Weekend Elf: 8 XII 18

Laid down the streets this morning using Milliput.

Some people don’t like Milliput. My only criticism is that it makes my skin burn. It warns of that on the box, so… it’s ok, I guess.

I like Milliput because it interacts with water a lot like real clay. You can thin, smooth, shape, soften, and otherwise persuade the Milliput to do your bidding if you use enough water in the right way. I use a super soft cheap brush or my finger so I can control it easily. Milliput can also be carved or sanded after it’s dry, so don’t worry if a few areas aren’t perfectly flush with your edges, etc.

Make some tea first thing in the morning! Nicer that way. Mmm.

Cut this crap off the grey component of the Milliput. If you buy it at a hardware store or somewhere with high turnover, you won’t have to worry about it, but I got this at a game store and t had clearly sat for a while.

As the fumes of the yellow putty hits the roll of grey, it hardens the exterior. It’s chunky and not malleable, so you want to cut it off.

These are some tools I used. If you’re going to do any sculpting, do yourself a favor and get some silicone clay shapers. Get a few decent ones rather than a huge set from The craft store. The cheap ones have manufacturing seams which make them all but useless for smoothing.

Now we fill all our ragged edges with Milliput. It will clean up the look and strengthen the construction. I used a wet finger to smash little blobs & rolls of it into place.

Cobblestones have been gouged in with an engraving tool. The rough edges will have to be cleaned, but this will be easy for us to see the individual rocks and will give us something to work with as we soften everything up.

Now we can use the tiny metal ball tip to open the gaps between the stones and the rock, metal brush, and razor for a bit of texture. Keep going over the Milliput with a wet brush to soften & clean everything, and adding texture back in as necessary. Cobblestones are mostly smooth, though, so keep that in mind.

Eldritch Elf: 7 XII 18

If you keep a little Green Stuff ina your desk, you can sneak in a bit of hobbying at work.

When I make something specific, like the handle for my project, I usually smash out a few mushrooms or something else I’ll want later with the leftover GS. Though you’ll be able to get away with some unrealistically large mushrooms, you need some truly tiny ones to help sell the illusion.

Yes, that’s the coolest ruler of all time. I got it in kindergarten.

Eldritch Elf: 6 XII 18

Ok, here come most of the main structural elements of the scene. I’ll need to create a road, which will pretty much leave me with details (probably few) and painting. Now it starts to look like something, perhaps, but this is super easy.

We can make a doorstep from another little piece of foamcore. I bashed it with the metal brush (a texture I did not use on the wall) and gave it a little filing where the feet would rub the stone down smooth. Just a few little nicks with the knife, too.

Using the wall as a guide, mark the corners and a few spots around the stone. This will help us with gluing later.

Our rough guide to placement.

Sigilize it.

Quite a bit of glue!

To put down the doorstep and to secure to the wall to the (… I’m sorry, I forgot to photograph it!) little support behind it, I used thick, almost pure wood glue. I also used a small amount of carefully placed superglue to anchor the wall, since wood glue will not have an ultra strong bond to plastic. Then all exterior surfaces get a coat of very thin wood glue.

Using the door as a means to keep things off the glue (unstuck) and preserve the texture & dimension of the foam wall, weight that thing and go to bed.

Eldritch Elf: 5 XII 18

…I’m starting to feel like I’ve got to get a move on. This is a more involved project than I had initially imagined, and a new baby sure cuts into your hobby time!

Anyway, I’ve finished the subtractive surfacing of the wall. The glue held without difficulty and the frames gave me a much better frame of reference for cutting the bricks. Score.

I should have snapped a pic or two beforehand, but here I am with my two primary tools at this stage. I’m cutting bricks with the razor. I’m not measuring or using a ruler, everything is by hand. This will give an interesting (I think) Hans-drawn effect. The worst (little turd-looking) bricks you can just pop out later and they won’t stick out too much.

I use the corner of the ruler to define the ragged edge of the plaster and simultaneously begin to push the brick surface down, creating the impression that the plaster sits over top.

I’ve gouged our a few bricks, reinforcing the visual flow of the plaster. For the texture I’m building up on the plaster I use two excellent tools: the ruler & your thumb nail.

With these little details, DON’T be fussy or you will make things unnaturally regular. If you add damage slowly you can always do more, but you can’t take it off once it’s there.

Here’s a shot of how different tools will affect your final product. On the top the bricks are cut with a toothpick, on the bottom with a burnishing tool. I’m going to go with the more cartoony/fantastical/exaggerated bricks created with the burnishing tool.

Little tests like these can be really useful and often fun. Here I learned what a toothpick would do, and I could see applications for it in the future. Sometimes these little tests become tiny, stress-free projects in their own right.

We’ve got the bricks gapped out with the burnishing tool.

I’ve also bashed up the plaster with a rock, applying different pressure and using different faces & corners on different sections of the plaster.

Looking pretty good, but still a little sterile.

Using something small enough to fit but big enough to work, we push a bunch of bricks in to different depths, leaving a few all the way up.

Even though it looks pretty simple, there’s a lot of distinct surfaces, different texture, and stank on it. These will all help it take washes and other weathering effects well, and we’ll exploit them in painting as well.

Eldritch Elf: 4 XII 18

Just a touch of structural work here. Soon we’ll tackle the details. Should be pretty quick work.

Create a hole to the size of the door. I just used a razor blade and then dug the foam out with a flat gouge-y tool.

Glue it in with wood glue.

We’re just going to frame it out a little with styrene. The molding on the top was created using the same techniques as that in the door. Sorry I have no pictures of the process, but this was left over from a previous project.

We’ll see if I’ve made the right decision gluing in the plastic before the detailing of the wall surface. I won’t be shocked if it all gets dislodged when I’m making bricks in the foam. Fingers crossed!

Eldritch Elf: 1 XII 18

A few extra touches to build the door up a bit.

We’re just using strips of styrene to build up on the original framework. This easily and quickly builds up a third layer of the door, with the little molding adding a couple more.

There it is. I wish I had thought to work a little Lovecraftian swirl into the central intersection, but I’m afraid I’ll damage it if I tear it apart now. I’ll need to make a handle for the door and then we’ll need to frame it into the wall.

Eldritch Elf: 27 XI 18

Solstice time has come again, and that means the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society‘s annual gift exchange! This year we’ve begun calling it Eldritch Elf. I love this thing. Those who participate are given the name & address of another member of the Society to whom they must send a gift, etc etc. This exchange, though, is all Lovecraft fanatics. Like a good elf, I always make a unique piece for my unknown friend.

I have more fun, and I hope my gift’s recipient does too, if my creation goes all around the world, so I now request it. I’m spreading my sinister cheer across the globe! I’ve sent items to England and Argentina. This time it’s New Zealand! I’ve been warned it’s expensive!!!

For 2018 I’m going to make a street scene showing the entrance to Gilman House, a historic hotel in Innsmouth you really must try next time you’re visiting the coast.

I’ll document the construction process by way of a sort of living tutorial. If you have any questions leave them in the comments.

Start with a block of wood. Thanks, Bruno!

Mine’s 1.5″. I like my scenes ultra-tight, but you need enough room to add some actual details.

We’re going to use foamboard for the front. We’ll carve bricks and maybe some plaster, and recess a door and a (partial) window. This is just some leftover foamboard from my wife’s old job.

Get a strip of styrene the width of the block.

When you cut styrene, even thick styrene, just score it lightly and ease it into a nice snap. It will break very cleanly. Styrene is great stuff.

Make another, much narrower ribbon. It makes no difference how thick, other than altering the dimensions of the wall.

It’s gonna fit. You’ll notice I haven’t measured anything. I don’t know how high the bit of foamboard is, how deep the side panel, or anything. I don’t measure. The geometry doesn’t require standardized units, so I just allow the structure itself to dictate cuts, angles, etc.

This is a handmade object. It’s not supposed to be perfect. Just get in there and start putting it together!

This does not mean you can be imprecise or sloppy. Your work must be very exact. It just doesn’t need to be measured.

This openness to creative chaos is how I approach guitar, too. I’m never anywhere near concert pitch. Don’t need to be! What the hell is a middle C, anyway? Some arbitrary wavelength.

I have lots of thoughts on these sorts of things. Anyway.

Superglue the big piece. This will be the back of the scene. Put the glue on like your middle school art teacher taught you, then use a toothpick or something to spread it around even a bit more. You want it thin.

And run a fan. Seriously. That’s a decent dollop of superglue.

Brace it with square styrene.

Nice. I’m going to head to the train store soon to see if I want to use O gauge windows & doors, and I’ll pick a great tool I need to replace. It’s a super duper sanding block, basically. I’ll sand down any rough edges on the bottom and sides.

I trim up the sides of my foamboard and call it a day.

This was maybe an hour of quick enjoyable work. I find it useful to periodically impose a new perspective on myself, and this project requires a shift from what I’ve been doing lately. I’m enjoying banging out Dark Angels for Kill Team, but I feel excited to jump into something very different. Things like Eldritch Elf give me a great deal of inspiration as well as joy. Good luck in your search for both!