Worlds from Waste - 3D Map Part 1

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 14:56:00 Europe/London


 Hi, my name is EViL ED and I am going attempt to bring you my philosophy of the perfect Heroclix world. This regular column will deal with all the things you need to know about achieving the atmosphere of a great game. Over the coming months I will show you modding, customisation and 3d map building that is achievable by everyone and on a small budget. It is important to me to make the most of things we all already have around us thus freeing up all that spare cash for the important things like Heroclix.

 Today’s lesson is:

 Custom 3D Map Part One - Sculpting

If you are like me and you like things to look right then here is what you will need to join the revolution.

1x Sharp knife (either a scalpel or Stanley, Please always be careful with these)
1x Carving knife (Bread knife is best)
1x Polystyrene (For best results use insulation sheets, these are very reasonably priced at your local DIY store and you will not need more than one per map)
1x PVA Glue
1x Sheet of mount board A1 size (This is available from ALL art shops and Picture framers. It is a Heavy card used to mount pictures)
1x Sheet of thin wood or heavy card that is a slightly larger size than a map (Wood works as it will not warp like card, I had some lying around from a previous project but all wood merchants have an offcut section where you can buy these for pennies)
1x Jigsaw or wood saw
1x pot of wall filler
1x Straight edge the length of the longest side of the map (either a long ruler or wood offcut)
1x Spatula (this can be anything from a pallet knife to a credit card, a flexible piece of plastic works well)
1x Paint brush

Blue Moon



So to begin you need to choose or design a map. I have decided for my first attempt at this to go with a map I love.’ The Blue Are of the Moon’ map, was I believe available in the prize kit for Marvels Galactic Guardians Heroclix set. For those who are unaware of it in comics here is what Wiki have to say on the subject.

“An artificial, self-sustaining, Earth-like environment on the far side of the Moon, the Blue Area was created roughly one million years ago as part of a competition between two alien races, the Kree and the Cotati. The Blue Area has played a pivotal role in many events in the history of the Marvel Universe. It is the site of the first battle between the Fantastic Four and the Red Ghost. It is also the home of Uatu the Watcher, a cosmic being who observes Earth and its alternate realities. In the ending to "The Dark Phoenix Saga", to prevent herself from endangering any more lives, Phoenix commits suicide with ancient weaponry discovered on site. For many years, it was the location of Attilan, home city of the Inhumans. This secretive race had converted their Earth-based home city into a spaceship and had landed on the Blue Area, destroying much of the structures there.The Inhumans removed themselves and Attilan from the Blue Area.” - Wikipedia

The great thing about this map choice is that it has all the exciting things that a modern Heroclix player is looking for. It boasts every type of terrain as well as giving us three levels of terrain. However the main reason for choosing this map was for crafting simplicity. Although don’t get too relaxed this is still going to be a hard but incredibly rewarding custom map challenge.

 So let’s get started, the very first thing to do is create a base for this design. You will need a piece of wood or card very slightly larger than your map of choice.  This can be either one solid piece or built in sections for mobility. For my design I have chosen to slice my piece down the centre so I can store it in two halves. This is of course entirely up to your preference. Once you have your base ready you need to mark out the grid that we have come to love. This is simply done by laying a map on top of your base and marking along each side with a marker where each line meets the board. Once you have achieved this on all four sides it is as simple as joining the dots to create a grid. Next you need to repeat this grid a second time on our sheet of mount board.

 Grid Lines


Now it’s time to lay down the first elevation, for this you need to carefully mark out where that elevation sits on the grid you have on your mount board. Look closely at you reference map and I found the best way was to mark each square on the board in some way so that you can easily ascertain the first elevation. Once you have done this you need to transfer this to your polystyrene sheet. You need to cut out each section of mount board terrain that you have marked using your straight edge and a sharp knife. Once you have completed this for all sections of your first elevation you can use these as guides to carefully cut them from your polystyrene sheets using your carving knife. It is important whilst doing this to try and arrange them on the sheet to create the minimal amount of wastage. Once you have cut each section you can lay them out in the correct places on your wooden base. You can now start to see how cool this will look when it’s complete. You then need to repeat this a second time to give this elevation the height needed. Once you have your double layer terrain you can use the PVA glue to cement the two layers together and weigh these down with some heavy books and leave to dry. I would always recommend putting a sheet of card between your precious books and the polystyrene as working with glue can get rather messy.

This 3d project as I have found out can be rather tedious there are a large number of repetitive tasks that may test your patience, however when you complete each part and look back at what you have achieved, I can promise you it will be worth it.
Our next task is to repeat the last stage with the higher elevation. Using the cardboard templates you used previously you need to mark out where the next level sits and cut this from your previous pieces of card. Once you have done this you need to cut them from the foam, two of each and glue and weight them.

Now you can grab yourself a nice cup of tea or beer and pop one of your favourite movies on the box as we leave this to cure.
When you are back from your break and the glue has dried, I personally would leave this overnight, you now have all the parts for the basic structure of the map. It’s time to glue it all together. Keeping your reference nearby start applying the PVA glue to lowest elevation first and work upwards until you have built the map up. Once you have achieved this with all sections you can again weigh them down with something heavy. If you happen to have another board a similar size laying this on top helps to spread the weight. Again I would recommend leaving this to dry overnight.

Don’t worry whilst things are drying there is plenty you can be getting on with. This next task is possibly the most annoying and boring of them all but will ultimately give it the detail that will impress, you need to take the entire mount board grid that we have cut into different templates and cut it up into its individual squares. Once this is done you need to count out the squares into three piles, one for each elevation. Put these to one side as these will be used to define the grid in my next instalment.


 Once the base has dried thoroughly you can start to give it some basic texture. As this map it set on the moon you are going to make it rough and rocky. Take your wall filler and spatula and begin spreading the filler around the model on all the vertical sides being sure to cover up all the polystyrene and leaving the top levels clear. This is quite similar to icing a cake for all you budding bakers out there.

Using the spatula you should drag up through the filler in a vertical motion, you can be quite hap hazard with this technique as when it is painted it will look better if it is not uniform. Once you have completed this on all sides, just take a moment to go around the piece and clean up any bits that overhang and generally neaten up any edges. We can then leave this to dry. Once this is dry give all of the exposed polystyrene a liberal coat of PVA glue and again leave to dry.

You should now have a solid base and structure that will resemble a basic Heroclix map.

 Let’s leave it there for today and I hope you will join me next time where I will be looking at how to design your own 3D smoke clouds. Following that I will be returning to this map and I will be adding textures, blocking and hindering terrain and ladders.

Map ongoing


Well I hope you enjoyed this and I apologise for the lack of step by step pictures at the start of this article I had already started this design before I started this blog. So feel free to ask me any questions if you have any trouble and I would love to see some pictures if you attempt this yourselves.

EViL ED has been collecting and playing Heroclix since the time when energy explosion and enhancement were a brutal mix and carried characters could be dropped from the skies to destroy the enemy all in one turn. He is also one half of the geek art team EVIL ROBOT DESIGNS.

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Matthew Hardy

posted on Friday, 31 May 2013 12:56:09 Europe/London
From memory its also the site of Apocalypse's base where he infected the Summers child with the techno-organic virus. Or as most know it, the origin of Cable.

Great concept and great map. The multiple elevations mean I forget what I can target so I lose on this map every time. Lets hope so 3D solves that problem!


posted on Thursday, 30 May 2013 12:59:16 Europe/London
Hey Vicente,
It is a big project to take on, but I recon it will be fully worth it... I myself am excited to see how it turns out!
Look forward to your questions :)

Vicente De los Santos

posted on Thursday, 30 May 2013 09:37:52 Europe/London
Great one! I have no patience to do this, but is "a must to do" for a new experience level in the game. I think that i´m going to try it, so prepare to receive thousands of questions ha ha. I have experience with custom 2d maps and making textures for buildings (built with the cereal boxes...) but I´ll give a try.

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