About Me

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My name is Gavin McClements. I am a wargamer and family man, living in Los Gatos, which is a suburb of San Jose, CA. Building terrain is one of my favorite aspects of the wargaming hobby - in fact, lately I've become more interested in making my battlefields "pop" than in actually playing.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

HO-Scale Japanese Garden Diorama pt.1

I love making terrain, and my wife loves calligraphy, scrapbooking, and pastel colors (Spring and early Summer are her favorite seasons). She is busy nightly with her crafts, while I have really only just recently gotten back into my creative mode. Our 15th anniversary is coming up, and since I was buying some fun stuff from Scenic Express, I chose this as an opportunity to get some of the "brighter" colored items and give them a test run.

I proposed the idea to her and she loved it, so one of our rare dates without the kids, we set about locating the perfect start: the case. It wasn't long before we found it at the Container Store:
Roughly 10"x5", the stackable "steps" inside are completely removable - and at only $10, it was a no brainer.

I started off with some trees, which allowed me to monkey with some of the different techniques I have been linking here.
A little 1/2" foamcore from Michaels, and I had the beginnings of the scene.
I use this grout material that I got at Home Depot years ago - it has a fine texture similar to buttercream frosting - I mix it in a bowl with a TINY amount of water, and I mean just enough to get it wet. It spreads nicely at that point, and it has adhesive in it already, so I have never felt the need to use white glue with it.
I coated it on the trees, the slopes, and any areas that I thought might need it. For the steeper slopes, I used foamcore offcuts under it - this doesn't really shrink much with drying, but I didn't want to push my luck. A few rocks from the fairy garden out front, and some air dry clay for the banks, and it was ready for a good dusting in sand. When I posted this WIP on Facebook, most of my friends (who really don't understand my hobbies at all) asked if I was making a cake...
My biggest dream for the garden was the use of the SuperLeaf products I had purchased - but given that I was making these trees from scratch and the polyfiber I had was green, I needed a solution to get the foliage onto the armatures. This was the look I wanted, after all:
What I really wanted was some kind of gauze that I could distress (like you would do to a cotton ball to make smoke or something) and stretch across the tree frame - but a quick visit to the local RiteAid came up with nothing (well, a few things, but they got relegated to the first aid kit once I discovered how unsuitable they were). I ended up discovering some Fine Mesh Gauze, which didn't distress like I was hoping it would, but seemed viable nonetheless.
Once the gauze was on and primed along with the rest of the board, I trimmed them a bit with scissors.

[NOTE: I want to do THIS next time with steel wool, which might give better body than the gauze...]

The steps were made from air dry clay. The wall in the back left was made from Pegasus Hobbies bricks. The cobblestone walkway was done with plasticard and was inspired by this:
By the way...I could look at "Japanese Garden" image searches on Yahoo and Google all day...well, maybe half of a day, before I just had to jump up and create something...

Some primer, some paint, and now I had this:
The green for the pond was a Moss color I got at Michaels...I love it. I am hoping it shows through the Realistic Water nicely...and you can see my Fall work in the background for my 6mm terrain.

The real fun began as I started to add color to the project. I flocked the grass in "Green Grass" fine flock from Woodland Scenics - I mottled in a bit of other colors, but figuring it would be covered by clump foliage and flowers, I didn't vary it too much. The colors were mostly from Scenic Express' Spring and Summer flower assortments - basically colored turf, and it was wonderful.

This is with the excess flocking still on the base:
The next step is to get the color on the trees, and once that is done, I'll need to do the water portion.

As I was unsure about how to stop the water effects from coming off the end of the board, I looked about and found this easy tutorial on how to accomplish that:
The Terrain Studio is such a great channel - this is his method that I feel was personally uploaded just for me - so I was quite happy when he put it up.
This is another option - I may combine the two when I pour mine.

I also found a good discussion on water and how it is modeled here. Basically, I can do "dirt" and flock all day long, but I don't tend to do water much - so this helps:

Of course, TerranScapes has an excellent video on his Water Effects works:

I'll get more up as I get closer to finishing this.

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