I started the Marathon project as a gift for a friend, some you may know what the Marathon is and its relation to halo and bungie. Being a fan of bungie titles I knew he would like the final design.
Concept & Design
The design was an original concept not related to Marathon or Halo titles, I knew he loved snow scenes so it was very apparent that the final design would include snow of some type. I saw an old concept image of Hoth with snowcapped mountains and how there are rocky outcrop just poking out of the snow I really like the visual of this artwork so I used that as my starting point. I also printed a a few other pieces of concept art to give idea to follow and from there I just kind of went with the piece.
To lay everything out the way I wanted it I needed to lay down a support structure to help hold everything in place. I used regular foam core board as a support skeleton that I then glued my cork rocks to. I used standard PVA glue, whatever kind you prefer here it doesn't matter at this point we just need to attach the cork to the foam board. You could even use super glue if you wanted, reason for this is because in the end we will be covering this with so much other medium it won't come we just need to hold it in place till then.
Cork works well at simulating rock in miniatures, that is depending on the type of rocks you are looking to replicate. As a photographer and artist I have studied things like this for a long time but you can just pull up reference images if you are unsure of what the particular rocks you are looking for actually look like, the interweb is amazing for that and a simple google images or Pinterest search should find what your looking for.
After I had my cork laid down where I wanted I put some foam to fill in the rest of the open areas. Now this is where I would probably change this in future builds. Foam like this works though it has several downsides as well, one the primary thing is that it is a little spongy, not quite as much as upholstery foam but it does have some squish and flexibility to it, if this is what you want for your project than that is fine other a different material may be required. You could actually use more foam core board too, or if you buy cork in bulk you could just lay for over the whole thing. Also this foam can sometimes have off-gassing that can cause problems with some materials placed on top so be aware of how it may affect your build and the materials used.
At this point I began building some of the ship wreckage our of armature wire and cardboard, I glued a lot of this down with super glue, mostly because I wanted to work fast and not much glue stick to metal, though you can spray your wire or get a fabric coated wire that glue will stick to better as an alternative to the aluminum or steel armature wire.
For this process I really didn't have a specific design in mind I had an idea of what it would look like in my head but I just kind of started cutting bits of cardboard and placing them where it made sense.
I kept cutting and gluing cardboard in different patterns till I had something I was happy with. I also used some of the armature wire to create some design elements, make it look more mechanical. As well I used sprue from the model kits I will be show later in this build, I cut, heated and bent those in to shapes that looked like beams and metal bits throughout the hull of the ship. I also used the bottom of a plastic drinking cup and glued bits onto that for another section of the ship's hull. All in all I just got a bunch of junk and glued it together in an intelligent way.
Another thing I used that turned out really good texture-wise was some screening, you know like the stuff you use on screen doors. It has a nice texture and looks a lot like metal grating or it would even work for like a chainlink fence, anyhow you can see it thought different places on the crash site.
Finish the Base
At this point I needed to cover up all that ugly foam with something a little more sturdy and workable with. So I started with a art plaster, if you've never used plaster in a miniature before its really fun and interesting to work with.
You can use just about any art plaster, hydrocal is a popular one I just grabbed one off the shelf of my local hobby shop. You mix it with water and thats about it, its pretty easy the instructions are on the package usually but its a real simple product to use and it gets very hard. Be sure that you are using it on a surface that can accept plaster, it does get very hot when it cures but not excessively so.
once you've mixed your plater with water it will be a bit soupy at first so I let it set up for a minute or two then I begin to apply it with a pale knife or an old butter knife will do just fine.
Now you let that harden for at least a few hours, you''l know when it cools its done, I left mine over night and the next day I mixed up some PVA glue and water and sand and applied that all over the surface of the plaster for some texture. Also if there are areas you leave blank without any snow you will see the ground underneath. Once I applied my sand generously to my plastered base I poured even more sand and dirt on top and let it dry.
You can use any kind of sand or dirt, I wouldn't personally use potting soil but hey why not, you can grab some dirt from your yard I mean whatever works. I actually have bins with different kinds of sand and dirt in different grades, densities and fineness to use for different applications, playsand also works.
After you glue is dry silly shake your dirt back into a bin or container to reuse at a later date. Since I use different types of sand I dump my used stuff into its own container which has mix grades and will reuse that when I want a similar texture. This is only because I mix my grades of sand sometimes so it keeps my other stuff clean when I want new sand for a specific purpose
Prep, Prime & Paint
At this point I need to finish assembling my model kits that I am using for this diorama. I used 40k Tau minis for this project and I assembled them as far as I could before painting. I generally don't fully assemble models because it makes it easier sometimes to paint later. It can be hard to get in tight spaces in these 28mm scale models so leave certain parts separate form the others is usually a good idea, especially with tricky fine details.
Before I goto prime my minis I will add a piece of wire to the joint where you won't see it when its together this way I have something to hang my model from while I prime it and also it gives me something to hold while painting. When done you just pull the wire out and glue it to you other piece and finish makes things simple.
I made a simple modification to the main mech suit mini I wanted to add a cool halo-ish looking energy sword to his hand so I got plastic, actually old credit cards and cut them up. The plastic cards you get in the mail for like sample cards I keep those and old credit cards I just remove the numbers and sensitive data from them before I throw them in the bow of scrap supplies.
Another little neat technique is you coat cardboard in super glue it soaks into the ports surface of the cardboard and makes it rock hard so you can create some really neat stuff that way.
I made sure all the mold lines were removed and then, just prime every, I did two very light coats with Krylon grey primer for plastics and metal, I really like this stuff and I have been using it for years now, it works very well.
A new technique I learned that is especially great for small scale miniatures is to warm the can before you use it. You just shake the can then place it about 3/4 of the way in a bucket of water, don't cove the whole can and then shake again. You do this a couple of times and it warms the interior volume of the can and it will make the paint go on much smoother. As always make sure to do a test before you spray actually your models, especially if you are using a product you have never used before.
Continue Reading Page 2
Continue reading the rest of this project on page 2 of the Marathon build