Looming Onyx Towers

datetime February 3, 2018 11:55 PM

The Spooky Ring

The biggest building of the set– an ominous-looking Imperial Service building intended to loom over the city– was going to be built in a few sections. The ring structure would be divided into quarters, with one containing the tower and the other three forming a walkway. I already cut the top and bottom panels of the ring out a few pages ago when I was trying to apotheose a few pages back, so now I needed to cut out all of the curvy walls.

On the hourglass buildings, I built the curved sections with a rib structure; the loss of strength in these segments was made up for by the surrounding straight sections of wall. However, the ring had no such straight sections, so a rib structure for the outer and inner walls would leave the segments too flimsy. Instead, I would have to build the walls out of curved foamcore.

And as you’ll learn over the next few pictures, there’s a reason I don’t try to curve foamcore unless I have no other choice. -_-

For those of you following along at home, the ring wall’s outer template only covers one archway. Since each quarter has two arches, I had to flip the template over to trace the second half of each one.

Around this time, I was getting a bit tired of having to eye the thickness of a foamcore sheet to cut out at the top of every wall, so I built myself a handy “foamcore thickness tracing guide” out of some spare scraps.

It’s literally just a small strip glued to a bigger strip. Whenever I need to cut the interlock section out of the top or bottom of a wall, I hold the guide tight and trace the thickness of the smaller strip with a pencil.

So much easier than guessing. >_<

Alrighty, let’s move on to the garbage part: curving foamcore. The outer wall of the ring is convex, so the inside face of that wall needs to constantly curve slightly inward. Foamcore really hates doing this, so you have to cut a whole bunch of tiny parallel trenches (apparently these are called “kerfs”, and are a common way of curving drywall. Thank you, Engineer Spudparents).

This is a huge pain in the ass.

Also it doesn’t always work super well. X(

The bits on the first piece came out because there was very little to hold them in place when I was cutting over the arches. On subsequent pieces, I held a scrap of foamcore firmly against them when cutting through the tops of the archways.

This seemed to do the trick, as I don’t think I lost any more foam bits from that point on.

The interiors were much simpler to cut apart. Since these would be bending in the other direction, I only need to make knife slits every 1/4″ or so, with no kerfing required.

Alrighty, let’s assemble this mess.

Due to the length of the seam, I glued it about a third at a time to prevent the glue from setting before I got the two parts clasped together.

The inner walls were then attached, followed by the various bottom panels.

I’ll come back later to do the insides of the archways– these will be done with the same not-yet-purchased cardstock that the hourglass curves were also waiting on.

The last quarter of the ring is also the base of the ISS tower, so it has a special silhouette that still links up with the other ring sections.

Construction is the same as for the hourglass bases– the wall sections are attached with hot glue at their bottoms, but with white glue at the top since so much needs to be done at once.

These are the end caps for the ring segments. With them attached, the ring was looking pretty good:

The tower portion of the ring building was actually pretty complex to build, with curves along several different axes. This is the back wall, which would need kerfing along both sides since it curves inward on the back face.

If you go back and look at the concept drawing for the ring building, you can see a small pocket in the side of the building where a door opens up onto the walkway. These bits are going to be those pockets.

It’ll make more sense a few photos down. Trust me though, I’m super good at this.

This next photo rushes ahead a few steps in the assembly, not because the intervening steps were obvious, but because the assembly was a bit confusing and I got so absorbed that I stopped taking pictures for an hour. Sorry ’bout that. 🙁

However, you can basically see what happened– I stuck the side walls onto the top panel, then attached a cross-piece to link the two sides together, and am now gluing down the front face at the top there.

In addition to being a clearer shot of the second-floor door pockets, this shot shows the rib structure that will eventually be covered with cardstock.

Finally, the back panel was glued on. You can see the kerfing in this shot.

(Can you tell that Spud likes the new word he learned? 😛 )

As has become the process, the final enclosing panel was attached with white glue due to its size (with hot glue applied only to the bottom edges of the pockets to hold things together while the white glue dried).

A locking peg dropped through the top of the bottom panel completed the tower.



Oh, right. Except for this hole.




This is the quarter-arc building. I have nothing to say about it that hasn’t been covered on the other pieces, so we’re doing MINIMUM EFFORT for these next few captions.

This is the paper template for the quarter-arc building. Due to its shape and size, I was able to use a single template for both the base and tower.

These are the foamcore panels for the quarter-arc building.

This is me building the base of the quarter-arc building.

This is a structural support inside the base of the quarter-arc building.

This is the finished base of the quarter-arc building.

This is a note I wrote to myself to remind myself what direction a panel on the tower of the quarter-arc building needed to curve.

Concave is the less annoying one, if you’ve forgotten.

This is the completed quarter-arc building.

Alright, we’re done here.


These were super quick once I finally had the material, which was sheets of black mayfair.

They’re basically all just rectangles. In theory they should all have been the same length, but due to irregularities in measuring, cutting, and construction from one piece to the next, I had to measure each one individually, with variations of a few millimeters from one to the next.

Writing the measurements both on the mayfair panel and on the curve it matched helped me keep track of which one went where.

I didn’t get a shot of the attachment process, but it wasn’t terribly complex: I brushed white glue onto the ribs, and then stuck the panels down over them.

Pushpins helped keep everything in place while the glue dried.

Excess paper was cut off with scissors.


And that’s it. Bulk construction complete. 😀

Shall we move to the last page and ogle?


Yes, I think we shall.

6 thoughts on “Looming Onyx Towers

  • Christoph

    Really great work again. It’s a shame lasdough was such a waste of time and effort. Keep on the good work, will look great at the end i’m sure.

  • Andrew Hebert

    PHWOAR! What awesome terrain, and incredible insights! Inspiring stuff, Spud!

  • Max

    I felt distinctly masochistic recently and decided to try my hand at the ring and ISS tower. So far it’s been a mixed success completing the ring, however, on the base segment for the final quadrant of the ring I can’t seem to find the template in the downloads. Am I missing something?

  • Captain Spud [Post author]

    1) Dear God, why are you doing this to yourself? I TRIED TO WARN YOU! I TRIIIIIIIIEEED ;_;

    2) I’m looking over the template files, and it looks like the footprint for the ring tower is built out of two other templates:

    That definitely wasn’t clear from the templates or the walkthrough. Potato bad at instructions. 🙁

    3) Let me know if anything else is missing or unclear. 🙂

  • Max

    Haha I excel in making poor decisions.
    I thought it might be something along those lines but didn’t fancy gambling the time and resources on the hunch. Thanks!

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