Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Building Colton's Curse

When I first started writing the first issue of our comic called YVA: Blood and Sand I had some very clear mental ideas of what I wanted the setting to look like. Since I build better than I draw I made a small mock-up of the type of buildings that I wanted.

Blood and Sand takes place on a distant mining world called Coronus. One of the small towns where the action takes place is called Colton's Curse (current population 65). Our hero, Yva, has to pass through this dismal hellhole on her way to visit an old army buddy. During her time in Colton's Curse she shows a few ruffians why she's one of the highest paid troubleshooters in the cosmos.

In our story the buildings would be made of fused sand and I wanted an industrial, pre-fab look to them. I used Hirst Arts mold #300 to make the edge pieces and door frame of the first small building. I built the walls with foamcore to save some weight. The building was then textured with Rust-Oleum Textured spraypaint. I use the color Aged Iron so if the outer paint gets dinged it just shows the metal underneath. A custom-made vac-u-formed ventilator, a hatchway from a Platformer set, and a door cut from the bottom of a rotisserie chicken container from the supermarket.

I sent pictures of this building to Des Hanley who is drawing the first issue of Yva and the art that he sent back inspired me to start building the whole town of Colton's Curse. The next building would be the town saloon, Mugsy's.

This building was more involved than the first. It would have two levels and a larger floorplan. I built this in much the same way as the first with the exception of using 1/4 round wooden molding for the edge pieces. This saves a lot of casting time and is much tougher than the cast plaster pieces. The heavier ventilator on this building comes from ArmorCast, Platformer hatchway, more chicken container plastic, and a sign made from styrene. The cow skull and rifles on the front are from Iron Wind Metals. The buttresses on these pieces work nicely as cover for gunfighting miniatures.

The next building is of an older style from the days when Coronus was first colonized. This was inspired by the "bucket of wet sand" domes from the first version of Warhammer 40,000/Rogue Trader. In the terrain section of the book it was explaned how sci-fi domes could be made by pushing rubber balls into wet sand and then pouring plaster in the depression to make highly textured domes. These were kind of cool but sand always came off everwhere and they were heavy as lead.

My dome was cast from Celluclay papier mache using a container from a a microwave Christmas pudding. These containers have a particular texture that seems to release the dried papier mache more easily than other plastic domes I've tried. The doorway was built up from Celluclay and then the entry ground out of it with a Dremel tool once it had hardened. The top of the dome was sawn off and the entire dome sanded. I used Durham's Water Putty (which is also what my Hirst blocks are cast from) to fill the larger spaces in the dome. Then the whole thing was sanded again.

The top of the dome was made from a large Games Workshop plastic base, two angle cut pieces of PVC pipe and a couple of random greeblies. The door was made from sheet and strip styrene. I primed the whole dome flat black since Celluclay seems to absorb paint very quickly and the texture spray works better on a non-porous surface. Since I didn't want the metallic pieces to be overly textured I masked them off with aluminum foil before spraying the dome with texture paint. I did mist a light spray of texture onto the metal pieces but not too much.

After painting the small pieces I realized that they were a bit bland visually so I added a stripe of red ochre color to the bottoms. I picked this up from Herb Gundt who has made several Star Wars Tatooine style buildings. It really helps to brighten up the buildings and I figure that at one time it served a purpose, perhaps to keep out insects, but now has become a stylistic trait.

The miniatures in these images are from Mongoose's Gangs of Mega City One game. Although this is no longer being published boxes of these little fellows can still be gotten cheaply and make a great source of sci-fi thugs.

The full issue of Yva: Blood and Sand will be ready this year. The 8 page ashcan is available now from IndyPlanet: Yva #0

One of the joys of writing comics, besides seeing new art, is the creation of worlds. Designing and creating these buildings really helps me to understand the world of Coronus and why it looks the way it does. I'll continue posting images of Colton's Curse as I finish them.

Next Time: Fantasy Modeling #2!


  1. That's extremly cool, Brian. I always wished that I had the talent for drawing and building things like that. Years ago, shortly after we were married, Maria and I bought some minitures and painted them at the GP. I enjoyed it a lot; when I was wasn't frustrated about not being able to make any of them look the way I pictured in my head.

  2. Great work! The more blogs I read they more I want to strangle you all! :D I am so behind in my skills and the number of projects I've completed, but I'll catch up eventually.

  3. You and many others make me lust for Hirst Arts. But about Fantasy Modeling #2...

  4. Oh my goodness! Love the painting job on the buildings.

  5. So... um... who do I have to kill to get the rest of the issues of Fantasy Modeling posted?