What's worse?

What could be worse than a Space Marine Legion that fell to the Chaos powers and rebelled against everything they once respected? We don't know, but it was probably pretty bad.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Apocalypse Sized Building Pt 1

Hello everyone, this is my first post to DFIR. I'm the 3rd leg of the triad and finally shook off enough lazy to do some work.

I volunteered to make some big buildings for our upcoming Apocalypse battle. I mean BIG BUILDINGS. The requirements were that they needed to block some line of site to titan sized models. That's big.

Having only a week to get the job done I suggested that we just paint some cardboard boxes and leave it at that. We could do something more elaborate next time. Everyone seemed OK with that. When I actually got started I wasn't satisfied with the size and shape of the boxes I had around the house. I also noticed that I had a pile of foamcore sheets that I had scored at AC Moore when they were on sale months ago ($1.00/sheet!). So I decided to assemble the buildings instead.

Here we see a small pile of foam core after cutting. There was lots and lots of cutting. Notice the tiny-tiny glue gun at the top of the picture. That tool was WAY too small for this job. It managed to survive the experience but I see a larger glue gun in my future.

Painters tape (easy remove) is a must. Using an angle square I lined up the pieces and taped them together so I could really jam the glue gun into the corner. Also, beer helps.

Step one complete. A square! The majority of my Saturday was spent doing this a few times. The first couple were a major pain as I worked out the kinks in the process then it went pretty smoothly.

The first off the assembly line was a simple skyscraper. It took longer than you'd think... This model has a 12x12 inch base and is around 20 inches tall. There are gaps and other imperfections but remember this is a quick project. No going back. Whatever comes together gets used. In any case I'm learning for some future build where I'll actually go for perfection.

After two of the basic sky scrapers I got bored and decide to try something fancier. Not too fancy mind you. I took the pieces for the tall skyscraper and cut them in half. This produced 8 12x10 pieces. I assembled one set at 12x12 and another at 10x10.

The 12x12 formed the base. I attached a lid that was flush (OK, mostly flush) with the top then put the 10x10 flush with one side to create an offset tower.

I managed to crank out 4 buildings over the course of Saturday in between other family activities. Sunday was for painting. Here we see the whole family together and ready for spraying.

OK, not quite ready for spraying. If you're not familiar with foam core, it's two pieces of poster board with Styrofoam sandwiched between. Styrofoam and spray paint do not get along. The propellant from spray paint will dissolve the styrofoam. If I spray them they way they are now, the exposed ends of the foam core will get eaten away, which will be both ugly and reduce the strength of the model.

Normally what you would do to create a polished model is glue strips of paper along the corners creating a very nice finished look. That would take forever so forget that. Another technique is to paint over the exposed foam with water based paint. This provides a barrier so the spray paint doesn't directly contact the styrofoam. This is the techinique I'll be using. To make it go even faster, I'll be using an airbrush.

I used blue craft paint because that's what I had handy. I figured the black spray paint would cover it up so the color doesn't matter. This proved to be somewhat incorrect so next time I'll be using black.

Dang taggers! Disregarding those hooligans from DFIR you can see in the above picture all the exposed edges of the foam core have been sprayed blue. For the airbrush I just thinned down the craft paint with water and sprayed along the exposed edges.

That was dry almost immediately so I was able to move right on to spraying. I ended up going through 3 cans of black spray paint. All the foam edges survived intact. The picture below looks pretty terrible but the buildings themselves look much better. This was taken outside in the bright sun so there are a number of photographic issues.

The building on the left is not mottled, although that would be a spectacular effect. Those are shadows from the tree above. The bright spots on the other buildings (grid effect) is due to glare from the sun off the paint. While there is a slight grid visible on the finished product you really have to look for it under normal lighting. Once the windows are painted on you won't be able to tell at all.

One issue I did have was with my blue edge spray. Some of the edges were rough enough that getting the black spray at all the required angles was difficult. Some of the edges still have some exposed blue. Not enough to be a problem but enough to be irritating to me. Next time I'll play it safe and take the time to find some black paint.

Next blog will cover masking and window spray.


  1. cool idea ... a simple yet interesting looking set of terrain. I've been tinkering with a similar idea. I'd like to use MDF/Pressboard and do a spray paint stencil for windows/exterior detail ... so awesome post ... very similar to what I was thinking about. I look forward to the next post ... thanks!!

  2. Great job, HMT! I look forward to shooting around them on Saturday.