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Making Mine Scenery Part II

Behold! Our project begins with a meticulously detailed sketch.

For the second part of this series I wanted to backtrack a little and show some of the steps I glossed over in Making Mine Scenery Part I. Its a little backwards, I know, but I'm a constant re-writer and often find myself wanting to expand on an idea I merely touched on. What can you do?

A little solo play testing shot of what should play out as a 15 minute demo. Breakers must hop a barricade, cross the chasm, and then move a boulder blocking a secret passage to win the scenario, all while a Prod is in hot pursuit. To discourage the Breakers from just beating the crap out of the Prod, those green counters after the barricade are where they hid their weapons, so they start the scenario unarmed.

All of that aside, we're going to start with a piece of 8"x10" masonite, just like the other board sections I've shown thus far. I very quickly sketched the essential details of the layout. This board section is an inclined mine tunnel with a chasm that must be crossed. I wanted to highlight the idea that this is a "miniature adventure game" in the demos I want to run at conventions, so one of the elements is crossing this chasm by either jumping or running across a beam. So now I needed a section of board to depict that.

My trusty breakaway blade. Foam dulls blades quickly so change them when they start maring the crap out of your foam. The glory of the breakaway blade is that since the tip dulls first, you can extend the life by using pliers to snap the blade at the breakaway markers a few times before it gets too short to cut through your foam.

Once I had my piece of masonite sketched out I needed my breakaway blade and my 1 1/2" piece of pink insulation foam. You can see I noted that I needed to cut a section of foam 3" wide. I used my metal ruler to measure out 3" at either end of the pink foam, drew my connecting line, and then cut the foam with my metal ruler as a guide and my breakaway blade extended. Its best to hold the blade at a 45 degree or shallower angle to get the most out of the cutting edge. Make multiple passes to cut all the way through the foam. DO NOT SAW! If you want a smooth cut you need to make a smooth drag through the foam.

I'm working with offcuts that aren't actually 8" long, but that's okay because making one cut and separating the pieces is less wasteful than cutting an inch or two out of the middle and tossing it. Save your offcuts in a box or bin so that you can just fish out an approximately sized piece when you need it rather than tossing tons of pink foam in the trash.

Its starting to look like something. Sort of.

Once I had my 3" wide section of foam, I cut my chasm into it, put my pieces in place to eye it up, and then I moved onto my next piece of  foam to repeat the process.

All of the pieces are roughly set in place to get a sense of how its going to go together.

Next I grabbed a piece of 3/4" foam to work on my inclined section. This section isn't going to be a gradual incline across the whole piece even though it would look better. Models are notoriously tippy, so there will be an incline but most of the surface will be flat for ease of play. Also, its important that the beginning and the end of the tunnel are fixed heights that can be repeated easily, so the left edge will be flat masonite and the right edge will be 3/4". As you can see the rough shape the chasm has also been cut across the foam.

You'll notice my foam is smooth and then rough at the bottom at an approximate diagonal. That's because I made one or two pulls through the foam and then snapped it. If you know the surface is going to get reworked this is fine and will save your breakaway blade some dulling.

With all of my base pieces cut its time to start shaping them. In Part I, I mentioned that I would use my blade to make "V" cuts into the foam. Here's a close up of a rough piece of foam that I made my first "V" cut into by making two cuts with opposite angles. I continue to work the piece until it looks like rough cut stone all the way around the sides. I leave it flat on the top and bottom.

Everything set in place and being analyzed. I actually don't like the inclined section so it will be reimagined in the next installment.

The right half of the chasm has been worked through and all three pieces look like rough stone. This gives you an idea of how its all going to go together.

This may seem like a boring shot of glue, but it was actually an opportunity to show of my dog's Hurley dog toy.

With my three pieces all cut to size and roughly shaped I felt comfortable gluing them into position. I spread some white glue on the bottoms of the two taller side pieces, pressed them into place and then weighed them down with bricks, checking to see if they shifted after about 20 minutes and adjusting them if needed. I left them overnight and then in the morning I glued the middle piece in place. I test fitted it first and realized I had to shave an 1/8" off of it. Easy enough with foam, so I cut the 1/8", test fitted it again, and then pulled it out, applied glue, and put it back into place.

Progress. But more to come!

With all of the pieces cut and glued for the right side I can return my focus to the left. But that's for another installment.

Thanks for reading! Follow Broken Contract on Facebook and Twitter for notification of when more updates are posted, or click follow on the blog. Comments and questions are welcome so bring it.
-Nick

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