Artillery & AFV Entrenchment - Tutorial

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Whiterook
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Artillery & AFV Entrenchment - Tutorial

Postby Whiterook » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:47 pm

This is a tutorial in how to build your own 15mm Artillery & AFV Entrenchment.


I have seen some really nice resin-cast buildings and accessories for miniature wargaming on a couple online vendor sites, and have ordered several pieces; but a thorough search yielded only a couple manufacturers that make 15mm diorama buildings and elements, and they are pretty consistantly priced. Yet in truth, a lot of what I've seen out there, I'm thinking to myself..."I can make that!". Back in my Art school days, I did a fair amount of sculpting and pottery, so I am no stranger to clay, plaster, stone, etc.

One of the first things I saw was an artillery entrenchment, and was amused that even though it was fairly priced, I still couldn't bring myself to purchase one without first trying to fashion my own.

So this is a tutorial on how to do your own!

The first thing I did was figure out the medium I wanted to make this in. I haven't a kiln, so firing up lumps of clay the traditional way was out of the question. But I knew there was a fair selection of polymer clays out there that are soft to mold, and bake in the kitchen oven. My choice was "Sculpey III", which you can purchase in any craft store.....I bought a small brick at my local Michaels Craft Store for under $2.00 USD ...small, but I just wanted enough to test out my theory.

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Sculpey III
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Re: Artillery & AFV Entrenchment - Tutorial

Postby Whiterook » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:59 pm

I bought it in green, so I was well under way without having to apply a base coat...but you can buy this stuff in bulk, which after my success with this piece, I later picked up a 1.75 LBS package for $12.99 USD, which is a natural white color, and is a lot more cost effective buying in bulk.

Polymer clays like Sculpey are non-toxic and fairly easy to use. Animators use this stuff, so it's not just a craft store item. They remain pliable for long preiods of time, until you "cure" it by baking it in your home oven to a hard finish....this can be advantageous, as you have a lot more time to mold and get the shape right than you do with air-dry clay.

Once cured, you can further sculpt it, sand it, and paint it...whatever you need. Curing Sculpey requires that you bake it in the home over at 275 degrees for 15 minutes per quarter inch of clay...pretty simple! I snitched an old backing pan my wife had in a Goodwill donation pile, and it is now dedicated to this task alone! ( :!: Don't use your wife's good baking pan, throw it back in the oven drawer, and then go and complain when your next batch of Brownies "Taste funny!".) Note that the company advises you use a glass baking sheets, but I just used a metal one and it worked fine.

You start by ripping off a small chunk and kneading it in your hands...the warmth of your hands "softens" the clay further, and you actually start to redistribute the plasticizers and polymer fibers in the clay...this is what is known as "conditioning" the clay. Yeah, I'm an Art Geek, too!!!
:ugeek:

If the clay feels flexible and can be pulled easily without breaking, you're ready to go! The unused portion can be sealed in a sandwich bag, with the air pressed out as much as possible, and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Heat & ultraviolet light is clay's Kryptonite! Make sure that the surface you work on is something like waxed paper or similar; I used a plastic sleeve that one of my model sprues came in...hey, it was handy!

The artillery & AFV entrenchment began to take form by my first making the base. I pressed out the Sculpey on the plastic sheet and formed it into a "U" shape...kinda like the mouthguards football players use. The front end was made thicker (where the sandbags would go), and the back end I pressed out to have almost no lip...this is so you can "drive" tanks up onto it and achieve an angled trajectory of fire. I then formed a clay rope, in which you roll it like dough on the sheet with the palm of your hand, rolling it back and forth until you have a rope the rough size you want.

I then placed the clay rope on the base perimeter and used my fingers to mold the clay rope onto the base, forming a bond (kinda like when your drawing your finger on the bead of caulking to even it out); the clay is still warm from your hands and "blends" the each other, and creates a sufficient bond when you start to form the rope, which pushes it onto the base. I squared off the clay rope so that it started to take the shape of rough blocks, which I would form into sandbags afterwards.

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I then cut in sections for sandbags, starting big, and cutting smaller ones from the big ones, so that I could try and achieve cosistancy. I then sculpted the sandbags individually, and also took one of my Axis & Allies Miniatures tanks, and pressed it into the base in a couple angles to emboss track indentation in the "ground". The picture below shows the larger segments that were further shaped into smaller sandbags later.

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The tracks came out excellent!

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Re: Artillery & AFV Entrenchment - Tutorial

Postby Whiterook » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:02 pm

I baked the whole piece for 15 minutes, as the sandbags at the highest point was about a quarter inch. I then let it cool for several hours. It worked like a charm! The thinnest part of the base is a tad pliable, with no lip as I really flattened it out good, and the rest is like very hard plastic. A great consistancy.

Next came the camoflage netting! I cut two strips of cheese cloth.

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I then brushed on Elmer's White Glue with a craft brush onto the surface of the sandbags, and then laid the cheescloth "netting" on the sandbags. It's a little difficult, as the cheesecloth wants to stick to your fingers as it squeezes through the cheesecloth holes, but patience saves the day! I then used a small hairdryer to set the glue. I briefly thought of starting the painting process at that point, but decided to let the whole thing dry overnight.

DSC00267.JPG
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Re: Artillery & AFV Entrenchment - Tutorial

Postby Whiterook » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:05 pm

The next day, I painted the camouflage netting with green acrylics, brushing on a diluted mixture to give a faded, weathered look. I then glued on craft store moss in two different shades...this is the stuff you use for making the foliage in model trees.

Once the moss dried in place, I spritzed it with Ladies hairspray (pump bottle, not aerosol), which is basically lacquer, to bind and set the moss foliage...dabbing the hairspray overspray off of the clay base with a little water.

I then painted lighter dark yellow dots in the camouflage netting to simulate dried leaves. Next came glued-on, light colored sand on the "ground". And then I painted a diluted yellow acylic coat wash on the base. The last step was mixing a dark brown acrylic and painting in the tank treads, with a steady hand.

This is the finished product...

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Re: Artillery & AFV Entrenchment - Tutorial

Postby Whiterook » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:07 pm

Of note, I made sure I could pose a kneeling Infantry figure that can shoot over the bags. I'll probably make up a few more of these.

And so you can see what it looks like for a game, this is the piece with an Axis & Allies Miniature German Tiger I....

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Re: Artillery & AFV Entrenchment - Tutorial

Postby Whiterook » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:42 pm

This is an oldie but a goodie! Photobucket links out and attachments in, and Voila! TIGERS!!!!
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