Thursday, March 26, 2015

Reaper BONES: Glowing Ghosts using LED Tealights

This one is for my new friend Garrett (did I spell that right?) and pre-existing friend Benn @ my FLGS Redcap's in Philly but this also goes out to anybody who is thinking about glowing effects on their tables, or at least some small, placeable elements like minis or scatter terrain (more on that later).

I built the ghost above tonight for this tutorial and it took about 20 minutes.

Reaper BONES make super inexpensive, translucent models ripe for lighting and you can get easy and cool effects efficiently. LED tealights are crazy inexpensive and can be used to make really great wreck markers, bonfires or in the following case, ghosts. I was insisting this very thing the other day to Garrett and pointing at my own blog as proof, failing to realize I never actually posted any damn thing about BONES lit projects here on Sarcophagi,  though I did post it up over on Lead Adventure Forums, found here: Lead Adventure Forums

Anyway, I've found a lot of traction for lit things like ghosts for pulp games like Strange Aeons, to which I am addicted. I am working on Fire markers using tea lights as well and I'll post up something on that later, though the principles are the same.

  • Reaper BONES Grave Wraith, about US$3.00
  • Green Tealight, available through Amazon, US$7.00 for a pack of ten. I like these because the batteries are replaceable.
  • Jeweler's Saw or Xacto Saw
  • Scalpel or Xacto
  • Crazy Glue
  • 2" base
  • Green Cotton (Halloween floss)
  • Optional: Silicone (from DIY)
  • Optional: White poster tac
Something to consider with this... Depending on how much light difussion you want, you may or may not want to get the LED bulb into the miniature. In some cases, gluing the  mini right to the top of the bulb housing is enough to get the light to diffuse through the mini, where you don't see a glowing mass at the base, but instead that bulb is hidden by cotton floss. I have made three ghosts and overall I think gluing the mini to the bulb housing is probably the best way to go visually but in the following case, I put the bulb up in the mini as a case for the most amount of steps or a larger mini that needs more direct light to diffuse out, which is the case with this mini.

 Cut the tombstone off the ghost. I saved this bit to paint up later with other tombstones. You might want to leave that there, your call. The ghost of a tombstone is cool too I guess. It does fit more centered on the tealight with the tombstone off.
I cut off the protective housing over the bulb since it is easier to trim out a hole for the smaller bulb instead of the bigger housing, the OD of which surpasses the width of the base of the ghost. 
Glue the tealight onto a 2" base. You could even skip this step too if you aren't an giant stickler for BTB physicality in games. I had previously tried painting the sides of the tealight black in an effort to hide the sides under the cotton more but as it turns out, the clear sides transfer more light into the floss and the glow hides the sides of the teal ight best.

Here's Rick all cored out and dry-fit to the top of the tealight. Like I said, when you put the bulb into the bottom it looks more like a bulb in his feet. Fear naught.The cotton will diffuse and blend it. Be sure that before you glue you play around with getting the bulb centered into the mini so the bulb sends the most amount of light straight up to the top of the mini. Shut off the lights and move the mini around on top of the lit tea light and you'll see what I mean. If you have to glue on top of the bulb housing leaving an undercut below the miniature, just fill in underneath with clear silicone and let dry then it will be super strong and still conduct light.
All together and ready for cotton. But first, trim out the cotton "smoke".
Grab the cotton and make a circle about the height of the mini. Pull apart the center and arrange the mini through it so the floss is around it's "feet" or whatever. Remember before with the bulb? Pad the cotton over it thick. The more cotton, the more the glow. Once happy with your "smoke", glue on the ghost. Then add the cotton after it is dried.

Annnd... there it is. Not much to it actually. You may wonder about securing the cotton to the sides. I've played around with this some and found two things: First, it is hard to do and second, probably not necessary. If you are stickler for adhesion then I suggest you use some white poster tac on the sides and learn to live with it. Permanently attaching it seems unnecessary and that can block replacement of the battery as well as the twist-to-activate motion.
Here are 3 ghosts I've made. The one on the left is my favorite. I cut her from her base and glued her sideways over the bulb housing (pic below). Her flowing robe blends in great with the cotton. In the center is Rick. On the right is a more skeletal ghost. Note that the last ghost's tealight has sides painted black and while it doesn't look terrible at all, you can see that the light doesn't diffuse as much as the first two. Finally, these are bright enough to use under average table light, meaning you do not have to play in the dark for these to look spooktacular. Spell check really hates that pun.

So that's it friends! I leave it to you to try out, like I said, there is not much to this. Experiment and have fun with it.


Paul O'G said...

Awesome Awesome Awesome!
I so needed some of these for my SA graveyard...

Actually, yours are pretty bad and don't look right at all. You should dispose of them at my place, especially now while I temporarily dwell in the US and postage will be cheap


styx said...

Very nice work!

Paul O'G said...

Just wanted to let you know that the postman hasn't delivered these to my house yet...