Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sidewalks and Walkways from Spackle

     Ok, while I was working on my Watchtower I also started working on a few other pieces. On them I decided to try and add some walkways on to the base before I added the sand. I took a bunch of pictures of one of them so I could do a walk through for you. It actually worked out rather well. I think I am going to experiment with some other ideas with it and see what all I can use it for. For now, here is how I got this far. Please excuse the mess on the rest of the house. It is a work in progress.

     I have to admit that this is not entirely my idea. Rackham used to have a magazine called Cry Havoc and in it they used to do some really nice pieces of terrain out of plaster. They would cast the plaster into a large flat circle or rectangle. Then once it was dry they would draw a pattern or design on the plaster and then carve out the design. I am going to do a similar thing here.

     I will not be using plaster for my stuff at this time. I will be using some spackle or "Joint Compound" it is called on the tub. As opposed to plaster, I can just lay this out where I want it, and I do not have to have anything to put it in as a form. The spackle may be called something else where you are from, but if you are looking it is the material that is used to fill the cracks in sheetrock/drywall/wallboard. It can also be used to fix holes from nails as well. The main thing about this stuff is that it air dries hard, and is not that hard to work with once dry.
Step 1: Apply Spackle
     First off, I started with the basic house that I have already glued down to the base.  From there I took a putty knife and some spread the spackle out in the area I wanted. In this case I already had a door frame so I could match the thickness to it. If you read the first part of my Watchtower here you know I apply sand to the base for my terrain. I am not gonna do that for a few steps. That way I can push the sand right up against the sides. So as you can see I spread the spackle out over my area. I tried to have it a little thicker in the middle than on the edges. That way it would look like it is being covered by the sand (what ever color you paint it). Don't worry if it is uneven, that is actually better. It makes it look a bit more realistic. Let it sit and dry. This may take a few hours, but I let it dry overnight to be sure.
Step 2: Draw Design
     Once dry, you can move on to the other steps. Your spackle may crack but just like being uneven, that is ok. Now get a pencil and draw the design you want for your walkway. You can use what ever you wanted. I just went for a standard brick type pattern. Once again, you don't have to worry too much about real straight lines. Trust me for some one who is borderline OCD such as myself, that is a hard lesson to learn. All those imperfections give it a bit more realism.

Step 3: Carve Lines
      It's time to really start making this look like..."something". Get a sculpting tool. Start scratching across the lines until the cracks are the depth that you like. I would start out with very little pressure until you get a feel for how much the spackle can take before it shoots off a large chunk of it. After a bit you get what is starting to look like a paved walkway. You can even go a bit farther with it and lightly shave down the edges of some of the bricks so they look like uneven. This shot from the side shows it a little better.

     Once you are pretty much done with the carving part, take an old tooth brush and make sure there is no dust left in the cracks. From here you have a few choices. You can move straight to painting, or you could cover the rest of the base in sand as I do. I will not go into that here. If you need more info, check the link above to my post about the Watchtower to see what I am talking about.

Step 4: Paint & Prep
     My walkway is now dry, the base has the sand added, and I have sprayed it with primer. Notice that you can still see some of the white from the spackle in the cracks. That's ok for me. I will cover it with my base color. I have been toying with my air brush recently, but I want everyone to be able to do this so I will tell you what I did with the airbrush and then what I would have done normally.
Step 5: Base Color
    I started with a light grey I sprayed from my airbrush. You could easily paint it on with a normal brush. The colors are not really that important. Just find something you are comfortable with and work from there. I also made sure to cover the cracks that I missed with the black primer.
Step 6: Darken the Cracks and edges
     Once the light grey was dry I took a darker grey and sprayed all the cracks. I was not worried about the over spray because I wanted some of the darker grey on the surface of the bricks as well. It will help break up the color on the surface in the same way that many rocks have differing colors running through them. You could brush this on just be sure to thin your paint a bit so the edges are not as hard. Hard edges will be a little bit harder to soften later on.
Step 7: Soften the Edges
     After darkening the cracks, I came back with the airbrush and softened up the edges of the bricks. I still want a small amount of the dark color showing through in some areas so I made and did not cover the whole thing well. Some thin paint on a brush will do the trick if you are with out an airbrush. Don't worry if the cracks look a bit too light. once we are finished the light surface color will make them look darker.

Step 8: First Dry Brush
     I put down the airbrush for a few minutes and used a brush for this step. I took light grey and dry brushed the entire walkway with it. Be sure to hit the edges near the cracks so they stand out.
Step 9: Second Dry Brush
     I took a second color, a tan color, and dry brushed it on in different areas. I am really just trying to break up the walkway so it does not all look the same color. I basically made two paths (front to back in the picture) across the walkway.
Step 9: Finishing
     For the final step I took the airbrush an sprayed a few patches of the original grey in some areas. I am merely trying to break up the surface so you do not see too much of any one color in the same area. This will help make it look like real rocks.
     Here is the finished walkway. It may have come out a bit on the light side, but I'm hoping as I finish the house it will help balance it out. I plan on painting the sand next to it varying shades of green to look like grass. I also intend to glue some flock down as well, and the walls of the house will be an ivory color so over all it should look good. I hope.

1 comment:

Brent said...

I don't even know what to say - that look incredible!