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In this section I will describe the methods I used for creating my game step by step. There are many other great sites out there with tutorials for how to create your own settlers of catan game. I owe many thanks to Dan Becker as most of the information that I used for my own game came from his site.
This is often the most fun part of the process as it involves the most creativity and you can spend as much or as little time on it as possible. All of my original pieces were created using cheap ($11.00 or so) air drying clay available at most craft stores. The first thing that you need to do during this phase is to ensure that you have a hexagon as close to perfect as possible. You can do this in many different ways such as using a hexagon from the real game as a pattern and making a clay copy of the desire thickness. I however lucked out because my father (thanks dad) was able to make me precise laser-cut hexagons of my desired thickness (10mm). I ended up liking this thickness very much. The only thing to remember is that the thicker the hex, the more resin you use casting each hex. So I'll leave that choice to you.
After you are happy with your starter hexagon (make sure to make enough copies for each different type of hex you will be making) you can begin sculpting your piece on top of it. I did this by simply sticking a ball of clay on top of my steel hex and flattening it and smoothing it to the approximate shape that I wanted. I then began carving the clay to add all the feature that I wanted. Keep in mind that it is much easier to start with too much clay and cut away than it is to have to add more clay later. Here is a forest hex that was carved by my wife. As you can see we left a space for a number token in each of our hexes, again this is up to you. You'll also notice that there is a small powdery ring around the clay piece, this is from the shrinking of the clay as it dried. Keep this in mind as you decide how much room to leave on the edges for roads etc. as the clay will shrink a bit and leave even more room.
One final note about this step, it is not necessary to buy a $30 to $40 clay tool kit! Everything you will see on this site was carved using a swiss army knife and a math compass! Yes these 'tools' do have a few limitations but only buy the expensive kits if you have money to burn or are planning on sculpting clay long after this project is over.
This is the part where we do a lot of monkey work. No matter how many times you read this section or other tutorials, you will make mistakes and waste some of your chemicals. It's ok.
The first thing we need to do is finish up our pieces. All I did to prepare my clay was let it air dry. You can if you wish buy the clay that allows you to bake it in the oven. I tried that with this clay and all I got was a messy oven. So I stuck with air drying clay. It works just fine and makes great molds, it just won't eject from the mold in perfect condition. Some pieces of clay will need to be scraped out of the mold once the molds dry.
So once my clay has hardened, I prepared it for mold making simply by putting regular school glue between all of the layers. So I put glue between the clay and (in my case) the steel and between the steel and the pvc end pipe. This glue will prevent the mold material from seeping in between the cracks but will not dry, allowing you to take out your pieces and use the end pipe over again. The PVC end pipe is available from any hardware store for about $2.50.

Next we actually pour our mold. I used Alumilite RTV Silicone Rubber for my molds (around $100). Actually, by the time I was finished all of the hexes and pieces I ended up needing two buckets (10lbs) but one bucket should be enough to make the basic game hexes. Now we mix our silicone rubber with our catalyst at a 10:1 ratio and stir for a while. This stuff takes about 6 hours min to set so you have plenty of time to stir it. Finally, pour it into your end pipe covering the whole piece. Starting from a low point in the end pipe is a good idea as it helps to reduce air bubbles.

You'll notice that in the fourth picture there are a lot of air bubbles rising to the top. This is ok. Just stir the mixture slowly before you pour it to reduce air in the mix and the little bit of air that does get trapped as you pour should rise to the surface as it did in the picture.


Finally, after waiting for the molds to set, we can pop them out by running a knife blade around the edge of the pvc pipe. The waiting period for me was around 12 hours or so even though the instructions say it sets in 6 hours. Once the mold is out of the pipe, pull out the clay part ( a little rubbing alcohol will help pop it loose). I also had to scratch out the little bits of left-over clay that stayed behind in the mold but you may not have to do this depending on what type of clay you used. Below is a photo showing why I needed two buckets worth of silicone rubber......

Now that we have a nice empty mold, we are ready to start casting parts. I used Alumilite casting plastic which is mixed at a 1:1 ratio and hardens in about 3 minutes. Since i needed enough pieces for the basic game, both expansions, six players, enough water (62) to completely surround the entire board and also enough water to be used for the fog islands games (see finished product) I ended up needing two sets of this chemical.
Anyway, the first things we need to do is to get everything close by that we will need. This includes the two 1 gallon jugs of resin mix, the molds we will be casting with, measuring cups/spoons depending on the number of molds you will be casting at one time, baby powder, and tooth picks. Now, once you have mixed the chemicals, you will only have about 3 minutes to work before it hardens so here's what you need to do. First, lightly dust baby powder onto your molds into the small crevices. This will help the resin liquid to enter the small areas.
Next, try to guess how much chemical you should mix up. For me, one half cup of each liquid (for a combined total of 1 cup) was enough to cast a land hex, and water hex, and a few of the pieces such as a road, settlement, wall, and maybe a number token or two. But yours will be different because of the different size of your sculptures. The best thing I found was to have a few molds ready before I started casting so that if I found I had a little bit extra, I could just cast a few small pieces to finish up what I had mixed together. To mix the chemicals together,
put the correct quantity of brown liquid (part B) into a cup and then add the clear liquid (part A) to it second. If you pour part A into part B (instead of part B into part A) this will help cut down on the air bubbles because the clear liquid is thicker than the brown liquid. Once you have mixed the two together, stir the mixture for a good 30 seconds to a minute. Then start pouring! Like the mold material, try to pour the liquid resin into the low spots of the mold. You can even slosh the liquid around for a second to get in the crevices before filling the whole mold. Now hopefully you have 30 seconds to one minute to flick out air bubbles with the tooth pick before it starts to harden. Don't let me scare you, I didn't really run out of time and have a bunch harden on me before I was ready. You just can't take your time.
The last thing we need to do during this phase is to sand all of the pieces that we have cast. I just laid out some sand paper on the the ground and sanded with that. It is much much easier to use a powered sander. Once I'm finished, I'll probably have spent about 300 hours on this project and I bet a quarter of that was sanding. Buy a sander or borrow one if you can. Anyway, not much to describe here. Just sand off all of the unwanted resin. Because of my steel hexes, i didn't have to sand the edges of the hexes I cast. This is a good thing because you can never get a perfect hex fit by sanding.
Below are pictures of a boat fresh from the mold with some of the extra plastic broken off by hand, me sanding the boat, and the finished product ready for painting.
Anyway, once all the pieces are sanded to your liking, we are ready for the forth and final phase.
In this final phase, I will discuss the basics of how we painted the pieces using the "dry brush" method. The first important step however is to prime all of your pieces.
You can see here that I used regular auto primer on all of my pieces. This batch was roads and boats. It takes about 2 or 3 coats because you have to wait for the pieces to dry and then flip them in various ways to ensure that you coat the whole part. You don't have to have a heavy coat on the pieces, just enough to cover the whole part. The primer dries in a matter of minutes (at least enough to flip the part) so this process won't take long. Once you have your primed pieces, you can begin the fun and highly creative (and experimental) process of painting them. I will be using one of my gold mines to show the painting method that I used.
The method that I will be using is called "dry-brushing". The key to dry-brushing is starting with the darkest colors and then working your way lighter and lighter every time. First of all, I painted the face of my gold mine a dark gray color. You can't see it on this mine because I already chose my paints, but, the first mine that I did had about twenty coats because I was trying different combinations of colors to find the ones I liked best.

That was actually my favorite part. Next you have to brush on lighter and lighter shades to get the 3-D textured look. There are two things to know when dry-brushing, these lighter shades don't have to be the same color as your darker shade, EXPERIMENT! The second thing to know is what dry-brushing means! Dry-brushing is taking a lighter shade of paint, getting lots on your brush and then brushing most of it of on a paper towel. You should get the brush to the point where with each brush-stroke, you can barely see and paint going on the paper towel.

Once you have that, lightly flick the place you want to paint back and forth with the brush. This will get paint on only the high places of the area you are painting and make those areas look more 3-dimensional. In this photo I have dry-brushed the gray and put on the coat of green for the grass.

Now here is a perfect example of why I said that you don't have to use a lighter shade of the same color. In the left photo, I have a green base coat, but to bring out the grass texture I actually used a mix of light green and light yellow. I tried just using a lighter green but it blended too much and didn't look textured. The yellow made the grass stand out better against the green.
Below are a few more shots of the process as I start to paint the smaller details such as the water wheel house, the shrubs, and the dirt entrance to the mine. notice on the below picture to the right that on the top of the mine, I have dry-brushed on a light brown to make a more realistic earthy transition between the gray face of the mine and the grassy hill above it.
Again, below (both pictures are the same just one is an above view) I have shown the next step in the process as this time I paint the features such as the river, the wooden frame around the mine door, the mine cart, and the hardest part of every hex I had to paint....the brown edge around the hex. Making that transition from brown to green at the base of the hex took forever! Also note that I have, in the same step, dry-brushed the shrub, the wheel-house, and the dirt entrance. This is ok to do now since all of the features do not touch each other.

In this shot I have added the high-lights to the water, the wheel itself, the mine cart and painted the inside of the entrance black. Now the mine is just about finished! The (almost) last thing that we need to do is to clear-coat this hex. Just like the paints, you can get the clear-coat at any craft store.

So here is a shot of the hexagon with a layer of clear-coat. I went with a satin so that it had as little shine as possible. I would have loved not to clear-coat at all but the acrylic paint is simply way too prone to scratching. You may notice that the only thing that is not painted in this picture is the top of the mine cart. The reason for this is that I use a special type of gold paint (the type for model

cars) and it goes all funny if I try to clear coat over top of it. So I had to clear-coat the hex first, and then go back and paint the top of the mine cart with gold. I also added some flecks of gold to the face of the mine itself. So finally, we have a completed gold mine!

So we are now at the end of the long but fun process of making a Catan 3D hexagon piece. If you have any further questions please e-mail me or contact me through the Contact Us section of the web page. Thanks for reading!