Saturday, February 28, 2015


I'm giving up on this for a little bit. Maybe I shouldn't have tried working on this after being up late the night before.

It's just too fiddly, and that will never work. If everyone used a robo-cutter, maybe. Even then, I think I'll need six more iterations to get all the pieces to just fit right.

I've lost my motivation for the weekend.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Building some prototypes... I love it and I hate it!

I'm continuing to work with the idea that you make a cardstock template that will lift up the face of the tile, and there will be post connectors and tile connectors that can slip together. I've turned the slots on the post connectors 45 degrees, so they go in diagonally.

[see the booboo I made?]

I did my first test on one side of a 6" tile using a single cardstock template to lift up the face. That, as I suspected, didn't give me enough room to easily slip the posts in place. Wiggling it a little with the tip of my craft knife allowed me to get things in place. Snug fit, but I guess that's a good thing.

[First face done... Sloppy, but a learning experience...]
I'm trying now with two layers of cardstock to lift the face. I'll also see about edging the darn thing BEFORE gluing... You'd think this was the first build I've ever done!

Oh, and lesson learned. Don't have GIMP print transparent regions... it chooses BLACK, not WHITE. :(

[...time passes...]

 [A corner post connector in place]

[A corner post inserted on the connector]

[A top-down view of the tile with a corner and side connector, and a tile connector]

[Closer view of the connectors in place]

Ok. I screwed up a lot, but it came out ok. First, with 2x cardstock, it all goes together nicely. I think it'll be easier to hand-cut than robo-cut, honestly, simply because you can glue to sheets of cardstock together first, then cut them at the same time, rather than having to robo-cut two pages, then get them lined up perfectly. If you robo-cut, you can always trim any bits that don't line up great.

Second, my cutfiles had a booboo, so I fixed it by hand after gluing the pieces together.

Then, I printed my floor from GIMP rather than from Silhouette Studio. This means I didn't have the cutlines on it to guide my cutting of the corner/edge squares... Oh, and I printed from gimp with almost all of the image transparent. That means I got a 6" tile and the rest of the page was printed pure black. Ugh. That made it even harder to cut the tile properly... I ended up about 1/32" too small in each direction.

Since I had no cutting guide, but I needed to cut the corners and edges off, I glued the spacer cardstock to the face first. That let me cut the corners and edges out at roughly the right side. Roughly... They're a little wonky.

Then, to mount it to the foamcore, I used spray glue on the whole back of the cardstock, which meant I had to wipe clean the areas I didn't want glue. Not that bad, but it took time.

Only after it was assembled did I realize that I really should have edged everything. :-P

But now that it's together, it looks really nice.

I might make the posts (and connectors) a bit bigger, which would bring them closer to TLX compatible. Actually... I just slipped some of my TLX posts onto my connectors, and with walls inserted, they pretty much stay in place. I will continue to experiment with this.

[This is my new tile with some of my kitbashed TLX walls attached.]

Note that I didn't bother edging the tiles. I'm not sure folks really care that much. Adding edging adds unnecessary complexity. I think if you have exposed edges, I could convince myself that a plug-in railing system would work well.

Pictures tomorrow.

Notes to self: 
1) Try making the posts 1/16" bigger (and the holes to cut)...
2) Consider a slotted post rather than using pins... Consider flat walls rather than boxes...
3) Make the post connectors shorter... 
4) Post connectors should be textured at least with black gradient around possibly exposed areas.
5) If the post connectors were rectangles rather than triangles, they'd fold flat!
6) Make a template for printing on plain copy paper for cutting the tile and for placing the textures. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Want to try something new?

I haven't had a chance to try any of this. Tuesdays are a late day getting home for me, so I tried to hurry through making some template files. I haven't textured them yet, but it would be enough to get the idea... Tomorrow I will buy some cheap cardstock and try this out. I fear that I've designed this for 3/16" foamcore, and I really need to convert it to be for 5mm foamcore instead - just a tiny bit thicker.

Anyway, here's a link to my dropbox folder containing random stuff.

There's a README.txt file there that you can look at. The idea that I'm going with right now (thank you rambinator!) is to wrap the tile with pieces that will serve to create the gaps for the tabs of the posts. Then, you can attach a flat piece to both faces of the tile - double sided!

I worry about a couple things... yes - the pieces that wrap the tiles are not the most fun to cut out. I don't think there's much I can do to prevent that. Still, this method allows for both faces of the tile to potentially be covered with texture, and it will be *flat* - no anchors poking up. I don't think it will lend itself well at all to speed mounting. At least TLX allowed for that - you could put anchors anywhere you want. FDG, too, lets you poke holes anywhere in the masterboard. Not so much with this...

I also worry about the durability of the slots. I can't predict how it will go - I'll have to just try it.

Lastly, I worry that one layer of spacer isn't enough. I think I need two. And if I need two, I'm not sure the easiest way to do that.

If you feel like being brave and randomly cutting stuff, try hitting me up on Steam chat (mproteau) or Skype (michael.a.proteau) if you run into trouble. If you're not feeling so ambitious, no worries. I will get around to building this soon enough. First I have to clean my office. :(

Office is clean(er)! An ambitious soul (thanks again, rambinator!) tried it out, and it's not gonna work as is. I'm whipping up a new design right now and will try to make a tile tonight. It'll be hand-textured since I'm not feeling like fighting with my printer (assuming it won't cooperate...)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Here are some pictures to show off what I'm trying to, er, show off...

Keep in mind, all of this was quickly hand-sketched and hand cut...

So, I started by sketching out where posts and tabs will go. The darkened in rectangles would be where I'd want to put tile texture. I then cut out two 6"x6" cardstock blanks and glued them together. I started laying down all the lines so that I could figure out where to cut. In reality, you'd just print a page with the cutting guide already on it, sandwich two pages together, then just cut rectangles out.

Then, I cut out a page that represents what would wrap around the tile. This would be totally textured.

That's just a closeup to show you that I've removed some chunks from the page. I printed this on plain copy paper, so it's flimsy. It'd have been easier to cut (a) if I had printed a guide, and (b) I was using a straight edge... :)

In theory I'd glue the cardstock template above to the inside of this guy, but for prototyping, I just stacked it all together onto the foamcore:

So, there would be holes for posts to slip in, and holes for tabs to slip in. Again, I'm kind of counting on this being more rigid with actual card stock. If the tab holes don't work out, there's always the idea of putting foamcore tabs in the sides...

Here's a post and a tab. The tab is 2x thick cardstock. I am not sure, but I suspect it is a strong enough joint for most builds. I'd have to test it at scale. The post is a mere 1/4" thick. I was going to have the top closed, with holes for pins, but it was too fiddly, and since I cut this out by hand, I was lucky it folded together at all. The top end was a little wide, so it got all mushed while I attempted to force it in place...

 You can see there's a bottom tab sticking out. That slips into the corner. The space created allows it to fit in snugly. On it's own, the post might seem a little wobbly, but with a wall or two attached to it, it should be plenty rigid.
So, once I feel more ambitious (my office is a tiny room, and is a mess right now, so it saps my will to build) I'll do up my new floors and walls in this style, actually following a cutting guide, and see how it call comes together.

But, that illustrates the basic idea of what I'm trying out.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I haven't thought this through yet, but an idea struck me...

So I had this image of posts 1/4" in size maybe and on the bottom would be a tab that stuck out in one direction. Then, tiles would be made such that the corners where the posts would go would be about 3 cardstock thicknesses lower than the rest of the tile. There'd be a riser attached to the cardstock that wraps the tile that is 2 layers of cardstock thick. It would be designed so that the tab on the bottom of the posts would slip under the texture and hopefully stay in place. Then, walls could be pinned to the posts, or maybe they'd slot together kinda TLX-like.

I'm thinking you could print a template onto plain copy paper and paste that into foamcore. That would give you a gluing guide for the corner textures and where to put the riser in the middle. Then, you'd rap the whole thing in cardstock.

Rather than having foamcore tabs to connect the tiles, just use 2x thickness cardstock tabs.

I realize anyone reading this probably can't follow my babbling, but I'll be able to remember it tomorrow, and I'll be able to try it out pretty quickly. Could this be a workable solution for having NO ANCHORS, and even NO TABS? That would mean just cutting the foamcore tiles square without notches for tabs... We'll see.

Spent a few minutes on the floor

Just a quick update about where I'll be stopping with the floors. I'll do 3", 6" and hallway floors that include layers like this:

A little trap door, and some blood stains. I will possibly make layers to position the trap door in a place or two, but I'll also offer the door as a simple square cutout that you can put on an existing tile using some tacky stuff. The rug would be available as a layer in a place or two, but it'll also be a separate floor 'token'.

I should return back to doing 3" walls and posts next, but I'm done for the day!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tile tutorial video - a first for me!

I posted a video to YouTube that shows how I did the floorboard TLX grid. Y'all can check it out here:

I tried to keep it short, and I hope you find it useful!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Inching along with the new tlx house

I did the grunt work today of getting all the layers in place, so I have the pieces parts for all the variants of the 6" wall. I started working on a floor tile, again using some stock photo base. I spent most of the time straightening things out and now I'm lining the boards up with 1" and 1.5" grids. After that, I'll drop in some seams and see how it looks.

The lower one was actually about where I was stopping, but then I tweaked the color because it was so darn yellow. So, I'll darken the lines that align with the grids, and will come up with seams that divide the boards.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Multiple layers - when is it too much?

I'm looking at my 6" walls, and here's what I see. First, I'm chopping the 6" wall into three sections. I'm not sure if this is the best idea because it won't line up great with a grid. I'll have to see how I feel. I might end up with 5 positions for things...

So, let's do the math for if there's three positions. Three door types means 9 layers. I've got one style of window, and I will make it so I either have one or two of them within each 1/3rd. So, that's 6 more layers. I created a layer with a thinner wooden beam to be used on its own or between the double windows. So, 3 more layers. I added a variant where you can have stone at the bottom of the wall, and there's a wooden beam that acts as a border to it. That's 6 more layers. So, 24 layers? Oh. Registration marks. 26 layers.

That's without any wall decorations (torches/sconces, tapestries, art, whatever... I couldn't really come up with anything I really wanted on the walls...)

So, I'm wondering how big this file will be, how slow it will be to use, etc.  I'll just have to try it to find out. If I go with five positions for things, I'll likely treat that as a separate pdf - one for three spots, one for two spots. Though, I suppose I could rely on 3" walls handling the two spot version, right?

I'm starting to think about a small prop set to go with this. Maybe some simple tables, chairs, fire pit, boxes, barrels... stuff. We'll see.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

More experimentation

I'll lead with the pictures, then go all long winded on you...

Ok... what is this all about? I'm going to try to get a simple TLX set together. House parts. A couple walls, a couple floors, and a roof. Nothing fancy. Maybe... MAYBE stairs. I want to see how long it will take me to put something simple together. I want it to be fairly small - maybe something worth only a couple bucks rather than the $10+ that most sets would go for. Am I hoping to sell this? Well...

... I mean, sure, it'd be neat if I could get a new product on the WWG storefront, but I also need practice with making this stuff. So, maybe. But I want to find out if people like what I'm doing, and I want some idea for how much effort needs to go into it. I figure a simple set like this might take me a week to put together.

The walls I've done today - we're talking maybe 2 hours of interrupted work using some free photography that's been bent to do my bidding. I'm not thrilled with the proportions of the beams. I think I'd make them all wider. But, it's not TERRIBLE. I will hunt down some things to hang on the wall and declare it more or less done. I will probably keep the textures similar on both sides, making interior walls sans stone, and I'll make archways, and different positions for the windows and doors. Can you say layers?

Making a roof is time consuming but not difficult. I've done it several times over, so I'm confident I can do that. I need some floors, but now that I've got my magic scripts, that's only a few minutes of work. Not sure what kind of floor I want, but probably wide wooden planks.

You like?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

So what exactly have I been up to?

I've been quiet here for a couple reasons. First, my printer was giving me fits, which was making it hard for me to make progress on some Cathedrae Noctis conversion efforts. I got my printer chugging along again, but I switched gears and started printing and cutting some of the Okumarts minis I had made cutfiles for. SEVEN SETS of minis. I can't get enough of them! I've also started running a 5th edition D&D game for my kids and their friends. It's starting out slow - mostly hard to get everyone together all at once.

So, that's kinda partly some of why I haven't been posting.

The other reason is that I've been trying to communicate with the WorldWorks Games folks about the future of their company and the forums. I have offered up some ideas, and they have expressed that they're willing to talk things through with me, but my goodness they are TERRIBLE at responding in a timely fashion. I'm not talking instant messaging here. I'm pretty it is faster to hand-write and snail-mail letters to people than it is to get one email back from them. I'm giving them another week to see if we can't fix this communication barrier. If that doesn't work, it might be the final nail in the coffin for my relationship with the place. That makes me sad enough to get in the way of crafting more stuff.

I'll start posting more of the gory details about this stuff once I've had a back-and-forth with them and see where things will go.