Customs: Diorama Papercraft Ark, Nemesis, Spacewalls

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by GrimCharr, May 16, 2024.

  1. GrimCharr

    GrimCharr SciFi Geezer

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    I've started playing around with some materials to make diorama/backgrounds. I've seen a lot of people create custom backgrounds as well as objects like StarWars ships. I have ambitions of both. I'm starting with backgrounds reminiscent of the Transformers G1 Ark and Decepticon HQ.

    I could use some advice. Particularly on papercraft and the best approach to putting primer on large areas.

    This is a big monitor/teevee packing box. The indentations just looked a bit to me like the overlapping layers of space walls. I added some cut up paper and plastic craft. Will be gluing pieces more or less in place.

    2024_PaperCraft_Nemesis00=.jpg

    I have some spray paint. Some old cans of house paint. Lots of random craft paint. But it would take a lot to cover it. Was thinking of just brushing on thin white/gray primer of some kind. Spray painting Decepticon purple over that as a base coat. Any suggestions on what/where paint I'd use for primer?

    I'm possibly adding a few electric pieces before primering. Maybe some after. I'm going to be minimal on these first projects. Once I get to, say, making custom spaceships or something like that, I may go more out on greebles. I want to see if I can actually make this cohesive and get the color and shading to look like something.
     
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  2. GrimCharr

    GrimCharr SciFi Geezer

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    I have several pieces of this packing styrofoam. This was for some large plasma screens. I saw this and thought it totally had an Ark G1 look. One could easily imagine some Dinobots kept behind these doors.

    2024_PaperCraft_Nemesis05.jpg

    What you see here was a very, very early test. This is thinned craft paint spread on the styrofoam. (I hardened the foam with a heat gun at first.) This was a mistake. The color just stayed thin. And I still needed more surface to add more paint and texture. Also, these plastics worked only ok. Some of these were salvaged, and some were just tossed.

    2024_PaperCraft_Nemesis07.jpg

    2024_PaperCraft_ArkWall01.jpg

    Moving on, I started using mixtures of drywall compound, Elmer's glue, and super-cheap adhesive. Unless I'm making the styrofoam itself into environmental details (like rocks) I realized I'm better off using the styrofoam as a base to hold plaster and/or drywall on top. I started mixing the drywall compound at different thicknesses with a water mix and spreading it on the styrofoam. Then started placing cut pieces of cardboard over some to created flatter surfaces. Kind of like plastering a wall in a way. Basically, I gave the Ark some new drywall here.

    Future Teletran panel is up top (and upside down) there. Will be a very different take. That will need to be heavily greebled to look like a panel. More of that to come later. I'm focusing on these walls first.

    2024_PaperCraft_Nemesis06.jpg

    2024_PaperCraft_Nemesis04.jpg

    This is a messier approach wherein I'm trying to play with paper and cardboard to create surface details. I keep adding some very thin layers of drywall compound, sanding, wet sanding, etc. Creating a smoother surface.

    This is ready for primering soon. After that, the plan is to add some more greebles and wires from discarded electronics. Then base orange and then added painted details and weather. I'm keeping the work overall fairly minimal. Want to focus on really getting texture.

    I haveā€¦ a lot of garbage. I started collecting plastic I thought could be good for greebles. I do IT work at different sites, so I collect a lot of e-waste for recycling. I've saved quite a few bits and bobs of interesting electronics and plastics I intend to use in the future. More of that to come.
     
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  3. GrimCharr

    GrimCharr SciFi Geezer

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    Progress of recreating backgrounds from my childhood cartoons continues.
    2024_PaperCraft_FirstPaint05.jpg


    I had three different approaches here for the cardboard backdrops. Starting just with the purple "Nemesis" panels. I first applied a gray basecoat of leftover house paint. (Samples from when we moved into our current house and painted.) I layed that paint down over the beginning greeebled background. Slightly dissatisfied with how it was looking, I then started applying drywall compound extremely thinly over some of the more distressed cardboard parts to smooth it out. Paint was bright and able to be fairly evenly spread. But still not smooth.
    2024_PaperCraft_FirstPaint01.jpg


    For the second test, I put down a "base" layer of drywall over all the cardboard. I let that dry and sanded it and spray-painted purple directly on it.
    2024_PaperCraft_FirstPaint04.jpg

    Third, I attempted to spray paint directly on the cardboard itself without either basecoat or drywall.

    The results were that the basecoat of prime over the cardboard made the most difference, leading to the smoothest surface. Putting plain drywall on the cardboard led to the worst result, as the spray paint then crumbles away with the simplest touch.
    2024_PaperCraft_FirstPaint02.jpg
    Fail.

    Spray painting directly on the cardboard itself was not that bad. The spray paint can adhere just fine to the cardboard. But the rough finish of the packing cardboard itself comes through. Not ideal. This approach may end up working with this particular project, as other cardboard and greebles will be pasted over most of it before other coats. But the lesson is definitely that a base primer on the raw cardboard really is the best approach.

    Another problem is the cheap spray paint I used here. More fool me. The spray paint emphasized the uneven surface. It went on much thicker than I expected. I sprayed quickly, keeping my arm in motion so that I did not linger. But the results were still kind of disappointing.
    2024_PaperCraft_FirstPaint03.jpg
    That's the upside of using discarded and recycled material as the base. Can just chalk it up to learning, trash it, and move on.
     
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  4. GrimCharr

    GrimCharr SciFi Geezer

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    My lesson in trying to use Plaster of Paris has been very enlightening. First and most obvious: whoah. That looks like crap! Back to the drawing board with this.
    2024-06-10_PlasterUgh.jpg
    Take-away lessons here. First, plaster and drywall are only going to work in creating specifically textured surfaces like natural rock or brick. With skill, they could work for concrete on an even surface. But they're not going to make smooth spaceship walls from paper backing with the approach I have been doing.

    I didn't want to get into playing with styrene for the walls. Because styrene sheets may be relatively affordable craft material for specific projects. But only relatively affordable. The cost adds up quickly for just doing scratch work for backgrounds like I'm doing here. I'm pushing my Junkion approach as far as I can. I have a lot of metal and plastic scrap. That will be my next step at creating flat walls over a foam base. I'll work on that some more before posting more pictures.

    Things are a little more promising on the Decepticon side with the purple walls. Following up on the base spray paint, I decided to see what kind of results I could get with the airbrush. I intended to go over the thinner areas where the cardboard shows through. But also test with some shading differentials on the curves.
    2024-06-10_PaintMixAirbrush02.jpg
    I always wanted to play around with an airbrush. I bought this for myself out of interest and I've had it for three years. I haven't made too much progress, unfortunately. I've played with paints; I've been thinning them and painting some models and Dollar Tree toys for testing. Never quite getting results I wanted. But I reckoned I may as well try different approaches.
    2024-06-10_PaintMixAirbrush01.jpg
    I finally followed this technique to thin cheap craft paint for the airbrush. This is Dollar Tree craft paint. ($1.25). And some good ol' WalMart windshield fluid. (Nearly as cheap.) The cheap paint comes out in pretty thick globs. So it took a generous amount of fluid to really thin it for painting. And I actually felt like this is the first time I had results which I had intended with an airbrush. Granted, this is a big canvas and I didn't even need to be that precise. But it sprayed evenly. It coats very, very thinly. I have noticed that any worthwhile results require care and patience. If nothing else, this is good practice for if I were to ever paint a figure I cared about.

    I'll post more to this thread when I have more progress to show.