Saturday, October 30, 2010

The terraforming process

As you may know, I'm running a Galactic Knights game at Millennium Con.  It's a planetary invasion scenario, so I needed something on the table to represent Regulus IV.  After I blogged about the completed project, people have asked me how I went about painting it.  Here's the shorthand version of how I detailed my planet:

Step 0: Dry Foam Hemisphere

Step 8: Planet

For the longer version of how I did it, see after the jump:

Steps 1-7: ???????

As I had noted earlier, instead of getting a styrofoam piece to use as my planet, I ended up purchasing a hemisphere made out of dry foam.  This substance is very crumbly, and it left fine green dust on the game mat where I set it down and on my fingers when I picked it up.  As I had read that it's a good idea to coat styrofoam in a mixture of PVA glue and water before painting, I went ahead and applied a 50-50 mix: 
I figured this would solve the crumbling problem.  Unfortunately, the glue-water mix soaked right through the foam!
The glue-water mixture had stopped the crumbling, but the surface still seemed pretty porous.  I went ahead and applied a coating of undiluted glue to the thing.  This seemed to coat it and seal it up the way I had hoped:
Once the glue had dried, it was time to start painting.  I started with oceans.  I got a couple of shades of blue on the same brush, and put in the bodies of water.  I kept the side of the brush with the lighter shade to the outside of the seas, to simulate the shallower waters closer to land:

After the seas had been filled in, I started painting the continents.  I used two or three shades of brown for the land areas, not entirely mixing the colors on my brush.  Although I applied most of the paint with strokes, I started dabbing the paint onto the surface as well, especially on the areas close to water.  I wanted to avoid visible brushstrokes and give the surface a mottled, natural-looking appearance: 

My next step was to add some darker brown and grey to the interiors of the continents for elevated areas--hills and mountains.  Again, I used more than one color at a time on my brush--solid colors don't look natural--and dabbed the paint on rather than brushing it:

Once that stage was complete, I began adding vegetation to some of the land masses, using mutiple shades of darker and lighter greens.  No brushtrokes this time, either, just touching the brush to the surface:

I then added snow and ice to the polar region and some of the mountain ranges.  I just used a bright white, dabbing it on sparingly:

Once it was finished, it still seemed incomplete.  I showed it to my wife, who after kindly complimenting my work, suggested adding clouds to the planet.  I took her advice, adding clouds with the same color I had used for the snow (because when veiwing photos of Earth from space, I sometimes couldn't differentiate between cloud cover and snow on the ground) and in the same manner.  I put down a couple of bands of clouds here and there, stretching from land to out over the sea:

I decided to take some pics of the planet in its natural habitat, along with a few props:
Here's a closeup of Regulus IV with one of my starships in front:
In the end, I'm really happy with the way Regulus IV came out.  I can't wait to get it on the gaming table.


HoldFast said...

Nice work! I'll have to check the con schedule to see if I can fit in this game.

Papa JJ said...

Beautiful work! That's a great looking planet, thanks for the review of how you made it.

Desert Scribe said...

Thanks! Let us know if you ever try to make one of your own.