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Fort Duquesne Display - Part 2

In this article Ray discusses his basing techniques using particle board and cork, and the simulation of gardens and crops.

It helps in your modelling to go out and view how the land and water surfaces really look in nature, the outside bends of rivers are generally undercut and deep, the inside gentle and shallow. Take photos or make sketches.

Fort Duquesne Display - Part 2This image shows the particle board base, the painted water surface, and the first layer of cork.

For permanent display I make the model base out of particle board of either 1/2" or 5/8" thickness. The somewhat irregular surface of particle board lends itself to natural wave water modelling that is quite effective if you have water to model.

On the Ft. Sinclair model the topography was generally flat (this information was easily obtained from modern contour maps). The water surface elevation at the junction of the St. Clair and Pine Rivers is the same as that of nearby Lake Huron at 578 feet. The highest elevation of 590 feet on the model is the height of land between the Pine and the St. Clair along the South edge of the base, 12 feet in total. At the 1:112 scale this works out to a little over 1.25 inches. On the Ft. Sinclair model I used a combination of layered cork sheets of various thickness, cork tiles, and industrial cork pads attached with white glue to approximate the topography, road cuts, and earthworks.

Fort Duquesne Display - Part 2This is a good side view of the various layers of the Ft. Duquesne model, the bottom particle board, the lath spacer, the top particle board, and two sound board layers. This also shows the stair step layers of soundboard at the far right that comprised the slope to the river.

On the Ft. Duquesne model the difference in elevation between the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers and the top of the bench upon which the fort sat was a bit over 30 feet, which at the 1:112 scale is 3.25 inches. Since the top of the particle board base of this model was the water surface I used a second particle board spaced at the correct scale height for the lowest elevation of the fort which on a Vauban style fortification is the ditch. I cut out the center of the lower board hollowing out the model in effect to save on weight. Using two bases saves on much of the landscaping material which on this model was 5/8" soundboard, a fibrous compressed sawdust type of board that comes in 4'x 8' sheets. The useful qualities of soundboard are that its easy to cut and shape, brown in color, and the fibers can be raised with a drill mounted wire brush (a ready made field). Soundboard saves a step whereas a cork surface must have a covering.

Fort Duquesne Display - Part 2This shows the Vauban fortification topography achieved by the layers. On a cross-sectional diagonal from the left top corner to the lower right corner of the image you have the flood plain, the slope of the glacis starts just beyond the sharpened palisade up to the top of the ditch, then a drop down to the covered way and fire step, then a second drop to the bottom of the ditch (the top of the fort particle board) then a small rise to the base elevation of the place des arms upon which the bastions, curtain walls and stockade walls rise.

From there it's back down to the bottom of the ditch, the up to the covered way, then up again to the top of the ditch, then down the slope of the glacis to the edge of the top of the flood plain then down the slope to the water surface (the bottom particle board) just off the right side of the image.

A finished portion of field and garden.

Additional increments of elevation can be added with sheets of corrugated cardboard white glued to the cork or the soundboard. The base of the finished surface on my models is towelling, used towels with worn out threadbare sections are ideal - the uneven surfaces lends realism to the natural grass field effect.

Towels of chocolate brown are ideal but used white towels obtained from your home or from linen services dyed brown will do nicely. Glue the towels down with white glue. It helps immensely to make paper patterns to fit around buildings and to fill odd spaces in coverage. Towelling is then dry brushed with acrylic colors to paint the raised towel fibers to either spring green, summer green, or fall straw colors. Done correctly and with a light touch the upper part of the towel will be the color you choose and the bottom earth brown.

Fort Duquesne Display - Part 2This shows the old towelling "grass" being applied to the cork base with white glue. The mixed textured towels make great garden plots. Towels were dyed brown, then lightly brushed green, this gives the base a brownish color and the towel fibers a green grass color. The towelling is finished with various flocking materials and shredded foam.

If soundboard is used the fibers can be raised and the seams between the soundboard and toweling camouflaged with flocking materials and shredded foam. The soft nature of the underlying subsurface of soundboard or cork allows you to add trees relatively easily by using an awl to punch holes right through the towelling and into the subsurface. White glue the trunks and poke into the holes.

Another great use for cork is for modelling rock outcrops. Industrial composite sheets can be layered and carved then spray painted in various shades of gray, brush painted with a black wash to highlight the cracks, then flocked and dry brushed for the desired lichen and weathering effects.

Fort Duquesne Display - Part 2This shows the completed terrain surface. The topography of the cork glacis is seen by its shadow about the perimeter of the ditch around the blockhouse and stockade walls at the bottom of the image. The fort's towel gardens are surrounded by snake fencing. The corn field to the right of the fort is achieved by individual awl holes with fly fishing dubbing material (similar to pipecleaners) white glued into them. Apple orchard in lower right hand corner was done also with trees inserted into awl holes.

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