady, flat strokes. Resist the urge to go in circles or roll onto the edges, unless you actually want rounded edges. If you do round your edges, do all four vertical corners and leave the top and bottom natural. Rounding the bottom where it touches the ground looks weird unless you are making a sci-fi-themed building where there is the possibility that the "building" is actually a shipping container-like structure. 

As you can see, I quickly sanded this down. I could have covered this side with a skim of plaster, or a sheet of paper or made details that covered the roughness. You could, in theory, skip the sandpaper but I already did it. 

Now for the final apology. I had expected to have the whole building done in a single post. Rooves are fiddly things with a zillion options. Having the Ls shaped piece simplifies the build but doesn't make the roof less time intensive. Whatever you save using the L-pieces, you can burn with other details.   

This will be my very next post. Again, I apologize. 

Through the magic of making several buildings off-camera, we can look at several different styles and methods for the roof. In later posts, I will either link to the roof post or create a series of roofing posts that you can reference.  

This post appears on These Old Games, but please do me a favor and follow me on FacebookMeWeDice.Camp and/or Ko-Fi

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Lights, Camera, Prep - The 65 Dollar Tool Kit

I have so much going on. I need my shelves back to do some gardening, which means cleaning and organizing my D&D and modeling supplies. 

For the past couple of months, I've had some crafting projects on my mind that never went anywhere. I want finished products, not another tote or bin full of unfinished crap. I have supplies on top of tools and that drives me nuts. 

We could do this together. 

Let's pull together a 65.00 dollar tool kit for DIY models. This toolbox is meant more for crafting as opposed to plastic models. You probably have many of these things already and my suggestion is to buy as little as possible.  

The inspiration for this series is this custom Star Smuggler Print and Playbox, which remains at 90% complete. 

This list does not include supplies for projects. Each part of this series will have a separate supply list for each model or project. These projects will range from upcycling junk to throwing together scraps from other projects. You shouldn't have to buy too much for these crafts. 

These are the 12 items you will need to follow along at home. I have included basic prices and only a few lies: 

  • Cutting mat - $9.00 
  • Paper cutter - $10.00
  • 3 in 1 foam cutter - $20.00 to $30.00
  • Razor knives - $5.00
  • Glue - $5.00
  • Paint - $1-2.00 each*
  • Tape - $1.00
  • Rule/Straight Edge - $1.00
  • Pencil - $1.00
  • Pen - $1.00
  • Marker - $1.00*
  • Brushes - $1.00*
  • (I forgot this one until I started working on a project. Sandpaper). 
Items marked with a * are lies. 

This collection of tools is pretty standard. You probably already have markers, pens, pencils, and tape, so we can shave off 4 bucks. 

Cutting mats are wonderful and highly variable in price. The green one above is 17" by 12" and I found a two-pack for $9.00. You can also find one at the Dollar Store, for a surprising $1.25. Of course, I can't find it for a picture, but the black and orange one I did find was $25 with some tools. If you want to save some money, go find a scrap of wood or a piece of cardboard. Tagboard or poster board is a little too thin. If you go with the board, shave off another $9.00. 

The cutting mat serves three functions: a scale or ruler, a nice surface, and safety. The ruled lines allow for nice straight and/or square cuts without resorting to a second tool. It has a soft surface that protects your workspace. Most importantly, the soft, self-healing surface can protect your body and hands as blades have a tendency to lodge into the surface on slips, saving you from a nasty cut or scare. 

I prefer cardboard over wood for catching cutting accidents. If you go with a piece of wood, pick a soft board. 

I will be using a foam cutter for many of these projects. I consider it necessary, but you can get by just fine with a very, very sharp knife or razor. Just be careful. The foam cutter eliminates a lot of messes, but it's a hot tool that takes some practice to use. My first couple of projects only involve straight cuts, so you can get that practice by following along. 

Foam cutters are wonderful, but the pricing is outrageous for no good reason. The item pictured was $20.00. However, I have seen the EXACT SAME ITEM for $200. Don't do that to yourself, shop around. You don't need it that badly. 

The paper cutter is an optional "nice to have, but not necessary" item. I like it but you can do just fine the mat and a razor or use a pair of scissors. This one I found at Target on clearance, otherwise, I would not have one at all. It's a product with a single purpose which may or may not come up that often. 

The paper cutter is nice but...

I feel like I can skip over many items on this list as you probably have them. 

Let's go to the LIES section. There are 3 of them: brushes, paints, and markers. The list claims you can have all three for about $12 assuming you want only 10 paints, a brush, and a marker. That is actually a tiny lie due to the projects we will be doing. 

DO NOT USE your wife's Copic markers on these projects. The same goes for her wonderful Citadel paints or her sable-hair paintbrushes. Murder will result. There is no "may" in that statement. It will happen. 

The projects we will be working on are rather rude. You can glitz them up to your level of comfort, but don't waste nice markers, paints, or brushes on this. Dollar store items will be fine.   

The same can be said of glue. I have three different items from the Dollar Store. We aren't building furniture, so don't waste your money on "nice things". There is one item in this picture that is a "must have", the Tacky Glue. It's a Dollar Store item which is shocking. It has the consistency of Mod Podge and can be used for both gluing and a surface cover. I love it. 

I can't wait for us to get started.

Before I finish up, I wanted to talk about the writing implements: pen, pencil, and markers. Certain materials do not like certain marking implements. Styrofoam melts with some markers, damaging both the craft and the marker itself. Pens are good for dark, soft materials as you can see the color. Pencils are pretty much universal to all products, but sometimes not for foam or dark surfaces. If I notice this happening in this series of projects, I will warn you in advance. 

That is it, here are the 12 items you will need for this project series, complete with three lies. 

(And one omission, sandpaper.) 

This post appears on These Old Games, but please do me a favor and follow me on Facebook, MeWe, Dice.Camp and/or Ko-Fi

Monday, February 6, 2023

Operation Spartan Restoration

I started restoring my Mechs tonight. I picked one and ran with it. 

The tools and supplies are rather basic. I used a fine-point sharpie instead of the pencil I normally use for photo quality. I also needed a razor and a couple of files. For glue, I used Tacky Glue and Superglue together, which is an interesting trick. 

The final item is the material needed to resculpt the arm, a piece of soapstone. This product is found in the welding supply section of your local hardware store. Soapstone is incredibly soft yet heat resistant, which means you can mark materials and hit them with enough energy to melt metal without burning up your markings. 

It comes in two forms, a flat bar, and cylinders that fit into a pen-like holder. The cylinders are nice for columns and such. 

The first thing I did was roughly trace the arm I wished to sculpt. It doesn't have to be a work of art AND it needs to be bigger than the arm you want. 

Soapstone has a grain just like wood. Unlike wood, it is remarkably honorable to your tools, meaning you can push and pull against the grain. What soapstone does not like is compression or impact. It will shatter like very soft glass. 

Whittling down this one piece took about 15 minutes most of which was spent taking pictures. One item I did not mention was a plastic bag to sweep all of the dust and fragments into. I didn't take a picture of that because it looks like a bag of crack. 

I try to roughly carve the arm down to the right size and proportions. Notice that I don't cut the arm away from the larger piece. It's too small for that. 

I used a mech to size up the arm as I work. Luckily, I have mechs with broken right and left hands, so I have a model to work from. 

Once I am down to the right size and proportions, I carefully... Carefully... cut the arm away from the bar. When making these cuts I work my way into the bar, not away from it. 

These are actually cuts, every bit of work so far is with a razor. This is the other reason you don't remove the piece from the bar. You'll have nothing to hang on to and cut yourself. The other devastating disaster is dropping the part on the floor and chipping it so badly it's useless. 

I skipped all of the pictures of sanding with files. It's super boring to look at. A file will knife right through soapstone, so go slow. You can't exactly put the material back. 

Well, actually you can add material back but it is annoying, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. It also makes fine-tuning your model very difficult. 

Remember the bag of soapstone dust and chips? You can apply layers of glue to the damaged portion and add soapstone chips and dust to it. The problem with this methodology is it takes time to dry and the glue/stone laminate is really tough stuff. Filing becomes much harder. It's also super sad if the glue slips off the model and you have to glue it back on a second time. Thankfully, the glue and soapstone mix will keep it's shape, it's only annoying. 

Anyway, the last step is to add the details, like the etched-in lines. You can get remarkably detailed in this work, like scrimshaw on ivory. You might be tempted to use a razor to do some of this work. Don't. Instead, use a pin with a handle. I personally like removing a rubber eraser from a pencil, shoving a pin through it, and gluing it back into place. 

In order to mesh the parts up, I filed the metal of the model down into a V-shaped point and did the reverse on the soapstone part. This increases the surface area and allows you to feel when the part is in the right place. I've shown you the final image, but I want to show off one more trick with the second last image. 

See the white spot of glue on the metal model? That isn't just glue, it's soapstone powder on the tacky glue. I put the super glue on the soapstone part and touch them together. There is a quick chemical reaction between all three substances and the dry time is about 5 seconds. It's pretty cool. 

I am saving another trick for my next post. See you there. 



Friday, April 9, 2021

Models Bandai 002 X Wing Starfighter 1:144 Scale - 001

My first go at documenting the build process for the Bandai 002 X Wing Starfighter in 1:144 Scale. 

These models are remarkably tiny and detailed. The beauty of these things are the plastic quality is high as is the craftsmanship. The sprues are designed in such a way that after trimming, there is very little sanding or smoothing. 

Every part is so tiny. But Bandai designed these kits with keyed parts. The keys prevent you from placing the wrong piece in the wrong place. One word of warning. If you dry fit some of the pieces, they are very, very hard to get apart. Just skip dry fitting. 

I'm decades out of practice, so mistakes were made. I'll detail those last. 

1 / 11
Laying out the first wing
2 / 11
Engine detail
3 / 11
The mess
4 / 11
Wing with one engine
5 / 11
Second engine
6 / 11
Wing 2 with both engines
7 / 11
Wings ready
8 / 11
The X in X-Wing
9 / 11
Close S-foils
10 / 11
Main body
11 / 11

A few details were hard to work on. Those two wings snap together on a pivoting hinge. It requires a lot of force on a tiny model. I found I couldn't do it with my hands and no tool seemed correct. I end up using a pencil sharpener by lining up the hole in the sharpener with the center of the hinge and pressing down hard. 

It worked so well that I added that little sharpener to my tool box. 

Now, the mistake. 

This image should have been a clue. That pivoting hinge runs down the back half of the main body. Somehow, I missed getting the hinge in the back hole which supports it. It felt right. 

Yeah, no. As you can see the wings don't close. Nor do they open all the way. They have a springy feel to them and the right side engine naucell presses against the side of the body. Taking pictures at a jaunty angle hides the mistake, but I'm going to give this model another go. 

(I might try the freezing technique to break the glue and refit it. We'll see.) 

Friday, November 29, 2019

Keep Planning

Before I start my next major step, I need to plan the stairs. I don't like any of three options I came up with, but I think I am going to have the stairs project straight outwards. 

This would be good for 15 mm, but this is 28 mm.

This might be the best of all three, but I am not in love with it.

This what I originally pictured, but I don't like the way it looks.
In case you are wondering, the stairs are cut from soap stone. It's a great material to work with and I hope my next project incorporates more of it.

I don't know where this is going, but before the next step, I need a plan.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Tabletop models at their finest.

Full discourse, this is my dad's video from Facebook. Imagine growing up in a house with this sort of insanity going on, on a daily basis. Instant gamer baby.

If that is what my dad had in mind, it certainly worked.

(Sorry for the slow load times.)

El Cid at the Siege of Augusta
The Cid fights at Siege of Augusta 2019!
Posted by Classical Hack on Sunday, January 20, 2019

Here is another of my Scottish manor houses. In this case what is called a z house. These were called z houses because they had a z design with towers on each end and each tower was juxtaposed to create a z pattern. Common to Scotland and Ireland from 1500 to 1700. I went a little long on the video.
Posted by Classical Hack on Thursday, January 10, 2019

Oh,yeah. Game on.

If you want more, go check out his Facebook page.

Tabletop Game Models at their Finest.

Full discourse, this is my dad's video from Facebook. Imagine growing up in a house with this sort of insanity going on, on a daily basis. Instant gamer baby.

(Sorry for the slow load times.)

El Cid at the Siege of Augusta
The Cid fights at Siege of Augusta 2019!
Posted by Classical Hack on Sunday, January 20, 2019
Oh,yeah. Game on.