Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Helmand Project Part 5

It's now time to move away from creating the terrain boards and to concentrate on the scenics items which will cover over 50% of the table top.  This will include a whole range of items from compounds and apartment blocks to shops and farms to fields and ditches.

So where do I start?

Buildings.  The #1 item for fighting in Helmand would have to be the compounds the troops hop to and from and turn into little fortresses of firepower and observation.  These vary in size and shape and are generally made from brick and clay and covered with years and decades of the local dust therefore helping them blend into the earth as though the whole rose up out of it a long time ago.  They can also be vary a lot in this design, some being quite symmetrical and logical while others have obsolutely no system or logic to them at all, and often look like a whole bunch of walls and rooms added one by one over the years.

above: Picture from http://www.michaelyon.com/

above: Picture from http://www.military.net/

Some of these compounds have a lot of damage some of which is not as a result of wars in the past 10 years either.

above: source unknown

So to start with, I will construct a few compounds to test a few different materials and techniques that I have in my mind. 

I am using 3mm mdf for basing for all my scenics.  Some standard sizing will be used with these 1st few compounds being 150mm x 150mm square. 

Compound 1

For this compound I grabbed a base of 3mm mdf being 150mm x 150mm square and draw with a pencil, the layout I wanted.  This was to be a simple rectangle hut with 7 foot wall all around and a gap in the wall for a 2 door gate of some sort.

I used 2mm plasticard to build the building and the walls.  I quickly found that using PVA glue was no good and switched over to superglue which sped up the construction process.  I started off being very precise with the dimensions of the sections and how they glued together but then realised I am to cover the lot with clay anyhow and got a little left perfect towards the end.

The roof should be made similarly but can be modelled to be straw or timber or clay.  I am using clay for this one.  Every effort should be made to make the roof removable but solid and strong enough to hold figures placed on it.  To make it a it easier to hold to remove, glue down a model airconditioner or a chair or something on the roof that can be held between your fingers later.  Another idea is to leave a "trap door" size hole in this section that a finger can get into the remove the roof.  This would presume the access to the roof is from stairs or ladder inside the building.  Finally you can model with clay, small walls on the roof section that troops can use for cover but also aid in the removal of the roof.

After the compound and wall frames were dry, I then worked on covering them all on both sides with modelling clay.  For this I am using the grey Jovi modelling clay.  I have not experienced it shrinking in any way in the past.  I think this is very similar to DAS.
I simply cut a small slice about 20mm x 20mm and about 3mm thick and then press it between my fingers such as in the diagram on the packet and make it as thin as I can.  Then I stick onto a section of wall and press it in and around to cover as much of the card as possible.  Then I add another piece next to it and so on.  The idea is to have a single wall that looks like a single piece of clay with none of the structure behind it showing.  A good idea is to have the result thicker at the bottom than at the top.  Round the bottom so it looks like it continues along the ground when dry.

By the way.  When I say I cover all sides of all walls I don't include the inside of any buildings.  Just enough to be seen when looking through any doorway.

Make sure all the surfaces are smooth and continuous and that all the material the walls and the ground is made from is hidden.  Not all the ground needs to be covered in clay.  Just enough to loosen up the "eveness" of it.  This process does take a while to do and can get quite messy.  I have a number of other ideas for this step which will be mentioned in later compounds.

In this example, I added a thick layer of PVA glue to the ground and little way up the walls and sprinkled on some potting sand.  I then shook it off and waited for it to dry.  I mention this because from now on I don't think I will do this.  It is not uniform with the board covering and I have had trouble finding smaller grade sand without spending a fortune at a hobby store.  I may come back to this as I do have more research in local stores to do so don't be surprised if it comes back.

At this stage you would add in any more detail such as a rubbish pile, a timber heap, dog kennel, garden, shrubs, boulder or rocks, etc.  I am keeping this test piece simple for now.

Once the clay and sand is dry, paint the whole thing using your background deser colour, in my case the Matisse Caramello.  Paint the ground, the walls and any inside walls until nothing is not covered. 

Once dry, apply a heavy dry brush of your desert sand colour, in my case the Matisse Pale Biege to everything except the inside walls of the buildings.  The idea to have the whole compound blend in to the terrain board on which it is placed.

When all the paint is dry, coat the whole thing with the matt lacquer and it is done.  Test the roof can be removed easily and hold a number of figures.

Compound 1 is complete.

... to be continued ...

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