Monday, April 20, 2020

Space Corridor Terrain WIP

This project is a single Spaceship X set from Creative Gamescape. It's a backer reward from their Kickstarter from awhile back. Going into the ups and downs of that particular Kickstarter will have to wait until I do a proper review.

Makin' progress.

I've been making slow and steady progress on this project for awhile now. There was a setback or two, but things have sped up lately due to the current state of affairs. I'm now at a decision point. Which is as good a time as any to look back and see how things have gone so far.

I originally assembled and painted this set for an encounter in our Star Trek Adventures campaign. Unfortunately, I ran in problems with both the assembly and the paint job.

  • The pieces started coming apart from routine handling. The bond from the cyanoacrylate glue I used was brittle and weak.
  • The metallic spray paint I used was coming off on my hands. A little research on some online forums revealed that this "overspray" issue was common to that brand.
  • The wash I used looked patchy. A wash shouldn't be evenly distributed - after all, the point of a wash is for it to flow into the details. However, the bare spots looked less like weathering and more like the wash mixture broke during application. To be fair, the particular bottle of wash I used is years old.
Starting over looked like a better approach than trying to solve each problem piecemeal. I disassembled the pieces and gave all the parts a long soak in Simple Green to strip off as much of the paint and glue as possible. The parts also got a good scrubbing in soap and water.

I started each step with a couple of test pieces. Overall progress slowed down a bit, but this approach allowed me to evaluate the results and make adjustments as needed. No sense in wasting time going down a blind alley.

I took the opportunity to file down some molding lines and other imperfections that I neglected earlier. Next I used plastic cement to bond the parts together. The plastic cement resulted in a stronger bond than cyanoacrylate, but left noticeable gaps between some of the parts. Some slightly watered down PVA glue worked as a gap filler and to reinforce the bonds holding the parts together.

Primer and Base Coats:
The same research that turned up the overspray issue also suggested a fix. The spray paint I used was supposed to be an all-in-one primer and paint. The fix is to not rely on that and to go ahead and apply a separate primer layer. The theory is that the metallic spray paint would bond better to a primer than directly on the plastic. Unfortunately, that theory didn't pan out. The metallic paint still came off on my hands. Washing the pieces in soap and water improved things only slightly. I decided to press on in the hopes that I could find a solution later.

Comparison: Base coat only (left), base coat + wash (center), and base coat + wash + detailing (right).

I mixed a large batch of dark wash for this project using a formula I found online and stored it in a plastic bottle. This would help to keep the color of the wash consistent over all of the pieces. I repeated a method of applying the wash that worked well for a previous project. Rather than brushing on the wash and leaving it, I used a sponge to wipe away some of the excess. This resulted in even coverage on the flat areas while letting the wash settle into the details. The downward motion I used also helped to simulate weathering - nevermind the notion of "weathering" in space.

After highlighting. Note how the center of the room and corridors are a little brighter in color than the rest.

While my goal for the base coat and wash was an even coat in the flat areas, the pieces were looking a little too uniform at this point. I remedied this by applying a small amount of Craft Smart Premium Wax Metallic Finish with a soft cloth. This method provides a subtle gradation between the darker and lighter areas. I considered drybrushing a silver metallic paint to achieve the same effect, but I wanted to experiment a bit.

Detailing in progress. Note the difference between the gold colored rivets and the plain ones.

At this point, I felt that the pieces needed something to make them more interesting to look at. Coloring the round "rivets" with a Metallic Gold Sharpie gave them a little more detail. I choose a Sharpie over paint for convenience. It was easier for me to grab a Sharpie and color a few rivets in between doing other things than to deal with a bottle of paint and a brush in the same circumstances. I also had a Metallic Silver Sharpie on hand for corrections.

Door closeup.

I choose to make the doors visually distinct from the rest of the set. During the first time I tackled this project, I spray painted the door pieces the same metallic color as the walls and they tended to blend in. The first test was in a bright orange color that didn't coat well. That test piece will be stripped, reprimed, and repainted later. The purple spray paint I tried next coated well and stands out from the rest of the set. I used the same wash as the rest of the set to bring out the details. The buttons on the keypads were colored using a Metallic Sapphire Sharpie. I applied some thinned down Reaper LED Blue 09288 to rest of the keypad to simulate the appearance of a backlight. I tried something similar in green on the other side, but it didn't work as well. That side on the doors will be repainted to match the blue keypads later. A Metallic Gold Sharpie was used to pick out a few details. The wear marks where the doors meet and near the keypads were applied with a Metallic Silver Sharpie.

Next Steps:
I'm considering options at this point. There are the issues I mentioned above with the door that I need to fix. The corridor pieces looks good enough for tabletop use and are an improvement over my previous attempt. However, the overspray issue is still a concern - I don't want to be washing silver paint off my hands every time I handle the pieces. I'm considering spraying a seal on the corridor pieces to see if that fixes the problem.

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