The Honey Pot
As I get close to completing this piece, I thought I’d double back and go over how I achieved some of the effects used. I’m still getting used to chronicling the process by snapping pictures as I go, so if I leave out a technique or step you are interested in, just let me know. Now let’s get to it.
I printed the background walls first. I cleaned, cured, and hit them with primer. There was some warping along the straight edges, but nothing I couldn’t work with. It’s nice to have something come off the printer correctly the first time. I can almost convince myself that I know what I’m doing when that happens.
You know it’s all about that Base
I decided to use pink insulation foam as the base for this piece. It’s strong, light, and won’t warp. It is susceptible to melt if in contact with some solvents, but I’ll cover how to mitigate that later. I buy the foam from Home Depot in 24”x24”x1” blocks.
After several measurements, I used my hot wire foam cutter to get the cuts I needed. I glued it together with tacky glue and with wire inserts to add strength. Toothpicks work just as well, but I was out of them. Hot glue would have done the job faster, but I have trouble applying it without ending up with gaps or melting some of the foam. I’ve seen people use it with greater success, though.
Digging through my spare parts, I found pieces to incorporate in the scene. I test fit locations using blue tack to hold things in place. This stuff is great. I can use the same wad of blue tack for several projects without issue. Once I have a plan and know everything will fit, I decided to seal the foam base.
Hodge Podge Mod Podge
Here’s where I ran into a little trouble. Months ago, I bought a bottle of PVA sealer that I thought was the same as Mod Podge. The store was out of Mod Podge and my supply at home was low. I hadn’t used it until this project.
I mixed in some black acrylic craft paint like I usually do with the Mod Podge. I learned this technique from Black Magic Craft, a tabletop terrain builder on YouTube. Ideally, when I apply this to foam, it will give it protection from solvents and spray paint. It works a charm with Mod Podge. Unfortunately, with this other brand I got a lot of flaking when it dried. I was concerned that if I tried to apply another coat, more of the original coat would flake off.
Not to worry. Sometimes failures aren’t failures if you don’t acknowledge them. I sprayed the whole thing with black primer and let it dry. The rattle can had some effect on the foam, but to be honest, it works. It gave the foam a texture like deteriorating concrete. Winning.
Talk the Walk
I used another block of my plaster cast sidewalk section to frame the front of the diorama. I hit it with black primer and stippled on various shades of gray and blue with a sponge. When that was dry, I sprayed water on the surface and used an eye dropper to apply several coats of watered-down gray paint. I continued this process with different brown and black washes until I had the grimy sidewalk I was looking for. I recommend this method if you are trying to add visual interest to a flat area that doesn’t have much texture in it already. I put it in front of a fan between layers to speed up the process.
Lights and Chipping
I really like how the printed wall sections came out. I wanted the text to look like a neon sign without having to wire up lights. I had only tried this technique twice, both failures. Using my airbrush, I sprayed the letters and areas around them white. This is where I want the light to look “brightest”. I then mixed acrylic matte medium and red ink to apply the red tint to the lit areas. I over sprayed the white areas to places I thought the light would conceivably hit. This gave me a kind of light gradient. I mixed in white paint with the red ink mix and sprayed the center of the letters again. I think this gave a neon light effect. What do you guys think?
The last thing I’ll point out is the chipping. Because of the large flat areas all over this piece, I wanted to add some subtle visual interest. I based in a rust color then mixed a batch of that color with white. Using this lighter shade of the base, I sponged on “chips”. Taking that same paint, I used a brush to connect chipped areas.
Next, I mixed a metallic paint with black for a dark metal color. Using a small brush, I filled in those lighter colored areas, careful to leave outlines of the lighter color. I like this technique because it tricks the eye into seeing a chip when its actually accomplished by adding paint.
I’ll wrap it up there for now. The next post should be the finished piece. Let me know what you think. Did my techniques land? Anything you’d like me to cover in more detail? Tootles.