Wench Notes: These towers are from my very early days of terrain building. There's a lot of things I'd do differently, but the main concept of getting the twisted shape and brick texture I would do again and again. Take a look through the process and maybe you'll find something worth trying out for yourself.

The Buildings

My main goal was to have the towers look twisted & rickety - as if it only exists by the help of magic. So I started by cutting squares of insulation foam and poke a bamboo skewer through the middle. After I stacked enough squares to the desired height, I spun each layer slightly further than the piece below it and glued it into place.

Using a hotwire cutter, I followed the flat faces of the squares around the tower to cut off the uneven edges.

I repeated the process with wider squares so I that I had main larger tower & a secondary, skinny tower. I cut chunks of more insulation foam to wrap the bottom of each tower with cliff-type rocks. Other details were added right away like the doors, and cliff ledges to be a landing for the doors & bridges.
I tend to be a glutton for punishment when it comes to detailing terrain. For the brick work, I took my hot wire cutter & scarps of foam and cut bricks of all different sizes, thicknesses, etc and glued each one on individually. Doors & windows were framed first, and then the remaining wall was filled in.
I had originally intended on filling in the gaps between the stones with some sort of grout, but it looked fine without it. (One thing that was an issue was getting the paint in between the bricks all the way to the core of the tower. The second time I built towers like this, I painted the flat core black FIRST and then started gluing on the bricks. That helped a ton.)
As far as the painting process goes, I started with a black base coat on everything. Then using a sponge, dabbed on a medium gray coat on the face of the bricks. I took the sponge again and did the same with white. You can see the difference in the picture to the left. The wall on the left is at the gray stage; the wall on the right has the white added.
To make it even more whimsical, I mixed up a blue wash and a purple wash to go over the bricks -- but these were not your average washes. I added a bit of pearl medium to both so there would be a bit of an iridescence. It's hard to capture in the photos, but the effect turned out quite nice.

The Roofs

I decided the only way I was going to get the roof to curve the way I wanted it to was to use clay as my base structure, but I didn't want to waste a bunch of clay or make the roofs too heavy. I started with cutting 4 triangles out of cereal box cardboard and taping them together in a pyramid shape. This will keep the inside of my roofs hollow. I prefer to use oven bake clay, so I didn't want this part to catch fire in the oven. I wrapped it in aluminum foil so that after I apply the clay I could remove it before baking.





I took my clay and smoothed on a thin layer over all four sides. (Never mind the swirling color. I had mixed scraps of yellow & black together to get rid of some excess clay I had in my inventory.) At the peak, I rolled out a tapered rod of clay and smoothed it down over the top to meet the 4 sides. I gently curved the rod around to act like a drooping peak to the roof. Once the shape was complete, I peeled the tin foil off of the cardboard structure and place the roof into the oven for the recommended time. After it was cooked and cooled, I peeled the foil from the inside of the clay.




To add the shingles, I cut small square/rectangles from cereal cardboard. The using super glue and working in rows starting at the bottom, I attached each shingle individually. The corners were covered with larger rectangles folded in half. The peak can get tricky since it is round and the tiles are flat. Putting a slight curve into your cardboard before gluing it on will help it look smoother and give your glue a greater amount of surface contact area. To finish off the peak, I cut a "Pacman" shaped piece of cardboard and pulled it together to act as a cone.



Accessorizing

Steps were added to the front with a strip of clear plastic attached at an angle from the door and to the bottom of the base. Steps were made using more bricks attached to a piece of card board with a wedge underneath.

The wedges are what I glued to the plastic, so even though my plastic is at a slope, each stair appears to be floating flat.
To create another floating walkway between the two buildings, I cut another piece of clear plastic and attached stones to it. I also added a rare earth magnet on each end. Under each platform by the door, I cut a slot and added a regular flat craft magnet to hold the path. Using 2 rare earth magnets made the bridge hard to remove and 2 regular craft magnets were not strong enough, but mixing them made a fairly strong bond that could still be removed without doing damage.
To give everything a wintery feel, I mixed together basking soda and white PVA glue. (Make sure to use a good brand names, otherwise your snow may yellow as it dries.) The ratio is definitely something to practice before adding it to your piece. If your mixture is too dry, it will not stick. If it is too wet, it will drip all over and look like cake frosting.
I also made some icicles by using my hot glue gun to create streaks on a metal container. Once cooled, I could peel them off and then use another dap of hot glue to attach them to the building.


That's it! Like I said, it's a little rough by my standards these days but the principles are sound. If nothing else hopefully it helps you think outside of the GW box. ;-)
 
 
I had hinted a few times at an upcoming video regarding building trees. I did record the footage for the walk-through... mostly. My memory card had filled up while shooting without me realizing it, so I had to do my best to explain the part that was missed. (This is the 2nd time that has happened.) Shortly after I had the recording done, my real world working situation became very complicated so this video had to go on the back burner. Once I finally regained my free time, I started editing & compiling the video clips using some better software than I had in the past to help fix some of the audio issues viewers were complaining about. Well, I had it nearly ready to go & the file has either become corrupted or my laptop just isn’t powerful enough to open it anymore. Either way everything I had done is frozen in the land of cyber things. I’m starting to think the terra-gods are trying to tell me something. There’s been a lot of hurdles for one damned video. I do not want to re-edit the whole thing again (the condensed version was 45 mins long) and I didn’t much care for the video quality anyway. So, I’m just turning this into an article/review so I can move on to a new, better video.

So basically this all started because I found this walk through on the Lead Adventures forum from a Dr. Mathias. http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=41545.0

I tend to shy away from making my own trees but this method looked relatively easy without sacrificing quality. I followed the tutorial pretty closely except I changed the canopy process a little, which is what I’d like to focus on for this article. (Forgive the images, they are stills taken from the defunked video.)
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Dr. Mathias had set up foam craft balls on the lids of paint cans and attached cheese cloth over the top of that as the base for the foliage.

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My theory was that I could create a similar foam structure and wrap it with cling wrap to reuse it. So I cut a base out of cardboard from a cereal box and attached on pieces of the craft foam balls with hot glue.

The little foam craft balls from Hobby Lobby were $3.25 for a pack of the smaller size and $4.50 for the larger ones.  Your could probably make 2-3 trees with a pack of each, but with the ability to remove the foliage layer you could an unlimited number.

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I wrapped the structure in cling wrap & taped it to a paint bottle with a drip tray to contain some of the up-coming mess. I do think the cling wrap makes me lose some detail in between the lumps, but not enough to make me stop.

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Another modification I made to Dr. Mathias’s directions was to eliminate the cheese cloth. If I already have toilet paper on hand to work the bark texture on the trunk, I might as well use it for the canopy layer as well. Taking a PVA/water mixture that was heavier on the glue, I brushed pieces of toilet paper onto the wrapped foam structure. The glue also had some green paint added to it to save a step later. The toilet paper was applied in 2-3 layers to help give the canopy layer some stability.


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Once dry, you can either coat it again to add the flocking while it’s still on the foam or peel the canopy off to free your mold to make another one. You may notice the toilet paper start becoming flexible again when you’re coating it with glue to add the flock, but if you added enough initial layers of toilet paper, it should retain it’s shape.


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The rest of the assembly was back to what Dr. Mathias had suggested, with some extra moss added to the base. I just wanted to share this great technique to make a lot of jungle trees quickly. The idea for a removable top for storage or travel was pretty clever as well. Hopefully it brings some inspiration to some of you and sorry for ditching the video idea. There will be others, I promise!

 
 
 
 
 

Teepees

10/14/2014

71 Comments

 
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These teepees were made using very common household materials. A little time, patience and skill and you can make some of these easy domiciles for your next historical game.

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To start, I cut some bamboo skewers to size & used a hobby knife to sharpen one end of each stick. You could leave the point that the skewers are made with, but you will lose some realism. If you whittle the end by hand, it gives the appearance of a log that's been chopped by hand - not machined.  I planned for 5 support sticks per teepee. More or less could be used to fit your preference and
size of teepee.

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Taking a long, thin strip of masking tape I wrapped all of the sharpened ends together about .75" away from the tips. This will be removed later but is going help hold the supports together as we create the frame.

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If you gently & evenly expand the un-taped ends of the support sticks outward, the sharpened ends start to spiral around each other. Using a sturdy circle  container or jar lid to hold the sticks open as you position them will help immensely. Once they are in a position fitting your approval, drop a good amount of glue at every joint where the sticks meet. You want the sticks to be sturdy enough to stay together without the tape wrap.

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Once the glue has fully dried, the teepee frame should be able to stand freely and you can remove the strip of masking tape from the joint. Paint or stand your sticks as you see fit and then wrap/tie sewing thread around the sticks where the tape used to be to act as the actual lashings.

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For the hide covering, cut a semi-circle out of untextured paper towel. In this photo, you can see the piece fits the frame while dry but to get the paper towel to drape more naturally (and add durability), I dipped them into a PVA/water mixture. Paper towel will stretch/expand once it's wet, so they had to be trimmed after they were applied. In other words, don't worry about cutting it perfectly now, because it will be a waste of your time.



I personally prefer Viva brand paper towels for modeling because it has a very soft, cloth like consistency that is a lot smoother than most paper towels (therefore less recognizable as paper towel) and has less tendency to rip when wet.

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Here you can see the paper towels after they had been soaked in the PVA/water mix and applied to the teepee frames. Do not smooth them on too well; leaving the creases and wrinkles that come from handling the wet paper towel will give your hides a nice texture. Having the teepees set up to dry on cling wrap will keep them from being glued to your desk or table. Trim access material as needed. It's a good idea to research some images of teepees to add variety to the styles of your tents.

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Once dry, I painted them with a base coat of a light tan acrylic paint then very lightly dry brushed with white using circular motions to keep the color looking irregular.  I randomly added squiggly lines to represent the seams between different hides using a small paint brush & some very watery brown paint.

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With a sewing needle and brown thread, I added some very basic stitches to tops of the teepees. I coated the inside of the threaded areas with PVA once I was done to ensure that the threads would not come loose over time.

This was a tricky process, especially trying to fit your hand in to the top of the narrow end of the teepee. Lines could easily be drawn on to save you some time if you're not worried about the extra details.

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I taped over the holes on a few old CD's and spray-primed them brown to be the bases.





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For the ground cover, I put a few tea grounds, sand, small rocks, and loose static grass into a plastic sandwich bag. Shaking the bag to mix everything caused the static ground to form it's own clumps. I just brushed PVA on the CD bases, dumped the mixture on and let it dry. The clumps did better than expected in regards to keeping their shape and staying attached to the base.

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Lastly, you can decorate the teepess by paining on patterns and glyphs appropriate for your tribe/era. A few accessories to the bases or other companion pieces to the set really make these teepees come to life.



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Wench's Notes: Brown paper grocery bags are also a good material to use as model hides. It is thicker and harder to form around tight corners such as the peaks of these teepees and the open door flaps. If you're really ambitious, you can apply your hides as individual torn pieces instead of painting on the seams.