Friday, March 23, 2012

Badland Column -- An Experiment in Hot Wire Cutting

Having seen (and played on) a number of gaming tables that feature desert scenery, I noticed that many of them have styrene columns present.  These columns are representative of badland terrain and looked to me to be a perfect chance to try out some hot wire cutting.

To create this type of scenery, I got hold of some styrene (the normal type, rather than the heavier duty pink or blue type in this case) and glued mis-happen shapes of the styrene on top of each other using PVA glue.  The second image shows this initial styrene tower well: there's nothing at all fancy, or good about it: the basis is very simple and the shapes of the pieces are random.

To create the badland column look, I used a hot wire cutter on the styrene.  Hot wire cutters are available in many online stores and are easy to find.  Basically, they use a low voltage current to melt / burn away the styrene in to the desired shape.  But read the cautions that come with them: hot wire cutting needs to be done outside as the melting / boiling styrene generates nasty toxic fumes that you really don't want to be breathing in if even half the chemistry is correct.

Essentially, the look I went for was a rippled effect down the column, increasing and decreasing in radii at various points, but generally broadening out at the bottom.

To paint the final product, I used some textured brown paint as the basecoat, and gave the structure a generous drybrush of a brown-orange mixture to create the highlights.  Although some of the styrene structure is obvious when looking closely at the piece, the paint job (particularly the texturing) is very good from just a metre away.


Frontline Gamer said...

I'm currently attempting a similar sort of effect for some of my HGB scenery using cut out 'discs' of cardboard layered on top of each other. I'm then going to cover it in paper mache. Your method is certainly much quicker I'm sure, but I'm hoping may cardboard box stack is a little bit more hardy! You'll have to let me know how it stands up to wear and tear (literally I guess) because if it's not so bad I might be tempted to cut corners! :P Cheers, I found this really useful.

jabberjabber said...

I think the short answer will be that they're going to be as durable as styrene -- hence I think the cardboard approach may pay dividends in that category.

To rectify this, I'm tempted to get hold of some pink/blue high density styrene.

Frontline Gamer said...

Yeah I'm looking to maybe get some high density foam to make some other scenery. It supposedly eats hot wire cutters though!!! I'll be posting an article up about my cardboard box cliff faces, and I'll let you know how they go.

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