The Broken Coast

By TheBugKing


This project began by asking myself what the Sharde Islands look like.  Then I asked myself what would happen if necrotite was exposed to Dragon Blight.  I figured I needed a few key elements:  a foreboding and swampy look, some focal point that exhibits my vision of blighted necrotite, and some decrepit trees.  As with all my projects I began with a sketch.


Since this project wound up being so large I broke it into four distinct sections:


Section 1

The Base and Shale Formations


Materials Needed:

  • 2’ x 4’ x 1/8” Masonite or Hard board
  • 4’ x 4’ x 1” Pink Foam
  • 1” x 1” x 6’ Piece of soft wood (I used pine)
  • ¼” x 1’ Brass Tube
  • A large tub of Wall Joint Compound (WJC)
  • Wood Glue
  • Super Glue
  • 1” Coarse Thread Sheetrock Screws


Tools Needed:

  • Safety Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • Foam Cutting tools
    • Utility Knife and extra blades
    • Key Hole Knife
    • Carbide Cutter for a dremel / flexible shaft
  • Scroll Saw or Jewelers Saw (A scroll saw will be much easier to use and is much quicker)
  • Dremel or Flexible Shaft (I recommend a flexible shaft or the adapter for the Dremel tool because you can get much more precision out of the set up)
  • Clamps
  • Power Drill
  • Sanding Wheels for the Flexible Shaft
  • Cut-Off Wheels for the Flexible Shaft
  • Pilot Drill for Sheetrock Screws
  • Welding Wire Brushes (Several different sizes.  They are sold at most hardware stores)
  • Spackle Knives 1” wide and 3” wide
  • Acrylic Paint Black, Burnt Umber, Chromium Green, Umber, Titanium White, Yellow
  • Shop Vacuum


General Safety Notice:

When using power tools wear goggles.  When using knives cut away from yourself.  If you run the risk of cutting yourself while doing a process wear gloves. 

Most importantly use common sense.  If you are uncomfortable doing something don’t do it.  Figure out a way to do the process in a way that is safe and that you are comfortable with.


Begin by cutting out the basic footprint of the piece with the scroll saw.  On one of the back verticals be sure to make an opening for the electrical work.  I chose the long back edge for this.


Use the Flexible Shaft with the sanding bit to smooth the edge of the base piece.  I like to have about 1” of bevel to make sure that the transition from the piece to what ever it is sitting on looks smooth.


Then mark and cut the 1” x 1” wood to match the profile.  Glue and clamp in place and screw together.  Make sure that you drill a pilot hole with a bevel in the hard board or you will split the wood and make a mess of the hard board.  Once the pieces are together run a bead of super glue along the edges of the wood and hardboard--this will help decrease warping.  Allow the piece to dry overnight.


Take a piece of pink foam and trace the footprint on to it.


Cut out the pink foam, a bit large, and test fit it.  You will wind up smoothing it out later.


Apply wood glue to the base in a relatively even pattern, making sure to get glue on the vertical edges.  Then smooth out the glue.  Make sure that the entire surface is covered, as this will decrease warping.


Put the foam piece on and apply some heavy weights to make sure it stays put.  You want to make sure that the first piece of foam bonds really well to your base board so that the rest of the assembly goes smoothly.  Once the base is dry, cut a section of foam out for the electrical work and trim the overlapping foam away.


To cut out the smaller pieces, trace the larger piece below it and then draw in the shape you want.  Repeat this until the foam stacks up to above the backing pieces.  Be sure to cut all of your pieces, and make sure to cut out the area for the electrical work. 


Draw in rough locations for trees and locations to embed the LED units that will be made later.  Then, using the carbide bit on the flexible shaft, carefully plunge the bit into the foam.  Make the indents about ¾” deep. 


If an indent falls on an elevation change in the foam, be sure to plunge ¾” into the lower piece.  If you make them too deep you can always add a piece of foam later.  If they aren’t deep enough it will be very difficult to make them deeper later on.


You will notice that while using the carbide tip, it will fill up with pink foam residue.  It is important to remove the residue periodically as it gets very hard, and if it comes off while you are using the tool you could injure yourself.  I allow about as much residue as is shown in the following picture.


Once the indents are in, it is time to start planning the wire runs for the electrical units.  The bottom piece is quite easy.  Cut a ¼” wide by ½” deep trough from the electrical cut out to the indent using the carbide bit.


For the other two indents, troughs will need to be cut into the bottom of the foam pieces they are in.  Mark out your cut path and then cut in a trough ¼” wide by ½” tall.


The very top indent will need a hole drilled down into the electrical cut out.  Mark where the trough needs to be, cut it, and then drill down into the electrical cut out.


The bottom indent and trough has no foam over much of the trough so it needs a piece of ¼” brass rod to protect it from the WJC that will be applied later.  Mark and cut the length of tube and then use wood glue to glue it in place.


Glue all the pieces together making sure to evenly spread glue over each piece and the vertical back and side.  Glue the bottom first and work your way to the top until all the pieces are in place.  Put some heavy things on the larger surfaces to minimize warping.


Use the pilot hole drill and put screws in along the top edge of the back and sides.  This will help keep the piece from warping.


Once the glue is dry, (It can take up to three days for the glue to dry completely.  Be patient. It is important to allow the piece to dry completely before moving on) begin shaping the foam.  Use the carbide bit and flexible shaft to cut the inside edges and smooth out the edges of the foam.  Then use the keyhole knife laid on its side to smooth the piece further.  You can use a rasp or other rough tool here, but I prefer the key hole knife because of it’s flexibility.


Vacuum up all the loose foam, and vacuum the piece thoroughly.  Then apply about ½” to ¾” WJC over then entire piece, being sure to not get any in the electrical indents. 


Allow the piece to dry for about 6 hours, and then use a small left over piece of the 1”x1” wood to score in strata lines.  You want to be sure to do this while the piece is still soft or it will not work. 


Allow the piece to dry completely.  This can take up to a week, so be patient.  Following your strata lines, use a welding wire brush and scrub back and forth.  Ridges and valleys will immediately begin to form.  Use the various brush sizes to get into the tighter areas.  For the horizontal areas, lay a brush on its side and work gently into the piece.  There will be some areas that will have to have vertical ridges.  This will wind up looking fine.


The end result:


Mix 30% wood glue with 70% near boiling water in an old glass or jar and brush over the entire piece to seal it.  The hot water will suck the glue further into the WJC than cold water.  Give the piece three to four coats, allowing 5 minutes between applications.


Once the piece is completely dry paint it.

I used an airbrush to apply a mix of the burnt umber and umber, and a mix of burnt umber and a small amount of black to rough in the strata lines. Then I mixed several shades of grey and drybrushed over the entire piece, varying the levels of grey.  I then mixed the umber and a small amount of green and airbrushed over about 70% of the piece in a random pattern.  I drybrushed several layers of grey over the piece again.  Then I mixed a wash of yellow and umber, as well as a wash of burnt umber, green and black and applied the washes in several layers adding highlights and shadows.  Finally, I drybrushed a light grey and very light grey. 


This concludes section 1.  You can see a preview of Section 2 in the final pictures. 

Ambrose “TheBugKing” Coddington