In the last chapter we finalized the major construction of the left main corridor. Now we have a few large obstacles to finish, and a few more upgrades to the design.
The layout of the back area of these boards has changed more times than I can count. The first plans called for the whole board to be all one level, flat. And if we went that route, this would have been done last year, but there is something about this project, some kind of obsession that’s grown around here, that it has to be right, that for every small project we complete alongside working on these boards, we gain some new little skill or idea that we want to incorporate into this project, and end up having to make small changes, which effect everything else so it becomes big changes.
This is where we started.
This would have been… adequate. That is, it’s how most terrain/model makers would make a space-hulk, with a bunch of hallways and maybe a platform. It’s not wrong, and we would have made it rich with detail and fun stuff, but it’s certainly not us. We want this thing to be dynamic, with multiple levels of drama unfolding in the layout. We clashed about this many times because we also had a height limit to contend with. (That pesky height limit keeps rearing its ugly head too.) Once the plans changed and allowed this unit to be stored in two carrying cases instead of one, we were given twice as much space to work with, and boy did we run with that ball. With some clever tricks we could pull of something with more depth and a better feeling of weight. This ship needs to feel claustrophbic, with a touch of the gothic and made with far too much iron and superstition.
This is one of our current sketches.
This is only the left side board. These raised and recessed hallways and walkways will give more depth for placement of figures, and cast shadows over the disappearing corridors. The airlock door will be a removable feature for storage. Also, the signs of the Tyranid incursion haven’t been sketched onto these plans because that gooey alien resin will be sculpted onto the structure once fully assembled. This should make it look much more naturally excreted.
The most prominent feature on this new design was the raised loading dock and giant gothic airlock. Those may seem like daunting pieces to build from scratch, but they’re actually relatively easy. The hard part is designing and building the connecting components and structure. The loading dock “core” went in first, because it was at max height limit, and I needed something to use as a fixed reference.
This was just a block cut from extra thick 1/2″ foamcore, and would serve as both an underlay for the resin and plastic pieces and it would be a nice clean place to house the electronics later.
I cast more trusses to put around the central block, cutting everything to size. I placed a thin sheet of one my resin electronic panels behind the trusses for added depth.
Sometime later after taking this picture, we changed plans again and pushed these trusses back further, cutting back the block. This would allow us to put in another layer of depth by adding pipes coming from under the floor up towards the dock, also giving more room for the catwalk.
The holes in the floor would likely remain open as I had some plans for more depth effects to go in later.
Time to start laying out some of the flooring under the dock before getting too deep into any one feature. I have to build this thing evenly; because much like when you change your tire, you have to tighten each lugnut a little at a time or the wheel will be off balance, I have to move slowly to make sure my pieces were still all going to fit together in the end.
Here we’re diving into some detail work which had to be finished before we could do much more with the floor on the lower level. I wanted a rounded porthole type opening on one wall, so I got work slicing the bottom off a bishop.
I cut the plastic ring flat and sanded it smooth. Along with my fingertips.
First the larger grill. Note that I had to make new plasticard panels since we raised the height of the board with the foamcore sheet.
Now more details. A few pipe flanges, and the chess-bishop ring attached to a bit of plsticard with some pipe-fittings that I cast previously.
Once everything was fitted, I made a raised walkway using more perforated cardstock and lengths of Evergreen I-beams, with Evergreen L-channels as vertical supports. This area would connect to the right side of the board, so it was time to work out the transition point.
The blocky bulkhead pieces were one of my favorite multi-use pieces. They can be turned in different directions to represent different kinds of wall structures. Here it simulated the appearance of a hydraulically operated door of some kind.
Moving down the right side I started laying hallway and corner pieces, just set in place, then I glued in my previously-sculpted window panels. At this point we were still debating whether this would be the lab or an heavy machinery/generator room, and make the lab in back of the board. It seemed like more of an engine room nestled down there under the landing dock, but for now we just needed to get the structure in place.
Patrick is board with his view.
I glued the pieces together and trimmed everything smooth.
Progress is occurring! At this point the block in back has been cut down further and I was beginning to assemble the interior walls for the lab/engine room.
But this area, being the front of the display board, required some extra splash in my opinion, something to break up the monotony of the metal halls and pipes. I laid out an area to serve as a kind of gothic/industrial library.
Scattered books? Are you mad??
No, I’m not mad… I’m just misunderstood.
This was my general direction, in the end I changed the design of the table to something more mechanical and slanted like a workstation you might find in a drafting room.
I also needed something to frame this little area, an artistic element that would bring to mind classically designed structures of iron. I wanted to make the front truss into more of a decorative element, with an oval frame behind the table. I started by cutting an oval. How do you cut an oval you ask? You fold a piece of paper 4 times, and cut an oblong curve across the middle, unfold and presto, instant template. Of course you have to size and measure everything as you go, so presto is more like all of the afternoon.
I then used the template to cut a stack of ovals out of plasticard, and then went back to my paper template, trimmed off an even quarter inch and unfolded it again to make the interior hole in the oval. I’m sure I’m making no sense at all, it’s best just to nod like you understand and look at the next pictures.
I stacked about 4 layers of these 0.5 mm plasticard ovals together, then layered that many bands around the outside. All this had to fit as cleanly as possible into the trusses. Really, this will make better sense soon.
I was using milliput to fill out the gaps in my wacky oval project, so I used the excess (I always mix more than I need) to smooth out the spaces between the table leg pieces and since I still had more, I rolled out some long milliput noodles (mixed with a little kneadatite green stuff to hold its shape better) and rolled them under a comb.
This creates rather convincing segmented hoses. I placed several around the nearly completed hallway. Later I would trim the end and add some bundled cables and other debris.
I added another hose under the now completed table, added rivets and extra pieces of plastic trim, and some bits from my scrap pile to add some mechanical looking trim on top. Hey look it’s Steve Stopping by to model for me! He’s so fabulous.
Now do you get it? I thought you would. I still need to sand this piece down with a finer grade or two of sandpaper, and add rounded rivets around the opening. I liked this piece so much that I decided to cast it in case I ever decide to make another Space Hulk X-board. (Haha, no.)
Now I started laying out the far right hallways which would recede into the back and disappear under the upper level.
I also started drawing the lines to cut out the foamcore on this side, because I would be adding more pipes down the long hall floor. (But not inside the library room, Mismuse insists it’s tacky so I have to concede a little defeat now and again.)
It’s still a mess but it’s rising. Now we needed to push this construction towards the back areas and finally get to detailing and lighting this monster.
The next major phase was the flying buttresses I wanted to have arching over the maintenance hall below.
I ran into my first problem before finishing my first doodle. I realized right away that the top of the arch of the buttress would have to be the highest point on the board, level with the loading dock. That meant the spire and column had to be designed or modified to this new limitation while still looking tall and somewhat graceful. This new limit was suddenly as much of a pain as the last limit, but this time I couldn’t see a way around it without throwing out the portability requirement altogether, so I had to make it work. I made an actual size sketch of my planned design, with the horizontal line at the top being the absolute height limit.
For this piece I used a french curve to draw another template. A french curve is one of these wacky things:
You probably recognize it from that art kit your grandma sent you when you were 9, and you had no idea what it was so you used rubber bands to tie your french curve to a pencil and ran around pretending it was a battle-axe.
I stacked layers of plasticard, and then using some sharp bits I carefully drilled out a series of holes, descending in size.
I further refined the shape using sandpaper and a very sharp blade to slice out any uneven patches inside the holes or along the edges.
Now strips stacked on the edges. These strips were tapered slightly towards the ends and also had to be cut at slightly different sizes to compensate for the stacking. Why do ship supports have holes cut out of them anyway? To save weight and materials of course. On a ship the size of a space-hulk, you could probably build a small city just with the metal from the leftover round metal punch-outs.
Once the arch was completed I test fit it against one of my resin columns, and then started to rough out the shape of the ornate flourish with Sculpey. This was nearly a disaster, as I left the Sculpey stuck to the plastic during the midday heat, and I suppose it started to set, and when I got the surface all smoothed out and ready to bake, it crumbled in my hands. To make matters worse, it began to bond with the plasticard it was stuck to, and a large chunk had to be repaired. I’ll probably wait until later when I sculpt the books to make this ornate piece, and certainly not out of Sculpey on a hot day.
For the next ornate piece however, it was going to be sculpted from my usual blend of Green Stuff and Milliput. Here are the first “leaves” on this “Pendant” that would hang down under the arches.
Then the spire that would cap the columns. This would get round rivets up each fin and would look less like a rocket tail at that point.
Next I layered on more leaves on the pendant. I continued by capping the base of the leaves and adding an ornate drop from the bottom.
Here is the arch, spire and column, with the mostly finished pendant. Now to cast these pieces in two-part molds, and then sculpt a few last details like stacks of books, and move on to the final structural parts.
Back to the workbench for me.
To be continued…