Saturday, December 15, 2007

Anatomy of a Rifle Pit

Earlier this on the way to Historicon 2007, I visited some of the wonderful battlefields up around that area (Petersburg, Spotslvania, Fredricksburg, Bull Run). Among the pictures I took were of some of the fortifications there, in anticipation that sometime soon I would want to model some of these for my 10mm Civil Wargame.

The biggest question I had was "How do I do that ?". The answer is to mold and cast my own, of course ! I figured I'd try something easy- like an open-backed rifle pit.

A good friend of mine showed me how to make molds and castings and I am indebted to him for his advice- so its all his fault if this fails miserably and not mine due to lack of artistic talent ! :D

Step one is to get some modeling clay (the type that does not harden completely and can be re-worked again and again) and a surface to work it. I am using a cyramic tile, with a hex image (3" hexes that I use) drawn on for reference.

First you work the clay into the rough image of a breastwork. that fits inside the hex properly. I also made it so that my cannon fit properly and my infantry can fire over the top. For tools, I use a 3/4" piece of thin sheet metal that is 5" long for smoothing and flattening, and a sharp razor blade for detail work.

After roughly squaring the sides of the earthwork with the piece of metal, I scoured in the "logs" with the razorblade. Then I worked the posts out of a separate piece of clay, using the razor blade to make them more or less squared off. I inserted the posts at the ends and where the sides meet. After about 20 min, this is what I had.

I am not sure how much this shows up in the picture. but I textured the outside using an old toothbrush. I also pressed a square wooden-floor like plate (actually from one of my 10mm cannons) into the bottom of the breastwork. This actually will give the opposite effect when I create the mold, but since the scale is so small, it should not be too noticible that the boards actually go "into" the ground instead of resting on top of it. I just liked the texture effect. I will see how it looks on the final product (you really need to over-detail things so that the mold will pick up the details).

Step two is casting a mold of this "master". It is from the mold I will be able to cast up copies of this original piece of "work". More on this later........