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Subject: Making a 3D Game Tile - Nexus Ops Tutorial - COMPLETED rss

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Lord Zogat
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Update - 3D Monolith Design Competition. Help me come up with a Monolith design! Check out the following thread: I am going to start a new Post for this!!! A design competition which can be found at the following thread!

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1899362#1899362


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Ok guys, you got me all wound up today with your feedback. I decided to make a tile tonight and have documented the process as requested.

For this tile I have decided to go with a tile the same size as the game tile. I know there is discussion for making them bigger which can come later, but I will probably do the regular sized set first.

The tile I am starting with is the Magma Pool.

Step 1: Making the tile base template.



Start by cutting the shape of the tile base out of corrugated card board. Layer as many as needed to get the desired thickness of the base. Then tape them together using packing tape. This holds them together as one and also provides smooth edges.


Step 2: Forming the base in the modeling medium



In my case I am using regular playdoh. Its forgiving but does not hold high detail and will move around as you mould the tile. If you go with a more clay like medium, you may wish to design your master in the positive. I use the playdoh as it works for what I need and allows me to release the master plaster tile easily.

Press the template into the medium and get a nice set to it. Notice you will push excess medium out of the way. Use this to get a tight fit.


Step 3: Designing the tile features



In my case I am designing this tile in the negative. Since every feature that is added displaces the medium, for deep holes or features you may need to extract some medium first with a wire, cutting it out and leaving a hole. Then form your feature with your tools.

I use several stones and bits and pieces for making my terrains. It all depends on what your designing. Remember with playdoh it moves easily so as you make features you may distort others, so you may have to extract some out of the way so it doesn't just mush around as you push it out of the way making a feature.

This is the step you use your imagination with. If you can work in the negative like I do then that’s fine, but if you want really good detail, then use a sculpting medium and design your tile by removing matter.

Important Note: You may want to design your tile in such a way that the mould will allow an easier release of the tile. This means none of the features of the tile should have large horizontal empty space under them between themselves and the tile base.

For example, if you were trying to pour a tile that had a letter T on the base, the space under the T, would cause the mould to hold onto the T and would break the T when releasing the tile. Where as a letter L, the mould would slide right off, as there is no space under the letter that the mould holds onto.

By keeping this in mind when designing the tile, when it comes out of the mould, the mould doesn't have to be stretched to release the tile, it should almost fall out on its own. This will extend the life of the mould as it will see less stretch when releasing the tile.

Step 4: The finished tile features



Here is the finished designed tile. Again its complexity and design will depend on what all you do to it and the look your going for. Think of your desired finished product.


Step 5: Mixing the Tile medium



In my case I am using plaster of paris. Its low cost and effective, yet can be brittle. In later steps I will show a process used to seal and harden the formed tile.

Make sure you refer to the mixing guides and instructions of the medium you decide to make your tiles from. Your moulds may have to be formed from different materials to be compatible with the medium used to make the tiles.


Step 6: Pouring the tile forming material



Here the mixed plaster of paris is being poured into the mould slowly so as to fill all the crevasses. Depending on your medium and its behaviors you may have to pour it in a different manner, read the product specifications.


Step 7: Letting the tile set.



After pouring the plaster of paris to the top of the tile base, I tap the board rapidly to help any air bubbles escape tile holes and to allow the plaster to settle into all the details.

Now the tile sits until it hardens. This time length depends on your medium. Quick set Plaster of Pairs is generally 15 min set time.


Step 8: Removing the master tile from the Play doh






Once the tile has had time to set, its time to remove the mould. The nice thing about playdoh is it comes off fast, just be careful not to damage the fragile features. First remove the bulk of the playdoh. Then using a scraping tool remove the bits around the features.


Step 9: Cleaning off the excess Playdoh




The water will dissolve and remove the playdoh if you want, but I try to save a bit of it each time and then the rinse phase goes faster.

The first picture is kind of cool the way the water is hitting the tile. This is the tile under warm water. I use regular craft paint brush to brush out the remaining playdoh as it dissolves.


Step 10: Clean up and filing down the sides.



Now is the time to file the edges flat. They get distorted as you make the tile, so now is the time for cleanup. You can also make some minor corrections to the details at this stage, but its all subtractive detail however.

You may also need to file the base of the tile flat once they come out of the moulds.

Step 11: Allowing the tile to Dry



At this point the tile needs to completely dry before the sealer can be applied. Uusually this takes at least 12 - 24 hours.

Oh yah, time frame - up to this step its taken about 2 - 3 hours to complete this entire process of making the tile. Maybe a bit less as I was writing this tutorial during part of it.

Step 12: Sealing the tile



This step should occur for both the master tile and any tiles formed from the moulds. The sealer is made from a 1:1 mix of white schellac and Methyl Hydrate. Both should be available at the hardware store. Methyl Hydrate is also used as fuel in some stoves, or used as a thinner.






Mix the two together and then drop the dried tiles into the mix until air stops escaping. Drain of the excess mixture and let the tiles drip dry, then I place them in the cardboard flat from a case of pop. There is a slight odor so you may want to do this in a well ventilated location.



The tiles should dry for about 24 hours, or until dry to the touch. This step prevents the britle plaster from scratching or breaking apart. It also acts to seal the pores of the material so its easier to paint.


Step 13: Preparing the Master Tile and making the mould.

In this step you need to choose what type of moulding material your going to use to make your mould. There are several brands of mould making materials available and often consist of a two part epoxy mixed at 1:1 or 1:10 ratios of resin and hardner. Also you want to get a mould making material that has the right hardness factor. For moulds that flex, I would suggest a hardness shore of about 30. They cost roughly about $60USD for a 128oz kit. That was on ebay.

Another method to make a mould is using a tube of Silcone Tub & Tile or Exterior Window Caulking with Mildew Resistence. It costs about $3 - $5 a tube and a tube should do 4 - 7 tiles of this size.

I have found for the plaster of paris tiles I make, the silicon caulking found in tubes at any hardware store, releases the tile far better and with less damage and no releasing agent, then the mixed epoxys do.

a) Using Epoxy mixed resins and hardner.



Prepare the tile by covering all surfaces with vasoline and removing the excess. Place the tile in a low discardable tray about the size of the tile with a bit of room on each side. This reduces waste of your moulding compound. You may want to stick the base of the tile firmly to the bottom of the tray or surface to prevent the resin from going under the tiles flat base.

For my frame I placed Packing tape on a table sureface, built a frame from lego, sealed it all with packing tape, then taped it to the surface sealing all the edges. This allowed me to customize the frame shape to the tile.

Then following mixing and pouring instructions, you slowly cover the tile, degas if necessary and let it sit until it cures.

b) Using the tube of caulking.




Start by gluing a block of wood to the underside of the tile. This will act as a handle.



Once dry, prepare the tile by covering all surfaces with vasoline and removing the excess.




Using the silicon tube in a caulking gun, slowly push out caulking into the surface of the tile working in small areas forcing it into all the cracks. I suggest working from one area to another pushing a bit of caulking ahead of the end of the tube. This allows it to cover the tile and allows air to escape as you go, as the caulking is being pushed into the small spots instead of being droped on top and sealing air in.



Once the top is covered, go and do the sides so that it just over laps around to the flat back side. Excess silicon it can always be trimed off with scissors.

Place the tile somewhere such that it will stay put and untouched. I placed mine in the workshop vice. Allow it to cure for at least 12 - 24 hours or until it feels firm in all areas. The surface of the silicone will dry in a matter of hours, but the insides will take longer. The thicker the layer the longer the curing time. If you try to take it off too soon, it will tear and wreck the mould. Better to give it longer than to try to take it off too quick. The entire surface should have no squishy feel and be stiff and spongy.

The thickness of the layer should be about 1/4 inch or more. There is a trade off to the thickness. The thicker it is, the firmer the mould will be and less likely it will bend out of shape from the weight of the plaster of paris, also the less forgiving the mould will be when releasing.

Thinner moulds will have a tendency to with stand tearing as its flexibility is higher due to lack of firmness. Too thin and the mould will not hold its shape.

Larger flatter tiles will need an equal proportion of thickness to support the bulk and mass of the tile!

-----------------
UPDATE: As sometimes happens with older tubes of caulking and different types, the silcone does not cure as fast as it should. Or perhaps the enviroment in which it is in, is not suited for best curing potential.

I checked the mould I did the other night, its been over 24 hours and its still squishy and the surface is tacky. This may be the caulking as it was an older opened tube that had been resealed or the temperature of the enviroment as mentioned. I will trying moving it to see how it does. This is all part of the issues you may face. I would normally use brand new tubes, but would also be making moulds for all the tiles at once, not just the one.

I finally tried a new tube of Tub N Tile caulking with Mildew Resistance. It has cured and set the way I wanted.

This is where making larger tiles consumes more resources in every case.
-------------------


Step 14: Making Tiles from the cured Mold.





Now that the mold has had a proper chance to set and is the right material that is spoungy and holds its shape, it is ready to make tiles. The other mold present has nothing to do with this project, but is a small building mold for another game, to be used for 3D Scenery. I put it in this picture to show you what other molds can be used for.





I have poured the first tile and it has set. I removed it from the mold and filed the base flat. Now it just has to dry out for the next step





The tiles have been sealed as we did with the Master Tile in step 12. This will prepare the tiles for painting which is the next setp.


Step 15: Painting your tile.



I will be using acrylic paints from any craft or dollar store. The painting process I will be using is a combination of layered painting and drybrushing. With dry brushing painting, you cover the tile in its main color in a darker shade, then you slowly add highlight layers to make the features to stand out.

The dry brushing comes into play when you load a brush with a highlight color and remove the excess paint fromt he brush. Then by wiping the brush on a paper towl, we remove even more paint. When the brush is almost dry, you begin to slowly sweep the brush over the feature areas you want to highlight, and allow the paint to slowly collect on these areas. As you move the brush back and forth over the area, the more pressure you will have the apply to release more of the paint left in the brush as it is drying as you sweep the brush. We will see this process in play in a bit.

Since the primary feature or resource of this tile is the lava, and since any color is transparent when compared to black, then we must do the lava painting first. Also we want lava to show up in the cracks, so the red must go first.



Apply lots of red paint to the surface of the tile, again since it is very transparent paint and depending on the color being used, you may need several layers to get a nice coating. Make sure the previous layer is completely dry before going to the next layer, otherwise you just push half dried paint around, ruining your layers.

Here are pictures of several layers of red being added, progressivly getting to a solid red state.



I had to add roughly 4 layers to get the red color I wanted.



Since the lava is warmer in the center of the pool as seen in the pictured tile, then the center is done in brighter shades of orange and yellow.

You can try to blend in some orange and a touch of yellow while the last layer of red is wet, but this can be a hard and time comsuming process. It just takes practice to get a smooth blend, and going backand forth between darker and lighter shades. Always clean the brush frequently to prevent mixing of the blended colors. Time and practice, wet blending is not easy. This is often why dry brushing is better.



You could also start to use the dry brush method by letting the last red layer dry completely and then start with a redish-orange dry brush highlight. Again only applying a very small amount of the shade. Continue by lightening the shades and adding a wee bit at a time. If you change the shade too quick the highlighted later stands out too much. In some cases this is wanted but not in this case for the lava temperature change. This is what too much drybrushing in too drastic of a shade change looks like.



I had to step back and use the wet blend method that took alot of time to get a smooth blend. This would mainly be used for liquid surfaces only. But it depends on the look desired an application.



At this point we now have the tile covered in the primary resource with its necessary high lights. We now begin painting the secondary resources and their layers. In this tile its the Black rocks that surround the lava pool. Since the black covers everything, you must take your time and use a steady hand and only cover what you want. If you make a mistake, attack that section vigerously with a wet clean brush and hope it releases the black before it has dried.

This is the tile after the first layer of black is applied. Only one layer is needed. By carefully covering the rocks and their sides, I have allowed the lava inbetween the cracks to remain and stand out.



I now begin by using the dry brush method to highlight the rocks very very carefully. Last thing we want is to touch the lava pool with a dark color.

I mixed some black with a silver metallic paint to make a lighter shade of black to apply to the rocks, but also used the metallic of the silver to give the rocks some shine.

I then mixed a touch of black with white to make a even lighter shade to just brush over the jagged rock areas to make them stand out.

In the case of this tile, there were very few layers needed to achive the desired look. In some game tiles I do, each section could have 3 - 5 base coats, 3 - 6 highlight layers on primary resource and 4 - 5 layers on secondary resources.

Here is the finished tile.




Here are two pictures that show the 3D features of the file from ground level.





After this tile is finished its painting, I usually coat them in a flat or gloss sealer to help protect the paint. The tiles should be stored in a cool protected area and no painted surface of one tile should rest against another. I place each tile in its own bubble wrap baggie.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it informative. You just have to go at it and give it a try, if you make mistakes, learn from them and push on. Feel free to comment and ask questions. I will likely add more text or change some as I take a few reads through this post or think of other things that should have been added.

M. Black

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Update - 3D Monolith Design Competition. Help me come up with a Monolith design! Check out the following thread: I am going to start a new Post for this!!! A design competition which can be found at the following thread!

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1899362#1899362
b]



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starkeyboy
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Re: The Process of Making a 3D Game Tile - Nexus Ops Tutoria
Matt, you should be incredibly proud of this work product, both the tiles themselves and this tutorial.
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Carlos Robledo
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Re: The Process of Making a 3D Game Tile - Nexus Ops Tutorial
I love the work so far
 
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Re: The Process of Making a 3D Game Tile - Nexus Ops Tutoria
I'm looking forward to the rest of the process!
 
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Lord Zogat
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Re: The Process of Making a 3D Game Tile - Nexus Ops Tutorial
starkeyboy wrote:
Matt, you should be incredibly proud of this work product, both the tiles themselves and this tutorial.

Thanks guys. It makes it worth while doing it, when others get some use out of the information and if it helps to stir imagination.
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Nick Szegedi
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Re: The Process of Making a 3D Game Tile - Nexus Ops Tutoria
Yes- it looks awesome! My brother and I have been playing tons of Nexus Ops to hold us over until Starcraft hits.-
 
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Re: The Process of Making a 3D Game Tile - Nexus Ops Tutorial
Matt, the tiles look fantastic, and having the generosity of running us through the process is awesome - thanks very much!

Giles.

-very inspiring!

PS - can you post some pictures when you've painted them?
 
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Lord Zogat
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Re: The Process of Making a 3D Game Tile - Nexus Ops Tutorial
caradoc wrote:
Matt, the tiles look fantastic, and having the generosity of running us through the process is awesome - thanks very much!

Giles.

-very inspiring!

PS - can you post some pictures when you've painted them?

Absolutly! The painting process used will be dry brushing in layers using acrylics. I have an entire tutorial for that when I sell my unpainted Catan Tiles. They were pictured in the first thread where I asked if there would be interest in 3d tiles. Or they can be found under the settlers of catan images.

The dry brushing technique allows small amounts of paint to pick up on the details of the tiles. By using colors that vary slightly from the base, it makes the details stand out with a nice blended texture.

To me this is the easiest way to paint. You just have to know which order to layer your colors in order to get the desired look. Generally the main feature of the tile should always be painted first, then decorative highlights and colors second.

In the case of some tiles, Lighter colors must be done first and then darker colors second with a steady hand. As most acrylic paints are fairly transparent, it does matter what order you do your painting in. Also the order may be determined by the complexity of the section to be painted.

For instance in the Magma Tile. I will have to do all of the lava first as it shows up in between all of the cracks on the tile and is a lighter color. Then when I do the blackened rocks, I will have to be careful not to have paint touch the lava as that darker color cannot be easily painted over. Also if I was to try and get the lava painted after doing the rocks it would be nearly impossible.

Acrylics dry fast, so remember if you make a slip and get color on another area you don't want, smother it fast with water and wash it out.

But I will get to all that as best as I can, and will probably steal the write up I already have on painting catan tiles.

---------------------

Tips! Sweet...lol thanks.

Still working on the tutorial, but we are now into the stages that have longer wait times for the next step to proceed.

---------------------

Sorry guys, setting a new mold tonight, hopefully I can continue with this soon.

The new molds have set and are finnaly what I am after..more to come soon.
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Lord Zogat
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Re: The Process of Making a 3D Game Tile - Nexus Ops Tutorial
Ok continuing with the process now that the main mold is ready after all that delay...sorry.
 
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Robert Wilson
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nice work!
 
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Great Tutorial, man !!! Can't wait to see the final board
 
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Incredible work! Your passion is obvious. Please, keep amazing us
 
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Ronald Estes
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Exceptional tutorial and a beautiful result!
 
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Great stuff!
 
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You win at BGG.
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Lord Zogat
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Thanks everyone, glad your enjoying the process. Well time to turn some focus to another 3D tile for Axis & Allies.

I will perhaps consider designing other tiles as time permits. 4 - 5 hobbies are fighting for my free time.
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This was a great tutorial Matt, thanks so much for sharing your ideas with us so well!! The tiles you have made are fantastic!!

Cheers.

Giles.
 
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Lord Zogat
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Thanks again. I believe I will start a Nexus Ops Monolith next as there seemed to be a cry for a new one.

It will be regular tile sized and have some form of frame structure so it can be seen through.

To give oyu an idea of other 3D tiles used for other games, check out the Axis and Allies Tiles i have finished to help bring a 3D look to that game.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/230875

This just may give you an idea of how you can use your imagination to make tiles for multiple games.
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Paul Bryant
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Amazing work for sure. I can only imagine how awesome game of Nexus Ops would look with all the tiles done this well.

My question though is do the little people stand up on these Ok? It seems like they may have a bit of trouble.
 
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Kevin Beckey
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Have you already made the monolith? That center piece is in desparate need of a 3-D rendering!
 
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Paul, the general idea about the tiles is that they would mainly have a flat surface, but not perfectly flat, such that they allow me to design the terrain of the tile. I had never invisioned having all the game pieces being able to stand up on the tile.

I have been working on a 3D monolith that would be practical to make, mold and reproduce with as little problems as possible for shiping. Its not easy to do nevermindc make it cool looking.

The other thing is perhaps I should make some designs out of card board, developing rough Form and Structure, then desugn the pieces from there, fleshing them out and making them look cool! Hey I have an idea.

I am going to start a new Post for this!!! A design competition which can be found at the following thread!

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1899362#1899362
 
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Lord Zogat
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Its been a while. But I have finally played this game with family. Designing an entire set of 3D larger sized tiles in finally in the works.

I will be working on this over the next few weeks or months as time permits.

The surfaces will not be dead flat, so bits may not stand up in all places of the tile.
 
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Not perfectly flat is fine as long as there are large flat spot that the peices can stand on. Not all of them actually need it.
 
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Lord Zogat
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I feel bad as this project was sidetracked again...sorry guys.
 
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Looks great! Very nice work. I've been wanting to make some custom tiles for memoir 44.
 
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