Experimental Sci-Fi Chemical Plant Scratch-build Project

Sometimes you need to try new materials, new techniques, and change up your hobby projects to keep fresh.  My tabletop battlefield for my Attack of the Warbots game scenario (using the Combat Patrol™ rules system) needed some more ruined industrial terrain.  I also wanted to try some new painting techniques with chipping medium, as well as using some crackle paint.  The goal was to make something ruined, rusty, with some degree of verticality that would complement my tabletop.

As far as building materials, I had been saving different bits and pieces of this and that for a few years in anticipation of scratch-building something to meet that need.  I say saving, my wife says hoarding – (it’s not hoarding if the stuff is organized, labelled, and put away out of sight in drawers dear😁).  A previous employer had supplied us with kits that contained dummy vials (empty) that we could use to teach the process of reconstitution of the real thing.  At one point years ago, because the FDA drug labeling had changed, and the packaging that the kits had on them was no longer valid, we were ordered to throw them away.  I did, but threw the vials into a drawer.  I also had some oddly-shaped caps from body sprays, and a purloined cover from my wife’s blow dryer.  To be fair, the cover no longer stayed attached, so that was fair game.  I also had bits of polystyrene sheets and tubes, and leftover foam rubber pads (packing material) from something I no longer remember.  So basically, I had a lot of trash to work with.

As the community painting challenge (run by Azazel) that I participate in for July was “The Jewel of July ’19 Community Painting Challenge”, I thought I’d switch up from doing tanks and make a scenery piece.  The scenery qualifications were:

“It’s for the more impressive scenery pieces. A desert oasis or a (ruined?) temple or a bunker complex or a single bunker or a skyscraper or a Ferratonic Incinerator or a Kwik-E-Mart. A forest worth of trees or a jungle worth of plants.”

So, dear reader, you can be the judge of this project as a “jewel”, or not.  It will have some good points and some not – I hope that if you have some feedback (good, bad, or otherwise) that you share it so that I and others can learn.

Construction and Planning

I assembled the assorted junk, and made a plan.  The glass vials I decided would work well glued together top-to-top as chemical tanks.  I had two vials that were plastic that I scuffed up, and I removed any paper labeling from all of them.  The blow dryer screen would be the centerpiece.  Using a leftover piece of polystyrene sheet (Evergreen #9060 – .06″ thick), I plotted out a chemical plant symmetrically.  I made two elevated concrete pads for the shorter vials with thinner polystyrene (Evergreen #9020 – 0.02″ thick) and the foam pads, and Plastruct Bondene.  For the vials, my epoxy of choice was E6000, though that did leave a lot of glue strings to clean up later.  The tubing was Evergreen 3/16″ #226, complemented by cut plastic straws.  Applying E6000 to the strws made them relatively solid.  I used green stuff as the piping joints.  The plan for the vials was to sequentially prime, apply rust paints, apply chipping medium, apply metallic paints, chip, and rust.  The bases were to be done using AK crackle paints, with washing and dry brushing.

0 hair dryer
The missing cover came from here.
1 Sci Fi plant scratch build unpainted
The assembled terrain piece, unpainted.
2 Sci Fi plant scratch build unpainted
A side view of the unpainted piece.  The smaller vials were plastic and held old normal saline.  All were ordered to be discarded.  This is how I did that.

Painting

I airbrush primed the piece with Vallejo Black primer, allowing 24 hours to dry.  Then I airbrushed it with Vallejo Model Air “Rust” (#71.080).

3 Sci Fi plant scratch build primed and base coated with rust
Airbrushed with a rust base.

I then applied a liberal coat of Citadel “Ryza Rust” and a different Vallejo “Rust” (#71.069) that I hoped would show a nice rust effect under the final color coats.  Then, I applied Vallejo “Chipping Medium” over the rust.  I was very unsure of the amount to use here, or the pressure with which apply it with the air brush.  Add to that the dry time, which I gave 24 hours – too much?  I don’t know.  Due to the terrain piece’s layout, it was also hard to get into all the areas with the chipping medium.

I then chose the final metallic colors for the vials, the pipes, the caps, and the screen. Those, and the other materials, you can see listed at the end of this post.  I applied a caot of gloss black to the base to assist later “crackling”.

6 Sci Fi plant scratch build after painting base gloss black and vials with colors
After applying the colors onto the vials.

At this point, I applied water with a stiff toothbrush to the vials, and that was supposed to cause the chipping.  It did some places, but not everywhere.  I had to resort to a toothpick in a lot of places, and that pulled ALL of the paint off.  As repair, I used Citadel “Typhus Corrosion” trying to simulate rusted leaking tanks.  I washed the vials with a light rust wash, and that turned the purple tanks pink/orange!  I went back to the Typhus corrosion and tried to compensate.

7 Sci Fi plant scratch build after chipping
After the chipping work.
8 Sci Fi plant scratch build after chipping inside after dried
After the chipping work – I tried to make it look pretty contaminated and old.

Then, I needed to add the two different crackle paints, along with washes and highlights.  Before that, I applied a gloss varnish to help the crackling effect and to help protect the chipping effects.  I knew I could use a matte varnish later to dull it up.

9 Sci Fi plant scratch build after crackle paint, drying in sun
Crackle paints drying in sun on the base.  Glossy vials…for now anyways.
10 Sci Fi plant scratch build after crackle paint dried with glossy varnish
After the crackle paint got a glossy wash.
11 Sci Fi plant scratch build after crackle paint washed with Nuln Oil Gloss
Close up – definitely need to remove the gloss.  But first, some dry brushing of the crackle paint was in order.
12 Sci Fi plant scratch build after crackle paint dry brushed
I sequentially dry brushed, washed, dry brushed, and washed the piece.

Finally, I airbrushed the piece with Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”.  As I had foam rubber part of the piece, I needed to avoid any use of rattle cans to prevent a real chemical meltdown!

14 Sci Fi plant scratch build after matt varnish drying, top view
Using the heat of my driveway to dry the piece.
15 Sci Fi plant scratch build after matt varnish drying, side view
Complete and drying in the 90 degree sun.
15 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat
On the gaming mat.
16 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, center close up
Close up of the crackling effect and the screen.
17 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, side close up
Corroded tanks.
18 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, side close up
Corroded tanks, opposite side.
19 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, end close up
The smaller tank and its pad.

20 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat close up

21 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, Space Roos moving through
Space Roos reconnoiter in the plant.
21 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, Space Roos see Martians
Space Roos are surprised by Martians in the plant.
22 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete
Well, at least it is done.

So, do I have a “Jewel of July” here.  Maybe at least a garnet anyways.  I think this is OK for the tabletop, given that it was basically made of trash.  It hits the game tabletop today!

If you want to see a real “Jewel” – check out Alex’s piece here.  THAT is impressive!

Back to my project, I was somewhat disappointed at the Vallejo “Chipping Medium”.  I could not find much information on its use, and a lot of that was negative.  The AK crackle paints are very good in my opinion, and I will look to see if they have a chipping product.

Any feedback – especially any thoughts on my process and the product – is always appreciated.  As always, hope you enjoyed this post.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THIS PROJECT:

  1. Discarded dummy vials
  2. Hair dryer screen
  3. Body wash bottle cap
  4. Fragrance bottle cap
  5. Foam rubber packing pads
  6. Evergreen #9060 polystyrene sheet
  7. Evergreen #9020 polystyrene sheet
  8. Evergreen 3/16″ polystyrene tubes
  9. E6000 epoxy
  10. Plastruct Bondene
  11. Green stuff
  12. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  13. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  14. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  15. Vallejo Model Air “Rust” (71.080)
  16. Vallejo Model Air “Rust” (71.069)
  17. Vallejo Model Air “Signal Red”
  18. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Blue”
  19. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Green”
  20. Vallejo Mecha Color “Purple”
  21. Vallejo Model Air “Med. Gunship Grey”
  22. Armory “Gloss Black” (used this 1996 paint up!)
  23. Citadel “Ryza Rust”
  24. Citadel “Typhus Corrosion”
  25. Vallejo “Chipping Medium”
  26. Vallejo Mecha Weathering “Light Rust Wash”
  27. Vallejo Mecha Weathering “Rust Texture”
  28. Americana “Black Tie” (satin)
  29. AK “Light and Dry Crackle Paint”
  30. AK “Dark and Dry Crackle Paint”
  31. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  32. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  33. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  34. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  35. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

21 thoughts on “Experimental Sci-Fi Chemical Plant Scratch-build Project”

  1. Well, I’m in trouble here for reading your post ’cause I was meant to be preparing stuff for dinner!
    This definitely looks like I’d imagine a rusty old disused chemical plant should look at some point in the future. I do like the rusty look and the crackle paint effects and the figures look good skulking about on it! Well done!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Nice trash-bash mate! I’ve zero experience with chipping medium and crackle effects, but it certainly works to give a heavily worn industrial look here. I can imagine a chemical plant having all kinds of weird corrosion effects, and your metalics portray that beautifully.
    Oh, and cheers for the shout-out too 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You deserve a mighty shout out!

      Thanks for the feedback, I just wish that Vallejo would have had info on chipping medium application. There are some who have posted on YouTube but not as helpful as I’d like.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant work mate I love your use of old things that would normally go into landfill doing your bit to save the environment !! ,I do it myself and have heaps of little bits and pieces ,maybe to many but mine are really small .Your opening sentence there mate is so true and funnily enough I have taken a step away from my norm and am embarking on some fantasy figures which I received gratis and they have so impressed me that I thought I would try out something new ,I’ll try and get some pictures up soon but we seem to be going away a lot at the moment and the sun isn’t shining to get any good ones but I’ll try !!! .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pat, and you Aussies are in the midst of winter and we are in the 90s – and could see snow in 90 days so that’s New England. Looking forward to your fantasy stuff. It’s important to get outside ones comfort zone once in a while for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. All looks very good to me Mark. Inparticular I love the hair dryer piece at the centre, inspired and really makes it in my opinion. The rest works well but I always think you need a focal point and that piece does the business and my eye goes to it every time. Good use of the effects too. All in all a great bit of terrain.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve used a Humbol liquid that you paint on and remove to leave the colour underneath, I think the hair spray technique is similar. Rust effects and chipping are both things I want to look more closely at some point once I have the right idea in my head for what I want to do.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I am familiar with the hair spray technique, also saw someone apply large amounts of kosher chunk salt, paint, then wet. Did not know about Humbrol, thanks for that. My next shot I will be trying some AK products – they have at least this: https://www.amazon.com/Ak-Interactive-Ak00089-Effects-Acrylic/dp/B00AMB67W2/ref=sr_1_2?crid=QEKBD8DDXMHY&keywords=ak+chipping+medium&qid=1564326776&s=gateway&sprefix=ak+chipping%2Caps%2C132&sr=8-2

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That looks great, Mark – and it was great to see it used in a game so quickly as well. Have you got a lot more scenery-junk stored up? I’d love to see some more stuff like this. The guts of an old PC (especially the Power Supply and fans) can be a treasure trove of scenery parts as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do have other oddly-shaped bits of plastic that could be fashioned up as sci-fi terrain. A lot is medical material type stuff. No PC’s though, and after I saw what Alex did I will think twice before getting rid of everything again! The July challenge got me to do this piece, but I’d been mulling the concept for a while. Glad you liked it. I designed it with putting the figures on the base beforehand so it would be easy to play on, and that did work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, making sure terrain not only looks good but is also playable is important – and sometimes missed by people. I’m going to throw terrain in as a secondary challenge for probably next month, I think – so if you feel keen and have the time, there’s a bit of a head start for you to get your crative terrain juices going again. 🙂

        Like

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