Green Fairy Studios
I am currently embroiled in an epic casemod project, the Cygnar Storm Strider! The Storm Strider is a model available in the Privateer Press game Warmachine. I've decided to make a case in the same vein as the minitature sculptors by casting the individual parts through the lost-foam process.
My planning is ad hoc at best. Iâ€™ve got my sizes and plans all jotted out on paper and youâ€™ll probably see my drunken scrawl on the large master documents I have hanging in my basement. But for now here are a few of the details:
- Going to try to keep the case in scale with the dimensions provided in Privateerâ€™s concept art.
- I have to utilize some of the computer parts I already have in my current computer (screw you economy). With no sponsor, this all comes out of pocket and the bulk of my money is going to pay for the scrap aluminum. This means at a minimum I am using:
o my current videocard (a Radeon)
o a spare 500gb HDD
o my current power supply (1000w)
I will probably end up buying:
o mobo - ASAS Maximus Gene-Z - Purchased
o a I-7 2600k (LGA1155) - Purchased
o memory - 16GB DDR3 1600
- This case will stand about 33inches or 84cm tall
- The legs, dome, and lightning coils will be made using the lost-foam casting process.
- I will work this project as though I have a 80 (now 50) day deadline but will continue if I miss it.
For the sake of your bandwidth, I will break up a couple of these posts so I'm not flooding this forum with large pictures.
Now, onto the Creation and Progress!!!
I decided to start with the biggest time sinks for this project... the foam prep for lost-foam casting. There are going to be 4 main part-areas that will be cast in aluminum using lost-foam casting: Legs, Shin plates, Lightning Coils, and the Dome. There might be other pieces and detail parts that I might cast but I'll be creating those as the need arises.
First thing I did was take an image of the actual miniature for perspective shots and the concept art and crop and blow up the images for basic patterns to use. I'm using these as pattern for the shape and general idea of the parts. I did take some artistic liberties and changed some of the depths and design to work with casting and function. Next I started tracing the pattern shapes onto 2" (sorry I'm a backwards American and recorded everything in inches) blue closed cell foam. Then I sketched out and created the base plate onto .25" foam core.
In the above image you can see my first attempt at creating the coils. I messed around with how I was going to create the coils. I knew I was going to have to create the coils in two parts so that I could properly core the coils for lighting. So I was going to have to have two equal and matching parts that have two unique sides. I originally cut the coil shapes directly out of the blue foam. Then I realized that it was going to be nearly impossible to make the two halves from a single pie. Then I realized it was going be equally difficult making each half match while carving each separately. Finally (and successfully) I was able to create a process for making both halves match by rounding two parts into cylinders at the maximum diameter of each coil. See the stages for both the coils and the legs below:
Iâ€™ve been designing the enclosure under the idea that Iâ€™d be using a micro-ATX board with my current video card tilted horizontally with a flexible PCI express extender cable. Iâ€™ve arranged it so the motherboard location can be moved on the base plate if I go with a different model/brand. Iâ€™ve also designed the enclosure to work with any single graphics card that is no bigger than 11â€x5â€x3.5â€ and left the possibility to add a second videocard. If I canâ€™t find a suitable/economic replacement, Iâ€™ll be using my own graphics card which easily fits within those dimensions. The globe will be cast and either welded or bonded to an aluminum plate cover. The base plate will be made from a single aluminum plate. There will be 4â€ walls separating the base plate from the cover. These walls are still being designed for their stylization. Here are the progress shots for the mobo plate and top plate:
As mentioned before the lightning globe will be a cast piece. Basically, I simplified my workload by going to a local craft shop and picking up a 10â€ white foam flower arrangement globe (the elderly ladies always love it when visit the craft shop, they flirt mercilessly). I bisected the globe and then quartered one half. I cored out the quarters with a dremel trying to maintain a consistent .5â€ thickness through the wall. As you can see, I also measured and eye-balled the placement of the rings. After I felt comfortable with the look and feel of the ring placement I made basic port-holes in the globe. Next I took some smaller white foam balls and sliced them in half, cored them, then reduced the halves until they made nice little rings. I used regular wood glue (that burned off well in the materials test) to attach the rings to the globe.
The lightning coils are the 3 coiled rods that sit on top of the Storm Strider. I spent time slowly carving and filing away at foam to get a decent shape. There are a couple of things that Iâ€™m taking into consideration when Iâ€™m sculpting these coils out:
- They donâ€™t need to be too detailed. Most of the details can be added once the coil is cast in aluminum. The aluminum is easier to work while doing minuscule details while the foam is more workable while removing large portions.
- The coil will be hollowed out to be lit up by LED. Because itâ€™s a casemod and whatâ€™s the fun of having a case without the lightshow?
- A small bridge might have to be added after the sculpting to allow the molten aluminum to reach all of the points in the mold.
The tools I used to create these foam coils:
- Exacto Blade
- Drywall sanding blocks (2 different grains, fine and very fine)
- Various files
- Foam Magic Wand (a variation of the hot wire, pictured in a previous update)
- Plenty of Painterâ€™s Tape
As stated in the previous update, each Lightning Coil will casted in 2 halves to allow access to the center for lighting. To simplify this process, I took 2 pieces with a center line drawn on both halves and pressed them together over some toothpicks. The toothpicks will give the model a little support when Iâ€™m working with them. I draw the maximum radius on both the top and both. Then I trace the outline of the lightning coil on both sides and set latitudes for each peak on the pattern. Next I begin carving down from the highest point trying to keep the circles symmetrical. After the general shapes begin to look right, I start planning out the coils. As you can see below, Iâ€™ve had to try several times to make sure the coils lined up and stay in proportion. Eventually I have to brave the point of no return and begin carving out the coil portion.
This process has taken a bit of time as you have to be careful when sanding and filing foam. If you tear the foam with a file, the foam pieces will cause you to tear more sections of foam. You also have to watch out with the pressure of your hands while hold the foam as that pressure can misshape the model. But the end product is worth it assuming the casting goes well.
Letâ€™s talk about the shin guards. Like I stated before, the shin guards are going to be separately casted pieces from the legs. Iâ€™m doing it this way to allow the shin guard to have lighting and to provide hidden wiring access to the shins.
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The next step is to prepare some of the foam pieces for casting. To do this I need to attach sprues and vents to the pieces to facilitate the casting process.