Slowly but surely

I finally have the mosaic pattern incised into the polymer clay (to emulate flagstone flooring). Next step, cut out a dozen 1.25″ squares and start texturing the edges. I think. I’m still making this up as I go along, with a big shout-out to DM Scotty and Wyloch for all the awesome ideas.

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77 to go

This part of the process definitely goes more slowly. I press polymer clay into the cardboard edges so that on baking the bases become quite rigid. Then I wrap each in more clay to be certain I have most of the gaps filled. Following that, I use a 1″ square template I cut from an old cassette tape case pressed to the top of each tile as the straightedge for cutting. A new razor blade made short work of the excess. Once all these are done, they go into the oven. After that, it’ll be time to apply the textures.

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Not ready for prime time

Or even late night. Maybe the wee hours slots next to the infomercials?

Eek! Has it been 10 days already? Mea culpa!

This last 10 days I’ve let myself get carried away with one particularly puzzling issue to the exclusion of pretty much anything else. I’ve decided, undecided, re-decided, and probably even para- and meta-decided somehow, if that’s possible. Lots of flip-flopping. For any other detail, I might think I was needlessly bogging down somehow, but it seems pretty critical to much of the forward motion I plan on.

How do I design my tiles? Strictly 2D, 2.5D, a la DM Scotty, somewhat 2.5D and a half-ier, like Wyloch (and MAJOR props to both of them for the fantastic work they’ve done and all they’ve shared), fully 3D like Dwarven Forge? How much do I worry about compatibility with other tile systems that are out there?

I started out pretty set on 1:60 (28 mm), where 1″ = 5′. Then I ran into a puzzle, because I acted first and didn’t think things all the way through. Some folks might detect a pattern there. I didn’t care for the idea of putting walls on my tiles such that they intrude on the 1″ grid squares (yes, I’m a grid person). I tried putting the walls on the outside of the grid squares then. And it looked sweet. So I proceeded to cut quite a few pieces to get the ball rolling.

Then I discovered a problem with using the 1″ grid. One thing I want to do is lay down the tiles for oldschool D&D 1st edition (BECMI) material to play and…no dice. With walls outside the squares, there was no way to get everything to line up.

I wracked my brains until I settled on an ugly solution. Use the 1″ squares in a 2×2 array, but add 1/4″ all around the 2×2 array as a border, thus expanding each line on the old graph paper illustrations to 1/2″ thick. It was time for a new attempt, just omitting the walls for the moment. That way I could get a good birds-eye view of the progress. Just do the bases and get cracking, I said.

Over a hundred tiles in I finally decided that I really didn’t like the look of the 1/2″ gaps, and I didn’t care for the demand it would impose on anyone else. The more I thought about it, the more the idea was a stinker. These I did not scrap, which is a good thing. It turns out I was closer to a solution than I thought.

Someone facing a similar quandary posted a question to a Facebook group, and one of the responses was a link to Wyloch’s argument for a 1.25″ grid. I’m sold. 110%.

Meanwhile, the latex mold experiment worked out really well. It captured all the detail I wanted, and demolded with only a bit more effort than with the silicone mold. Even so, given the scale at which I want to cast, latex represents a real time sink since it takes so many layers with a minimum of about 40 minutes drying time in between. And I’m looking at experimenting with a lower-cost resin.

So, with the casting side mostly sorted out, I finally made a command decision. Forget all that either/or stuff. Some folks might want the 1″ with external walls. Some might want the 1″ with intruding walls. Others might prefer the 1.25″ grid. Others might prefer gridless. Some might prefer completely modular 2×2 arrays.

Me? I’ve come to prefer 6×6 arrays of 1.25″ squares because that’s how I reckon with the lighting issue. I figure 6″ (or 3.75″ in my case) represents a good 30′ of light, so it’s handy to have corridor and branching corridor tiles in sections in various configurations. From that thinking, I was able to piece together a complete cut list for the first level of TSR’s module In Search of the Unknown. From there, I padded the numbers for the most useful pieces so that one could lay out all manner of configurations. It’s an insane number of tiles.

The goal: enough molds of all the various pieces in two different layout options:

1.25″ grid, 1×1 up to 12×12 modules, non-intrusive walls (walls accounted for outside the 2×2 grid)

1″ grid, as above, for compatibility with other pieces.

Thus far, 100 1″ square baked polymer clay blanks to mount on matching 1″ square double-thick corrugated bases as substrate.

PIC_0660

With that, I should finally be just about ready to start cycling through projects again, with a caveat. I still want to do tutorial videos eventually, including for screencasting, but learning the screencasting to produce top-notch videos ready for prime time is a relatively low priority at the moment, one I’ll tackle in bite-sized pieces. I’ll probably be making more like the first one, maybe “ready for late night” quality, as I learn the ropes in screencasting. Until then, there’s the fun of just doing process videos. I trust the friendly interloper who stumbles upon them can play tunes of their own to compensate for the silence in the earlier ones. I’ll get to adding audio in the near future, I’m sure.

In other news, since the Rocky Mountain Bog Monster crafting and sundry blog is an extension of my online store it’s only fair to mention that the bookstore website is coming along, more slowly than surely, but it’s coming along. Thanks to the host I went with, I’ve got a functional e-commerce solution. I’ve got tons (maybe literally) of physical ag manual inventory to add. I might soon be adding parts for agricultural implements. And then there’s the virtual inventory to add for the Amazon affiliate side of the coin, which is where all the good stuff will be.

All that, however, is pending an opening in the budget for an extension that will do all the customization I need with clicks instead of learning CSS and PHP. I should be able to launch something much more officially come August at the lastest. For now, it’s a lot of blank template space and two test items.

Until then, I’m going to heed DM Scotty’s call and go forth and craft.

Daily Log Entry 2/26/2017 5:08 AM

And we have our very first 1″ square floor tile, though I think it’s probably better suited as a cave tile than a dungeon tile. Bonus points for it being the first completed mini anything I’ve done. Hooray for YouTube videos, a touch of knack, and the magic of dry brush.