Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cultists of R'lyeh pt.6 - the Mountains of Madness

So, to reiterate; my first attempt at sculpting mountains did not go so well. I was using cold porcelain, a home made air dry clay that is very cheap and easy to work with, over a wooden armature. The results looked, well... breast-like. Not at all what I was going for. I needed a new technique for sculpting mountains. I searched around on YouTube for some instructional videos and found some that used a hot wire knife to carve polystyrene foam. I had to improvise a hot wire tool of my own by taking the soldering tip out of my old soldering gun and replacing it with some stiff, but flexible, crafting wire.
The results were not quite as good as I would expect from a commercially produced tool, but they would certainly serve for my purposes. I broke some pieces of white polystyrene foam into chunks and glued them together in a stack, with a wide base, and getting slightly smaller as I went. Most were three layers of 2" foam. I only needed to put a dollop of glue in the center between each layer. Since I wouldn't be carving through the center, the glue would not interfere with the sculpt. As the hot wire cuts, it seals the edge so the outer skin will become fused anyway.
I started by basically carving downward from the peak and getting the very rough stack of blocks into a more conical, or pyramidal, shape. I knew I would need some practice to get the look I wanted, so I made about three times the number of block stacks that I would eventually need. Hey, styrofoam is cheap, and this was recycled packing material. I wanted crazy looking twisted angular crags, so I let the wire cut deep crevices and sharp chunks out of the blocks. After making about six or eight of them, I started getting ones I really liked. When it came time to glue them to the hexagonal bases, I just picked the ones that looked best together, and through the rest away.
Before gluing them down, however, I needed to seal them first. As with the Sanguine Gorge, I gave each mountain a coat of watered down white glue as a sealer. In the pic you can see them drying. I stuck steak knives through the bases to hold them while I was brushing on the glue. The ones that are shown wedged together have been specially carved to fit close to one another. I glued them together, and also pinned them together by running a bamboo skewer through them, near the base.
Then I glued them in place on the wooden hexagonal bases, and gave them two more coats of watered down glue as a sealer. As with the Sanguine Gorge, I found out that this was insufficient. I must have missed some spots, because when I gave them a shot of spray primer, they started to melt in small spots. So, I mixed up some full strength glue with some black tempura paint and gave them a couple heavy coats of that. That did the trick- once I caught all the pin holes.
I had a little trouble deciding what color to paint the mountains. At first I wanted them to be blue, but then I decided on purple instead. I used the same sea sponge stippling technique that I used on all the other tiles, for a consistent look. I used four shades of purple acrylic paint in layers, applying the paint heavier on the edges of the tile, and lighter towards the center. I also used a little bit of brown and grey, mostly on the mountains themselves, to convey the look of stone and dirt. Although they are a cartoonish color, I wanted them to look somewhat realistic. I let a lot of the black primer show through on the mountains themselves, and used more dry brushing than stippling on them. Again, the top shade of purple was UV reactive, so that it would "pop" in our room lighting.
The finishing touch on the mountains was a dry brush of some white along the tops of the peaks to simulate snow.
These are my favorite tiles in the game. I love the way they turned out, and I enjoyed making them. I hated to throw away the unused foam sculpts. Some of them looked pretty good. But I knew I was not going to use them for anything, at least not in the foreseeable future.

So there are the five basic terrain types, and the "dessert". There is one more tile-like piece left to make. The ports. But I will include them in part 7, along with the player pieces.

See also:
Cultists of R'lyeh pt.1- the Desolate Waste
Cultists of R'lyeh pt.2- the Pits of Despair
Cultists of R'lyeh pt.3- the Ravenous Cavern
Cultists of R'lyeh pt.4- the Cyclopean Ruins
Cultists of R'lyeh pt.5- the Sanguine Gorge
Cultists of R'lyeh pt.6- the Mountains of Madness
Cultists of R'lyeh pt.7- the Game Pieces, Portals, et Fini
Cultists of R'lyeh - After four years of wear and tear

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