Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by Roos, on 2010-04-25 16:06:55

Material advice?

Hello all, At the moment Im busy with another set. I will build parts of an old/fantasy kind of city. Ive been drawing and designing lots of little streets, stairs, bridges, squares and making maps of how it could al be connected with each other. Today I also made a very small maquette from cardboard to try if my drawings would work in 3d. Anyway, in the mean time Im thinking about the best way to actually build it. I will need to make lots of stone walls. I have searched and read all topics I could find about this and found lots of great methods and ideas, but Im still not sure what would work best for the result Im looking for together with the time and money that I have. To make it more clear what Im after Ive added some of the drawings-sketches I made already, plus a moodboard/collage in which I tried to capture the atmosphere I want it to have. The setting will be in the night. So the city will be lonesome and dark, in some higher places lit by moonlight and lanterns attached on the wall. At lower places only by some lanterns and the lantern of the person walking through the streets. (I should try what works, there needs to be enough light to get good pictures, but this is what it should look like) Anyway, now I need a right material for all the stone work. Earlier Ive shaped polystyrene foam with hot wire, but it was quite rough stuff, I couldnt get great detail out of it and all the black smoke and nasty smell coming from it wasnt exactly healthy. Ive seen lots of names of different kinds of foam here but Im getting confused. Im not sure which is what and what I could use it for and for what not. Ive been reading here about styrofoam for example, I believe its the same as something I could find called blue foam, which is extruded polystyrene? It looks like more useable than normal polystyrene, but can you easily shape this without using hot wire,just with a knife or file or anything? I thought this could be an option, only it would get really expensive if I would use it for all my walls/stairs/bridges/etc. Ive also seen a method in which a rough stone pattern is covered by a layer of plaster, but Im not sure or any way of using this would work for the more regular look (though still lively/weathered) Im after. In the LOTR extended editions I saw somebody using a metal stamp to press stones of different depths in urethane foam. It looked really nice, though Im confused what kind of foam this exactly is, or where I could get it and how it can be used/shaped in any other way. Ive also read here about molding technics, but I havent got any experience with that and Im not sure how/with which material this would be done. I think my post is way too long already and definatly shows that Im a total newbie in this. I just really want to learn and I would love to experiment with new materials, but Im afraid I miss some knowledge about it to do this properly. I would really appreciate it if anybody could maybe just give me some links to threads or websites with more information that could help me, or maybe think with me about a right method to do this. Many thanks for reading all this already! Roos

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-04-25 19:27:21

If there is a LOT of stonework, it can be a good idea to make a mould and cast sheets of stone texture. You may still have to do some parts individually, like the arches on the bridges, so they fit the shapes, but a lot of it could be duplicated. When I had lots of bricks, I made up a sheet of plain brickwork, from 3mm mdf brick shapes glued onto a board. There was the 1:6 scale brickwork, and also a 1:24 scale for my smaller scale set. I actually vac formed it from styrene sheet, but you could make a mould in silicone rubber, then cast in epoxy resin and fibreglass. Or plaster, or polyester resin. You could also press stone shapes into clay, so you get a negative mould with the stones pressed in and the mortar lines sticking up. Then cast plaster or resin directly on the clay. Or sculpt the stonework in clay as a positive, make a mould, then cast the sheets. If you have several arches the same, you could also make that arch shape as a mould.

Posted by Roos, on 2010-04-26 13:06:45

Thank you for the reply and all the ideas. A mold might be an idea then, only I haven't any experience in using molds. Most of the materials you name I do not have, so I should buy them, but I still don't precisely understand the way to use it. Would I cast walls completely in epoxy resin with fibreglass/plaster/polyester resin or would this just be a layer on something else? But then: I could make a mold of a stone wall, but all walls will have windows or doors or other different things, I should need to make those individually like you said, but how can this work, combined with the mold, and how and from what material would I shape those different objects then, combining it with the casted walls? This might all sound really stupid, I'm just really new to it. I do have some polymer moldmaker clay by the way, which should be really good for moldmaking, so I could perhaps try something with it. I've also got lots of little 'real' bricks from construction boxes of miniature houses. Of course I could build walls from this, but that would become really heavy, plus that I'm quite sure it wouldn't be enough for the whole set. Anyway, I could probably build one wall from that and make a mold from it in the clay. But than I come back to my first questions. I just haven't got exactly clear how to use the mold. If I would go for making the walls of foam, shaping every stone by hand, is there a kind of foam which can be shaped easily and detailed? Would the blue foam work for this? Or would it work better to make rough shapes out of foam (or something else) and cover it with something else in which making details is easier? What kind of materials could be attached to the foam, and would I be able to model it when it's on, or could this only be done quickly by pressing molds in it? I'm sorry for so many questions, I hope somebody can help me. Maybe this thread would proabably have been better at it's place at the newbie section, only because it's so specific about set building I posted it here. Roos

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-04-26 19:43:31

It's better in the set building section! At least there's a chance that someone trying to do the same thing can find this thread. I cast thin sheets, then stuck them onto walls made from chip-board. I had to join several sheets for some big walls - not cutting across a brick but going in and out of each row. I used a mould that actually included 2 doorways for some. They had the "returns" - the bricks going around the corner into the windows. The same sheet could also be used for a section in the upper storey, with 2 windows. I used a block of MDF for a lintel at the bottom. There are still some individual bits to be made, but it avoids making thousands of identical bricks in straight lines. I haven't used blue foam - I've only seen ordinary white styrene foam - but it should be well suited to making stonework. The last stone walls I did had individually made stones from MDF, cut with a bandsaw and shaped with a belt sander. There's a thread here in the set building section, with photos of the process along the way: A couple of others have posted shots there of their stone walls, to help me with a problem I had with textures. Look at Nofby's stone wall made from soft foam pieces, it's great! Others have also posted their threads on stone wall making, using different materials. It's worth looking through old posts - sometimes the name is helpful, like My Stone Walls, sometimes it doesn't tell you anything, but do some looking. I have to go work on a set right now - without any stone

Posted by Roos, on 2010-05-01 06:09:43

That's true! I'm happy it's right here than. Can you tell me what material you did cast with? You already named some different materials, but I don't know about all the advantages and/or disadvantages of different materials. I've tried something with plaster since that was the only thing we had at home and I could just try straight away, but making thin sheets of plaster doesn't seem a very good idea... maybe I should try it another time and some thicker, or be less impatient and wait longer till I take it out the mold, however, it broke in some pieces. Still I liked the look of it, so I think I could go for the mold idea, maybe only with another material to cast in it. My mold wasn't that large since I don't have a lot of this polymer moldmaker clay which I now used. I could maybe use other clay too, but this clay is especially for moldmaking and catches a lot of detail. I've added two pictures of the plaster wall. One piece already painted, the other are different pieces glued together... I believe the blue foam is similar to 'styrofoam' I've seen mentioned here and there at the messageboard. (edit: no I believe I see it somewhere mentioned as the same as normal polystyrene, forget about it) I don't know how well you can shape it with a knife or vile, since that doesn't really work in normal styrene foam (for the detail needed for miniatures). I've also read something about urethane foam, which would work well, only I've got no idea where I could get that in sheets. I only know the PUR foam in cans, but I don't know how that could be working for walls... I saw that thread and I really love the set you made there! (or, are making, I'm really curious how it all will look when finished, but I believe you've got too many projects running at the same time?) I like the look of does mdf bricks, but for the amount of bricks I'll need I think it would just be too much work, plus that I like it when the bricks are some what irregular in sticking out in different depths. I've also seen the method Nofby used, it's indeed beautiful! I did a small try with that method, but I think I need a more subtle detail in the wall. So something in between your mdf bricks and his soft foam stone wall. I like the way the mold worked, I only don't like my walls breaking in many pieces so I'll need to search for another material or a better way to use this. I did search for and read many other threads at this message board and found many great ideas, but I just didn't found something yet that would be the best method for the result I'm looking for. Also I read about many materials I'd never heard of and never used so therefore I started this thread, for there's so many people here knowing so much about many materials, that I just hoped there would be people that could help me where I got stucked. Which you did, only now I'm yet stucked in which material would be best to use. I won't hinder you in working on your set anymore Nick, is it a set for your sinbad film? I'm so glad you take the time every time again to reply so elaborative to all these questions. Maybe there are other people out here with ideas and/or answers too.

Posted by Marcamus, on 2010-05-01 11:02:43

[div class="dcquote"][strong]Quote[/strong] making thin sheets of plaster doesn't seem a very good idea... maybe I should try it another time and some thicker, or be less impatient and wait longer till I take it out the mold, however, it broke in some pieces. [/div] You could try adding burlap or fiberglass matting to the plaster to reinforce it for extra strength. This might help it from breaking apart, or at least if it does break, the two pieces will be held together by the fibers. [div class="dcquote"][strong]Quote[/strong] I've added two pictures of the plaster wall. One piece already painted, the other are different pieces glued together... [/div] That wall you have made already looks great, I like the look of it once its painted. [div class="dcquote"][strong]Quote[/strong] I believe the blue foam is similar to 'styrofoam' I've seen mentioned here and there at the messageboard. I don't know how well you can shape it with a knife or vile, since that doesn't really work in normal styrene foam (for the detail needed for miniatures). I've also read something about urethane foam, which would work well, only I've got no idea where I could get that in sheets. [/div] I got this type of foam from a hardware store, its used for insulating houses. It carves very easily with a utility knife and can be textured with a rasp or file, then painted.

Posted by Roos, on 2010-05-01 14:09:07

Thank you for the reply! That could indeed be a good idea to add burlap or fibreglass, I'll try that and see what it does. I really liked that set you made, so if that's done with urethane foam that could really work (if the plaster method wouldn't work right after all, or maybe for some other parts, maybe for smaller buildings I'll need in the background later, or other details or whatever) only I still haven't found a place where it's sold here in the Netherlands... Thanks by the way, I liked the look too, so I hope I'll find a good way to use it for larger pieces and more complicated forms without my set crumbling off or making walls so thick that the set becomes extremely heavy. I found where I could buy this polyester or epoxy resin, that would probably be stronger than the plaster, only it would become quite expensive since I would need quite a lot of it. One other question for anybody who knows an answer to it: I've made a little statue for in the city streets out of oasis (floral foam(?)) and I wondered if I could add some kind of a layer to give it more of a stone structure and to be able to paint it. But I'm not sure what would work and wouldn't soak in the oasis and ruin the statue. Does anybody have any experience with oasis, is it however possible to add a layer to it or not at all?

Posted by HChaskin, on 2010-05-01 15:27:48

I've never worked with Oasis specifically, but if it's a polyurethane foam then it can be sealed with resin. Another thought for a rough/stony texture would be to mix some coarse sand with acrylic paint- This will create a textured paste that you can brush directly onto the foam.

Posted by Roos, on 2010-05-02 06:20:18

Hooray! I didn't have any burlap or fibreglass at hand so I just made a try with a rough woven cloth and it came out pretty well! Still a crack at one corner, but because of the cloth it doesn't fall apart. Now I've drawn all the walls I'll need for one of the two sets I will make and calculated all the measurements and searched by the larger walls for the best places to stick them together so I can make smaller pieces from the piece of moldmaker clay I have, and I think I can do all of them with this single piece of clay (resculpting parts for different walls). Only now I ran out of plaster, today I can't buy any new and tomorrow I'll be off for 5 days, so I can't really start yet... x( Only I'm not sure yet what would be best to stick the plaster walls on, making a wall that's solid enough but not extremely heavy. I've got two foamboard plates which could maybe work, but maybe a thin wooden plate would work? Only, some walls I'd like to make replacable, that could maybe work with some pins at the base sticking in the wall...? But that wouldn't work with too thin plates. I see I make it complicated again... HChaskin: thanks for the ideas. I don't know how well brushing would work though. The foam is very fragile, so I'm already making holes in it while touching it with a brush, and when trying to brush, the foam flakes off. I don't know what resin would do, I haven't found what kind of a foam it actually is yet. It is normally used to stick flowers into, and you can soak it into water (for the flowers). Maybe I can better make another statue out of some other material... only this foam stuff was so easily shapeable...

Posted by Marcamus, on 2010-05-02 08:37:04

Your wall really turned out cool looking. I also like the gargoyle type statue thing. nice job. I've never used that green floral foam, so I'm not sure what would work best with it. Just keep in mind that some glues and paints that contain solvents have a tendency to melt certain types of foam. I always test on a scrap piece, to make sure. I would think that you could just coat it in a thin layer of plaster, and paint it like that. or the acrylic paint method in several coats should work just fine. But your saying that the brush is making holes in it, then I assume that it is very soft. Do you have a softer brush maybe? Perhaps the bristles are too stiff. or don't use the brush at all, and maybe dab the paint on with a cloth or sponge. Just do some tests on a scrap piece to figure out what works best for you. So far, it everything is looking good.

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-05-02 19:33:44

Looking good! Floral foam is polyurethane, and doesn't get melted like polystyrene foam does. For styrene, epoxy resin is safe, polyester resin will eat it, but for this, don't worry. But some acrylic wall paint is fine for all kinds of foam - that's what I used for my cave set. Add a bit of sawdust in for texture. Sand looks good too but will blunt any tools if you need to cut or drill it later, sawdust won't. I wish I'd used this kind of foam for some of my stone, so I could poke holes in it! My MDF stones could have bumps added, but not the small hollows that you can do with floral foam. It's perfect for your gargoyle.

Posted by Roos, on 2010-05-07 14:43:48

Thanks a lot Marcamus and Nick! That's funny... I was wondering where I could get polyurethane foam while I actually already had used it... :P I will try acrylic paint with some sawdust to paint the statue and use a softer brush for that. Thanks! I just remembered how easily the floral foam could be shaped when we had used it at school, as a try before shaping soapstone. I knew it would be suitable for more than just sticking flowers in it or making christmas pieces! :7 Nick, maybe you can try using this foam for a next set with bricks? I'm curious how it will become. I think I'll stick mostly to the plaster method for my bricks, I like it for the look I want. Now I've only got one more question: I'm thinking how to build up my set and I'm wondering what would be best to stick the pieces of plaster walls on to. Since there will be quite some walls I don't want it to be too heavy, but it should be solid enough of course. I've been thinking to use maybe cardboard plates, since they're cheap and thin and still quite solid, but I found them to be still quite heavy. Now I was wondering if I couldn't just use cardboard, or would that not be solid enough? Hmm, maybe if there are enough walls with corners, for larger walls some small wooden shelfs in triangles, maybe that would work? (have I now solved my problem while typing this or is this a stupid idea?)

Posted by MattChappell, on 2010-05-07 18:26:39

You're just creating a facade, right? Depending on how strong your table is I would suggest using cheap plywood. Draw an outline of the buildings, cut the wood accordingly, and apply the plaster walls. If you're using cardboard, it's probably not going to be sturdy enough. I would glue several layers together in a horizontal/vertical pattern. That should reinforce the cardboard. Hope that helps.

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-05-08 05:01:11

I use a 12mm thick corrugated card called Triwall, which is rigid but light. So is foamcore in a similar thickness. Otherwise I use 12mm particle board, which is strong and rigid but not so light. It would be ideal for ataching the plater stonework. For my Soukh set I used the boxes my Mac computer came in, because it was actually quite thick and strong, and it saved me having to get rid of it.

Posted by Roos, on 2010-05-10 15:16:58

I am indeed creating facades. The picture that the streets, alleys, bridges and stairs make together, as a labyrinth of walls, is more important than the buildings on their own. I've tried a double layer of thick cardboard, and it seems to work. Foamcore would indeed work probably, but I believe it's quite expensive and I don't really have a big budget. That triwall cardboard sounds good, but I think gluing layers of normal cardboard together should give the same idea than? Now I only need to keep patience long enough for pressing bricks in clay and painting hundreds of bricks... :P

Posted by Roos, on 2010-05-19 14:34:34

I just made some pictures of what I have made till now, so I thought I might share them for anyone who is interested. I'd love any comments/critics/feedback/etc. :) The cardboard seems to work good, the only problem I have is that it's warping... For the look it doesn't give real problems yet, to me, but it might be a problemn when I have to attach the different pieces together, with the stairs in between for example. I'm also not sure what to make the street stones from. I don't think that would work with plaster, since I'm afraid I would break it while animating on it and probably also when making holes for tie downs. Maybe I should try Nicks' MDF method for this. Or would plaster work? Or would their be any smarter method for this? Or I could carve lines in/shape stones out the MDF plate that will be the basis of the floor, but that sounds like it would probably be really much work, plus I don't know if it would work.

Posted by legomation guy, on 2010-05-19 14:53:17

wow that's pretty cool what did you use to mold it?

Posted by Roos, on 2010-05-19 15:34:19

Thanks! I used polymer moldmaker clay. I pressed a little brick in it for the stones and made the more sandy structure between the bricks by pushing with a brush in the clay. This is the clay: They say you should bake it for a permanent mold, but I didn't bake it so that I could re use the clay more often and reshape it for new molds. I think for this case with the plaster it might even work better than baked, because it stays very flexible.

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-05-19 21:02:05

Loooking gooooood!

Posted by Roos, on 2010-05-24 05:04:45

Thanks a loooot!:P Ohw... I so much wished that art was the only subject at school... Or that a diploma just wasn't important and I could just quit school and go on with making art and learning what I wnt to learn. Whatever, I'll stop complaining and go on working. x( Maybe when I've done some French or history I may make another wall? :P