Soul Mill
by Jim "Nobody" Cornell

I saw the claw-like mechanism reach down and snatch a Cygnarian prisoner, lift him up and drop him in the hole atop the vile machine where he disappeared in a cloud of bloody vapor...

The Cryxian Soul Mill is the third and final piece Klepto asked me to build for him. Like the Cryxian Mining Rigs and the Umbral Cairn, I had to dive into the Escalation rulebook to find out more about this unusual piece. I wanted it to be very mechanical looking and glow evilly from within. To get the glow I needed a creative way to hide the power source. The following is what I came up with...

Materials Needed:
Empty Gatorade bottle (needs to be transparent)
Green watercolor
Masking tape
24 oz. aluminum can

Card stock
1/2" length of 1" diameter PVC pipe
Water bottle cap
A non-cyanoacrylate glue
A battery-powered light
Empty CD container
Permanent marker
Thick sheet styrene
Epoxy glue
Thin sheet styrene
Bits from your morgue
Star Wars snap-together AT-AT model
Small 30 watt light bulb
Clear silicone adhesive
Thin stirring straw
Flock or static grass

The Main Body
Step 1
Remove the label from an empty Gatorade bottle and cut the top off as shown in the graphic below. I chose this bottle because it looks like it has small interesting windows molded into the sides. This is going to be the heart of the Soul Mill. Everything else revolves around this piece (1A).

Step 2
Use green watercolor to tint the inside surfaces of the windows and the bottom of the Gatorade bottle.

Step 3
Cut masks out of tape and cover the portions of the windows you want to be glass. While you are doing that also paint the inside of bottom of the bottle (it will soon be the top of the mill) as shown in (3A). Cut the mask into a disk and cover the outside of the bottom portion of the bottle you painted green (from now on referred to as the top as shown in 3A).

Step 4
Cut the top and bottom off a 24 oz. aluminum can and cut it up the side as shown in the graphic in Step 1 (1A). You want the bottle to be clear in places and opaque in others so you need to use this can as an insert to the Gatorade bottle. I chose an aluminum can because it is pliable and easy to cut. I originally thought of using a regular soda pop can but it was not tall enough. A beer can may work, but don't empty too many of them because you a little bit of math and a lot of cutting to do yet! Check the length by rolling the aluminum sheet up and sliding it into the Gatorade bottle. If it is too long, trim the bottle to fit.

Step 5
Now that you know how tall the aluminum tube needs to be, determine the inside diameter of the Gatorade bottle to find out how wide it needs to be and add 1/4" to the width (you will see why later).

Step 6:
This step is the hardest part of the entire piece, but if you can pull it off it will really help make your should mill seem to glow from within. Cut holes in the aluminum that like up with the masked-off windows of the Gatorade bottle. It really wasn't as difficult as it sounds. I determined the inner diameter of the Gatorade bottle (thank heavens for a public education and the fact that I was awake the day they taught about radii and diameters!) and divided that measurement by the number of "window" on the Gatorade bottle. This told me how far apart the center of each hole in the aluminum needed to be.

Step 7
Cut a piece of card stock in the size and shape you want the holes in your aluminum to be and trace its shape onto the aluminum. I made mine smaller than the window on the Gatorade bottle as shown in the graphic below. Be sure that none of the holes will overlap the seam.

IMPORTANT: Don't use graphic 7A as a template. It is only to help you understand what I have done. The diameter of your bottle may be different than the one I used and will throw all of your cuts off.

Step 8
Cut the holes in the aluminum using scissors or a sharp razor blade.

Step 9
Roll the aluminum and slide into the Gatorade bottle to be sure the holes link up with the windows (9A). When the aluminum is in place it should overlap itself by the 1/4" of material you added in Step 5 (See? Told you.). The masks are not in place on the Gatorade bottle so that you can see that the holes in the aluminum line up with the windows on the bottle. See, now that wasn't so bad...

Step 10
To make the top of the soul mill, cut a hole in the bottle cap (I used the plastic cap from a 5-gallon bottle, I found it laying next to the water cooler at work) by placing the piece of PVC pipe on the cap and tracing the pipe's inner diameter on the cap to show me where to cut.

Step 11
Glue the PVC and cap together.

Step 12
Mask off the bottom of the hole at the PVC/cap joint as shown in graphic (12A)

Step 13
Glue upper structure with a non-cyanoacrylate glue (like liquid plastic) to the top of the Gatorade bottle as shown in (13A). Otherwise the chemical reaction rom the cyanoacrylate glue (like superglue) will permanently fog up the plastic you want to remain transparent.

The Platform
Step 14
Having a terrain piece with a light source is one thing. Hiding the battery pack is another. You also want something that you can open to access the battery pack and will close tight when being used. That said, let's make a platform for the mill to stand on that will also be a hiding place for the battery pack. Place an empty CD container over the battery pack and use a permanent marker to draw a line all the way around that is higher than the battery pack. Be sure to allow a little bit foe any wires that may get in the way (14A).

Step 15
Tape the inner surface of the container where the line is as shown in (14A). This will help prevent the container from shattering when you cut it.

Step 16
Attach the bottom (it will acts as a support and, like the tape, will help keep it from shattering) and carefully cut along the line. I used a dremil with a cutting disk for this step. The portion on the left is the basis for the platform (16A).

Step 17
Cut a base for the entire terrain piece out of 1/8" styrene or similar material and bevel the edge. Mine was about 10" wide.

Step 18
Cut a 5-3/4" circle out of 1/8" styrene. I used a Dremil with a rip bit to cut the cole in the center of the circle as well as the container's base to help hold the battery pack. The dimensions need to be just big enough to fit the lights through (18A).

Step 19
Affix the styrene disk with the hole in it to the top of the CD container with epoxy glue. Also attach the base of the CD container to the large styrene base.

IMPORTANT: With each step, make sure that the CD container disconnects from the base so that you can access the battery pack or else it will be forever entombed in the base (19A)

Step 20
Fashion stairs up to the platform from thin styrene or similar materia
l as shown above (19A). I made the uppermost step as high as the rest of the platform Glue the steps to the base (20A).

Step 21
On the front of the mill there is a control box. Fashion the box using thin styrene. The dimensions are 3-1/2"H x 1-1/4"W x 1-1/4"D. Instead of styrene I used a few scraps from my morgue. These particular pieces came from the cargo bay of Monogram's 1/72 scale Space Shuttle model (21A & 21B). I cut a piece of styrene for the front.

Step 22
I glued the control panel together and added some scrap pieces from my morgue. I used various pieces from that same Monogram Space Shuttle model, parts of an old Star Wars AT-AT model, and various gears, bottle caps and the sleeves from new glue bottles. You are only limited by the size of your morgue and your imagination. I've included the Goreshade figure to show scale (22A).

Step 23
Create the supports around the soul mill using 1/2" plastic I-beams. They are 2" long and cut on a 30-degree angle. You will need six of them.

Step 24
Thread the lights through the hole in the platform.

Step 25
Use epoxy glue to affix the soul mill to the platform Attach the supports at this time as well.

Step 26
Use greenstuff to sculpt rivets to the soul mill, control panel and to make the stones on the base.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that when you are sculpting the stones that you don't hinder the CD container's ability to open and close. Photo 26A shows how some of the base should not be covered to allow for the opening and closing of the base to access the battery pack.

The Arm & Claw
Step 27
The Arm is two legs from a Star Wars Snap-together AT-AT Walker. They were glued thigh-to-ankle. They look intricate but they are really just two pieces, honest. I fastened them to the control box by using a finishing nail as a pin (a heavy duty pin job at that) (27A).

Step 28
The claw is made entirely of thick and thin styrene, styrene strips, and greenstuff (28A). Attach the arm when dry.

Step 29
The support struts were made out of more Shuttle cargo bay parts but could easily be made out of styrene rods or stretched plastic sprue (29A). The strut on the right is the original one, the one on the left is the modified version I used.

Step 30
Spread whiteglue over the entire surface of the base and cover with dirt and allow to dry.

Step 31
Undercoat the entire piece black. (31A, 31B and 31C)

IMPORTANT: make sure you paint the base separate from the mill and the platform. Otherwise the paint will seal them together.

Step 32
Cover the dirt surface with Americana Burnt Umber.

Step 33
Heavy drybrush base with Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Flat Earth #983.

Step 34
Drybrush base with VMC Stone #104.

Step 35
Paint soul mill, supports and control panel with Ral Partha Steel.

Step 36
Drybrush with GW Boltgun Metal.

Step 37
Using a sponge, apply black ink wash where you want rust to be and let dry.

Step 38
using a sponge, apply sepia ink wash over black wash and let dry.

Step 39
Using a sponge, apply VMC Flat Earth #983 over black and sepia washes.

Step 40
Using a sponge, apply VMC Bright Orange #851.

Step 41
Seal the entire piece with a thin coat of Krylon Crystal Clear and a thin coat of Testor's Dullcoat. Allow to dry between each coat.

Step 42
Take the non-business end of a pen or pencil and gently punch out the mask up top that is covering the throat of the soul mill. When it is loose you may need tweezers to pull the mask out. Also, use a sharp razor blade to lightly trace around the masks you placed over your window. Be careful not to use too much press. You just want to score the paint, you don't want to cut all the way through the plastic. Then gently remove the masks.

Step 43
Load up a brush with a 50-50 mixture of whiteglue and water and randomly paint the mixture onto the base.

Step 44
Cover the clue mixture with flock/static grass and allow to dry.

Step 45
Now that everything seems finished it is time to make the soul cage. I left this for last because I didn't want to risk messing up the glass during step 41. Take the 30-watt bulb and cut it using a Dremil with a cutting disk (45A). Don't be a dope, use eye protection. Discard the filament and metal threaded piece.

Step 46
Sculpt the coupling using greenstuff and allow to cure (46A).

Step 47
Fill bulb with clear silicone adhesive (46A). Some brands claim to be clear but look cloudy like a little bit of milk and a lot of water. The brand I used came in a clear squeeze tube.

Step 48
Add color to the silicone by swirling in green water color using a small stirring straw. Don't over-do it, you want to make it look like the color is swirling (46A). Allow to cure.

Step 49
Paint the coupling using GW Brazen Brass.

Step 50
Highlight coupling with Ral Partha Gold (50A).

Step 51
Use epoxy to attach should cage to mill (51A).

Step 52
Turn the soul mill on and turn out the lights. (52A & 52B)

There you go, a challenging terrain piece you can wow your friends with at your next game.

Afterthoughts: After each step, make sure you still have access to the battery pack and the lights still work. It would be easy to seal it shut or compromise a wire or something. If I had it to do all over again I would run the lights into the Soul Cage and also the control box too.