Remember in part 1 where I decided that the walls needed to be thicker? Well that had the effect of pushing the whole structure just about to the edge of the board. Meaning the wide margin I left to pile up dirt around the sides was not so wide anymore.
MisMuse cheerfully brought this to my attention as she passed by and asked me “I thought you were going to make that thing look like a pit? It looks like a big Ork refrigerator laying on its side.”
“Well, I left a little space around the sides, I can still pile up a little…” I tried feebly to avoid what I knew was coming, it was inescapable and the worst part was the sinking feeling, the immediate knowledge of what I was about to hear, and what I had to do.
“It’s just square walls. It should be a pit, you know? a dug in look? But if you want to send it out like that, hey you’re the boss.”
Then she walked off as I slowly drew my knife.
And sliced that sucker from its foundations! Another typical day in our little ol’ studio!
She was right darn it. I tossed the old MDF base to the scrap pile and cut a new piece, this time it was much larger, with room to properly build up dirt and rocks around the sides and make this piece seem like it was carved into the ground.
I used foam to build out the shape of the sloped walls both inside and out, and began to sketch out the skull icons on the gatehouses just to aid me in visualizing how the finished piece will look.
I also decided that whatever happens, this thing has to have actual, working portcullis gates. I knew it wouldn’t be fun or easy, but I’m from the generation of toys that have spring loaded missile launchers, working doors and hatches and blinking lights. I crave interactivity with my creations and usually go far out of my way to make a big piece do something.
I carved notches into the pop-outs and pre-painted them black, knowing how hard they will be to paint later. At the same time I raided the Plastruct bin and primed the channels that I’d use to make the gates slide smoothly. I’ll add those later after I do the texture and painting to avoid gumming up the channels.
I carved away styrofoam in places that I wanted to construct rocky outcroppings, then glued together piles of decorative bark, paying careful attention to the grain so that it would look like bits of flaking, shale-like rock poking out of the slope. The slope itself is then slathered on lovingly, using lightweight spackle. If you were to use plaster or any other kind of filler on a project this size, it would weigh about 40 pounds after completion. Spackle is light and hard, doesn’t shrink, and it’s really easy to shape and carve. This is one of our trade secrets, don’t tell anyone. (Not.)
This step took a while, working into the wee hours of the morning. In the darkened silence of the workshop, I found myself pondering my place in life. Why why am I here? How did I end up in this place, living the life of a terrain maker? Was it the money, fame and glory that drove me to this lifestyle? Or just the women? Sometimes in the hectic pace of it all, with the fast cars and huge parties, life rushes by so fast, one can easily forget what’s important.
“Never forget, it’s the terrain that matters most.” My old master told me during one of my visits to the peaks of Bhutan. “Breath life into it, feel it in your soul, and most of all, make it rockin’ awesome.”
Yes it looked like the worst cake ever, but this was a crucial step.
However something occurred to me: With the new base, the bleacher sections won’t fit flush against the sides. For that matter I looked at my original sketch and decided it was all wrong. It was too boxy, symmetrical and didn’t look like something Orks haphazardly threw together.
A new sketch and plan was in order!
In the new plan, I would make ramshackle bleachers integrated with the structure, and give everything a more precarious feel, as if Orks grabbed more panels and tied them together just to have places where they could see the action. This would make the central piece much bigger than our average large shipping box, but I’ll let Pedro worry about that.
I let one of our other artists do the textured basecoat for the stucco. Believe it or not, he does rather well once you get the lil’ guy focused on a task.
Now there’s one more important step to take care of while the paint dries.
We needed skulls, lots of skulls of Orks, humans and whatever else to litter the cages and floor of the pit. Since I was already sculpting master skull models for another project, I went to work on a few Ork skulls to do alongside. (This skull is only partially finished, final product will be smoother and better defined.)
Next comes ground cover, spikes in the pit, and LOTS of wood carving.