Ahh... the fabled handwavium crystals of Mars... such beauty and power...
How do I make some?
Basically, the handwavium crystals are nothing but pink foamboard insulation glued to a thin (1/16" or 1.5mm) plywood base, painted and flocked. I made them in a way that is essentially scale-neutral, like most landforms. In 25/28mm, they are big rocks. In 15mm, they are huge crystals.
Anyway, step-by-step (and yes, I should have taken photos. It was late and I wasn't thinking about the blog. Sorry.):
- Make the crystals. I took some scrap pieces of foamboard, and cut them into basically crystalline looking shapes, making sure I kept at least one side as flat as possible. I used a hotwire foam cutter to cut the foam. To make the thicker crystal, I glued two pieces of foam together after cutting them into shape.
- Make the bases. I took bits of scrap plywood from my River project, and cut them into irregular shapes with a hand-held fret saw. If you had a thin blade for a small bandsaw, that would work brilliantly as well, but I don't have a bandsaw yet.
- Glue the foam to the plywood using Tacky Glue (a thickened PVA, like Elmer's White Glue, available at craft stores in the US). Let that dry.
- Paint the plywood base. I painted mine with Burnt Sienna craft paints, as they are destined for Mars' red soil. You may want to try a different color for other planetary surfaces.
- Paint the crystals. I chose green shades, to stand out better against the reddish soil of Mars. Again, you may choose your own colors. I painted the whole crystal in Vallejo Deep Green, then painted ridges and edges in Vallejo Intermediate Green, and finally did a thin line of Vallejo Light Green along the edges and drybrushed a bit in the center of the facets for a light effect.
- Flock the base. Last, I painted some thinned down PVA glue on the bases and covered the bases with the reddish-brown sand I am using for Martian terrain. At this point, I also added a few small details around the crystals, like gravel and undergrowth.
I am going to use a similar technique, but different colors and shapes, for some "unobtainite ore" on Venus soon. I'll post photos when I am done.
If you want to see more photos, check the photobucket link in the margin for wargames terrain.