Tutorial: Foamboard house

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Trystero
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Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by Trystero » Mon May 29, 2017 6:28 am

Hi all,

So this has taken longer for me to get around to than first anticipated, but here it is. In this tutorial I'll try to do a step by step for creating this foamboard house. Please keep in mind it isn't finished, I have yet to clean up the rougher parts with plaster, add tiles or slats to the roof and have not even considered how I'm going to paint it. All in all, the house up to this stage has probably taken about an hour and a half to make, but that doesn't include drying time for glue.

I apologise for the sideways pictures, I'll do the rest of the tutorial from my computer and that won't be an issue.
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Last edited by Trystero on Mon May 29, 2017 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Trystero
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Re: Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by Trystero » Mon May 29, 2017 7:20 am

Before you start
Below are some of the items I've been using to build my houses. You can make do with just these for now but I'll make comments if there are other ways to do things as I get to them.

WARNING:
Children should not attempt this project. There is a lot of knife work and people attempting this project should expect to cut themselves.
Additionally, this project should not be done around animals and small children as the smaller pieces of foamboard and use of PVA glue could pose a choking or digestive hazard.
A filtration mask should be worn to prevent breathing in of any really small, particulate bits of foamboard.
Lastly, a cutting mat should be used to protect table and work surfaces.

What you'll need:
- A sturdy, thin, knife. Ideally like the one shown as it will cut deep into the foamboard.
- A scalpel style hobby knife for precision work
- A ruler with inches and cm (a smaller one is handy to have too)
- A pencil (though this is optional, the scalpel is better for marking out cutting points).
- Toothpicks
- PVA glue (this size is good for precision)
- Insulation/foamboard (look at the foamboard table forum topic for details on this)
- Balsa (I got an assorted pack; however, thin sheet balsa might be better)
- A cutting mat (can get them fairly cheaply from lincraft/spotlight I think)
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Trystero
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Re: Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by Trystero » Mon May 29, 2017 12:44 pm

1. First up you'll want to work out where you want the building. I've decided to put mine in the location shown in the picture below. I want a gap large enough between it and the other terrain pieces to fit most models. I used an offcut in a rough rectangle as the base shape for the house but feel free to measure something out. Keep in mind, higher up levels in your building may extend beyond this base size (recommended), so try to account for any interference that may occur and either make your base floor smaller or move it accordingly.

2. Once your base size has been decided, it's time to cut out another layer. This is dependent on the thickness of the foamboard. Mine was 30mm so I wanted each building level to be 60mm to approximate for the equivalent height of a room compared to a standard 28mm model. Place the first layer against some larger foamboard piece and lightly trace out the outline of the first. I used the scalpel and did not push it in - you can manage with the weight of the blade alone. Pushing too hard can tear the foamboard.

3. Once scored, remove the first block of foamboard and very carefully cut into the outline you've traced. Keeping the blade edge as flat as possible tends to produce better results than perpendicular to the foam. In this step we are aiming only to cut in about 2-3mm. You may need to cut over the line a few times to get this deep, depending on how sharp your blade is. The sharper the blade is, the less likely it'll tear the foam. Be careful to keep your hands away from the path of the blade.
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Step 3.
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PeteDG
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Re: Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by PeteDG » Mon May 29, 2017 3:02 pm

Loving this :)
"E'es not dyin' less I kills 'im!" - Bill Psyches

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Trystero
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Re: Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by Trystero » Mon May 29, 2017 3:17 pm

Step 4. Take the Stanley knife and carefully cut into the scored lines. The aim here is to make many, many cuts, taking off a mm at a time to ensure the foamboard doesn't tear. Keep the blade angle low as well.

Step 5. Once the block has been cut out score the two block surfaces where you intend to glue them together. This increases the surface area that the glue will bond to providing better adherence between the two surfaces. Do this for all flat surfaces that you stick together from here on out. Apply a thin layer of PVA glue (wood glue) to one scored surface. You don't need to go to the edges as when you squeeze them together the glue will spread out anyway.
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Step 4.
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Step 4. Continued: about 15 cuts after the previous picture.
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Step 5.
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Trystero
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Re: Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by Trystero » Mon May 29, 2017 3:34 pm

Step 6. This step is optional but recommended. After placing the two blocks against each other, toothpicks can be used to keep the pieces bound and prevent slippage. To do this, gently but firmly pinch the two blocks together in the place you want them (they will slip with the glue between them) and drive a toothpick into one facing - ensure you twist the toothpick as you push it in as this will again help prevent tearing or 'punching' a hole in the foamboard. You'll know if it's punching because you'll soon find it is resisting the foamboard with a springiness. Best to pull the pick out if this happens and try again in another spot. Leave about 10-15mm out if you intend to pin the building to a foamboard base (like I am doing in step 1). After the two pieces are pinned together with the toothpicks you can continue on with the next step, but it is best to wait for the glue to dry overnight ideally.
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Step 6.
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Trystero
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Re: Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by Trystero » Mon May 29, 2017 5:47 pm

Step 7. Let's make a door. Check again where you will be placing the building (if fixed in place like mine), and work out where you'll want the entrance to be. You can do the door a few ways. There are ways to mould and cast doors - see the forum topic on the original Twisted table to see what I'm talking about. Or you can make them with scored balsa strips. Or you can score straight into the foamboard like I'll demonstrate.

To make mine look less 2-dimensional, I have decided to recess the door. To do this first mark out the door by carefully cutting out the outline. You want to go about 1-2mm deep with these cuts.

Step 8. This is tricky to do but try to cut at an angle to clear out the door section. The aim is to have door recessed into the wall about 1-2mm. You'll have to do this each way and the centre of the door will be slightly rounded - we'll come to that. PLEASE BE SUPER CAREFUL WITH THIS STEP: you can very easily slip and cut yourself so take it slowly and keep your fingers and hands away from the path of the blade. To avoid tearing (it is very hard not to) try slicing downwards towards the bottom of the door as you go.

Once you've removed most of the foamboard from the doorway, push your thumb or finger into the doorway and flatten the rounded crest in the centre of the doorway - if there is one.
Attachments
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Step 7.
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Step 8.
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Trystero
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Re: Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by Trystero » Mon May 29, 2017 8:03 pm

Step 9. Once you've got the door recessed, it's time to carve some detail. Whenever I want to make something evenly spaced (I.e. approximately same thickness planks or stones) I make a cut in the centre and then keep splitting the remaining sections in half until I've got the thickness I want. So for this I started with the centre of the door and split the two halves again on each side. Make these cuts about 1-2mm thick.
Then you'll want to make a beam above the door, to hold stones from falling in when someone opens the door :P
Alternatively, you can make this an arch of smaller stones, but you'd need to make the doorway curved upwards at the top for this to look right.

To make these planks look like wood, really lightly scratch lines down the planks in a rough way (though try not to cross lines as best you can). These will (hopefully) look like wood grain when painted and inked later (fingers crossed).

Step 10. Start making lines for the stone bricks that make up the walls. To do this, carve lines (2-3mm) in straightish lines from one side to the other. I'd advise against using a ruler for these so that you get a more natural size variation. Keep the blade low and close to the foam, and probably use the Stanley knife for this.
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Step 9.
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Step 10.
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Trystero
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Re: Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by Trystero » Mon May 29, 2017 8:45 pm

Step 11. Turn the scalpel 90 degrees and run it close to the foam with the point in the grooves. This will get rid of the sharp edges of the bricks and help make them look more like worn stone.
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Step 11.
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Step 11. Continued
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Gonzoangel
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Re: Tutorial: Foamboard house

Post by Gonzoangel » Mon May 29, 2017 9:08 pm

Fantastic work.

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