Sunday, 17 August 2014

"There is one dwarf yet in Moria" - Work-in-Progress

Okay, enough with design and planing. I started drawing the templates to the styrofoam boards. At the time I used the bubbly type of styrofoam because it had no other available. Working with a hot wire cutter this material can easily be processed although I would recommend the non-bubbly type. I will cover both foam boards types and hot wire cutters in a tutorial later.

I stacked the main foundation using toothpick to secure them in place before glue is applied. I glued both sides individually but didn't glue them together yet to be more flexible during flocking and painting. The bridge was glued just to one side of the chasm. On the left side I arranged the pillars and some rubble around the collapsed one. Fissures and cracks were carved into the rock formations. I didn't mind gaps at this point as multiple coats of structure paint will cover these on a later stage.  At last I cut some groves for the wiring of the LEDs.

On the right side of the bridge I used almost 20 layers of 5mm thick foam board for the staircase. If you take a look at the templates of the stairs you can see that each layer is just one step shorter than the one underneath. This way I achieved a very accurate appearance because each step has exactly the same height. I put some rubble an rocks around the stairs so that they fit into the natural stone. Again, gaps will be filled up later.

I placed both sides onto the wooden board and took a look from the top view. Compared to the miniature size the chasm is already pretty deep but I planned to further enhance this effect.
First I needed to paint both sides. I coated the whole diorama in several layers of structure paint to hide the edges of the foam boards and build up a rock like texture. After the model was dry I painted it in brown and grey colours. For the next step I had the help of a friend with a DSLR camera and some photoshop skills. He took pictures from the steep walls an both sides. In Photoshop he combined the pictures, added a top view perspective and faded them to an endless black abyss. I had to print this several times before we got the colours right to match the colours of the walls. When I placed the models on top of the picture it created the illusion of an even deeper pit. Worked out fantastic, thanks to Felix.


Lighting the scene was the last step to finish the showcase. I wired the LEDs with appropriate resistors and hid all electronic below the surface. I created the flames with transparent window colours and yellow and red inks. Now the fiery glow of the balrog illuminates the sunless halls of Moria.
I am preparing a commented slide show for a close-up look on the showcase.