Monster Manual Cover Art Made From Wood and Resin

Since the Special Edition versions of DnD core books have been released, I have been really drawn to the artwork. I wanted to create something that would allow for the entire piece to pop in a way that allowed me to use different materials that I like to work with. I set out to create a set of these cover art renditions out of wood, acrylic, and resin.

Supplies:

Step 1: Start to Visualize the Layers and Separate Them in Inkscape

Picture of Start to Visualize the Layers and Separate Them in Inkscape
Picture of Start to Visualize the Layers and Separate Them in Inkscape

In looking at the original image, I determined that I wanted the file to be separated into 5 different pieces

  1. Back Panel – This panel serves as the base of the entire piece.
  2. Middle Panel – This panel is to be the empty space to pour the resin into. The reason I wanted to use resin is because it can produce very striking colors and be manipulated to have different swirls/patterns.
  3. Detail Layer – This layer is glued in before the resin is poured. In looking at the original image, there are two separate colors within the main Beholder body. There is a blue that covers the majority of the body and eyes/teeth are gray. Gluing the Detail layer onto the back panel using the middle panel as a guide for placement allows two different resins to be poured without any resin color bleed.
  4. Top Layer- Engraving layer for the entire cover of the book
  5. Reversed Acrylic Panel – The panel is reversed so that the top of the piece can be completely clear and the engraving can face inward.

CLICK HERE for the Monster Manual files so you can follow along.

Step 2: Laser Cut the Pieces

Picture of Laser Cut the Pieces
Picture of Laser Cut the Pieces
Picture of Laser Cut the Pieces

1. Spray paint the panel labeled “TOP LAYER” black and let dry.

2. Apply a 4″ Masking tape to all the layers before laser cutting. Using masking tape helps reduce the burn/scorch marks.

3. Send the files to the Laser cutter and hit go. Setting for each layer on a Glowforge:

  • Back Panel – Materials:1/8 ” Baltic Birch Plywood – NO SPRAY PAINT
    • Speed:130
    • Power:100
    • Focus Height: .125
  • Middle Panel – Materials:1/8 ” Baltic Birch Plywood – NO SPRAY PAINT
    • Speed:130
    • Power:100
    • Focus Height: .125
  • Detail Layer – Materials:1/8 ” Baltic Birch Plywood – NO SPRAY PAINT
    • Speed:130
    • Power:100
    • Focus Height: .125
  • Top Layer Reversed Acrylic Panel – 1/8″ Clear Cast Acrylic Sheet- Proofgrade Acrylic Engrave- NO SPRAY PAINT
    • For the engraving of the details and cutting of the shape:
      • Speed:157
      • Power: FULL
      • Focus height: .125
  • Top Layer – Materials:1/8 ” Baltic Birch Plywood –SPRAY PAINT Prior to engraving
    • Speed 600
    • Power: 80
    • Lines per inch:225

Step 3: Clean and Spray Paint the Pieces

Picture of Clean and Spray Paint the Pieces
Picture of Clean and Spray Paint the Pieces
  1. After laser engraving and cutting the Acrylic Layer, Clean the engrave out with a soft bristle brush. I used a toothbrush that I keep on my workbench for this exact task.
  2. Using an air compressor, canned air, or your own lungs, make sure the entire piece is free of dust.
  3. Bring the piece to a well-ventilated space and spray paint the engraved side while the masking tape is still attached. This will allow the color to show up EXACTLY where you engraved and nowhere else.
  4. Let dry per the instructions on your spray paint can.

Step 4: Glue the Middle Board for the Back Board

Picture of Glue the Middle Board for the Back Board
  1. Remove the Masking tape from the Back Panel, Middle panel, and Detail layer.
  2. Glue the Middle Panel to the Back panel making sure your corners are perfectly aligned.
  3. Using the Behold head as a guide for the eyes and mouth, glue in the small details and then REMOVE the Beholders Body shape from the piece. This piece is no longer needed in the build. It was to be used only as a jig for detailed piece placement and lines up perfectly with the acrylic layer.

Step 5: Mix and Pour the Resin

Picture of Mix and Pour the Resin
Picture of Mix and Pour the Resin
  1. Using Promarine Epoxy Resin, mix two equal parts A and B. I filled each two ounce cup about halfway.
  2. Add in the pigment colors. I used Black Diamond Pigment, Bora Bora Blue into Part A.
  3. Using a Popsicle stick, Scrape the sides of the cups into a new cup and mix thoroughly ensuring that the resin is fully mixed.
  4. Pour mixed resin slowly into the void and with a tool or stick of your choice (I used a tool meant for carving clay) push the resin into every crevasse it needs to be in.
  5. Use a heat gun to pop all bubbles. Check back often for the first 15 minutes and apply heat when necessary.
    • DO NOT OVERUSE HEAT, you can overheat the resin and cause extra bubbles.
  6. Let the Resin cure for 24 hours.

Step 6: Peel the Mask Off the Acrylic Layer

Picture of Peel the Mask Off the Acrylic Layer

Using a carving tool, and a significant amount of patience, start pulling away at the mask on the acrylic layer.

*A tip many people gave me was to use Gorilla Tape to pull all the masking tape off. In trying that, the best option was still to just patiently pick at the piece. The spray paint and the melted acrylic around the masking tape makes for REALLY stuck tape. Scraping allows for you to remove acrylic build up as well as the tape.

Step 7: Air Brush, Peel, and Paint Some More

Picture of Air Brush, Peel, and Paint Some More
Picture of Air Brush, Peel, and Paint Some More
Picture of Air Brush, Peel, and Paint Some More
  1. Prepare the “TOP LAYER” that was spray painted prior to laser engraving for paint
  2. Using your toothbrush, clean out the engravings
  3. Using your lungs, and/or air based tools, blow away any excess junk.
  4. Keeping the original masking tape layer in place, apply BLUE PAINTERS TAPE to separate the colors. This books cover had both Tan and Blue. I did the blue first by masking off all the areas where the tan would need to be painted.
  5. I filled my airbrush with Vallejo Flow improver as well as Vallejo Blue Green (70808) andRoyal Blue (70809). I added a few drops of water and mixed everything in the paint well with a paint brush. 
    • If you do not have access to an airbrush, you can also fill these spaces with Spray paint.
    • I DO NOT recommend brush painting into these areas as paint bleeds really easily on wood. A nice even coating of spray paint or an airbrush is really ideal for this situation. It applies even color and looks the best.
  6. Let the paint dry between colors and remove the masking tape.
  7. Spray the same color of spray paint used on the panel itself into a cup and paint back with a brush any sections the tape pulled away. Using the spray paint will ensure you match the colors perfectly.

Step 8: Pour the Resin Clear Coat

Picture of Pour the Resin Clear Coat
Picture of Pour the Resin Clear Coat
  1. Put some sticks UNDERNEATH the piece to allow for the resin top coat to fall off the edges onto a piece of paper.
  2. Using Promarine Epoxy Resin, mix two equal parts A and B. I filled each two ounce cup about halfway.
  3. DO NOT ADD ANY PIGMENT. This is meant to be a clear coat.
  4. With a foam brush make sure the resin is coating the entire piece.
  5. Use a heat gun to pop all bubbles. Check back often for the first 15 minutes and apply heat when necessary.
    • DO NOT OVERUSE HEAT, you can overheat the resin and cause extra bubbles.
  6. Wait 24 hours and pour another layer of resin. The first thin layer will cover the piece but the second layer will even everything out
    • Make sure you check that there is no resin pooling on the edges. Using a clean foam brush, wipe away excess as you see it appear.

Step 9: Do a Loose Test Fit

Picture of Do a Loose Test Fit
  1. Depending on how well you pour your resin top coat, sanding may be necessary to fit the Acrylic sheet in place.
  2. Sand places only if necessary but the acrylic should friction fit into the void on the TOP LAYER
  3. Glue the TOP LAYER to the MIDDLE PANEL.
  4. Friction fit the Acrylic layer in place. DO NOT GLUE UNLESS NECESSARY

Step 10: Finish the Piece

Picture of Finish the Piece

Admire your finished work. This piece was amazing to make and taught me a lot. I plan on making two more of these: the Dungeon masters guide as well as the Players handbook. Look out for more build files soon!

Have fun and go make something awesome!

Instagram: @whengeekscraft

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