Monday, January 15, 2018

Dungeon Terrain Tuturial

 I've been on a bit of a tear making geomorphic Dungeon terrain for this year's Challenge.  I thought it might be helpful to put up a short tutorial on how to make these sections.

Please note I've "borrowed" (OK, stole) the technique from Jeremy P. and his youtube channel "Black Magic Craft".  He's very creative and has a lot of useful "how-to" content on his channel.

There are a lot of commercially available dungeon tiles on the market but they can be expensive and heavy.  Plus there seems to be a general convention of 2 inch x 2 inch base size which makes set up rather hard - lots of pieces.  Plus, I just wanted to make something different.

 These tiles are made out of pink insulation foam (EPS) which can be made surprisingly strong with a coating of a 50/50 mix of black paint and Modge Podge matte as a primer.   The priming and painting of the tiles will be covered in another tutorial.  It's a very simple 4 step building process that I think yields very good results.

Step 1:  Cut out the foam pieces, in this case we're making a "U" section.  My tiles are based on 4 inch x 4inch size with 1.5 inch high walls.  I tested a lot of wall heights from 0.5 up to 4 and found that 1.5 had the best mix of looks and utility (players can see and easily reach their figures.  It's important to cut these out as exact as possible so I use my trusty Proxxon Hot Wire table cutter.  If you like to make terrain out of EPS foam then you should get one - it's the most useful hobby tool I have.

All of my walls are 0.5 inches think.  Remember to take into account wall thickness when cutting pieces the abut together. The "U" section has three walls 2 that are 4 inches long and 1 that is 3 inches - since it connects with the other two walls it needs to be shorter by 2x0.5 inches!

 Step 2: Engrave the bricks and floor tiles.  This part can be as simple or elaborate as you want.  I use a custom made engraving tool in the form of a dull pencil.  The brick patterns I'm using are rather simple as I've got a lot of these to make.

Step 3: Texturing.  This is an optional step but I think adds a lot of flavor to the overall effect.  Again another sophisticated special tool is required to add the texture - a rolled up ball of aluminum foil.  The foil starts out as a ball but quickly transforms into a cube!.  Take the foil ball and pound it into the foil.  Remember to add texture to all the wall sections that will be visible but not the parts that will be glued.

This technique does allow one to release some aggression and I can often be heard muttering "What did that Orange Moron say now?...."

Step 4: Glue the textured pieces in place.  Any PVA based glue will work.  I prefer "Eileens Tacky Glue" as it holds the pieces without any need of clamping.

There a 5 basic tile designs - an open square in the center and then from lower left a single wall, corner, corridor and a "U" shape.  Since these are "custom" designs you an also make other sizes - I'll be adding a few large rooms but everything will be sized to fit as a multiple of the basic 4x4 inch tile.

I'm also experimenting with some tiles that incorporate LED lights - you can see some tests in the upper right of the picture.

None of the tiles will have doors - I'm using slide on doors that fit over the 0.5 inch wide walls.  I'll do another tutorial on doors and other details.

One thing I strongly suggest is the make a lot of the components at once.  I find I get better results when I'm focused on making these and it goes relatively fast - I made enough for 30 4x4 tiles in less than 1 hour.


Jacko said...

Great stuff. I have been watching Black Magic Craft aswell and I recently made his viking ship. I am currently waiting on one of those texture rollers he displayed once for making stoneqwork\cobble.

Well done.

Clarence Harrison said...

Very cool!