Sunday, June 5, 2011

Yo Ho. Yo Ho. It's an Astral Privateer's Life for Me...

This time, the delay since my last post has had less to do with my ADHD, and more to do with the simple lack of anything to post. :)

However, as of yesterday's D&D game, I finally have what I need.

Behold, the Bloody Bucket.

Starting with the deck plans for The Sable Drake, from WotC's D&D3.5e Stormwrack sourcebook, I used Photoshop to mold them to our needs. This was a rather drawn-out process, since to do this the way I wanted to, I first needed to remove all the added details on those deck plans (especially all the stuff contributing to difficult terrain on the main deck), so I spent a lot of time using the Clone Stamp tool.

Once I had everything cleared away so that there was only the deck planks and 1" grid lines, I started working with the decks themselves, to make them the size I wanted. After making the main deck wider, to conform to Craig's request for the size of the ship, I was dissatisfied with how it looked, since making it wider also stretched the deck-plank design wider. So, I ended up deleting all the details of that deck except for the borders of the hull, and then proceeded to use the Clone Stamp tool to add the deck planks back in, at their original width, so that they would match the decks below. I'll admit that this was an unnecessary step, and it likely would have gone unnoticed, but working on it at the time, it just looked sloppy, so I made the time investment so that I would be more satisfied with the work. I then ended up resizing the lower deck and the hold, so I gave them the same treatment.

Once the deck-plank pattern was back in place on all decks (including the Crow's Nest), I added the interior walls back in, dropped in the location of the masts, put in the features and furniture from the original plans (and added a few extra pieces), and then put in the 1" grid. Craig and I spent some time on an "off" Saturday to cut them out and mount them on chipboard.

Here is the result:

As you can see, even though the lower deck and hold are thinner and shorter than the upper deck, they are mounted on chipboard pieces that match the size of the upper deck, just to give vertical consistency to the model and improve overall stability.

After that, I set about putting the masts in place. I originally chose 7/16" diameter dowels to work with, however, once I started to look for a way to both secure the masts in place, but also allow them to be removed easily, it forced me to go down to 3/8" dowels. Once I made that switch, I was able to use 1/4" copper pipe couplings, which the 3/8" dowels fit snuggly into. I'd have liked the couplings to have been a bit longer... 2" would have been very nice, but I had to settle for the 1" long couplings that are available. There were other options available, such as buying a length of plastic pipe that would snuggly fit around the 7/16" dowels, but I didn't feel like doing a lot of pipe cutting. Using the 3/8" dowels and 1/4" couplings worked well.

I cut 3/8" holes in the Hold deck where the mast positions were indicated, then glued the Hold deck down to an extra piece of chipboard cut the same size as the other decks. That gave the whole model a smooth base, while still allowing me to have a stable base to put the couplings into. Some glue held them in place.

Then I cut similar holes in the Lower Deck and Upper Deck, adjusting those holes so that the decks would properly slide down over the couplings.

Here's everything stacked and inserted, with yardarms added and the Crow's Nest in place.

I drilled holes in the masts just under where I wanted the yardarms, and inserted smaller dowels through there, for the chipboard yardarms to rest on, to give them increased stability. A small dowel supporting a wooden disk holds the Crow's Nest in place.

Originally, I had planned for the option to raise the decks up along the masts, likely using couplings to accomplish this, so that we could manipulate miniatures on multiple decks, while allowing the decks to be lowered flat again for ease of use and storage of the model. The idea added an unnecessary (but cool) level of detail, but ultimately failed when I first noticed that the Forecastle and Quarterdeck had no connection to the masts. Oops.

Well, in talking it over with Craig, we decided that it really wasn't necessary to raise the decks up. If we needed to access the lower decks, for some kind of ship-wide combat, we would just separate the decks and lay them out side-by-side. However, it would add a level of coolness if I raised at least the Forecastle and Quarterdeck. We accomplished this in our first session of the campaign simply by inserting one of the Dungeon Tile 3D pieces from Harrowing Halls under each.

Taking those pieces home with me, I set to work in Photoshop creating 1" tall sides of those decks, and once I had it all printed out and mounted on chipboard, I changed the stairs so that they were set 1/2" up the side of the deck. We both agreed that it would be very fitting with the pirate/swashbuckler style of the campaign to have the stairs arranged like that, so that you could have a fight up and down the stairs like we see so often in the movies.

The image at the top of this post shows the final work, but here are closeups of the Forecastle and the Quarterdeck.

If you look closely, you can see that I also added a rim around the top of each piece. The same rim is around the Crow's Nest. During our first session, Josh's character, up in the Crow's Nest, was always falling off if we happened to bump a mast when moving minis around. The rim makes the mini lean in towards the middle of the piece, thus minimizing "man overboard" incidences.

You can also see that I made some ballista tiles and some bombard tiles.

I have to admit, I'm really proud of this model. It has a few rough-spots. The stairs ended up being a little bit off, and the back of the quarterdeck could have turned out better, but overall, this turned out really cool, and I had lots of fun putting it together.

I'm still tempted to make some cloth sails to go on it, but it has been rightly pointed out already that they would only serve to be another thing we catch our hands on while move minis around, so we'll make do without. :)

Related Posts:
Keeping My Game Afloat, Part 1
Keeping My Game Afloat, Part 2
Keeping My Game Afloat, Part 3
Keeping My Game Afloat, the Finalé

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this! This is an amazing project, and I am impressed with the work that went into it. Bravo!

    Growing Up Gamers