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  At one point years ago, because the FDA drug labeling had changed, and the packaging that the kits had on them was no longer valid, we were ordered to throw them away.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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slag Mounds, Bunkers, Barriers and more!

This month, in between other projects and recovery, I worked on several terrain pieces for use with my Star Rovers figures and the Combat Patrol™ gaming system.  Some I got earlier in the year from WorldWorks Games on Amazon, others I got on eBay that were from Armorcast Battlefield Scenery, others I made – and some I just don’t know who made them.  I’m hoping to use these at The Battle Standard in Auburn soon after coordinating with the owner, Jared Brodeur.

Normally I have more detail (how-to), but I lost most of the details of these terrain projects, as I had a few that I had to rework.  I think the pictures below are hopefully sufficient.  I was really happy to try new techniques with rust applications using a “pointillism” technique with a combination of Polly-S (“Rust”) and Vallejo (“Rust” 71.069 and 71.080) paints.  I mounted all of the terrain pieces on flat steel basing pieces.

The mostly Armorcast “set” I got on eBay were various refinery or industrial pieces that were airbrushed silver and gold, and that did not work for me.  I wanted the industrial ones to be more dirty and rusty.  I ended up painting some of them with various colors, and then using Army Painter Quickshade “Soft Tone” to shade.  I was not happy with most of these results, especially the Quickshade effects.  I repainted them, some with bright colors for the newer pieces of terrain, and with rust for the grittier ones, and then used spray varnish to seal.  Luckily, the Testors “Dullcoat” actually had a “crackling” chemical effect on one of the industrial tanks which worked well – (note – this was not an Armorcast piece and was likely homemade with some type of Styrofoam).  I was surprised as there was already a lot of paint and varnish on it at that point – but it was minimal and I liked it anyways.

1 terrain group start
The initial set of mostly Armorcast terrain I got on eBay, plus the slag mounds I made.  This is how I got them.  The triple tank is the homemade one that the varnish affected.

10 refinery stuff final
The pipeline/industrial terrain after repainting (and repainting).  Duck Vader and his Star Ducks confront Power-Armored Frinx led by their platoon leader.

9 refinery stuff final
Frontal view of the skirmish – light saber versus light cutlass!

12 wrecked pipeline final
Aphids on Grav-Cycles swing around a ruined overhead pipeline to swarm attack a Frinx Mark 1 Sphere tank

13 cryo unit and condensors and apu
Star Duck Bazookaducks ambush a Mark 1 in front of a large moisture condenser, a cryo unit, and a small power unit
The WorldWorks Games set consisted of a bunker, and three barricades.  They are for 28mm for sure.  The bunker was used, and difficult to assemble well with super glue.  I ended up using steel base material, popsicle sticks, wood glue, and cardboard to assist in the construction.  Here, I really liked my use of the rust pattern that I discussed earlier.

2 barrier unpainted
Assembled barrier before priming

3 defensive pit unpainted
Assembled bunker, front view, before priming

4 defensive pit unpainted, back
Assembled bunker, back view, with cardboard mounted on popsicle sticks mounted on steel bases

5 defensive pit unpainted, bottom
Bottom of the bunker – I needed to trim the steel bases and file off sharp edges

6 defensive pit and barriers primed
After priming with gray

7 defensive pit final
A Star Duck Mortarduck crew operates from the finished bunker

8 defensive walls final
Three Mark 1 Sphere tanks set up in defensive positions behind the barriers
Lastly, I had three slag mounds that I mounted on two old CD’s.  The slag was a byproduct of my casting projects.  For these, I had a “Red Planet” plan, and used Citadel “Martian Ironcrust” and “Martian Ironearth” to good effect, as well as different washes.

11 aphids in slag mounds final
An Aphid squad and their robot assault gun patrol the slag mounds
It’s a good start and I’m sure I could use some buildings and other things, but that I will get to in due time!

 

Slag or Lava Mounds for Sci-Fi

I have been casting miniatures with pewter for a while now, and I usually use a spoon to remove any impurities, slag, and ash that are floating on top of my crucible before I pour anything into the molds.  Up to now, this material was useless to me.  As I am now working on creating retro sci-fi units for Combat Patrol™ games, I came up with the idea of repurposing this material for needed terrain – like old lava flow mounds or industrial slag.

To finish up for October, I created four CD-mounted slag/lava mounds using three regular size CD’s and a smaller one.  I used five slag piles, gluing each to the CD with wood glue and letting them sit overnight.  I also applied a coat of wood glue to the surfaces of the CD’s  for better paint and flocking adhesion down the line.

 

1-step-one-with-slag-on-cds
Step one – the slag is glued to the CD’s – and other projects look on!

 

I then primed the group with Krylon “Ultra-Flat Black” matte spray paint.  I took Reaper Master Series Paints “Grey Liner” and coated the slag and the CD’s.  After this, I applied a coat of Citadel “Nuln Oil”.  To bring out the highlights, I used Americana “Zinc” to dry brush the pieces.

 

3-step-3-with-slag-on-cds-for-priming-after-gray-liner-application
After priming and dry brushing

 

I then let the pieces dry.  Then, I used white glue to affix two types of flocking from Army Painter – “Ash Grey” and “Battlefield Black” in a random pattern.  I applied two coats of Testors “Dull Coat”, allowing for adequate drying in between each.

4-example-after-completion

 

5-example-after-completion

 

6-example-after-completion

 

 

7-all-slag-after-completion
The four pieces completed

 

I am pretty pleased with the results.  It was not a difficult process at all.  Of course, I will need to acquire a dark cloth for covering my tabletop battlefield with these.  I thought about adding some grasses or tuft, but in the end went for a more wasteland look – devoid of life.  I look forward to having figures use them as cover in a Combat Patrol™ game!