The Paint Cried Out, “Stick To Me!”; and the Foam Whispered, “No”.

datetime June 22, 2019 6:58 AM






I made a post in the WGC Terrain Builders group on Facebook, and bared my pain to the world. The first few replies seemed to miss the P.S. about not wanting to strip back down to the bare foam, but their suggestions are valid for future projects.

However, eventually, an angel descended from Terrain Heaven, and spoke two primordial words of power.

I didn’t know exactly what that was, but a quick Google search told me that my divine quest should take me to the hardware store.

Turns out, it’s… floor sealant? I think?

It’s… I don’t know. It’s a paintcan full of translucent white liquid.

Smells pretty nice.

It goes on quite thin. It dries clear in about an hour, and is ready for a second coat after 2 hours.

I was a bit worried early on by this crackle texture that appeared when it dried; however, this only showed up after the first coat, and disappeared following subsequent coats.

I wasn’t sure how many coats would be needed to hold my suicidal paint together, so I did an experiment– I divided my test rock into four strips, and applied zero, one, two, and three coats (respectively) on each strip.

Then, I got out my tool box and performed some percussive investigation. >:)

Test Coats Result
Poke straight in with a flat screwdriver
(front of rock)
0 Goes straight in
1 Goes straight in
2 Center resists. Corners poke in.
3 Take three tries, pressing hard, to break at all. Even then, only one corner breaks.
Half-circle knife cut
(back of rock)
0 Cuts. Flap peels up and stays.
3 Cuts. Flap peels up, but falls back.
Beat the s**t out of it with a heavy tape measure
(top of rock)
0 Shatters. Flakes off.
1 Cracks slightly, but pieces stay attached.
2 Fully intact after three beatings.

The results were incredibly encouraging. I went from utter despair to cautious confidence in the span of 24 hours.

May the blessings of Space Jesus fall ever on His most faithful servant, Gregory. <3

Thusly armed, I began the process of armoring up my brittle rocks. Every one of them got three layers, which took about half a day once you factor in the drying times.

As I headed to bed that first evening, I was a bit worried that the Polycrylic was still white in some of the deeper crevices; however, by the next morning, it had dried fully clear, albeit quite shiny.

And the important part: when I brought it out into the wild for its latest stress test, it came home in the same state it had left in, with no new windows to the soul-rending yellow void torn in the surfaces.

I initially projected one weekend for the painting stages of this project; in practice, after all the nonsense with the foam, it took a month. I was super burned out by the end of it, and ended up cutting some detail painting that had been planned because I just didn’t have the spoons at that point– notably, the fans were left simply white instead of having bits picked out in dark grey.

Whatever. I cannot stress enough how good it felt to finally put it behind me and move on LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE. ;_;

The last major task to finish the set was to put some texture onto the machinery and walkways; I intended to do this largely with custom papercraft textures.

Here you can see a test print of the interior skin of the tunnels, which I printed out at home to test the size before having it printed properly in colour a bit later.

For the stairs, I wanted to paper over both the stepping surfaces, and the edges. To facilitate the latter, I carefully measured the length of each face and noted them down on a copy of the template I had used to cut them out.

I rigged up strips of corresponding lengths in Illustrator, then printed them out to confirm the lengths; a few of them were slightly off, so I went back and made adjustments to my file before starting the heavier graphics work.

I took those templates and moved them into Photoshop, where I created the final textures. Attaching the test pieces had taught me where I needed to leave gaps in the folding tabs to avoid bumping into the support underneath the stairs. I continued using the colour palette set by the Plastcraft buildings to keep everything visually tied together.

I followed similar processes for the ladders and the flat catwalks, then had everything printed up nicely on 65lb cardstock at Staples.

Note the red rectangles, which are a reproduction of the doors from the Plastcraft buildings; all of those kits come out of the box with only a single door, which tends to create very boring terrain. I wanted to add one to two additional doors onto each one to create more interesting movement flow during games.

The stairs and ladders already had their pieces sized to fit, but for the catwalks, I had just made long continuous strips, with the intention of cutting segments to fit each individual piece’s lengths and angles. To do this, I simply held each catwalk against the strips and marked cut points with a pencil.

My preferred method for gluing papercraft onto foamcore is to apply white glue (or Weld Bond, if you can find it), then spread it flat with a paintbrush. The cardstock I print on is sturdy enough to avoid wrinkling when it touches the water-based glue.

The same applies to the sides. Note that I applied strips of black construction paper over the sides of each catwalk before gluing on the final papercraft, as I wanted to make sure the glue had something to stick to on the sides (as it doesn’t adhere well to the raw interior foam).


The template would have been easier to assemble overall if I’d arranged the file a bit differently– instead of putting the faces in a strip separate from the flat step textures, I probably should have rearranged things in Photoshop so that each edge was attached to the top of the step, and all of them bent and tabbed down.

This, however, would have taken an additional thirty minutes or so of Photoshopping, which would have been a tragedy of incomprehensible proportions, so I left them in strips.

Not only did this make things harder to assemble, it also left ugly gaps at the edges.

Don’t cut corners, kids.

I didn’t want to create detailed textures for the front of the ladders that would necessitate cutting out the spaces between rungs, so I just painted these with spraycans. One shot of red paint from underneath (pictured), then another shot of off-white from overhead (not pictured).

After cutting up the tube skins and dry-fitting them, I realized that I had made them too wide, leaving them poking out the ends of the tubes. I debated whether there was an easy way to fix this by covering the protruding bits with black paper or painting over the back of the paper, but ultimately decided that laziness had been the deciding factor on a few too many decisions already, and ultimately chose to alter the template in Photoshop and re-print everything (new version on the left).

Aaaand… that was pretty much it. It took way longer than I intended and almost destroyed me emotionally, but I finally had a set of presentable and fairly durable rocky bits to complement my new Plastcraft terrain. 🙂

So, okay. You know how I was really excited about the Polycrylic finally fixing all of my paint problems? It mostly did, but it left one kind of strange problem in its wake: the paint surface is very slightly peeling in a few spots when two terrain pieces sit against each other for a while in the storage bin. You can see a good example of it at the top left of this image– see that white spot? That’s the layer of white paint I sponged on. Over top of it, I airbrushed some orange paint, then coated it with glue and Polycrylic. And for some reason, when these pieces lose paint now, they very specifically peel off (1) the polycrylic, (2) the glue, and (3) the thin airbrushed orange layer; but this always stops at the sponged white.

I have absolutely no idea  why this is happening, and especially, why it’s happening in this specific way. But after all the misery I went through on this set, I’m considering this paint peel issue to be a VERY MINOR PROBLEM. I’m going to make some adjustments to the storage bins so that the various pieces don’t touch each other (probably wrapping each one in thin cloth), and then I’ll make whatever minor repairs are needed, and then that should be fine. I would be so much more upset about this if I hadn’t been losing entire chunks of paint straight down to the foam three weeks ago. ~_~

Anyway, that’s the individual pieces. Let’s take a look now at how it looks as a finished board.

Note: the first half of these photos shows the rocks being very shiny, as the Polycrylic creates a very glossy finish. I corrected this by spraying everything with some Testors Dullcote, so the latter half of the photos are much more matte.

And that’s it. It was a dark tunnel, but we got through it. Happy potato. ^_^

The papercraft files and the Silhouette cutting SVG files I used for this project can be found here:

Yeah, the actual reusable files this time around are a bit thin. 😛


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