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.

"The flame of Udûn" - Designing the showcase

Again this update took its time. I had a busy half year but now I hope for updates more regularly. This is the second part of the review of "The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm" diorama.

As the idea for the showcase took shape in my mind thanks to the inspiration from the movies and artworks, I started with a rough CAD model to visualise my plan. This method provides a great opportunity to try out things before cutting any pieces of foam board. With the given space in the vitrine I experimented with different depth for the chasm using varying heights of foam boards. After getting this right I created the staircase to get an impression if the angles and step sizes would scale properly to the diorama. As the balrog is a centre piece of this showcase which is very large because of its tail and wings I represented him with a few tubes and bars on a base. I chose a position in front of the bridge to threaten Gandalf and turned him a little to face a potential viewer of the showcase. Here is what the CAD model looked like.

The dwarven craftsmanship for stone cutting had never been better represented as in the mighty stone pillars of moria. I had to include these for sure but the original design from the movie felt to "heavy and massive" for the diorama so I sculpted a design myself. (© Dave Townsend; Source:
The dwarves would of course have aligned the pillars precisely. As two pillars would block the view on the balrog I decided that one pillar would have crumbled and partly collapsed into the chasm.

The last thing I thought about was creating light using LED circuits. I wanted to incorporated 8 LEDs evenly distributed over the diorama. Four would be positioned on the left side below the balrog's wings. They will be modelled into flames and give the balrog and its wings a fiery glow. The remaining lights will be made torches on the walls of the staircase.
Finally I rechecked dimensions and proportions of the model and started by generating templates and printing them on paper. I transferred them onto the foam board and cut out the pieces.
 I am going to release some work-in-progress pictures later.