Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tutorial: building a ruined bridge base

Yesterday I completed my Orruk Warboss on Wyvern that included the fancy base you can see below. It is supposed to look like a ruined bridge or highway (or something similar). As it was rather easy and fun to build I thought people might like a tutorial on this. Luckily I actually remembered to take some pictures while scratch-building.

Never mind true line of sight and hiding behind terrain: a big model needs a big base, it just looks right.
To start off I took an leftover bit of dense polystyrene and used a scalpel and a metal ruler to cut three pieces to size. As this was going to be a ruin, the process did not have to be very precise. I used my scalpel to cut edges in the sides of the long pieces to sink my road into.

Don't drink and model....or do and make silly mistakes.
For the sharper readers among you, yes I made a stupid mistake. Both side pieces have their edge on the same side. I could easily solve this by making a new piece but that would require a walk back to the shed. As I was going for quick&dirty I just cut the offending bit off and glued it back on at the right side.

Quick and dirty building technique #1: ignore mistakes, just keep on building.
Next up on this very precise project closing the rest of the rectangle.

Add more polystyrene.
With the basic shape complete I cut a few pieces of cork to size. I spotted this technique on a model in my local GW and decided to steal it.

Stacking bits of cork makes for a nice looking ruined roadway.
With this completed I used the rest of the polystyrene to cut a few loose blocks.

If only the Egyptians new about polystyrene, we would've had so many more pyramids (and found no remnants of any of them, but that is another story).
I proceeded to use a pencil to mark block shapes in my bridge. With a bit of extra carelessness this quickly turns into rough blockwork (mental note: next time I should be slightly neater).

Later on I used a q-tip to flatten out the globs of PVA.
I stacked the blocks I cut earlier around the back, hiding the ugly joins.

Rough ugly edges are no problem when making ruined stonework.
I cut 2 cm by 1 cm bits of 1mm cardboard to cover the top of my construction.

Cardboard is the best option for making tiles and shingles.
After measuring them on top I took them off again, marked out where they hung over the edge of the block and cut those bits off with a scalpel. O made sure to keep the bits I cut off handy as I needed them later.

Add damage and remember to keep the bits you cut off.
Next I covered the top in PVA and glued the tiles on it.

With the tiling in place, this thing is coming together.
After that I added sand to the bottom of the base, used a leftover bit from a Skaven kit (for no real good reason, it was sticking out of the bits box). I also added the cut off bits of tile to the front of the bridge.

Add sand to give it a sense of place in the world.
At this point I felt a bit of regret at not putting siding on the project. That's what happens if you fail to do any planning whatsoever. I picked up a few mismatched bits of polystyrene and used glue and pins to stick them to the sides.

Add sides to cover up for my lack of planning.
I finished the first part of the construction process off by covering the entire base in watered down PVA. This is always a bit tricky when you've marked out patterns in polystyrene as the PVA tends to fill up the carved space again. In the end I took a bit of extra care to remove extra glue from the stone pattern.

Cover everything in PVA to give it a bit of durability.
To finish off I added some skulls from the GW's Citadel Skulls box.

As this is Warhammer: add skulls.
After an afternoon's worth of drying time I came back in in the evening and used some liquid green stuff to hide the needles on the siding of the bridge and cover some other gaps and mistakes.

Use some liquid green stuff to cover up more mistakes.
After this I basecoated the base with the airbrush (don't base coat polystyrene with a rattlecan as it will melt (unless that is your intention).

Airbrush Vallejo Base Coat (black) on it be sure to hit all the recesses. 
With the base coat dry I painted the bridge Mechanicus Standard Grey, washed it with Agrax Earthshade and gave it a drybrush of Dawnstone. After that I added Athonian Camoshade washes to the sides and to bits of stone to add a mossy look. The sand is painted Dryad Bark and drybrushed with Tyrant Skull.

For the future: don't forgetto snap pictures of the painting in progress.
I painted the skulls Rakarth Flesh, washed with Vallejo Sepia and highlighted with Ushabti Bone.

I rather like the effect of the broken tiles on the ground.
To make the stone look more interesting I added a few strategic local washes of Nuln Oil, Reikland Fleshshade and Seraphim Sepia to different tiles. The grass and flowers are from Gamers Grass.

Gamers Grass makes flowers that serve to add some (non-skull) character to any base.
All in all (I think) it makes for a nice looking base that was quick and easy to build.


  1. Excellent, nice and easy. I´ve just finished my own ruined bridge for my own bloody hill. I hope posting some pics on my blog this week. There are many ways to make some nice and easy scenery. I used the tutorial of Here´s the link if you want to take a look of it.

    1. Thanks, that portal looks excellent. I think I'm going to try that tutorial soon to make a second Realmgate.

  2. Very cool base, and it helps to match this older figure with the profile of the (naturally larger) new figure.

    1. Cheers, yes I think any Warboss worth his salt should tower over the rest of his army :)