Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sludgetown, part 2


The second district of Sludgetown is now under construction. As you can see from the images, the resin water came out looking great. It's about one inch deep and something like 90% transparent. There are random objects trapped under the surface, too, which improve the overall appearance of desolation and pollution that I was going for in the first place.

Today, I plan on adding the upper ground level if I find the time. It'll be a hollow plane, so expect to see some nice holes where buildings and machinery have fallen through into the sub-level.

Inhabitants. I've been rolling around the idea of having mutants or zombies wandering about these cities, the sort of creatures you'd expect to see in a place like this. Expect lots of gore if I go down that road; I can't help myself when it comes to monsters. Decision pending.

Audio. Yes, I want these pieces to be accompanied by a soundtrack component. I'm looking for something experimental and electronic, that builds from foreboding atmospheric ambient to cold technobeats and back again. If you have no idea what any of that means, that's okay. I'm not so sure I'm explaining it right anyway. Think "video games," if that helps. Think "Metroid."

I need an electronic musician.

sludgeburg02 sludgeburg03 sludgeburg04

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Thunder of Toy Guns

The endless struggle that has plagued mankind since its earliest days, chronic "Mine's Bigger!" syndrome, finds new irony in the arena of miniature tabletop games. A squad of two-inch-tall model soldiers move across the battlefield, keeping their heads down while running from cover to cover. Their leader hunkers down behind the wreckage of a vehicle, pauses to catch his breath, and then peeks out to assess the situation. He is vaporized by the guns of a treading behemoth on the other side of the table.

Towering a whopping ten-inches-tall, the giant casts a long shadow. The fluorescent lighting of the game shop gleams off its armor as it marches forward, launching its weapons and killing off scores of intricately hand-painted model soldiers. The fight is one-sided, but there is still a chance for the survivors to muster a final blow.

A blast template is produced from someone's backpack under the table. It is nothing more than a transparent plastic disk- and yet, it is quite large. Everyone falls silent, save for hushed whispers as the template passes reverently from hand to hand. Perspiration breaks out on foreheads as the disk is placed over the head of the treading behemoth. A single white die, the size of a person's tooth, is rolled across the table. The die stops rolling. A series of gasps. A space ship the size of earth's moon locks its weapons-systems onto the template and unleashes a hellish orbital bombardment that wipes out all life on the planet.

And then... an argument erupts. It seems that a protocol in the extensive rulebook has been overlooked. The space ship maneuver is illegal. Tempers are lost. Cain slays Abel. Everyone packs up and goes home.

When I step through the door, my wife asks how the game went, and who won.


Sunday, January 13, 2008


"Sludgetown" is the working title for this current cityscape project where I'm experimenting with the resin-pouring process. I felt the name was appropriate after the resin decided to go off and do its own thing (reacting with the insulation foam and all that). However, I'm quite happy with the results.

The resin now has the look of a chemical froth bubbling away in the canal. I like it like this, even though I was originally planning for a darker color and translucent texture. That's part of what keeps me coming back to these projects. I enjoy those unexpected outcomes, variables which spark new ideas, leading on to even more projects and so on.

I've wanted to work with resin for years, but have always been a bit nervous about it because of some safety issues. Artists are typically surrounded by all sorts of caustic, hazardous materials in their daily studio-practice, some of which can be quite detremental to a person's health in the short and long-term. I admit to going through alternating phases of skittishness and boldness in relation to the materials I use and their effects on my health. I find myself checking the MSDS info on everything as of late, which is either paranoia or a really smart thing to do.

I'm probably just paranoid.

Other noteworthies from today:

- I ate three hotdogs on the way to church.

- We've almost reached the end of Metal Gear Solid 3 again. It gets better every time through. Final boss fight scheduled for tomorrow, weather pending.

- Pulling a shirt over my head, I managed to clip the ceiling fan with my hand. Serves me right for taking off my lucky shirt. Was painful.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Resin-Casting, Chicken Curry, & The Dark Side

I'm currently in the process of building a model city. This project is inspired by my ventures into the world of miniature war-gaming, where I've met a lot of cool folks. These people share one great love, and that is getting together to hang out and play tabletop games.

I've been focusing on building my own armies for Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy in the past couple of years, both great games from Games-Workshop, while dabbling in other games here and there. (but, more on that later)

Today involved my first experiment with resin-pouring. The plan was to make realistic water-effects in the canal of my city diorama. My other goal was to figure out a safe way to work with resin so that I can use it in future projects. After suiting up with respirator, goggles, and gloves, and tarping off the studio floor, I went to work mixing and pouring.

The experiment was a small success. The resin set up very fast, and looked like water for about 5 minutes, and then it went foamy. This was an unexpected outcome, but the resin still solidifed with no other problems. I'm guessing that the resin managed to seap through the protective coat of gesso, dissolving the polystyrene insulation foam underneath. So resin + insulation foam = solidified foamy mess. The irony is that I was trying to make the water in the causeway appear to be grimey and polluted. It definately looks polluted now-- like a caustic green and pink blob. But that's okay. I'll try again later this weekend. I'm building another section of city right now with another canal. To prevent the 'blob' from showing up again, I'm not going to add the insulation foam until after the resin has been poured.

We had dinner at our friends' house tonight: salad, chicken curry, brownies, and good Burgundy wine.

When we got home, we watched Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The wife fell asleep sometime after the Ewoks showed up, so I was left to ponder the second half of the movie by myself. It still shocks me when Luke Skywalker removes Darth Vader's helmet at the end of the movie-- one of my favorite moments in cinema. It's not even the dialogue between the characters that interests me at this point, it's just Vader's face.