Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer Interior Maps - Illuminated
#1
Hello everyone.  Back at the original TerraGenesis site, I participated in a contest whose criteria was to create a piece of terrain that was at least three times as wide as it was tall.

For my entry, I decided to create a 3-D battlemap representing the interior of an imperial star destroyer for use in the finale a long-running Star Wars RPG campaign that I was winding up.

I had a lot of fun with the contest, and since the WIP threads for contests get erased pretty quickly, I thought I'd share the journey of making this project here at the new site. Smile

I'll do my best to show the overall flow of the original WIP thread, but I plan to edit out most, if not all, the comments others made along the way.

If you were one of those that gave me ideas and encouragement as I embarked on this mad project, please don't take the removal of your posts from this thread as anything other than an attempt at streamlining.  I couldn't have done this project without you.  Big Grin
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#2
***START***


Well, I might just see if I can join this competition.

The long running Star Wars RPG campaign I have been GM-ing is coming to finale at the end of this month. To honor the occasion, I want to make a dramatic background set for the final climactic battle aboard the evil villain's star destroyer.

The necessary completion date and overall design look like they might be a good fit for this competition. Smile

And besides, I always get more work done when I know my friends here at TG are looking over my shoulder.

The plan is to have my characters run a gauntlet down the length of a star destroyer and then finally face the villain on the bridge.

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Currently, I am planning on making a 2' by 12' map in three sections. One will contain the bridge, the other two will contain "hallway" and "engineering" terrain.

I will base these with modified wood boards similar to the ones I use for my Pre-Made Battletech Map Board Bases, though with a twist. To allow some depth, I will being inverting the boards, utilizing the stiffening outer frames as part of my terrain. These boards will also be larger than my Battletech boards, with dimensions of 2'x4'.

I also want these maps to be useful for other games after this session, possibly including Star Wars Miniatures Battles, so I will try to build them to support varied play.

The generic hallway/engineering sections will be split into three long interconnected pathways isolated by dangerous "engineering" areas. There will be gaps players can dramatically leap across and narrow bridges (absent any security railings of course, this is Star Wars after all   Big Grin ). The bridge area will be more arena/pit style.

I have started making some very rough Google Sketchup designs to mess around with ideas.

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If I have time I would love to see if I can incorporate some lighting elements.

This could be fun.   Big Grin
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#3
Heh thanks all.  Smile

@ Mars Radd - I'm hoping to get some interesting details scattered around. I plan to break up the central "islands" with larger 3-D elements to keep it from looking like empty hallways.

@ pendrake - Oh there will be blast doors.   Big Grin  My plan is to at least make some doors that can slot into and out of the doorways connecting the separate map boards.

I bought the materials to make my basic frames today. Hopefully I can finish clearing off the tables and get those made tomorrow so I can get started on the maps themselves right away. I want lots of time to put in as many details as I can.

See you all tomorrow.   Smile
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#4
OK, I have cleared off my two main tables and beaten back some of the clutter surrounding them. That will have to do for now. I don't have time to tidy up everything before this project needs to be completed.

I purchased some pre-cut luan 1/4 inch plywood in 2' x 4' sheets, along with enough 1"x2" lumber to frame the edges. My partner, the scout trooper, rejoined me to insure that this project is done properly. At least this time he will be more at home than during my Mediterranean Island Pirate Mega Map.

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While I was out shopping, I found a great deal at my local $1 store on foam core sheets. Hobby Lobby and Office Depot were selling these sheets for around $5 each. The dollar store had them for a dollar each. Granted these sheets have a rougher finish, the poster board laminate is thinner, and the foam is a little thinner and softer than the other foam core, but at this price I decided to stock up.   Big Grin

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As I started cutting my 1x2s to make my base boards, I realized I had miscalculated and was going to be one board short. While I was back at Home Depot, I picked up some metal L-stock to reinforce my eventual outer wall corners. I also found some neat plastic edging designed to line tile installations that I think will make nice looking support beams. At $5 for 8 feet, I snagged a few.

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With all the needed materials finally in place, I used the same techniques exhaustively described in my Pre-Made Map Board Bases thread to make the three bases for the star destroyer.

For the board that will contain the bridge, I knocked back two of the corners so that I can get a more arena-style area for the bridge battle. I could have just left the base rectangular and built an octagonal bridge on top of it, but I felt the nice look of a shaped base was worth the extra effort.

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This thing is HUGE.   Cry

The scout trooper is on a 1"x1" base and is the same size as the figures that will be used in the battle. The final map will be 2'x12' (24"x144").

If I can just keep this map secret from my players until I pull it out of my car for the final battle, it should make quite an impression.   Big Grin
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#5
While I will be using foam core for most of my construction, I plan to use 1/4 inch luan plywood for the exterior walls for strength.

I also plan to use luan plywood for the wall separating the bridge from the rest of the ship.

While the exterior walls will be attached to the sides of the frames, the wall separating the bridge map in two needs its own support.

To provide a strong attachment point for the bridge wall, I installed two more 1x2 strips. The gap between these is exactly the thickness of a sheet of luan plywood. (I insured this by using a scrap luan shim while installing the strips.) When the time comes to add the wall, I will add glue and tack it in place with pin nails through the strips.

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Next step is to start planning out some of my "engineering" elements so that I can build my foam core platforms around them.

But that will have to wait for tomorrow.   Big Grin
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#6
Thanks all. I have to agree on the plastic track being a great find. In fact, I like it so much, I have decided to use it in more places than I originally planned and will likely need to go back and get a few more.   Big Grin

I made some progress on figuring out the basic core design for my hallway/platforms.

First I cut a bunch of strips of foam core to use as stock when I am making my platforms. I made a bunch of strips as tall as my wooden frames, and then some 2 inches wide, 4 inches wide, and 5 inches wide to match my three platform widths.

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My foam core is only 20" x 30", but my walkways are 48" long. So to make my long walkways I need to tape two pieces of foam core together. I trim both pieces 24" long so that the seam is in the center of the board. I use wide clear packing tape to hold them together, but only on the underside. Paint likely won't stick to the tape, and I will be adding other elements to stiffen the walkways so I don't have to worry about taping them only on one side allowing the joints to flex.

I then cut a length of my plastic track and hot glued it a half inch in from one side of my walkway, making sure to center the pattern at my joint, and being sure to leave a space at each end where the walkways will be on top of my frames.

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A quick test fit showed this worked well. It gives a nice look when viewed at a slight angle, and it already stiffens the walkway quite a bit.

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I have ordered some battery-powered LED "holiday" lights that I will glue to the underside of these walkways. They won't give out a lot of light, but hopefully these tile strips will give the light a nice pattern.

I want to completely assemble all the walkways and lock them together into a single unit before attaching anything to the base frames. This will let me do some pre-painting of hard to reach areas, and it will let me rig the lighting before everything is glued down.

As is, the walkways are still really flexible and slide around a lot. To help hold the walkways in place while I work on fitting everything together, I glued on a few pieces of my foam core stock that were pre-cut to the same height as the sides of my frames.

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I then used one of my spare Battletech bases as a guide to cut out some angled foam core to form some support pillars for the middle of the walkways.

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I like the results. The walkway looks good, and it is nice and solid. It won't take any gamers leaning on it, but it will hold up to any normal play.

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I then made another walkway just like this one for the other side of the map.

For the center walkway, I used thinner 4 inch wide foam core. This let me have two outer 5-inch wide walkways, with two 5-inch wide "engineering" gaps, and a 4-inch central walkway (for 24 inches total).

The middle of the central walkway will hide the battery packs and controls for the lights, so I made a solid wall area in the middle of the central walkway. (Later, before gluing everything in place, I will cut an access hole in the bottom of the wooden base so I can reach the switches and change out the batteries.

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With all three main walkways resting in place, I can get an idea of how this will look. There will still be some 2-inch wide walkways along the short sides, but this is the main look. I think it will work well.

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I was eager to get an idea of how this might look when lighted, so I put a flashlight under one end of one of the 5-inch walkways and turned out the lights. This is much brighter and more localized than the final holiday lights will be, but I just wanted to see.

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I'm glad I tested, because this foam core let far more light through than I expected. It will get painted in the end, but to ensure that light does not penetrate where I don't want it to, I will likely line the undersides of the walkways with foil before installing the lights.

To see what that might look like, I plopped a spare piece of wood down on top of the walkway and turned the lights back off.

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Much better.   Smile

There will be more shapes to get shadows off of, and colors to pick up on (possibly including colored plastic over some of the bulbs), but I think this will work well.

By making my three main walkways into "light boxes", I will be able to cut into the walkways anytime I need a light source for a piece of 3-D embellishment glued on later.

With my basic layout nearly done, I will finish the 2-inch walkways here, and then repeat the process on the other hallway map and on the half-hallway portion of the bridge map.

Back to work.   Big Grin
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#7
@ pendrake - Thanks for all the ideas and reference material.

I definitely am seeing this project as inspired by the standard Star Wars star destroyer rather than an attempt at duplicating one with any fidelity.

It helps that our campaign takes place at the very end of all cannon material, and that our big bad has a custom ship, so that gives me a lot of leeway for interpretation.   Smile

Funny that you should mention the imperial emblem.

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I have actually saved a piece from an old broken toy gyroscope for 25+ years that I thought I would see if it would potentially work as part of the center of the bridge's main window.

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It's nothing like an exact match, but it gives a nice feel and it's free.   Big Grin

I started working on my narrow 2-inch wide walkways along the short ends of my maps that connect the three main passages. Since these will have "pipes" coming up almost flush underneath them, I can't put any support structure underneath.

To try to strengthen the bond between the narrow walkways and the main passages, I inserted toothpick "dowels" into the joints.

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This did not work as well as I had hoped.  Sad

The toothpicks mushroomed the foam between the poster board layers, deforming the surfaces. (It's hard to see in the pictures, but it is pretty noticeable when you are looking at it with your eyes.)

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It was also very difficult to get everything to align as nicely as the joints in the middle of my main passages did. I was left with gaps, and misaligned maps.

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For now, I will leave this first map alone. I may go back later and tear these 2-inch walkways out and rebuild them in a different way. Until I figure this out, I will just not make my 2-inch walkways on my other maps.

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With the small end walkways done, I noticed that my central 4-inch wide walkway was still too flexible. There were no supports between the middle solid section and the ends. So I cut up some heavy duty cardboard tube stock and made some pillars. This made things nice and solid.

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I then followed all the previous techniques to build the main walkways on the other "hallway" map, and for the hallway half of the bridge map.

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Before I can work on roughing out my bridge section, I need to mess around in Google SketchUp some more. I also need to buy some more plastic tile edging. I had just exactly enough to do the hallways, with nothing left over for the bridge or elswhere.  Smile

Back to work.   Big Grin
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#8
I managed to mess around in GoogleSketchup a bit and come up with a bridge layout that I think will serve.

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My main concern is that this may prove too ambitious, especially the window sections as I plan to cut these out of luan plywood for strength.

We will have to see how things work out. Back to building.   Big Grin
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#9
(In response to someone suggesting I should use the plastic tile edging for my bridge windows.)

@ pendrake - That would certainly be easier, and it is my back-up plan, but I really like these larger windows if I can manage it.

The tile edging is under 1 inch tall, and the "windows" in the edging are only 1/2 inch tall.

My planned luan windows range from 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall, not counting the display around the circular ring.

Switching to the tile edging would make these windows less than half as tall as a typical figure, and I'd really like to try to keep the "grand vista" element of the bridge if at all possible. This is going to be the stage for the final climactic battle of a 3+ year campaign. I want it to look as good as possible.  Smile

When I first designed this campaign all those years ago, I actually envisioned this terrain being the scene of the final battle. That image has stayed with me all this time, every surprise reveal leading to this moment.

Here's hoping I can do it justice.   Big Grin
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#10
Busy few days ahead. Not much time to get work in.   Sad

I got some goodies in the mail yesterday though.   Big Grin

My LED holiday lights and reflective/glow-in-the-dark tapes arrived.

The LED light strings are powered by 3 AA batteries, and have a switch with 3 positions, OFF, Flashing, and ON. I plan to ignore the flashing.

These things are nicely bright and should suffice well for my purposes.

For those interested, these are the lights I bought: Innoo Tech 3M 30 LED String Lights Battery Operated (White)

The pictures make the light look far bluer than it actually is. It looks nearly perfectly white.

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The lights will go under my main walkways where they will provide general illumination. I will also cut holes in the walkways under where I glue down some of my 3-D elements to let light shine up through them.

I purchased three colors of reflective tape and some glow-in-the-dark tape. My hope is that I can use pieces of these scattered around to simulate light sources.

I learned about the reflective tape trick from some Star Trek modelers who wanted to simulate tiny lights on their scratch-made ship models without having to deal with electronics.

I have never tried this before so we will have to see how it turns out.

The idea is that the tape bounces back more light than expected and so looks like they have some illumination.

Here is a shot showing the tapes with and without a flash (the bottom images are with the flash).

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And this is what the glow-in-the-dark tape looks like when I only give it a minute or two of light to charge. It was actually quite bright despite having so little charging time, but my camera had difficulty showing it.

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It should be fun experimenting with this stuff at least.   Big Grin
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