Molgur Sacred Site
by Phil "ForcedPerfect" Duple

Long ago, before Menite Priest-kings broke the peoples of the Molgur apart and scattered the tribes of Ogrun, Trollkin, and Tharn, they all were part of one great people that terrorized the infant race of man. They were Devourer worshippers, and both paid homage to and gained strength from the Vomiter of Darkness...

This piece was designed for the summer league to be a king-of-the-hill arena centerpiece. It represents an ancient Molgur worship site. A rend in the face of Caen where the raw energy of the Devourer pours through to be used by His faithful. Or make His coffee or something.

Materials Needed:
1-1/2" blue insulation foam
Popsicle sticks
Plaster of Paris
Cylindrical mold (any appropriately sized cylinder)
Bamboo skewers
Duct tape
Epic Feora's base
BaneThralls back banners
Cold Cathode light tube and power supply
Plasticard posts
Gap filler

Step 1: The Base
Like Delgrieve, I pretty much never pre-plan what I'm building. I pretty much just dive at a pile of foam with a hot wire cutter and start making a mess until an idea surfaces. This project was no exception. I think, originally, I was going to make some Krielstones or something and then liked the way an off cut looked and got the idea for the circle of stone claws.

I knew I wanted to incorporate some plaster carving into this piece and tried to work out a number of ways to have some kind of stone platform in the middle. My wife suggested figuring out a way to float it in the middle of a hole in the board so I just cut out a circle in the center and used my foam cutter to make it look like a collapsed stone surface. I took the hole I'd cut from the center and cut it down to make a raised bunch of earth and rock to go around the hole and give it some texture and visual interest (1A).

I used gap filler on the two parts of the base and smoothed it down to create a subtler incline than I could get with my foam cutter. The stuff I used is pretty awesome and turns colors with it's completely dry (which is handy when you glob it on like I did). I think it is made by Red Devil. (1B & 1C)

The outside of the base were cut down with the foam cutter to make ramps for models to use to get on to the structure. I always keep a few models of varying size handy to test inclines and make sure models can stand on them.

Part 2: The Platform
I love carved plaster scenery. I think it's more beautiful than just about any other aspect of scenery making, and has the potential to look better than almost anything else you can carve, sculpt, or craft.

That said, I'm pretty mediocre at it. Either way, I can make basic things like stone platforms.

This one was made by mixing up some plaster and pouring it into the lid of a CD spindle. After being given time to dry, it was pushed out of the mold and prepared for carving by drawing the masonry lines and cracks onto the surface with a pencil.

Following the pencil lines, I lightly carved the stonework into the surface using a clay sculpting tool (2A).

After the tablet was carved, I bored four holes in the outside of it (I'm pretty sure it was with an X-acto), dropped in a few drops of water in each hole to soften the plaster a bit and stuck in some bamboo skewers. I then shoved the skewers into the foam sides of the hole in the center of the board just below the seam between the base and the rubble.

Part 3: The Rock Spires
These were fun to make. Basically, I just grabbed a bunch of off cuts and gave them their rough claw shape with my foam cutter, then rocked the cutter around on the surfaces to create the jagged pattern on them. Then I stuck bamboo skewers in each one and affixed them to the base with woodglue. (3A).

Part 4: The Rope Bridges
These were just popsicle sticks glued down to strips of balsa and trimmed to look like planks. Plasticard posts were cut to the appropriate size and pinned in place. Woodglue-soaked jute was strung between the posts as rope rails, and blobs of greenstuff were placed at the tops of the rails. I got the spear tips from a pile of Bane Thrall back banners I had laying around from an old commission. (4A, 4B & 4C)

Part 5: The Eeeeeeeeevil Glowing
So I had it pretty much all put together, but it was still missing something. The idea my wife gave me came back through—she had thought the platform could be suspended above an open volcano or something. I didn't want to do a volcano, but thought some kind of underlighting might be fun.

Until this project, I'd never added lighting to a piece. I really had no idea how to do it within the scope of this project. I's seen it added to large tables (like Pat's excellent grind arena and Port Towne projects), but not some pieces like this. The logistics were getting me down.

Then I remembered an old PC casemod a friend of mine had built me and I gleefully tore apart the old frankensteined case to get not only the x-files green cold cathode tube we lit it with, but the power supply as well. After a quick bit of electrical engineering right out), the light system was prepared: one tube connected to one suspicious-looking-electrical-tape lined circuit board, and one wall wart that wasn't designed to be used with this at all, but seems to work fine. I am not yet on fire, and that can only mean one thing—success! (5A, 5B & 5C)

NOTE: It seems only appropriate at this point to recommend to all terrain builders that they should probably not play with electricity or other forces they do not understand without supervision by people who do. I'm just stupid that way, and prefer to tempt fate whenever possible. She's mean, and needs to be razzed occasionally—And I am the man for the job ;) (5D)

Part 6: The Surface
Now that the whole piece was coming together, it was time to start preparing the surface of the piece. When I make things out of foam, I usually coat the whole piece with watered-down woodglue to strengthen the surface and add some stiffness to the material (6A).

After the base coat of glue dried, I painted more splotches of woodglue (thicker than the last coat, nearly full-strength) at random all over the surface. I then added small rock debris and sand to the mix, sprinkling it on liberally (6B).

Once the texturing coat dried, I painted basecoats of dark gray paint on the rock spires and craggy surfaces, and spread a lot of dark brown paint on the raised surfaces and at random in the rockier areas. These were followed by drybrushes of progressively lighter shades of brown and gray, overlapping one another to blend the surfaces together. After everything was completely dry, I glued down some spring-colored flocking mix and leaf litter (6C).

Part 7: The Center
The stone platform was painted with the same mixture as the rocks, and drybrushed up to a lighter gray than the rocks used. Small, brighter highlights were added to cracks in the stone that I thought were particularly interesting.

The bridge were basecoated with bone-colored spraypaint and stained with a mixture of chestnut ink, brown ink, water, and Future Floor Wax. Then they were washed with brown and gray paints to simulate weathering, and then drybrushed with light grays and browns, especially around edge of the planks.

The fire was painted with yellows in the recessed areas, building to a more intense orange at the tips of the licks of the flames. I've never attempted to paint fire before, and am less than thrilled with the result. Sadly, in this case, deadline wins over craftsmanship.

Lessons Learned
1) Seriously, I've been doing this for around 10 years now. You'd think that, at some point during that time, I'd have learned to STOP BUILDING EVERYTHING INTO THE MODEL BEFORE I PAINTED IT. This is the greatest disadvantage to "building by the seat of your pants" without any planning or concrete design concept. Try to build things in pieces to make it easier on yourself to finish them, especially diring the painting phase!

2) KEEP YOUR SCRAPS. Seriously. That pile of foam off cuts you made when you started making that awesome mountain thing for the tournament? You threw that away. For shame! Fully half of this model was built out of foam scraps that were seconds away from the trash can. When in doubt, just play with it before you throw it all away. I made that neat jagged rock pattern out of frustration during a creative slump in the project. Remember, it's not trash until you throw it out!

Finished Product
Here we have some finished shots of the piece, with a couple of models thrown in for scale. I'm pretty happy with it over all, and am looking forward to bashing some heads open on it during the summer league!

In the meantime, come and get some of this glowing.