Saturday, 14 September 2013

Heroquest Fireplace step by step

OK summer is on the way out, so its time to start dusting off those winter coats ready because Winter is coming! and even those in the dungeons need to keep warm. so to tie in to all of this I've been asked by numerous people to do a tutorial. this however i wont claim this to be a tutorial, but more a step by step guide on how i went about creating my replica fireplace for heroquest.

so heres the original
and this i basically am about to attempt to create a direct more 3d copy of this.

i hope to highlight specific tips and tricks ive picked up along the way. but generally this entire step by step is a voyage of discovery. ive planned nothing. ive not measured a single thing. i am simply going to be using the base from heroquest for the fireplace and building ontop of it. youll see my mistakes and successes singled out. because i feel im always learning. and wish to show this in my approach. trying out new and old methods alike. and not hiding any single of my balls ups i make whenever i create something. one thing for sure though. i always cut my thumbs whenever i use a scalpel.im not clumsy. just dangerous! so because thats a guarantee to happen. i wont be adding any war wounds into this step by step

so here's what i started with and what i intend to use.
  1. heroquest plastic base for fireplace
  2. greenstuff
  3. milliput (fine white)
  4. plasticard (i currently only have 1.5mm thickness plasticard but would recommend 1mm thick for most jobs of this kind)
  5. scalpel (or most commonly known as Thumb bane!)
  6. superglue.
  7. sculpting tools (i use silicone and metal ones)
  8. paints
To add to this I wont be including any painting tutorial within this step by step, as painting is an art of its own I will merely just show the steps in which I created the fireplace. resulting in a finished article. so no painting will be covered here

So here we go!


step 1 - preparing the base.

of course first. if you plan on following this step by step to the tee. then you need one of these!
now mine had been painted rather shoddily previously. but ignore that for now..because that's merely our foundation. painted or not. this is what I'm going to be building on top of.
so firstly using my trusty scalpel. I carve out the little wedges within the ridge of the base (where the card used to insert) I've done this to ensure that the plasticard I'm using slots in there nicely and gives me a little freedom before I glue anything down.


Step 2 - basic shape
next ill be using plasticard to form the basic shape to the walls.
so using my scalpel and steel ruler. i finally measure roughly my inserts and cut them from the plasticard.
inserting these into my base we start to get a rough idea of how its going to look.
at this point the angles fitting together are a little tight. so i remove them and angling my scalpel i carve away the angled edges slightly to enable them to slot together nicely.
where the angled inserts meet together you should be able to just see where i've carved the corners away. this isn't perfect. but this doesn't matter for now as we will be covering this up later on.
also whilst ive got my inserts flat on the board. i roughly measure my final cuts to give this its last base shape.
this isn't perfect. but that doesn't matter much for now. as we can shape and carve until we are happy. for me. i was happy with this! (im easily pleased)
so going back to the base.
i slide those inserts back in!
its starting to take a better shape now. roughly mimicking the original. those inserts fit together a little better and we have the height and shape all done ready.
so next up. glue those babies together.
here i've glued those inserts together and i've also glued them to the base. this is the point of no return if you dont want to damage your beautiful original heroquest parts...for me...i dont care. the way i see it is that i'm making them BETTER!  and using what i have at my disposal to do that.


Step 3 - the fireplace

Ok this part for me i struggled with. i should really of measured things first. i didnt. so as a result this whole step is a little bodged together, very much lick my fireplace was. but ill try and give enough info. so that if you do decide to follow this step by step. you will at least see the trouble i hit. and how i got around it.
First up to create the hearth i cut 2 pieces of plasticard.
these were at a measure of 10mm X 38mm.
i also cut a piece that was 35mm x 7 mm.

these 3 pieces are to form the top part of the hearth. but before i can do anything i need to carve away the corners so that this fits into the wedged angles of the basic shape.
this is where measuring before hand would of come in handy. but..i forgot so i have to go down the bodge route. after carving away at one ne of the 10mm x 38mm pieces until it fit. i then used this as a template to make the cut on the second piece. once this was done i glued the top part into place then carefully also glued in the front of the top heath and the bottom too it.

this picture should clear up any confusion. im sure that my above description can be followed to the point of reaching what ive achieved so far.

this is why careful planning always comes up trumps. something i didnt do this time around. and something ill probably forget to do many times in future. :)
but hopefully the 2 above pictures help give enough illustration to the look we are going for,

with that out of the way its time to get the supports in place. looking at the original we will be using a smiliar method to create the vertical supports as we did with the top.
each consisting of 3 parts. the only problem here is that the base now starts to get in the way. so some careful carving should suffice here.
looking at the picture below you can see ive pretty much had to hack away at a lot of those supports in order to get them to fit into place in a half decent uniformed fashion.
dont worry about any gaps for now. you can see by the above that my supports dont even touch the bottom of the base. i could of carved those logs out of the way. but i felt hacking my supports (softer plastic) was the best option here. and i could always fill any gaps later on.

proceeding with the same method for the right hand support. this time having to carve away much more to make it fit.
at the moment it looks a little rickety. and mishap-en. fear not. we have the general basis all in place. and tidying certain flaws up will come along later. you could always do it at this point by applying a file to soften any miss shaped angles out.


Step 4 - filling those gaps

from this point on you may or may not have gaps to fill. for me. i havent fitted everything together greatly. so i need to fill some gaps up. for this ive diceded to use some greenstuff due to the small gaps etc. and the tidyness required. to not completely ruin what ive done so far. pushing greenstuff into those gaps seems like the best option for me.
 so mix up some greenstuff. get whatever sculpting tool you prefer and push that greenstuff into those gaps and smooth it over.
so you can see from above that ive now filled in all those shitty gaps id left from not measuring up. as well some of the more productive filling has been applied to the bases of those supports in order to complete them. so we have the basic shape all laid out. we have our wall. we have our fireplace. but for me it still kinda needs something more at this point. it still looks like a cardboard cutout. so ive decided im going to fill all of the backing of the wall. thicken it out to give a more solid appearance.

to do this i decided to use milliput fine white.
how i did this? i decided to first cut a rough backing out of plasticard that would cover the entire area of the fireplace. i then mixed up a huge ball of milliput.
firstly using a sculpting tool i pushed and filled the angles of the wall to ensure that when i filled the back i would know that the milliput had gotten everywhere. then with the remainder of the milliput o spread this over the backing and simply pressed my fireplace into it.
not milliput is mucky stuff. gets everywhere. its kind of like regular plaster. but with an oily basis to it. so you can imagine the mess it can make. other seem to have great success with it. but this isnt really a great amterial for me. it works for what im doing here. but doubt id use it for much anything else. plus it takes 24 hours to fully dry. and im impatient :)

anyways from the below picture you can see that from pressing down into my base, and then allowing it to dry a little before carving the basis shape of the brick work away from all the splurged out milliput.
what i had left over i decided to fill the base to add a little bit of bottom weight so that this wasnt top heavy.

when fully dry. i cut my backing carefully away and tidied up a little. leaving what you see below
note that milliput gets EVERYWHERE. see it all over the base?
its messy stuff. so be careful. carving it and sanding it leaves crap everywhere. so do this somewhere that you can easily clean up.


Step 5 - Brick work

first up. i did intend on using milliput to create the brick work. but because of the mess and awkwardness when i was filling out the blockwork. i decided from this point on i wanted to take a much cleaner and precise approach to things. i'd already screwed up a few things and now i have the basis there. now is the time to start doing things right and applying a few things i know work.

OK with one exception....
I've seen various people make use of old rocks and slate to press into putty to create a naturally rocky texture. now I've never tried this before. so now seems like a perfect opportunity to put it to the test....what do I have to lose? if it looks crap I just scrape it all off and try again right? or take the sensible approach and sample it first on something else??? screw that! money or nothing for me! its going right on the fireplace walls. if I get it wrong. then that's my bad..so better make sure I get it right first time!
I've always been a do or die sort of person. if I fail..ill fail bad. but sure as hell won't fail again!
but I don't plan to fail. so I go and find some nicely textured rocks from the garden.

applying greenstuff to the model.
to do this ill use a mixture of my thumb and a silicone tipped sculpting tool. the plan here is the spread a 1mm thick layer all over the model where I plan on having my brick work. this will also tidy up a lot of the mess left behind from cutting and that damned milliput.

so i decided i would do this in sections. because I've never done this whole 'brick' texturing thing and im not massively confident in my sculpting skills. in doing it this way i can ensure i at least get some of it right.
as you can see below i first applied green stuff to each side. smoothing it over with my thumb until it splurged over the sides. then using a sculpting tool  to lightly press it flat until i had a fairly smooth surface. then with my scalpel and a little Vaseline i carefully carved the excess greenstuff from the edges.
i then got my little bricks (i chose slate for this as i wanted a smooth rippled realistic effect over a rocky look)
once i was happy enough withthe texture created and using the back of my scalpel i pressed the brick work into the greenstuff and allowed it to dry for about 20 minutes. then using my scalpel again i carved at those edges once more just to tidy up any additional splurging from pressing the slate in and shaping the brick work.
(NOTE - MAKE SURE YOU WASH THE BRICKS FIRST :)

So after washing my bricks i then proceeded in applying the exact same method selectively to areas adding in the rest of the brick work.


so theres the brick work completed. its not perfect, but its not turned out too bad either. time to put it to dry.


Step 6 - Detail on Hearth
So next up im drawing to the parts i have been dreading the most. i may fail quite badly here. but ill make sure that I include where i fail. so that others can learn from my mistakes.
the one thing im dreading here is those faces on the supports. for anyone that read my recent post on the Witchlord will see how i pretty much sculpted the entire model. but totally ducked out of doing the head....why? because i simply don't think i have that level of skill yet. but there will be no ducking here.
ill have to sculpt them.
also, all the time ive been worrying about those faces i totally missed out on the fact that there is some pretty intricate details on the top part of the fireplace. at this point im thinking "oh shit" heres where i completly bottle it and go with an alternative...but im adamant on this...its a replica..a copy. so ill do my best to mimic the exact details...so here we go..........

as i do with everything...ill leave the hardest parts until last :)

im going to apologise now that due to the nature of the details and me trialling a lot of things out. i forgot to take pictures of each step. so i will do my best to explain.

firstly ill start with the shield emblem and those small arches at the base of the supports.
the shield was simple. smooth down some greenstuff using a silicone sculpting tool. when its half way cured i then carve the edges into the overall shield shape. this gives a semi-hard edged look.

the arches you see above were created in 2 parts firstly i sculpted the out arch part. shaping this as much as possible to the arch. i didn't concentrate of sculpting any hard edges. all i concentrated on here was getting the arch as accurate as possible on both sides to look symmetrical. once i had done this i allowed to cure for about an hour then i carefully carved the front facing edge. this gave a sharper more stone like quality to my otherwise round edged arches.
as im a relative beginner i feel in terms of sculpting. id like to think im picking up as many tricks as possible as well as using my own found techniques. of which a sharp scalpel on semi-cured components can come in very handy. as it did here!

now at this point i skipped a few steps again. so i apologise. and will do my best to explain each step of how i reached this point below.
as you can see its jumped on quite a bit here...mainly because a lot of trial and error took place.
im not a great sculptor so i need to work with what ive got.

so here goes from bottom to top


  • studs on arches - one thing that's bugged me for a long long time was 'how the hell to they sculpt those tiny little studs and rivets..im not sure i have the answer. but i have recently discovered a way of doing so that makes it a much easier task within this little tutorial that shows how easy it actually is. Now i haven't perfected it yet. and getting studs and such aligned proves to be a little tougher than you would think, but a little practice goes a long way. my tool i created from this has 2 different sized stamps that i drilled in each end measuring 1mm and 0.6mm so i have a little bit of choice in stud size.
  • Scales - another task ive never tried out before. but a little bit of searching led me to various tutorials. some seemed extremely long winded for the end results. finally i settled on this TUTORIAL. Simple and effective right? my scale came out looking a little more organic than i had hoped. but my own fault for not practising first..my first attempt went right on the fireplace and took all of about 1 minute to complete.  so for a first attempt im happy enough.
  • Heads - ok this one i left till last on the supports for obvious reasons....i cant sculpt faces...yet! so i had to try. firstly you will notice that the 2 heads are clearly made of different materials. reason for this is i sculpted the head on the left first. this took 2 stages to do..first i shaped the face. making indents for the eyes and shaping the facial structure. as well as shaping the mouth. i then allowed this to dry before adding the nose and eyes. it wasn't bad..a little hit and miss. but i had to replicate this...now i wasn't comfortable making that face in the first place so the chances of sculpting another exactly identical were near on impossible..so i popped the face off the fireplace carefully and made a greenstuff mould around it. and then used some pro-create putty to fill it in. after allowing to dry i popped it out of the mould and had a almost identical replica ready for the other side. i will note here that i had a few attempts and results vary. if i could of made the mould differently of course i would of used something like insta-mould. but i didn't have any. regardless. it didn't turn out too bad. just not perfect.
next up i had to figure out a way to add that winding detail on the top part of the fireplace. sort of like a floral design..i really am pretty crap at this stuff. so i had no idea how to approach. i tried sculpting and shaping..and it quite frankly looked awful. so i scoured the net once again looking for the best approach for me. as a side note some sculptors are amazing.such fine details and such i just don't have the ability to attain.
but ill keep plugging and learning new things until i reach a certain level of competency.

anyways the method i settled with was something along the lines of this little tutorial i found on the scibor website HERE 
basically i figured that would be the answer. however i could only half apply this method to what i was attempting. due to the precision of the floral detail.
but this is the stamp i came up with.

i made many errors with this and in future would probably use a different tool to shape it...but regardless its half way there.
it didnt come out great. and my inconsistancies in sculpting the original stamp shone through awfully.. the image above is the best i could get it. although i am totally open to any suggestions of how any of you reading this would of approached this sort of design (im always happy to soak up new tips,tricks and info)

Step 7 - decoration

ok so it looks like ive got the fireplace completed, minus the few little details sitting ontop. a firepoker i believe on the right. and that picture sitting on the wall.

so first ill look through my bits and see what ive got thats needed.

  1. treasure chest - check
  2. dagger - check
  3. candle - nope gonna have to sculpt this one
  4. poker - will sculpt
  5. picture frame - will sculpt this.
  6. ive decided also for extra effect i will try my hand at sculpting the flames in the fire too
so again i kinda jumped the gun. but will include all my sources i gathered for the tips


  • candle - whenever ive got left over green stuff i always try to do something with it. if i can put in the freezer then ill always re-use it. however i never leave it more than a few days as freezing it only slows down the curing process. if i dont do that i tend to do 2 things. roll into sausages or thin and flat. both have their uses later on. here ill get one of those sausages and trim a candle stick. and sculpt the flame and base.
  • picture frame - another use for the thin flat greenstuff i leave around. i cut a square for the base to the picture frame and sculpt the frame onto it.
  • poker - here i simply got a little bit of paper clip and sculpted some little detail onto.
  • flames - basically  just followed this tutorial
so heres how it came out. not brilliant as i made a few mistakes

firstly i cocked up the glueing of the picture frame...its a little scewed. but i can live with it.
and the flames im unsure about. lets hope that the painting really helps that to pop out.

well that seems to be everything. as i say not really a tutorial but more a step by step diary of your average jobbing hobbyist trying to actually do something good hehe.

hope you enjoyed my little journey.
next up is painting it

peace out