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Proposal for a Landscaping/Terrain Modular Standard

Discussion and planning of large-scale Castle Themed displays and events

Proposal for a Landscaping/Terrain Modular Standard

Postby BreadMan » Mon Aug 22, 2005 3:46 am

Hey all, long read comming up here. There's something I've been working on for quite a while now, and whether I have any authority to propose something like this or not I'd like to finally share it with you all.

When I first came to c-c.com, it was by way of something I’d heard of called the CCC standard. “This is amazing,” I thought to myself, enthralled by the thought of people from all over collaborating on huge castle. But while the displays that came about as a result of 3CS look great, it seems to me that often there is something lacking in the pictures I’ve seen. We have great looking walls and buildings, but often they're just surrounded by uninterrupted green 32x32 baseplates, the uniform rows of studs throwing off the organic look that is expected of natural terrain. What I believe is that the community would benefit from a Modular Classic Castle Terrain/Landscaping standard.

Now I may not be the best person to put this together, seeing as I’ve never coordinated a large display let alone participated in one. But I have been working this out for some time now and what I have are a lot of ideas. They all start from this basic principle:

Everybody’s got a green 32x32 baseplate or two, right? Maybe some blue ones? If not, you can pick ‘em up for $5 on shop-at-home or about the same on bricklink. So why not when coordinating a display have everybody bring, along with their tudor houses and 3CS walls, any spare 32x32s they have already spruced up (no pun intended) with a few trees, rocks, bushes, and a minifig or thirty (in the case of battle scenes)? All it takes is a few plants and 1x1 gray bricks for rocks and any flat plain can be turned into a decent landscape. Observe:
Image versus Image
It doesn't have to be hardly this detailed even. Just a few little things to break up the rigid green monotony is all that's required.

This isn’t all though. There’s something I’ve come up with, and chances are I’m not the first, that for now I’m calling BPPB. It’s a bit hard to say out loud, but it stands for BasePlate Plus Brick. First the reasoning behind it: water. Bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and sea, just look wrong when you slap a bunch of blue plates on a green baseplate or line a bunch of blue and green baseplates up next to eachother. What looks much better and more natural is when they’re sunk a little below ground level. So how do you achieve this when laying a display out on a tabletop? Raise the ground level of course.

What I envision is this: every ground-level baseplate should be kept raised on a plate + plate + tile base, something like this:
Image
Nothing fancy, just enough to keep it off the ground. Then, if you were to make a river by taking a blue baseplate and building up the banks with gray and green to the height of one brick, the two should match up flush along the sides. Picture is worth 1000 words so look at these if what I’m saying isn’t totally comprehensible.
Image Image Image
Hence, BasePlate Plus Brick is the standard ground level.

Now, for actual standards past that there’s a lot that could be done. Edge standards, like the point where two 3CS walls or moonbase hallways meet, could be made for everything from rivers to roads to cliffs to battle lines. Here’s some initial ideas from just messing around on my own…

Image
Rivers: Blue baseplate base, with ten studs of green along each side and a two-stud wide grey/tan “bank” between the green and blue, leaving 8 studs of blue for the river itself.

Image
Roads: Tan plates broken up by grey and brown on a green baseplate , 8-10 studs wide, making a path from the middle of each edge (11-12 studs of green on either side)

Image
Seashores: Blue baseplates with 4 studs of green, followed by 4 studs of tan along edges.

Image
Cliffs: Cliff bases should start 10-11 studs out from the edge of a plate, and height should be a multiple of seven (one LURP is seven bricks high, 2 LURPS is 14, etc). Cliffs I imagine would mainly be used on the edges of displays, and a decent amount of planning would be required to pull them off. Any subsequent baseplates placed behind cliffs would need to be raised on (multiple of seven) + 1 BPPB bases, like so:
Image Image
By keeping cliffs within 10-11 studs of the edge of the plate, instead of running down the middle like roads or rivers, it is possible to include them on most other terrain pieces. You could potentially have a road running along the base of a cliff with a waterfall and a bridge all on the same baseplate.

Battles: Define ahead of time what factions will be fighting, what general direction armies will be attacking/defending from, and people can bring terrain pieces with minifigs already in place.

You may be thinking, how do we make non-roman roads that curve around hills, or natural looking beaches instead of something that looks like a checkerboard? Well remember that no one is limited to a single baseplate. As long as the edges match up, you can do anything. People can build whole mountainsides with a river running out that matches up to anybody else’s river pieces, or build their castles with roads running out that match the standard edges. Such is the beauty of a modular standard, right?

If you hit this brickshelf page you can see a few more images. Note that on the bridge module I ran out of tan plates, but was able to fill in the road with bricks with no visible difference, an advantage provided by BPPB :)

Now then, I think I’ve rattled on long enough, so, any thoughts?
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Postby eNiGMa » Mon Aug 22, 2005 4:54 am

This is by far the best post I've read on this site. Once I get some baseplates in the mail (hopefully this week), I'm trying this.

I completely support this standard. :D
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Postby Bricksidge » Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:20 am

Very interesting.

How would you get the contour lines to match up among multiple builder's baseplates, though?


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Postby Glencaer » Mon Aug 22, 2005 1:25 pm

This is an interesting idea. However, I'm not sure it will work as a full standard. Essentially, standards need to be insanely simple with a lot of idiot proofing.

Right now the MoonBase Standard has three levels of connectors - a new modification to the standard is made about once a year or every two years. 95% of modules are built with the first connection type, and 70% of module builders are unaware of the different connections. More connection types increases the possibility that two modules won't connect properly.

However, at the first MoonBase I saw (BrickFest 2003 - the 2nd MoonBase ever), there were a few modules that had customized connections to other modules built by the same builder.

My point is that what one builder does within his own area, as long as it doesn't conflict with other builders, works perfectly well within the Standard. The same goes for 3CS. You can see a wall built onto a small hill.

It works for your proposed standard the same way. If you were coming to fest, you could build a large landscape area and have it fit seemlessly with the rest of the 3CS town. Or if someone else was interested, you two could work together. But I think it will be a while before a large number of builders (lets say, more than 5) will be working together and require a workable standard for landscapes.

Essentially, I think you have some good thoughts here. But the community isn't ready yet to implement them.

Oh, and if you stack two plates and put a baseplate on top, it is exactly 1 brick tall. No need for the tiles.

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Postby ottoatm » Mon Aug 22, 2005 2:21 pm

Hmm.. well Glencaer is probally right, he seems to have a bit of experience in the area and know what he's talking about. But having said that, I'd like to suggest something that might make your proposal a reality sooner rather than later -

I'm a real novice at foliage and what-not. What you've written here is great - something I needed to read and probally will re-read several times. I will probally save the images to my hard drive too - based on how much I'm learning from your post and the great pics included, I think this would be a great article for the CC website - a sort of "how-to" tutorial.
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Postby LEGOFREAK » Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:24 pm

regardless of whether or not this becomes a "standard" I think I am going to start using it.
I really love the way it looks, and recently I found I have more baseplates than I have room for. :D
(btw thanks lenny for the tip about how to stack some)
I am thinking I may have to rebuild my current layout to be even better.
thanks!!
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Postby Glencaer » Mon Aug 22, 2005 6:47 pm

ottoatm wrote:I think this would be a great article for the CC website - a sort of "how-to" tutorial.


Let me say that I agree with this completely!! A well written article (which you are basically 75% done with) would be excellent!

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Postby Dusty » Mon Aug 22, 2005 8:26 pm

I think this is a fantastic article and has given me more ideas for landscape. This brilliant work on landscaping. I hope there could be a standard made but if not you sure do have a knack for the landscaping. This article and the pictures just blew my mind. I saved all the pictures I could from it. WOW! Those scapes are sooooo cool.

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Postby BreadMan » Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:21 am

Well, whether its adopted as a standard or what, I'm glad to see I've at least inspired some people. :) As Lenny says, it would take a lot of planning and coordination to make this work as a collaborative project. It would be something more along the lines of planning a layout ahead of time, assigning people to bring specific modules, as opposed to everyone bringing something they've done and then trying to make a display out of it. I think its preferable to consider it as "a" standard instead of "the" standard for modular landscaping. Nobody's going to be forced to use it, but I think it would be cool if attempted with success. Really wish I could find some other AFOLs in my area to try it out with, anybody else here from Northern California?

How would you get the contour lines to match up among multiple builder's baseplates, though?

...there were a few modules that had customized connections to other modules built by the same builder.
My point is that what one builder does within his own area, as long as it doesn't conflict with other builders, works perfectly well within the Standard.

I think Lenny sort of answered Kevin's question here, but allow me to elaborate (with pictures cause I'm a visual thinker).
Say you have a coastline running east to west with a curve south and then west again. If each section of the coastline were done by an indivdual builder, it would look like this:
Image
The little green lines represent where the rules of the standard apply for matching up edges. On the other hand, though, someone with a few more baseplates and tan plates could take it upon themselves to do a whole section, like this:
Image
They can do anything they like between their plates, as long as the edges match up with the surrounding modules. It's like Sophie's Mech Bays, great huge MOCs in their own right that just happen to have moonbase connections on the edges.

Oh, and if you stack two plates and put a baseplate on top, it is exactly 1 brick tall. No need for the tiles.

Ah-hah! I think I knew this at one point and forgot it over the years. Very useful for BPPB, but of course remember to make it match the height you have to add a baseplate to the bottom as well. Thusly, a new use has been found for roadplates! :D

I think I'll definitely have to write up an article, though it may be a while before I get around to it (classes just started up again today). I'm glad to see people are inspired by my landscaping, I'll see what else I can come up with and post some more :)
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Postby Kanduu » Tue Aug 23, 2005 2:02 pm

Great idea! Hopefully it'll eventually become something more. You have made some nice landscaping, and have inspired me to make some for my own layout.
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modular landscaping

Postby Magnus » Tue Aug 23, 2005 6:39 pm

Very nice idea. I honestly don't know if the community is ready to do something like this - the CCC display at BrickFest was smaller than most of us expected and most people still aren't even building walls that neccesarily flow so well together with other peoples' walls.

That said, modularity will alway be important for castle builders for all kinds of reasons, and this gives us a taste of some of the kinds of things we could pull off, either individually or as a group. Thanks for sharing.
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Postby Recluce » Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:41 pm

I think this is a totally cool idea! I did a little bit of raised dirt path with my Brickfest moc, and would have done some water had it fit the design. I would love to see more of this at next year's brickfest.

I totally see that this could work well. It's an easy standard to hold to, and allows for plenty of personal building freedom.
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Postby Thomas » Thu Aug 25, 2005 5:46 pm

I think this is great! It could be attempted at Northwest BrickCon but it's only 6 weeks away.

I've been trying to work on a landscaping standard off and on for a little bit now. I've been trying with the 4 large gray plates and then covering them in brick which of course takes a lot of brick. Using that much area would allow for a huge amount of detail to be in each area.

I'm hoping to redo my whole display in a standard so I can continually rearrange it. One of the main reasons I'm working with a 30"x30" area is ease of transportation. At least for me moving around one large item is easier than moving nine small items. And my layout consists of 10 30"x30"'s which would end up being 90 10"x10"'s.

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Postby Formendacil » Wed Aug 31, 2005 7:50 pm

This has got to be one of the most intelligent and verbose threads I've seen here in a long time- probably because only those of great building experience can fathom complicating it.

Still, there are some great ideas floating here, which are quite thought-provoking. I plan to make it to BrickFest next year, so I'd better take note...
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Postby manjr » Wed Aug 31, 2005 8:25 pm

Great idea! Your terrain modules are quite nice and would look great in a large display.

As Lenny pointed out, something like this requires much more coordination between collaborators than simple standards like the CCC or Moonbase standards. A useful tool for coordinating a BPPB display would be something like Stephen Roberts' Project Paper:

http://www.wamalug.org/projectpaper.html

You might even want to draw up something of your own that would be better for the specific needs of BPPB modules. Say, four areas of elevation grids (showing the height of the edges of the module) arranged around a 32x32 plan grid in the middle (showing surface features like streams or paths). Whenever anyone builds a module, they could fill out this grid sheet - thus allowing other people to know how to build their modules to match up.

Best of luck - I'd like to see this standard catch on!

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