Last week went by in a blur as the wall and deck sections of the Cargo Bay came together. I was slightly hindered by a sudden shortage of locker parts for the external walls, but that was quickly resolved after rethinking the design slightly and integrating wall lights instead for the south facing part of the compartment. A change I actually think improved the overall appearance of the board for the better I reckon. As usual the casting has been running at full tilt ‘most’ evenings to keep the supply of new parts flowing in for future sections. It’s good practice to cast more bricks at every opportunity, not only because you always need a seemingly endless supply of them, but also to give them time to dry out a little so they are easier to work with.
On the subject of working with the bricks, I have been somewhat remiss and forgot to raise an important point in previous posts. The plaster I am using is incredibly fine and when sanded gets literally everywhere. By everywhere I also mean into your lungs and this stuff can cause some pretty serious health complications in the long term. For that reason always wear a mask with a decent particle filter when sanding. I tend to just use the same one I use when airbrushing and thus frighten my neighbours at the same time. Bonus! Sorry to go all health and safety on you there, but it’s important you know what you are dealing with and take the necessary precautions.
Back to the Cargo Bay, the most noticeable feature on this section is the enormous loading door in the centre. To emphasise this a bit more I laid the floor tiles to present the doors very slightly ajar, the gap being enough to get the idea across without making it so wide gaming pieces vanished down it. The half inch pipe sections in the deck also reinforce the idea of movement when painted as pistons. Or at least that’s the theory.
The other new feature to this board is the addition of windows. In the game tile design there are pale blue lines dividing sections to the front and sides of what appear to be airlocks. I surmised that if the doors were supposed to represent airlock doors based on a reply by Rob Baxter, then the blue lines had to be either a forcefield or other sealed structure. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a point in having airlock doors! Going with the low-tech option I used some clear blue diamond pattern plastic from a document folder to represent the glass and sandwiched this between the plaster bricks.
Obviously it makes sense to paint the bricks first before assembly to avoid getting any paint on the ‘glass’ and spoiling the effect.
I mentioned earlier that I constructed as many sub-assemblies up front as I could to make the final build easier. This also included the flooring as the deck section consisted of large areas of unobstructed floor, ideal for assembling in grids. The game tile also includes what appears to be a raised platform in the four corners and some additional pillars and glass partitions. Originally I was going to feature these in the design and use ¼” edging to smooth the transition. However, after playing around with the idea in Sketch-Up I felt that the inconvenience it would introduce trying to navigate miniatures around it outweighed the satisfaction of matching the game tile graphic exactly.
Instead, I chose to use a different pattern of floor tiles to visually distinguish the corner areas and look at using scatter terrain instead as a way of introducing variety to the boards from a gaming perspective. I mentioned this briefly in one of the posts about the boards on the Studio McVey forums, but felt it worth repeating again here.
Don’t let the desire to mimic a certain design become a blocker to letting the project naturally evolve. For me, the tile designs in game are the starting point, not the end. As the board is moved from two dimensions into three, there are inevitably going to be conflicts between the two mediums around certain design aspects. If you take tile count into consideration, there are sections on this board where ‘playable’ tiles are sacrificed because the walls I am using have a physical thickness and can’t just be represented as a thin line between two sections of floor. Well, technically they could, but the board wouldn’t look half as good or be half as durable.
Likewise, desks, chairs, low screen sections of thin interior walls I am treating on a case by case basis. For the majority of furniture style garnishing I will look to add those later as scatter terrain. Something that can be placed to introduce the challenge of tactical cover as well as visual interest, but be removed easily if they become an obstruction. For small interior rooms such as the crew quarters or Med Lab, I will almost certainly look to redesign the layout to keep the theme without compromising the game play. I am actually looking forward to the design challenge they are going to present.
Anyway, back to the task in hand. The dry-fitting checked, I moved onto the painting over the weekend and had set myself an ambition to have the second section fully completed by Monday. I fell a bit short of this mark getting only the base painting and protective varnishing done by the end of Sunday evening. To be fair, I had set myself a bit of an ambitious goal and a punishing painting schedule, so I am not going to beat myself up about not hitting it. Overall I am more than happy with just how quickly the project is progressing and am moving into the fun, final weathering touches as I write this.
For that though, you will have to wait another couple of days for part two. Until then, have a great week.