Friday, December 31, 2010


Primed and ready for the final paint job! I'm giving you a sneak peak of the river segments...I'll be showing the step-by-steps later. For this's the next stages of making the DUNES.

I had some left-over dry-wall mud from redoing a bathroom I mixed in a little brown acrylic paint. Viola...icing for the styrofoam!

My desire was to emulate the wavy texture of wind-blown sand. So I just spread on the "mud" and dragged a plastic fork through it to get the effect I was trying for.

Once the mud was dry, I sanded down the surfaces to soften it a bit...wanted the "sand-blasted" look on the boulders.

After that, I coated everything with watered down Elmer's wood glue, to give it a harder shell.

Once that had dried, I painted full-strength glue onto the areas where I wanted to add sand, for more texture. Sadly, I basically wasted all of the time I had put into making the wavy lines in the sand areas. The "real" sand pretty much filled all of that in. Oh well...I'm making this stuff up as I go...sometimes it doesn't quite work the way I had thought it might.

Once the glued-on sand had dried, I painted on one more coating of a primer tan.

Now I'm ready to do the fun part, and paint these guys to look like rusty-red boulders on sand-dunes!

This is my last post for 2010. I hope you have a Happy New Year! See ya back here in 2011!

Decided to make one more Dune this morning...a larger piece with a gentle slope. I skipped the "icing" phase of preparing the surface and just gave this one a coating of gesso. Next I painted on the glue and covered it with sand. Now it's primed and ready for the final paint job.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


As usual, I like to lead off with a photo of where the next stage ends are the basic shapes of my DESERT DUNE pieces. Now let's work backwards to see how I got there.

In my last post I had different pieces of insulation foam on the hex-shaped boards. I realized after I had already cut them out, that I did now allow for the transition of the sloped sides from the base. They would have ended up too small, when sculpted. So I cut all new pieces of foam that matched the maximum edges of my hex-boards. Live and learn...

I used various tools to begin shaping the "sand/rocks"...a saw from my miter box, a piece of sanding paper from an old belt sander, and a file that looks like a cheese shredder. I don't own a hot wire "foam cutter" tool, though I have tried to make one in the past with a soldering iron. When melting through the foam, they tend to give off very strong fumes that aren't good for your have to use them in a well ventilated area. So...just doing this "old school".

Once I had the basic shapes the way I wanted them, I used "Super 77" spray mount...I coated the bottom of the foam, then the board. Once they were a little bit dry, I pressed the foam onto the board. You'll notice I've also spray-glued a big boulder on the top of the dune.

Here are all three segments of the dunes...the hex-base format lends itself to various configurations.
Next, I gave everything a coating of gesso, to seal up the surfaces, and give a uniform base coat to the shapes. I will begin to further refine the shapes to add details, and create more "sandy" textures and transitions on the forms.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Time to start up on a new project! It has been a long time since I've made any tabletop gaming terrain. So I asked my gaming buddy, Jaye, if he needed anything specific for some new campaigns. He asked for some DESERT DUNES and a RIVER...but made to fit on a grid system that is designed upon HEXAGONS. I'm not the best with straight edges, but I think I can make this work.

First off, I pulled a few images of some research and inspiration from the web. I told Jaye that I thought it would be cool to add some big boulders in the sand, and not just make it look like a "sandy layer cake".

Jaye had provided me with an image of the grids with some possible configurations. The green areas would be the "dune" shapes. I printed out one of the sections and spray-mounted it to some cardboard as a template to trace around. The width of the hex is 5", measuring from flat side to flat side.

Once I had traced a few of the hexes onto a sheet of 1/8" thick pressboard (masonite)...I cut them out with my trusty jig-saw.

Next I traced the shapes onto some "pink foam" (2.5" thick insulation styrofoam). I loosely cut them out with a hack saw blade, then worked out the curved shapes with my band-saw.

These show the first level of "sand"...then the next layer of boulders. All of this will be carved and sculpted to look more dune-like. Nothing is glued down at this stage. are the additional hex shapes I cut out to make the river set. These will be completely flexible for designing the way the river will be put together. I'll finish the dunes first, then show how I work on the river segments.
Looks like I now have something to do on my holidays off from work!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oregon Coast: A few more

(Here are a few more photos from the trip to Oregon to place some of Cathy's ashes in the ocean.)

A Christmas

Okay, I'll come right out with it...I don't have any current projects to post. We've come nearly to the end of this crazy year, and I must admit: I'M TIRED! I've been slowing the pace down the last couple of weeks...and probably will continue to do that through the end of 2010. So, until I start up my "next thing", I thought I'd just show a few more photos from my October trip to the Oregon Coast.

Below are a few "stars at night"...clinging to the barnacle-covered rocks during low tide at the base of "Haystack Rock" at Cannon Beach.

On our flight in to Portland, Courtney and I could see Mt. St. Helens, and Mount Hood from the window of our plane.

Here's a nice ol' "Grinch Faced Eel" at a dinky little, over-priced aquarium we went to at Seaside, Oregon.

In Ecola State Park, there was some really interesting green slime growing on the rocks. Very festive for the holiday season!

In Astoria, we saw these huge sea lions all over the docks, barking loudly at who knows what. Note the rain that was coming down during most of our trip. Courtney took this photo.

Here are Jenni and Courtney standing in front of what's left of the shipwrecked "Peter Iredale" English sailing ship that ran aground during a storm in 1906. This was in Fort Stevens State Park, just outside of Warrenton. (Love the name of that town!)

A pair of salt-water crocs on Cannon Beach.

As we were driving out of Cannon Beach, the sun broke through the dense fog for just a brief moment.

Here's one more photo by makes a great screen-saver for my computer!

Obviously...this last photo is not from the beach. It's my house, all lit up. In case I don't post again for a while, I just want to wish you a Happy Holiday with friends and family. Count your blessings...each day you share with your loved ones is truly a gift!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - "Random Collection"

I had a few sketches that I've done recently...well, sort of recently...and thought they might be "post worthy". The first and second sketch are of Kerry, my friend and manager at work. Our studio had a much needed "day away" at a farm last month. Part of the time was spent sketching some of our co-workers...well, just Kerry and I volunteered to pose. I really enjoyed drawing these...need to do more figurative work soon.

Today, I went to Lawrence, Kansas to do a little shopping. Ended up buying a new "moleskine" sketchbook for myself and broke it in with this drawing.

This sketch was done back in September during lunch. The maintenance crews were out in force, winterizing the fountains in Crown Center. I just drew their carts.

And I would be remiss if I did not include at least one robot drawing! (I don't remember when I drew it...probably wasn't "recently"...oh well.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - "Trip to Shreveport"

It's been about two weeks since my last post. I've been down south, being with my Mom after some major surgery. She had to travel to Shreveport, LA for a special procedure that should greatly help her with the rare cancer that she has. After a 9 hour surgery on Nov. 12th, I drove down the next Saturday, so I could stay during last week, and relieve my brother and his wife who had been with Mom up until then. Now that I'm back, I thought I'd post some of the interesting things I sketched while there. Keep my Mom in your prayers...she's still in the hospital recovering.

Okay...let's start with the first sketch at the top. Nothing like a little "razor wire" on the fence surrounding the free parking at the LSU Medical Center. Felt like a prison yard! What was so strange was that there is no gate on the entrance, and there's a big opening in the fence for pedestrians to cross the street. Why would they need "razor wire"?!!! To keep out people who insist on PAYING for their free parking?

Below is the view looking from across the street on the west end of the lot...nice damp fog adds to the friendly atmosphere. (Let me just say right here...the staff at the hospital are TERRIFIC!! It's just a gloomy neighborhood where they have to work.)

Next is the view from inside the fence...northwest corner of the lot, looking across the street. There is a nice fleet of trash trucks ready to serve you, right next to a mini-electrical plant, and old warehouses. Not pretty...but interesting.

Here's a view from the cafeteria inside the hospital. It was late in the lone med student having a bite to eat. There were lots more chairs and tables...I ran out of time.

Here is the waiting room on the 7th floor. There was some brand new glass in the snack machine...someone had recently busted it...guess they didn't have exact change.

The last two sketches are of Saint Mark's Cathedral just up the road a bit from the hospital. This was drawn while Mom was still in ICU, and I could only visit for 30 minutes, four times a day...I had lots of time to fill up.

I wish I had been able to sketch some of the people in and around the hospital. Saw a couple of guys in orange jump suits with cuffs and chains on with police escort. Saw one guy in his gown outside, walking in a hurry, looking around, like he was "makin' a break for it"...not sure how far he got. There was quite a gallery of folks standing around outside smoking, holding their I.V. bags, in wheel chairs, on crutches, doctors, nurses, etc., etc. ...all due to the "non-smoking campus" designation. And I would like to have sketched my face when I locked my keys in my van (as we were hurrying to get my Mom into her semi-private room) and then when I had to pay $40 for a guy from "Pop-A-Lock" to get them out. An interesting week.

Huge thanks to my brother Kris, and his wife Debra, for their continued vigil taking care of Mom in the days to come!! Hope she gets home soon!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This little guy is finally done!!! The DiggerBot was way more involved to build than I originally anticipated. I had lost steam for this "steam-punk" project several times. But today I went out for some location shots at a construction site, and am actually smiling at the results. There's not going to be a lot of commentary on the paint job...just enjoy the photos!

I wanted to show the earliest stage of when I began to paint the Bot. I was really torn as to what color to go with, once I had sprayed on a primer coat of black. It reminded me of an old black train locomotive...and I really liked that look. I came really close to just hitting it with some silver on a few details, and calling it "done".
I also like the yellow colors of modern construction equipment. In the end, I went with a worn-out ol' rust-bucket bronze-red. Below are the basic arm movements. Unfortunately, the crank mechanism ended up being tighter to turn (due to the paint), so there's a bit of effort required to bring it to life.

So that's it for the latest project. Might have to get some more shelves!