Perfecting Plaster
 

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Dealing With Air-Bubbles (Click thumbnails for larger images)

1. Battle Damage

A sharp pointed tool is required for this, either a dental pick, or the tip of a needle file works well.

Note: painting the model first may show up the bubbles, but makes it slightly harder to carve the plaster.

Method

The technique is to make the bubbles larger using the pointed tool. Place the point inside the bubble, and scrape outwards to break up the smooth rounded edges of the air-bubbles.

Result

Having painted the model, the bubbles should now look more like realistic battle damage to the stonework.

2. Laser Damage

This technique requires a small drill-bit, and a pin vice may help for tougher types of plaster. A cotton bud (Q-tip) is also needed for the finishing.

Obviously, this method is best suited to sci-fi projects.

Note: hard plasters WILL blunt your drill-bits.

Method

Using the drill, make the air-bubbles slightly larger. Making them equal in size and perfectly circular will make them look like laser damage. Notice that this has only been done to the larger bubbles, the many micro-bubbles will get mostly filled by paint and won't show prominently.

Result

A couple more holes were made in the block, to make it appear as if it has been strafed by repeating laser fire. Paint the inside of hole black. Scrape a little charcoal or chalk pastel to make fine dust. Dip the end of the cotton bud into the dust, then place it over the hole and twist a couple of times to make a scorch mark around the hole.

3. Bullet Holes

Start this technique in the same way as making the laser damage, drilling holes where the air bubbles are, and adding more holes if desired.

 

Using a dental pick or other pointed tool, carve short lines into the edges of the holes. This simulates the damage to the surrounding material around the bullet hole itself.

Result

The holes were first painted in black. Then the surface scratches were given a coat of chainmail to resemble holes in a painted metal surface. For holes in stone, just drybrush as usual.

4. Monster Damage

This technique requires a sharp pointed tool, either a dental pick, or the tip of a needle file works well.

 

Method

Using the pointed tool, scratch three or four lines into the plaster, going through the air-bubbles. Try to keep the lines roughly parallel and evenly spaced.

Result

Once painted, the etched lines should resemble the marks made by the claws of a monster. As an alternative, you could try to make a hole which looks like the stone was bitten away by something with large teeth.

5. Acid Damage

A dental pick and various drill-bits are needed for this technique.

Method

Drill a hole using a fairly big drill-bit. I used a 3mm (1/8") bit here. Tilt the drill and widen the hole into an uneven shape. Add other holes of various sizes using smaller drill-bits or a dental pick.

Result

This was undercoated in black, before being drybrushed in a metallic colour. Clear varnish was tinted with green ink, and applied liberally into all the holes to represent the acid. 

6. Filling the Holes

This method is more time-consuming than either of the previous ones. Some kind of filler is needed, and the pieces should be undercoated first to prevent the filler setting too fast. I highlighted this piece simply to make the bubbles stand out better.

Method

Smear the holes with filler using a suitable tool. I use an artists palette knife as shown in the picture. Ensure the filler gets right to the back of the cavities. As the filler begins to harden, gently scrape off the worst of the excess and smooth the surface.

Result

If the filler still has a rough surface, gently sand it with an emery board or fine sandpaper to blend it with the original shape. Once painted the air-bubbles should have almost disappeared. 

 

Dealing With Air-Bubbles II (Images to follow)

 

With the exception of #6, the techniques described above make a feature of any casting flaws, but there are also many ways to simply conceal them. Of course, you can simply add furniture or an architectural feature like a buttress to cover the holes, but these options are not always possible whilst keeping the feel or purpose of the model. With that in mind, here are some ideas that need not take up much space.

 

Floors - Fantasy:

Rug, Animal Skin, Discarded / Fallen Object

Leaves, Grass, Moss, Fungi, Nest, Slime, Fire, Broken Masonry, Patch of Dirt or Sand,

 

Interior Walls - Fantasy:

Tapestry, Picture, Mirror, Torch or Candle, Narrow Shelf,

 

 

Exterior Walls - Fantasy:

Sign, Plaque, Shield, Pipe, Grotesque,

Moss, Creeper, Fungi,

 

Floors - Modern / Sci-Fi:

Hatch / Grate,

 

Interior Walls - Modern / Sci-Fi:

Clock, TV / View-screen, Switch, Socket, Pipes

 

Exterior Walls - Modern / Sci-Fi:

Guttering or Downspout, Grating,

Making Flat Floors (Click thumbnails for larger images)

 

Materials

Glass sheet (either a glass worktop saver or a glass bathroom shelf is ideal, since they are made from safety glass)

The backing can be easily removed from a cheap worktop saver after dishwashing on a hot setting.

Step 1

Make a dry layout the floor design on a suitable board.

Step 2

Place the glass sheet on top and carefully turn the whole lot upside down.

Step 3

The reason for using this method becomes obvious, since the tiles look almost identical from beneath.

Step 4

Put together some lego blocks to use as a set square, and glue the tiles together. Use the glue sparingly, and try to keep it on the upper edge of the tiles to prevent it seeping down onto the front faces.

Step 5

Hold up the glass sheet and look from underneath to check that the pattern is correct. Once dry, the upper surface of the floor should be dead level, although protruding blocks on the underside may need to be sanded before gluing it to a base.

 

Plastering Walls (Click thumbnails for larger images)

Materials

Ready-mixed filler

Emery Board

Palette Knife (You can use other tools for spreading the filler, but I find a palette knife is ideal for getting into corners)

Step 1

Undercoat the area you are going to "plaster". This will seal the blocks and prevent the filler drying on contact. This is a good use for any blocks you may have with large air bubbles.

Step 2

Place a quantity of filler on a smooth plastic surface, add a drop of water, and mix thoroughly. The filler should be just wet enough to stick to the palette knife.

Step 3

"Cut" a small amount of filler onto one edge of the palette knife.

Step 4

When applying the filler, try to keep the blade of the knife at a slight angle to the surface. Drag the knife slowly across the blocks away from the edge containing the filler.

Step 5

Start at the edges of the piece, and gradually work your way to the middle, building up the thickness as you go.

Step 6

Allow the filler to set for about 30 minutes, then use the palette knife to smooth out any obvious irregularities.

Step 7

When the filler is completely dry, you can smooth the area further with an emery board.

Step 8

The wall section finished and painted. Should you wish, you could now paint a mural on the "plastered" section.

 

Damaged Plaster Walls (Click thumbnails for larger images)

Step 1

Undercoat the model, and finish painting the area which will be exposed by the damage. Pinch a piece of kitchen foil, making a suitable random shape with a handle to hold it.

Step 2

Spread the filler as described above, holding the "handle" of the foil to keep it in place.

Step 3

Leave the filler to set for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove the foil.

Step 4

If you aren't happy with the shape of the hole, use a cocktail stick to remove some more of the filler.

Step 5

Once the filler is dry, use a dental pick or other sharp tool to make some cracks around the edges of the hole.

Step 6

Paint the wall plaster in the colour of your choice. Finish by painting the cracks and edges of the hole in a grey colour.

Buildings with Flat Walls (Images to follow)

 

Materials and Equipment

Flat work surface - a glass worktop saver is ideal

Lego to keep blocks square

Clamps

Blocks

PVA (white glue)

 

Step 1

Make a strip of Lego blocks as long as your wall and clamp to one edge of your board. Make 2 "L" shapes from Lego to act as set-squares.

 

Step 2

Lay out your wall blocks dry (without gluing). If you have any variation in size, try to select blocks so as to minimize any unevenness. Build the wall upside-down, with the top against the Lego straight-edge.

 

Step 3

Place packing blocks in any spaces like window or door openings. I usually leave the untextured side facing upward to remind me not to glue these, but you could mark them with a blob of paint.

 

Step 4

Create finger joints at each end of the wall and add packers in the spaces.

 

Step 5

Build the wall upside-down, with the top against the Lego straight-edge. Glue the blocks together with PVA, taking care not to glue the packers. Use the Lego set-squares to keep the ends perpendicular. Leave to dry for an hour or so.

 

Step 6

Whilst the first wall dries, you can begin to dry-stack the blocks for the other walls on another board.

 

Step 7

When dry, carefully remove the packing from the finger joints of the first wall. Set the blocks of the second wall beside the first, and change the blocks for the second finger-joints if the fit is too slack or too tight.

 

Step 8

Glue these blocks in place ensuring you do not glue the two walls together. Use a set-square once again to ensure the end is perpendicular.

 

Step 9

Add the third wall at the other side of the first, dry wall. Leave the new sections to dry for an hour or so.

 

Step 10

Mark the joints then carefully separate the three walls at the joints. Now put the two side walls on the board with the unmarked ends closest, and stack the blocks for the final wall between them.

 

Step 11

Glue the final wall and leave everything to dry for several hours - preferably overnight.

 

Step 12

Stand the wall on its upper face. Slightly separate the joints, and carefully twist the side walls into rough position.

 

Step 13

Slide the final wall into position, add glue and close up all the joints. Use the Lego blocks once again to ensure the corners are square.

 

Step 14

If the new building is a section of a larger structure, set the finished section in position on the existing model to ensure all the walls align nicely. Allow the glue in the joints to dry.

 

Step 15

Once the joints are thoroughly dry, you can sand the bottom edge of the new piece if needed.

       

Buildings with Round Walls (Images to follow)

 

Materials and Equipment

Flat work surface - a glass worktop saver is ideal

Former (see Step 1)

Elastic Bands

Blocks

PVA (white glue)

 

Step 1

To make circular towers, you need some kind of former to build the blocks around. Food and drink tins and bottles can be a good starting point for these, and you can wrap card and tape around them till you get a former with the right diameter.

 

Step 2

I think the easiest way to keep this kind of model neat and square is to split it into a series of layers. I make rings of two or three courses of blocks around a former and leave them to set before continuing. This way you can easily add internal details like stairs before gluing the sections together.

 

Step 3

Lay out your wall blocks dry (without gluing). If you have any variation in size, try to select blocks so as to minimize any unevenness. Build the wall upside-down, with the top against the work board.

 

Step 4

Place packing blocks in any spaces like window or door openings. I usually leave the untextured side facing upward to remind me not to glue these, but you could mark them with a blob of paint.

 

Step 5

Glue each layer together and place an elastic band around it to hold everything in place. Allow the glue to dry for an hour or so.

 

 

Step 6

Remove the elastic bands first, then slide the completed section off the former. For all layers after the first, place the section in situ on the previous piece to ensure that everything lines up correctly. Leave overnight before continuing.

 

Step 7

Add any internal details to the rings - stairs, floors, decorations etc. and leave to dry. Once again, leave the sections upside-down so that the upper surface is nice and flat.

 

Step 8

If you will be able to see the inside of the model, paint the inside of each ring now, whilst it is easy to access.

Leave to dry.

 

Step 9

Before gluing the sections together, dry-stack them. If needed, you can now sand the bottom of any ring which doesn't fit nicely.

 

Step 10

Glue the sections together and leave to dry. If you have parapets or other features which stick out from the building, add them at this stage.

 

Step 11

Paint the exterior.

Filling Joints (Images to follow)

Materials and Equipment

Filler / spackle

Dental pick or small plastic spatula

Cocktail stick

Step 1

Undercoat or prime the model. This will seal the plaster and help to stop the filler drying on contact. The photograph shows part of a tower with several long vertical joint lines between blocks, which were unavoidable in this case.

Step 2

Put a small amount of filler on a plastic surface (I use an old ID card). Mix in a drop or two of water to thin the mixture.

Step 3

Work around the model forcing filler any joints which you want to disguise. I filled a few air bubbles as I went. Run the point of the cocktail stick along the neighbouring joints to remove any stray filler.

Step 4

Apply more undercoat or primer to the model. As you can see in the photograph, the unwanted lines have almost disappeared completely.

Step 5

Here is the model after drybrushing.

 

 

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