Project Log: Space Marine Fighting Arena, Part 3

Back to part 2.

With most of the structure, “metalwork” and machinery wrapping up, it was also time to put work into some of the smaller details. On my list of finishing touches were these items:

  1. Removable main gate.
  2. Removable panels over the holding cells.
  3. Working, removable Searchlight.
  4. Interior Cell Lights
  5. Flashing Landing Pad beacon.
  6. Stenciled colors and icons.
  7. Banners and festive poles.

[Read more...]

On Ebay Now: Urban Ruins!

I thought an exclamation mark was appropriate, as it’s been a while since we auctioned off some good old, detailed urban pieces, and this piece is a biggie.

A large, blasted out brownstone building, cracked and cratered with slabs of rubble leading up to a defensible second story, and access to higher floors via the optional ladder-like rubble piece. Also included is a long defense position, a ruined wall with rubble and sidewalk.

Did I mention this set contains 3 scratch-built utility poles, interchangeable and attached via super-strong neodymium magnets inside brass fittings? Well it does.

Check out our eBay Auction here!




Project Log: Space Marine Fighting Arena, Part 2

Back To Part 1

We left off with the structure of this building completed and spackled for texture. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of myself sanding every nook and cranny of the thing until it was smooth. You’ll have to use your imagination for that.

Our use of Spackle is one place where we get a lot of questions, so let me digress real quick and talk again about how and why we use this wonderful substance:

[Read more...]

Iron Skulls Display Board: Start To Finish

This is a nifty little display board project that I’ve been meaning to show off for a while because I really enjoyed the simple concept and the nice, clean result that we were able to pull off.

Our client asked quite simply for a 2′ x 2′ display board featuring a giant Iron Skulls icon, and left a lot of the details up to us. It didn’t take long for me to catch a picture in my head and get it down on paper. Because it’s a relatively flat piece, I could just work from an overhead sketch.

I submitted this design to the client who agreed it looked “pretty rad” so onward we went with the plan for an urban-themed plaza of sorts, with sidewalks, a raised pavilion, cobblestones and stairs, and glowing eyes underneath a giant iron skull design.

Like most of our projects, I was running way behind on getting this thing started because of all the other projects I was simultaneously juggling. I sent this picture to our client when he started asking what was up, I think he was half amused.

Serious work time. I wanted sidewalks all around this piece, so I started by measuring a long piece of foamcore trim to be placed behind the resin cast sidewalk pieces we normally use on our urban pieces. It was okay to use foamcore on the backside of the sidewalk since it wouldn’t face a lot of wear and tear, but for the front curb I would use resin cast strips of concrete.

I had to line up all the pieces I would be using before gluing anything down, because I would need to trim some pieces in order to get everything to fit into the 24″ confines. The inside trim strips be glued down first and used as guides to make sure the sidewalk tiles wouldn’t move while I laid them down.

For the cobbles I started experimenting with some of our other cast resin block and wall sections. This looked okay but later I would change plans a little.

Now using the sketch, I copied the design onto a piece of 1/2″ foamcore. Before drawing I carefully divided the board with guide-lines. Yes, it’s a very rough pattern, but I didn’t need it to be perfect, as I still needed to make an actual template to cut the designs out.

Here I inserted the pavilion into the board, double checking that everything was lined up.

I jumped the gun a little and started cutting out the eyes before anything else, because I was kind of excited. No matter, it actually helped me establish the exact eye shape early.

Now I had to back up a step and make the actual template. How do you make a symmetrical template of a skull? easy. Draw it on a piece of folded up paper. I placed the folded edge down the center line of the skull and just drew the rest of the skull in. Keeping the paper folded, I then cut the design out with an exacto blade.

Since the eyes were already cut out of the board, I had to trace the hole I already cut which was a little convoluted, but it worked out.

Here is my template, unfolded. I would use this to cut several exact copies of the template so that I could cut out different layers of the design.

I added the stairs, and purchased the electronic components because I would need to wire this up before gluing it down. The power supply was a 2 “AA” cell battery holder, which just barely fit under the 1/2″ foamcore platform.

Here I am cutting the channels for the wiring on the back side of the platform.

I hot-glued the wires so they wouldn’t move while I assembled the rest. By far the only really patience-testing part of this project was the grill of the skull’s mouth. Both cutting out the grooves in all the templates, plasticards, and spackling the inside to cover the foam texture, and then of course  sanding it.

Now to glue down the platform. Here you can see a selection of our shop reading materials weighing down the project while the wood glue dried, from architecture books to hobby and design books. Never stop reading!

While the platform was drying, I used the template to trace some designs onto plasticard and then cut them out with an exacto knife.

Pulled the books off, laid down the first plasticard template and flipped the switch. Success! Now the final look was just beginning to come alive.

I started cutting out some craters and blast damage on the board for extra flavor. Some pieces I cut out fully and reinserted at an angle to represent turned up chunks of concrete. Read our crater tutorial for more!

I spackled in the cracks and exposed foam, and mashed a thin layer of lightweight spackling over all the bare foamcore. This is to add a hint of texture to accentuate the fact that it represents poured concrete. All the spackled areas will be sanded smooth after drying. I also changed my plans on the cobbles here, using individually cast pieces, cast in permastone dyed black.

I cast several sidewalk tiles in permastone also, then cracked them and set the pieces down into a wad of spackling at odd angles to show the destructive power of the blast that caused the crater. The cobbles were laid in like puzzle pieces and cut to fit into the angles and corners. This method was much more time consuming than my original plan to just a solid wall section, but the results were much more dynamic and visually appealing.

I sprayed primer over all the resin and plaster pieces, this is to help the next layers of texture stick. I sprinkled fine and coarse sand and my own rubble mixture, then glued the texture down with the aid of a spray bottle and a dropper to apply watered-down and dyed PVA glue. I sprinkled bits of litter and debris into corners, around edges of the skull and into cracks. Above you can also see here that I started layering textured plastic card and other materials for the skull and I have the hole for the power supply masked off.

I primed the whole board black now, since it was mostly finished and just needed to be painted. I would paint the plastic metallic parts separately. Here I added more layers to the skull.

Next the chaos arrows. Just a simple process of cutting out arrow shapes using the folded paper and template technique, then laying them under the skull and tracing the edges to cut it out and fit it against the skull. This picture looks like a joke novelty arrow-through-the-head gag, and because this I am mildly amused. Please enjoy a quiet chuckle with me.

The top-most plastic arrow was made with a pair of small magnets under the board which corresponded with a couple of very thin pieces of metal I glued under the arrow. This effectively made a removable battery cover. I added a small handle out of florist wire as well.

Now from here I seem to be missing several pictures, but that’s probably only because I was in a real rush to get this done by now. My next steps were to finish cutting and trimming the arrows with plasticard, gluing plastic lenses, screens and metal bars under the eyes and mouth, adding rivets all over everything and them priming the plastic pieces flat black before adding touches of baking soda for rust, painting and washing with Burnt Umber paint for color the rust, and then rubbing the whole thing with graphite for a real old metal look.

The concrete was painted in contrasting cool and warm grey tones, highlighting up to brighter and brighter, smaller and smaller highlights. Final touches were done with MiG pigment powders and vallejo Smoke, Black and Sepia inks for shading, stains and weathering, and then finally the whole thing was given a light coating of Testors Dullcoat, the best sealant for terrain.

Now enjoy some finished pictures!

Project Log: Space Marine Fighting Arena, Part 1

We’re returning from a long hiatus on our updates to present the first of our long backlog of project logs! This piece was completed over two years ago and we’ve been sitting on the pictures waiting for a free moment to delve into the details of this unique piece.

One of our longest-running clients approached us with this idea, which called for a dueling pit for his Space Marines to duke it out in. The idea was settled on that we would design the piece like a landing pad attached to a supply depot, which at some point had been converted to this after-hours slugfest pit of doom, with holding cells and platforms around the walled-in area for other Marines to spectate, keep order and patrol from. The plan also called for lights! Including a flashing landing beacon, a spotlight and holding cell lights.

We started with sketchup renderings of our idea:

[Read more...]

Dude, Where’s My Terrain?

Greetings to all our fans, followers, clients and a very special shout out to the NSA super-computer intelligence analyzing this post!

If you’ve been subscribing to our page, you probably have noticed the distinct lack of anything new to notice. So let me begin by saying that yes, we are indeed alive, we are working fiercely behind the scenes here to catch up with the workload.

Currently however “we” consists of me, myself and Mismuse when she can be bothered to come in. (I tease but she is a busy person with outside responsibilities.) In the earlier days of our online business we had more help, but it’s been very hard to find employees that can both make great terrain and do not mind being paid in flock and glue-sticks.  Because of this, our completion time for projects has slowed significantly. The good news, is that I am a badass, adonis-blooded terrain building tiger-dragon-monster, and despite outward appearances, the last year or so of work has been insanely productive.

I have not had enough time to put together project logs, but here is a list of commissioned projects that I have documented from start to completion which have not been posted, in no particular order:

  • Ironskull Display Board
  • Space Marine Battle Arena
  • Last Stand #2
  • Chapter Keep Cathedral
  • Squig Ranch
  • Ork Landing Pad
  • Dwarven Display Board
  • Hand-Painted Standards And Banners
  • Suzzy Gaming Mat
  • Chaos Gateway
  • Industrial Plaza
  • Urban Cityscape
  • Fortified Bunker Set With Orbital Cannon
  • Deathskulls Ork City
  • That’s a lot of custom orders, and I’m sure I missed a few.  Some of these have been huge projects and there have been countless smaller pieces that never even had pictures. I’ll start the first Project Log from this list in the next day or two. No, you don’t get to vote for which.

    That’s the good news, the rough part is my list of current projects that I have yet to complete,  highlighted in red to show wild-eyed panic. The order of this list does not reflect preference or imply sooner or later completion estimates:

  • X-Board Project (Yes, it’s still being worked on.)
  • Chaos Wasteland Phase II
  • Slanneshi giant arm-bursting-from-the-ground thing.
  • Giant Imperial Gate w/RoB
  • Snowy RoB Battleboard with Bastion
  • Imperial Space Marine Battle Barge
  • The Clockwork Court
  • Mekshop
  • Bloody Ork Bastion
  • Titan Cradle from the Priests Of Mars. (For Real)
  • Giant Ork Display Board with Fungus Forest, Mekshops.
  • Almost every project on this list is either huge, epic or insane in scope. Some are almost done, some I’ve just barely started on, many are being worked on simultaneously to some degree or another. I haven’t listed several smaller projects that have been idling and are getting completed on the side.

    Not everything goes according to plan, and when something does go off the rails a little, it effects everything else. This is the reality of custom work. Those of you who are lucky enough to be on this list are quite possibly receiving the last of our custom work. More on this in another post.

    Please, if you are a client and you see your project listed here and I missed getting any updates to you recently, e-mail me at projects@3t-studios and I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.


    Custom Orders Are closed!

    Due to you guys loving us so darn much, we now have our hands full with commissioned work. [Read more...]

    On Ebay Now: SOLD

    Alright, I’m going to assume that you guys were asleep when this auction closed, so we’ll make sure you stay up for it this time around. No, it’s not a typo, this set is starting at one dollar. We’ll you guys decide how much this should go for. Whatever it closes at, it’s yours. Good luck!

    Gaze upon our works and despair! Auction info here.

    On eBay Now: Lets try this again…

    We can’t keep our chaos terrain around long enough for people to enjoy! So we took some good advice so here we are again. This set features BLOOD, and of course monsters. Need we say more?

    Gaze upon our works and despair! Auction info here.

    Sorry, It’s Gone! 8 Piece Dangerous Terrain Set

    We really missed our ol’ tentacle monster, he came and went too fast before, so don’t miss this chance to own your very own. This set features a full spread of terrain perfect for fantasy or sci-fi gaming. We even made a matching set of objective markers that double as banner stands, just to round the set out! Want more? How about two scratch-built Chaos banners to boot!

    Click here to get this set now!