For compositional purposes I wanted to use a raised piece of groundwork that would help draw the sight lines up and that would narrow towards the wide end of the tank and be wider at the narrow back of it. this would give emphasis to the bodywork and form of the vehicle while still giving me some space to add some landscape details and points of interest. It would also give the impression of forward movement.
As a competitive modeler an a judge, I cant emphasize enough how important good composition and interesting presentation are to separate your work from the competition.
Next up I started to carve into the layers of balsa foam. I wanted to add sunken track marks that would help to emphasise the weight of this contraption as well as to reinforce the nature of WW1 Trench warfare. The Fortin was designed to help cross the muddy shell pocked no mans land - pushing its way through barbed wire and shrugging off conventional small arms fire. To the right here is a photo I took In France of a section of No Mans Land - even now a hundred years later the effects of the shelling and digging upon the landscape are frighteningly impressive.
Therefore I wanted to include: Mud, Barbed Wire, Shell damage/craters, evidence of destroyed features from before the war, and a trench line. The tracks and pockmarks were easy to dig in to the balsa foam and then I just sealed them with some PVA foam glue. I took some Bass wood and used it to make some wooden posts, debris and the core of a shattered tree trunk. I built out the rest of the tree and its roots using Super Sculpey. Finally I made some Barbed wire support pigtails like the ones I had seen when touring the battlefields of Europe out of wire.
Next I broke out the Celluclay - a strong powdered paper mache that is great for making textures. I applied a coat of it to the balsa foam to give a real churned mud texture. It also let me smooth out the seams between the layers of foam. This also allowed me to build even greater depth into the surface and imbed the tree so that it looked like it had grown out of the landscape instead of being placed on top of it. I sprinkled some additional sand, small gravel, cork debris, static grass and wooden shards and worked them into the celluclay "mud" so that it all looked cohesive and organically occurring.
With the groundwork established it was time to begin building the edge of the trench line. I wanted to include a sandbag edge like the ones seen at Vimy. I have built these before with great success for a couple projects and find that it is important to build the bags one at a time and detail each because you never can be quite sure what will show. So I treated each bag as its own little sculpture - texture, patches, stitching tears and all. Though it takes a while it is quite fun to be honest. I made sure that I kept setting aside my favorite bags from the others to become the most visible ones where possible.
I made some with apoxie sculpt and some with super sculpey.
The next steps were pretty fun. I broke out a variety of earth colored paints and powders and went to work creating as natural a finish as I could. The photos don't pick up the color variations nearly well enough but I was pretty happy with the overall result. I broke out some AMMO of Mig rust finishes (enamels and pigments) and treated the barbed wire posts as well as some Forgeworld Brass etch Barbed wire. Once the tree, all the wood and earth and scrap had been fully painted I mixed up a batch of Envirotek Lite clear resin and using a medicine dosing syringe and an old brush I added wet effects and puddles to the mud and added a little static grass in both clump/growths and sprinkled into the mud and water
Time to let things sit dry and harden.
Next week working on the paint and weathering for the Proto-tank itself!!