Modelling Rock Faces
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So you want to make a realistic rock face?
Is finding cork bark too difficult or expensive? Am I starting to sound like an
Regardless, this is the end result, made for less than a penny:
With the application of a bit of scenic
scatter along the top and bottom, the effect is quite convincing.
want to know how to do it?
Well, to begin, this
is what you'll need:
Expanded polystyrene, the stuff used to package trains
Hacksaw or Stanley knife
Soldering Iron (you could also use a knife to make the rock pattern)
First, grab your polystyrene and cut off a
(or a number of) thin slivers with either a hacksaw or a knife. Keep in mind the
size of the gap you are going to fill.
Your sliver should look something like
Now put it into your gap to check the fit,
and line it up with other rock faces, or other scenic features.
Now we know it fits, it pays to break off
some of the top to make the shape more random, as I'm yet to see a perfectly
rectangular rock face. Don't worry about neatness here, just as long as you
don't tamper with the edges you've just lined up.
Now, to the tricky part: the soldering.
(note: there are specially designed heat knifes for carving polystyrene) It's
best you use a VERY well-ventilated room, I suggest a garage with the back door
flung open, or if it's a nice day do it outside. When the soldering iron is hot,
gently sweep across the polystyrene to melt the surface. The fumes are probably
toxic, so it's not recommended that you breathe them in, so try to avoid this.
You can be quite artistic with a soldering iron. You can follow your own path
for this bit. Just use the tool like a pencil and carve various shapes and
formations into the rock. Remember that the polystyrene is thin, so don't press
too hard, but if you do, a suitable 'filler' piece can be made quite easily.
And here's my finished piece. I managed to
burn right through so you can see the filler piece i made to fix to the back,
covering the hole.
Next, to the paint. For this it's best to
mix white poster paint and black enamel paint. These two won't mix properly, but
this is good because it will give the rock a weathered, more realistic texture
which really brings the rock to life.
Mix them around but don't be too worried
if they aren't completely mixed, rocks often look better darker in places and
lighter in others!
Apply the paint liberally so that there is
no white visible. You don't need to paint the back but in my experience it pays
to paint the top and sides as these may become visible when placed on the
Viola! One painted rock face. This will take a few hours to dry, as although the
poster paint dries relatively quickly, the nature of the enamel paint and the
mixture means it takes longer.
Once dry, the rock face can be fixed in
placed with wood glue, pva or hob-e-tac, just steer clear of superglue, which
will melt your rock face and half an hours work into a sticky mess. When in
position, apply some scenic scatter to the top to make the rock face seem
'integrated' into the hill, and make it look less like someone's just stuck it
Some scenic scatter at the bottom to hide
any gaps completes the illusion. And all this for absolutely nothing! Have fun!
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