Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Terrain Project: My first Therian board

On my first board I thought that I used the fold up map from Operation Damocles as a guide for how big to make the board, but apparently I thought wrong. For some reason the length of my board was actually 32 5/8". Why the odd number I really can't say. 32" I could see. 33"? Ya know, I could probably even explain away that as well. But 32 5/8"? What the heck was I thinking? Regardless of the dimensions, I didn't realize that it was such an odd number until I had already started work on it and at that point my shear bull-headed nature made me push onward until it was done. Conventions be damned, my board uses fractions!

Now then, as for the actual construction process I must admit that I didn't actually take any pictures of the board while I was making it, only when it was finished. Still, the board is basic enough that you can really tell which part I am talking about quite easily so I have decided to just put in a picture of the finished board. Well not really finished, but at the time I thought that it was. More on that later...

For the "dirt" on the board, I actually did use dirt. I had bought a bag of paving sand (I believe that was the name) from Lowes a few years back and I have been using it ever since then. I don't have the bag anymore so I am not positive about the name, but it was in with the patio material. Basically it is a somewhat rough mix of sand and small rocks that came in a pretty good sized bag. Not sure about the exact weight but I think it was in the 20-25 lbs range? I need to swing by Lowes again soon to find it again. To attach it to the board, I just used a slightly watered down Elmer's glue. I probably should have used some kind of a wood glue for better durability but I was just working with the materials that I had on hand so I settled for the Elmers.

For the base coat I used brown Fresco Tempera Paint that I picked up from Michael's. It comes in a big 16oz bottle so I have been using this for almost as long as I have been using the bag of dirt. I didn't put any kind of a primer on the blue board which gave it that kind of cracked appearance (I think there must be something in the finish of the blue board that caused this to happen) so I had to do a couple of coats to get a more even coverage because some of the blue showed in the cracks after the first coat.

Next I attached the various pieces of terrain (the pipes and walls). All of these were given a good coat of black paint (I used FolkArt acrylic paint; basically a cheap craft paint that you can pick up at Wal-Mart dirt cheap). Once this dried, I did a very heavy dry brush with Apple Barrel Pewter Grey acrylic paint on the concrete portions, followed by a lighter dry brush with Apple Barrle Country Grey acrylic paint again only on the concrete. I then went back and touched up the pipes with the black. I had thought about using some kind of metallic for a dry brush on them, but I really like the dark metal look of the Therians and the straight black seemed to be the best way to emulate that.

Once all of the paint had dried, I gave the whole thing a dry brush with Apple Barrel Territorial Beige to give is a more weathered look. Just because of the way that I painted it (I had just finished painting and dry brushing the road and wall) there was a little bit of the grey that got mixed into the beige which gave it a kind of dirt and ash look. I don't know the exact mix between the paints, but I know that it was just a touch of grey to it. When I dry brush a large piece like this, I actually pour a little paint directly onto a terry cloth towel and work straight from there. Once the first color is done (in this case the pewter grey), I put a bit less of the next color right on top of the first paint; this gives something of a blend between the two colors and personally I really like how it pulls them together so that the difference in the shading is kind of subtle. When I did the beige on the whole piece, I actually put the beige right on top of grey that I had just been working with, which gave it the slightly grey tint.

As for my inpiration for the board, I didn't really have a lot to go on; only the fluff of the Red Blok (which is more about them and their worlds, not the Therians) and the few pictures that there are. None of it was really that clear except that Damocles was some kind of a factory world. It seemed like a good starting point, so I took that idea and ran with it. In the downloadable scenarios on the Rackham site there is a mission that uses two of the basic maps side by side, one with the exterior landing pad, the other with the interior. I decided to try to recreate this kind of a situation with my boards, the first being the exterior since I didn't have any minis at that point and I was not sure about dimensions for doorways and the like.

For the interior, I was thinking of something like a massive city from the Tripod novels. The point where the two boards meet would be the edge of the factory city with a massive wall and some access points to the interior. Inside, I wanted to make various rooms and even some different levels (maybe 4" for each level with the exterior wall between the boards being about 8" tall).

All wonderful ideas, but as I learned more about the factory world I realized that it really did not look at all right and I decided to recreate the whole board. Most people would at this point simply chalk up the odd sized board as an experiment and start again from scratch, but I have never claimed to be normal. Thus I been work on a "new" board using the old one as a foundation to build on, but more on that later...

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