Sunday, 27 February 2011

Building "Fort Kalypso" - Stage 2 - Basing

Basic tools and "spacer" as described below.
Although the building is not yet complete it is now time to provide it with a base.  This is best effected at this stage to both avoid damaging the finished model and to enable the structure to be blended realistically into the groundwork.

It has to be said that buildings without bases never "sit" right on the table-top and always look as if they were simply "plonked" down without care.  

You have a couple of options.  The "scenic" base with some simple (or not so simple!) groundwork - perhaps featuring character figures and trees etc.  Alternatively you could opt for a rudimentary grounding just slightly larger than the building's footprint.  This option is seen in the majority of commercial offerings.

Personally, I favour the scenic option and some form of diorama.  In this case a few palm-trees and civilians should effectively set the scene.  Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself - first let's get the structures safely based.

Building seated and extra contours added.
You can mount the building on MDF or styrofoam, the former is stronger but cutting requires safety precautions.  As this is something of a demonstration piece and will not be handled unduly, I chose the styrofoam and hot wire method.  Roughly mark out the shape and cut out.  It helps if you contour the edges carefully as they will look more natural if a gradual profile is achieved.  

Once you have a shape you are happy with, it's time to seat the building.  I always glue them on a spacer made from card or foamcore.  This is for two reasons.  Firstly it enables you to work the ground-level up to the building and avoid obscuring your work with plaster.  Secondly, it enables you to squeeze filler into the join and this provides further adhesion.   To clarify, the spacer should be glued onto the base with "hot glue" or a contact adhesive.  The oasis should be secured with PVA as it provides a better grip.

Woodland Scenics' rocks.
Now create a few styrofoam contours to add to the base - this gives the effect of a varied ground level and breaks-up the flat surface.  The aim is to make the building look as if it is sitting in rather than sitting on the base.  

Styrofoam cut and rocks seated.
An added touch (if appropriate to your setting) can be some rocks.  A long time ago I bought one of Woodland Scenics model railroading rock-moulds.   I cast a whole lot of these and have found them very useful.  An alternative is cork bark which is available through most model shops with a train department.  The choice is yours.

Joins filled and lines smoothed.
Cut away the styrofoam as required and seat the rocks with hot glue.  Do not go too crazy with the stonework unless the setting is mountainous.  A few look great but too many just looks silly.

Once all of this is secure, get to work with the trusty Polyfilla/grout/spackle and fill in any gaps between walls and rocks and of course the join between building and base.  As before you can be pretty sloppy here as the next stage will allow you to correct any errors.  That said, try to do a good job as it will mean less time is spent on clean up later on.

Now put the building aside and go watch Sunday's Columbo re-runs.  After a day or so drying time we can move on to the walls!

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