Monday, June 27, 2016

An Age of Sigmar graveyard using the Garden of Morr

With a bit of luck I got my hands on a used Garden of Morr kit. As I had already prepared some bases and green stuffed some gravestones I was ready to make an interesting graveyard to surround my Vampire Counts castle with.

Graveyard covered in dirt and ready for a last layer of PVA and a base coat.
Before the dirt pictured above was glued to the base I had to plot out and glue the plastic on first. Before that I started by making a small raised area on the large part of the graveyard, that tends to make a larger area look a bit more interesting. After that I glued on a left-over altar from the Coven Throne kit, some green stuffed candles and some other stuff.

Graveyard construction in progress
I split the graveyard into multiple bases so I can vary the size of it during gaming. I also elected not to mash it all together like the GW photo because no model will fit their Garden of Morr. I want my undead to march over the graveyard (or start their march from it).

A few bits of wall and some gravestones will make the entire set look like a very ancient, crumbling graveyard.
After the buildings and gravestones were stuck to the bases I covered all wood and select bits of the plastic with PVA and then went back to throwing regular garden dirt on it. One earthworm had to be saved during the process.

Tossing garden dirt on the PVA'ed base.
After tossing the dirt on I hold the base upside down above a piece of paper to shed the excess. Then apply a bit more glue were I want more sand and repeat the process. The end result is the following picture.

Looks dirty (har har).
After a nights worth of drying I took the last step in the morning. After applying dirt (or sand) to a base you should always cover it in watered down PVA. This will dry into a nice hard plastic film over the sand making your base coat stick to it, and making the sand stick to the base. If you don't do this, your play pieces will shed sand (or dirt) every time you game making the gaming table messy and slowly ruining your terrain piece. This is the final WIP picture as of this morning, next steps base coating and painting.

It looks awful now, but that will be ok after painting.

Vampire Counts castle, finishing touches

With the weekend over, I can look back at finishing the last bits of the castle. Next step is waiting for it to dry and base coating everything. At the start of the weekend I decided to keep the second bridge simple, and now it easily connects the two hills leading up to the castle.

A bridge and a drawbridge lead up tot the castle. The middle hill and the simple bridge can be removed to decrease the size of the castle on the table, or I can make a long line filling an entire table with the castle.

In the last minute I managed to break off the gallows on the back corner of the road leading up to the courtyard. I reinforced the wood with a long pin made from a paper clip and covered the entire thing in liquid green stuff to give it a bit more texture (and strength). I also swapped the direction of the gallows as it makes more sense with the chains.

Rather gruesome I would say.
To round of the construction I added two old cairn wraith miniatures on the top of the castle walls. They don't go well with the newer plastic one but will look great as statues.

I wonder what the pigeons will make of these two.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Building a castle roof and more details

Detailing a large project is important and time consuming. The castle stands on the living room table and I try to put a few hours work in every day to get it to the point where I can start painting it (almost there). I put up a few more corpses.

You decorate your home with my friend, you'd better be a vampire! Oh you are...oh oh....
And I used a styrofoam cutter to make extra towers for the rooftop.

The basic structure of the roof is foamboard.
The fences around the edges are parts of the Rhino tank upgrade kit, I'm trying to get my hands on a few more to finish that bit up. Also I did not like the central window above the door. I don't think vampires really appreciate too many windows plus I had some leftover bits around.

Every castle needs an evil face above the door.
The next step is one that should be familiar to people who build model slate roofed houses.

Spending an afternoon cutting cardboard strips to size, what a glorious hobby.
It's watching bad movies while cutting up cardboard strips. I used this to make the roof tiles and to start tiling the tower tops (not a lot of fun, that part). I've also used some PVA to fill the joints between the tiles.

The roof is nearing completion.
Next step making the bridge between the ascension ramp and the middle part leading to the draw bridge. After tossing out a rather disastrously ugly polystyrene bridge I decided to go for simple wood.

The second bridge is going to be simple.
So far so good. Next step finishing the last bit of roof and painting this monster.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Detailing my wargaming castle

As for all things in wargaming terrain the devil is in the details. So I expect to be spending quite a number of hobby hours on detailing the shape of the castle I have built. First thing was making a gate wall between the two large towers that form the entrance.

I carved the gate from dense styrofoam. The stone patern was drawn with a fineliner and sculpted with a sharp scalpel and a cocktail stick.After I placed the part I covered it with insta-filler sealing it in and filling any gaps between this block and the towers. I waited an hour for the filler to start drying and then used a cocktail stick to reshape the carved rocks. The plastic skulls and demon faces are from the Arcane Ruins kit by Games Workshop. They nicely cover some ugly holes and make for a bit of dramatic effect on the top windows. For the portcullis I googles some sample images and then built it using balsa wood and small bits of cardboard. This was covered in PVA and then in superglue to make sure it was strong enough.

I added a few piles with skulls and bones to the courtyard. These were in my bits box, no clue what model they originally came with. After gluing these in place I added a bit of extra PVA glue around the base and sanded it. This covers the gap between the metal bit and the courtyard itself.

Next up was the front door of the keep. This was also made from balsa wood. I make these shapes by taping a bit of masking tape to my cutting mat. Then I apply straight planks of wood slightly over the size of the door in two halves. I coat these bits in slightly watered down PVA. The glue is partly sucked up by the wood and on drying ties the bits nicely together. Then I make a mask on a piece of paper and use it to cut the top circle shape out. As a last touch I make the bottom straight. The large metal hinges are superglued 1mm cardboard with a small 1mm plastic ball on it. The skulls are from a skeleton shields sprue and the door knobs are two beads.

To add a bit of character I added some sharp little stones to the paths leading up and to the courtyard.


On one side of the castle I wanted to make the impression of decay, so I cut of a large chunk of the road. Now I added a rickety repair with balsa wood. The trick to make balsa wood look well worn is to cut all the straight edges off with a scalpel before applying it.

Last but not least was a gallows with a few bits from the zombie kit and a few more of the metal bits with pieces of chain, making it look like the gallows is helpt up by these.

As an extra touch I glued a small bit to a rather deep hole in the side of the cliff that I forgot to cover. As Bob Ross would say: "There are no mistakes, just happy little accidents." This is going to look like a rather scary tunnel and make you wonder what nasty manner of creature inhabits it.

This is a huge project so detailing is not finished yet. Next up I will first make a roof. I'll probably add some greenstuff to the gallows later and I still need to think of some clever ways to cover a few of the larger ugly holes in the toy castle towers.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Sealing terrain with PVA

Only a short update on this project today. Yesterday evenings work is more or less dry so I could hold the castle and the other bits upside down today to remove excess sand. After that I covered everything in a mix of about 9 parts water, 1 part PVA. This helps seal sand and other things and makes it stick to the model. The bits of polystyrene that are not covered after this (and there always are) will still melt on spray painting the primer, but that will usually just make it look cooler (IMHO). I took everything inside hoping it will dry somewhere in my lifetime (hopefully by Sunday).

Next steps building the graveyard and making a roof and extra towers, or maybe taking a short break and painting some extra inhabitants.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sand and mud on Age of Sigmar terrain

Another evening dawned, it was raining outside and I was working in the shed getting ready to toss a bucket-load of insta-filler and pva glue (both mercifully cheap at the local Action) at my work in progress. I want to spray paint my polystyrene and that means it needs to be well sealed off. You can do this by covering it in PVA glue cut with water (a 50/50 mix will do). But as I also wanted to make my cliffs look like cliffs instead of haphazardly glued polystyrene I need some insta-filler too It gives a nice texture and if you mix it with PVA it becomes rather strong and easy to paint. I made a mix consisting of about equal parts of water (for ease of applying), PVA and insta-filler and threw in a bit of beach sand because I was feeling creative and adventurous. I covered deep gaps and seriously sloppy work with a bit of pure insta-filler and covered it with my mix later.

Hey where did that sand and other stuff come from? Excellent question! After applying the PVA/insta-filler mix I sprayed on a thick coat of PVA where I wanted the courtyard. The tiles are made of glass and where available for scrap booking or something in the local Action. Next step was applying glue where I wanted the road. By now the PVA/insta-filler mix was mostly dry so I could apply on thick layer of PVA where the road should be. Then it was on to my big box of beach sand (wherever you go always bring a bag of stones and dirt back with you) and use careful handsfull to apply it to the 'road PVA'. After that some careful pushes with a cheap and horrible terrain brush to make sure the road was well covered (see that cup of brushes in the background, they are all useless for painting but great for wasting on glue and insta-filler).

For the bottom parts of the base I went into the garden and grabbed some fresh black dirt. I actually had to rescue two worms as I was applying it because it was raining at the time. The same proces was used as for the road, but I have good hope the final texture will be different. I also emptied superglue over the dirt to give it an extra nice, cracked look. Here are a few picks of a night of slapping dirt and insta-filler on a model.

The ascend:

The small cliff:

And a few more of the castle:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Building a polystyrene wargaming hill or cliff

With the bases ready and the plan in place it is time to build up the cliff and the castle. The proces for this is quite simple. I have a few large blocks of dense polystyrene (never ever ever ever use the white bubbly stuff! In my experience it will destroy itself during gaming no matter how well you seal it off with glue and insta-filler). Just grab a very sharp knife cut of a (~10 cm) wide strip of polystyrene, and divide it into smaller chunks (~10cm x 10cm). Cut a few smaller bits of and make sure to always cut of the edges and points of each block. Then get your hot glue gun ready and start fixing the block to the table (yes hot glue melts polystyrene but not by enough to make me care and its almost instant drying time allows you to work at speed).

First of was the upper cliff bit for the keep itself. I made it first because the workbench was still empty at that point. Next up were the the ascend piece and the cliff bit, also because of workspace consideration. Last up was the big cliff and the castle.

I marked of the ascend in the corners by gluing a few 10x10cm blocks atop each other (2 for the start and first corner, and 3 for the second corner).  and I cut one larger piece diagonally to make the ascend out of one piece. That prepared I let my mind wander as I glued pieces of polystyrene on top of other pieces. I marked out space for a large mysterious cave entrance to one side and made sure to glue supports for the building on the inside. Here are a few work in progress shots.

Next up cutting and covering it all up....

Monday, June 13, 2016

Making MDF bases for terrain and green stuff details

So enough time has been spent daydreaming and planning. This week I actually started on the build. Step #1 sculpting some gravestones over lunch because my castle will need to be surrounded by a large (huge) graveyard.

For those wondering. The little blobs on the right are going to be candles. I also went ahead and splurged on a Garden of Morr kit. I rather like the tombs and above all I want some rusty wrought iron fencing and have no clue how to produce a convincing looking fence at a reasonable pace.

Next step making the bases. I base almost all my terrain on 3 mm MDF board. It is very easy to cut to size and to sand the edges down to a gentle slope. Cutting terrain ahead of time helps me plan (my complete castle may not exceed a 60x60cm board if it is to be used in armies on parade. So here is the layout.

Note all the notes I scribbled on it. They will be quite useless when I build (as terrain will cover it. But it somehow helps me think in 3D and provides a bit of extra help when translating my vague sketches and scribbles to terrain. For the Dutch challenged among you: opgang means ascent. I will make a gentle slope (so miniatures don't slide off) from ground to 8 cm over a reasonable distance. Then a (removable) bridge will link to a cliff at 8 cm height. From the cliff acces is possible to the castles draw bridge. In game I can choose to make the bend just use the ascent or even fill the length the table by putting it straight behind each other

The plastic keep will need to be high up on its own platform. I want a courtyard in front with a stair and a winding road all around the base so I can gently ascend 4 cm to a side (making it possible to move armies up the ramp).

As this post is getting a bit wordy, the next part will be in a new one, part 4 to be precise...

Friday, June 10, 2016

Planning wargame terraing and mood board

Last post was about some general consideration, today it is time to talk about planning and my mood board. First I have just started sketching in a nice sketchbook I bought for the purpose. It will serve as my collection of blank paper to scribble on and if all goes well I can actually find older inspiration when there's time to build a new project (Aqshy gaming table plan, I'm looking at you!).

Anyway here are my first castle scribbles. If you can't follow along, don't worry, I sometimes can't follow myself. It basically consists of some possible designs integrating parts of a castle I found in the thrift store.

The notes:

The castle parts, I snapped these pictures for a Facebook post about scale, so say hi to Ug and Nug the two chaos thugs and Arbaal the Undefeated (mostly because he's never been used on a tabletop).

I gathers quite a few vampire castle pictures from around the web and used them for a mood board to draw inspiration from. Unfortunately due to copyright restriction I can't show my mood board on the blog, so I'll have to use a few thousand words (a.k.a. the worth of one picture). If you Google vampire castle you'll get foreboding dark castles with lots of blues, purples and whitish greens. Towering cliffs, rickety bridges and a general feeling of disrepair. Google 'vampire castle van helsing' and you'll get a curling road leading to a castle with one prominent high tower. This movie also features a second castle sporting a cool drawbridge held up by huge chains. These will be some of the things I'm going to aim for in building my castle.