Building an Outpost

I was building a whole series of desert-based terrain and was lucky enough to be able to photograph some of the pieces step-by step during construction. This was the second piece in the series. Please read the "How to Build a Bunker" section before reading this one. Some of the sections that I cover briefly here I elaborate more there.

Unlike the Bunker, this piece would not open up. It is more of a decorative piece of rock, but would be a quicker project I could work on in between steps of the Bunker. One thing to remember about building terrain is that you CAN'T build it all in one go. Many steps involve long drying times (often 24 hours) so it is best to work on multiple projects at once.

This whole piece started with the small plastic flower pot. As soon as I saw it 6 years ago, it reminded me of a tiny version of Jabba's desert palace from Return of the Jedi, and I knew I had to make something of it. So I put in on the MDF Board traced it (the circle you see here) to figure out the size of the piece. Based on the size of the Necromunda bulk head that I was going to use as the door, I knew the piece would be four layers of Styrofoam high, so I drew out four rough out lines on the MDF Board, radiating from the original circle. I then cut out the over all base size out of the MDF board with a Dremel and cut out the rough Styrofoam shapes as I had drawn them on the board. The only other pieces are the flower pot, a plastic Necromunda bulkhead (the one with the open door), and a little bit of cardboard. The card board I cut into a long strip, cut out a thinner strip from the middle of it, and slit it to make it fold easily where I wanted it to form corners. I cut a smaller strip to glue behind the opening of the first strip. I also glued a small, thin piece of card behind the opening in the bulkhead.

One final note: As I drew out each piece of Styrofoam before cutting it, I also drew on the top of each piece, the number indicating it's position and an arrow pointing to the frown of the piece. This would ease assembling after it was all cut out.

Here is the basic structure all glued together. Again, I used mostly white glue, but used Styroglue for the large flat areas of Styrofoam One thing to note about the flower pot - since it was molded out of plastic as a consumer product, it had the injection point and other markings very visible on the bottom (or top as I used it). To cover this, I used the same premixed wall filler that I use to smooth out the rock texture. I slapped a handful over the area and then used a spatula to scrape it smooth. Also, the flower pot is not yet glued on at this point. I carved out the groove it would eventually be glued into, but left it loose.

This is a close up of the bunker window. I built it to be recessed under a rocky overhang.

Here is the structure after I have melted the exterior with the fireplace lighter. You can also see the groove that the flower pot will be glued into.

The melting process leaves lines between layers where the Styrofoam melts a different rates. The presence of glue of adds to the problem. Use you fingers to scrape away material you do not want and to smooth out the melted grooves in the rock.

Here, the lines where the layers meet have been torn out to smooth the surface. To hide the appearance of the layers that make up the "rock" I deliberately try to melt grooves that stretch across the layers. This is a technique to remember in ALL terrain, model, and conversion building. The human eye recognized straight line very well. Any place that will have a straight edge that you do know want to be seen (i.e. often where pieces meet), create details that will visually cross that line. The grooves I put into rocky surface do that here.

Here, the structure has been melted, and the lines between layers have been torn away.

At this point, I glued on the flower pot. I used white glue for this. Let it dry! I stress this only because I only gave it a few hours (which wasn't nearly enough time) and then started using it as a handle to move the piece around while painting, only to have it fall off. That wasn't fun...

Anyways, after the glue dried, I used the premixed filler compound to smooth out the rock. I also used it to fill in the exposed corrugation of the cardboard of the bunker slit.

A close up of the textured "rock".

I glued 3mm Westrim Half-Round beads to the edges of the firing slit to look like 40K style rivets. I also glued aquarium sand to the top of all the flat rocky surfaces.

Once the sand and glue was dry, I painted a dark brown wash over everything except the firing slit and flower pot.

The flower pot I spray painted black with Games Workshop primer. You must be careful when doing this. The propellant will melt the Styrofoam, so you want to get it only on the flower pot. I used spray primer instead of cheap craft brush-on acrylic because I was worried about the cheaper paint flaking off the plastic surface.

The firing slit and bulkhead I brush painted black. I also brushed a thin black wash over some of the rocky areas to darken them (especially into crevices).

I dry-brshed everything except the sandy areas gray.
I dry-brushed the sand an ochre/dun color. The bunker parts have been dry-brushed with additional, lighter shades of gray. The rock has been given a very thin brown wash.
The bunker parts have been given a thin black wash to emphasize the details. The rock has been dry-brushed with a clay-like red-brown color.
The bunker parts were given a much softer dry-brushing of gray to create a concrete look. The bulkhead has been given an additional soft metallic dry-brushing. The rock has been dry-brushed with tan paint and the sand was dry-brushed with an even lighter tan color (called Sandstone in the brand I used). All that remains to be done is to repaint the interior of the firing slit black and to paint the bulkhead door gray.
A close-up of the finished rock detail.