Friday, December 31, 2010


Primed and ready for the final paint job! I'm giving you a sneak peak of the river segments...I'll be showing the step-by-steps later. For this's the next stages of making the DUNES.

I had some left-over dry-wall mud from redoing a bathroom I mixed in a little brown acrylic paint. Viola...icing for the styrofoam!

My desire was to emulate the wavy texture of wind-blown sand. So I just spread on the "mud" and dragged a plastic fork through it to get the effect I was trying for.

Once the mud was dry, I sanded down the surfaces to soften it a bit...wanted the "sand-blasted" look on the boulders.

After that, I coated everything with watered down Elmer's wood glue, to give it a harder shell.

Once that had dried, I painted full-strength glue onto the areas where I wanted to add sand, for more texture. Sadly, I basically wasted all of the time I had put into making the wavy lines in the sand areas. The "real" sand pretty much filled all of that in. Oh well...I'm making this stuff up as I go...sometimes it doesn't quite work the way I had thought it might.

Once the glued-on sand had dried, I painted on one more coating of a primer tan.

Now I'm ready to do the fun part, and paint these guys to look like rusty-red boulders on sand-dunes!

This is my last post for 2010. I hope you have a Happy New Year! See ya back here in 2011!

Decided to make one more Dune this morning...a larger piece with a gentle slope. I skipped the "icing" phase of preparing the surface and just gave this one a coating of gesso. Next I painted on the glue and covered it with sand. Now it's primed and ready for the final paint job.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


As usual, I like to lead off with a photo of where the next stage ends are the basic shapes of my DESERT DUNE pieces. Now let's work backwards to see how I got there.

In my last post I had different pieces of insulation foam on the hex-shaped boards. I realized after I had already cut them out, that I did now allow for the transition of the sloped sides from the base. They would have ended up too small, when sculpted. So I cut all new pieces of foam that matched the maximum edges of my hex-boards. Live and learn...

I used various tools to begin shaping the "sand/rocks"...a saw from my miter box, a piece of sanding paper from an old belt sander, and a file that looks like a cheese shredder. I don't own a hot wire "foam cutter" tool, though I have tried to make one in the past with a soldering iron. When melting through the foam, they tend to give off very strong fumes that aren't good for your have to use them in a well ventilated area. So...just doing this "old school".

Once I had the basic shapes the way I wanted them, I used "Super 77" spray mount...I coated the bottom of the foam, then the board. Once they were a little bit dry, I pressed the foam onto the board. You'll notice I've also spray-glued a big boulder on the top of the dune.

Here are all three segments of the dunes...the hex-base format lends itself to various configurations.
Next, I gave everything a coating of gesso, to seal up the surfaces, and give a uniform base coat to the shapes. I will begin to further refine the shapes to add details, and create more "sandy" textures and transitions on the forms.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Time to start up on a new project! It has been a long time since I've made any tabletop gaming terrain. So I asked my gaming buddy, Jaye, if he needed anything specific for some new campaigns. He asked for some DESERT DUNES and a RIVER...but made to fit on a grid system that is designed upon HEXAGONS. I'm not the best with straight edges, but I think I can make this work.

First off, I pulled a few images of some research and inspiration from the web. I told Jaye that I thought it would be cool to add some big boulders in the sand, and not just make it look like a "sandy layer cake".

Jaye had provided me with an image of the grids with some possible configurations. The green areas would be the "dune" shapes. I printed out one of the sections and spray-mounted it to some cardboard as a template to trace around. The width of the hex is 5", measuring from flat side to flat side.

Once I had traced a few of the hexes onto a sheet of 1/8" thick pressboard (masonite)...I cut them out with my trusty jig-saw.

Next I traced the shapes onto some "pink foam" (2.5" thick insulation styrofoam). I loosely cut them out with a hack saw blade, then worked out the curved shapes with my band-saw.

These show the first level of "sand"...then the next layer of boulders. All of this will be carved and sculpted to look more dune-like. Nothing is glued down at this stage. are the additional hex shapes I cut out to make the river set. These will be completely flexible for designing the way the river will be put together. I'll finish the dunes first, then show how I work on the river segments.
Looks like I now have something to do on my holidays off from work!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oregon Coast: A few more

(Here are a few more photos from the trip to Oregon to place some of Cathy's ashes in the ocean.)

A Christmas

Okay, I'll come right out with it...I don't have any current projects to post. We've come nearly to the end of this crazy year, and I must admit: I'M TIRED! I've been slowing the pace down the last couple of weeks...and probably will continue to do that through the end of 2010. So, until I start up my "next thing", I thought I'd just show a few more photos from my October trip to the Oregon Coast.

Below are a few "stars at night"...clinging to the barnacle-covered rocks during low tide at the base of "Haystack Rock" at Cannon Beach.

On our flight in to Portland, Courtney and I could see Mt. St. Helens, and Mount Hood from the window of our plane.

Here's a nice ol' "Grinch Faced Eel" at a dinky little, over-priced aquarium we went to at Seaside, Oregon.

In Ecola State Park, there was some really interesting green slime growing on the rocks. Very festive for the holiday season!

In Astoria, we saw these huge sea lions all over the docks, barking loudly at who knows what. Note the rain that was coming down during most of our trip. Courtney took this photo.

Here are Jenni and Courtney standing in front of what's left of the shipwrecked "Peter Iredale" English sailing ship that ran aground during a storm in 1906. This was in Fort Stevens State Park, just outside of Warrenton. (Love the name of that town!)

A pair of salt-water crocs on Cannon Beach.

As we were driving out of Cannon Beach, the sun broke through the dense fog for just a brief moment.

Here's one more photo by makes a great screen-saver for my computer!

Obviously...this last photo is not from the beach. It's my house, all lit up. In case I don't post again for a while, I just want to wish you a Happy Holiday with friends and family. Count your blessings...each day you share with your loved ones is truly a gift!!