Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Frostgrave: Building an Illuminated Well of Dreams and Sorrows

   I recently constructed an illuminated fountain to use in the Frostgrave "Well of Dreams and Sorrows" scenario, and I thought I would share a step-by-step process of how it was assembled.
     It all began during a trip to the local Dollar Tree store, where I found this nifty battery operated LED light set and these crystal snowflakes.  They gave me an idea for some sort of courtyard with glowing crystals growing in it.
     I then picked up this large wizard figure in a trade, thinking I would use it as a statue; but then I started to think about the possibility of having water shoot from his hands and turn it in to a fountain of some sort.
   It didn't take long for those two ideas: the crystal courtyard, and the wizard fountain, to come together as a single plan in my mind.
   I began construction by making a cork base out of two 6"x 6" cork tiles. I then glued tin foil on it to help with the reflection of the LED lights.  I then added cork walls on the sides and made a divider for where the battery pack would sit.  Next, I added cork risers to support the floor of the fountain's courtyard.
      I made the courtyard out of foamcore, and scribed paving stones on it.   I also cut out the well for the fountain from a roll of thin cork sheeting I had, and glued that in place.  I had earlier glued the wizard to a plaster disc, and sprayed the combined pieces with gray primer.
    I made a deck for the fountain, to cover the battery pack, and scribed that as well.  I then punched holes in the courtyard for where I was going to put the crystals, then glued the courtyard and fountain deck into place.  I then cut a semi-circular piece out of a translucent surface cutting protector I had, to make an under-surface for the fountain's basin.
   I made a fake cork wall to fit in the back of the battery compartment, to finish this part of the build.
    I then worked on the turning the wizard into a fountain.  First, I drilled a small hole in each of his hands then ran thin clear filament through them, (I don't know if its specifically fishing line, as it is what came with a string of beads on it that my wife bought at the craft store for jewelry making. But it looked close enough to fishing line for my purposes!), and glued them to the hands with super glue. I then looped the lower end of the upper filament around the lower filament and spread superglue over the joint.
     At this time I also made sure all the seams around the courtyard were well sealed with glue, so no light would leak out.  I spread a sand and grit mixture around the edges as well, to help seal them up.
     When the superglue dried, I clipped the filaments where they came out of the the back sides of the hands so they were flush and would be hidden when I painted the wizard, which I did next.  I then put this aside  and worked on painting the fountain and courtyard.  I painted the courtyard black first to help contain the light; then everything was painted dark gray and then drybrushed with lighter grays.
     When the fountain and courtyard paint were dry, I glued the wizard in place and glued the loose end of the filament to the translucent surface of the fountain.   When these was dry, I spread Woodland Scenics Water Effects on the filament  to make it look like streams of water, and put a layer of Water Effects in the fountain basin.  
     I also cut up sections of the crystal snowflake and made some small crystal outcroppings to stick in the courtyard.  I was very happy to discover that the clear snowflake plastic worked well with my Plastruct plastic cement.   I then used some of the Water Effects to glue these crystal outcroppings into the holes I had made earlier in the courtyard.
     The final step was to apply "Snow" and some icicles here and there around the piece to help it blend with my other Frostgrave terrain.
Shown with Reaper's Anirion, Wood Ef Wizard, for scale.
      Here's a look at the finished fountain illuminated with the room lights turned off:
   And here, with the lights in the room on, you can still see a bit of the illumination:
    Here's a look at the hidden battery compartment door:
     I'm really please with how this turned out. It's very much as I had envisioned it to be at the start.  I can't wait to get to use it in a game.
     In case anyone wants to do something similar, here are a few things I'd do differently if I was to do this again:  First, I'd pay more attention to making sure the LED lights matched up with where the crystal holes would be;  I just kind of jammed the lights in and hoped for the best.  I would also line the underside of the courtyard deck with foil as well, to help get more light reflection underneath.  Lastly, I would paint the inside of the fountain before I sealed it up with the translucent under-surface I glued on.  It doesn't look bad, but I wish I had panted it the same gray that I painted everything else, or perhaps black.  As it was, I didn't think to do this until too late.