28mm Dungeon Crawl Wargaming 3-D tiles modular

Dungeons and Beer – a hearty tutorial Part I

I mentioned in another post that I attempt to scratch built a dungeon interior to go with my newly acquired Bones miniatures. Yesterday I had a nice idea how to get away from boring wall segments and make the dungeon more appealing to the eye.

As I am painting a dwarven warrior at the moment I thought about where they would store their beer and naturally a dark place like a dungeon would be well suited for this purpose.

Well, I guess I am more thinking of Moria where all of the Dwarves are already dead and only remnants of life are still visible.  The plan is thus to have a wall segment that also resembles a wine or beer storage, complete with oaken barrels.

I own the Hirst Arts  Cavern accessory Mold (Nr. 85) which conveniently allows to cast half of a barrel with a wooden support structure. While Hirst Arts molds are not cheap (34$ for one) they pay off if one goes for a more ambitious project were a lot of architectural elements/accessories are needed. I can only recommend the mold I own, as it gives you all you need for some good dungeon crawling: Treasure piles, chests, crates, big and small barrels, levers, torches, wall adornments, crystals, buckets etc.

I use Hydrocal to cast the pieces and they come out durable and with minimal casting artefacts. For the wall segment I used to carve the structure into styrofoam. While that worked well for simple brick walls, with the circular alcoves I planed to put the barrels in, it just turned out messy. I decided to try out some new material I just recently bought a block of: Original Sculpey (20 $ NZ for 454 g).

IMG_3645
Original Sculpey is a rather soft oven-bake clay. You bake it 15min at 130 C for each 6mm of thickness.

To form the clay one also needs some sculpting tools. I got a selection of tools from a shop (Botany Pottery Studio) that sells sculpting supplies (for people in New Zealand it is close to Botany shopping centre at Bishop Dunn place in Auckland)

A selection of sculpting tools. The ball tip is quite good to smooth the clay and to make organic looking indentations. The needle tip I used for carving the brick pattern.
A selection of sculpting tools. The ball tip is quite good to smooth the clay and to make organic looking indentations. The needle tip I used for carving the brick pattern.

I took a bit of clay (I think I could at least make 20 wall segments, each 20cm x 6cm out of the block) and rolled it out on a sturdy plastic bag. I aimed for around 5mm thickness, so that I can later glue it on a piece of styrofoam to save clay and weight. Surprisingly it did not stick much, but I guess a piece of glass would be much better, as you can directly transfer it into the oven on it.

After I traced the size of the wall segment I started carving the brick pattern. I already encountered a small problem with the Sculpey: It is very soft and tends to drag a bit. I guess it is a matter of practise and given you can always go back and smooth out your sculpt it is not a big deal.

IMG_3641
The five circular slots will later hold the barrels. The right side is yet to be completed.
IMG_3642
The Sculpey tends to drag a bit, but that can be corrected later on with the ball tip tool.
Here you can see the barrels and the finsihed wall segment.
Here you can see the barrels and the finished wall segment.
Fits nicely and should look quite nice in the end. I only need to cast some more barrel halfs.
Fits nicely and should look quite nice in the end. I only need to cast some more barrel halves.

I transferred the finished wall to a metal sheet and followed the baking instructions. 15min turned out to be a bit short and I ended up baking it for 30 minutes. After baking the Sculpey remained slightly flexible and has a rubbery feel to it. I would wonder if that is how Original Sculpey turns out after baking or if I did not bake it long enough? Maybe someone who reads this can provide some insight.

However, I proceeded with painting the piece and encountered no problems. The material takes acrylic paint well and keeps its shape. I was even able to slightly sand the piece. I started with a dark grey with a bit of brown mixed in (I use cheap acrylic wall paint for terrain building. At Placemakers or Mitre 10 they can mix pretty much any colour and 260ml cost about 8 $ NZ) and then drybrushed three times with gradually lighter shades.

Drybrushing brings out the details. Make sure the brush is actually almost dry or smears of paint will be visible.
Drybrushing brings out the details. Make sure the brush is actually almost dry or smears of paint will be visible.
Some more drybrushing with a lighter grey shade.
Some more drybrushing with a lighter grey shade.
The final drybrush with pure white just to define the edges.
The final drybrush with pure white just to define the edges.

Finally I applied a mixture of matt varnish, brown pigment and water (about 4 brush loads of varnish, one brush load of water and two small brush loads (size 0) of pigment) . This basically takes away any sheen and also provides some definition for the cracks and lines.

The piece with some of the pigment/varnish wash applied.
The piece with some of the pigment/varnish wash applied.

It took quite some time, but in the end I think it was worth it. In comparison to a wall made entirely out of styrofoam I would say the Sculpey provides much more definition and crisper lines, but judge for yourselves.

Both methods have their advantages. The Sculpey provides crisp lines and might be better suited for more complex patterns, while the styrofoam is easy to work with and does not need baking.
Both methods have their advantages. The Sculpey provides crisp lines and might be better suited for more complex patterns, while the styrofoam is easy to work with and does not need baking.

So far, so good. Now I have to finish painting the barrels, cast two more and glue the segment on a piece of styrofoam.

So far, so good,but some work still needs to be done.
So far, so good,but some work still needs to be done.

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