March 2– Back from vacation, the shop is open!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Undead Terrain

Only seven days left in the poll, and it appears that "Terrain" is going to be the big winner with "More Vampire Counts" in a 3 way tie for second place. Here's something to start things off: Vampire Counts Terrain!

The graveyard and Von Koss Keep have appeared in the background of all of my Vampire army shots, so it's time to put them in the spotlight.

Von Koss Keep

The keep was constructed for a map campaign many years ago. Each player was allowed to build a "fortified hill" to be placed in their HQ territory. This is what I came up with.

The piece is based on hardboard, with insulation foam forming the hill. The interior courtyard is just over 1-inch high, and the area outside the walls slopes down to the table level. The grade is low enough that a unit of models can stand on it without tipping over.

The outer wall is from the Forge World gothic graveyard set, with spiked rails from the 40K Chaos tank accessory sprue forming the wrought iron fence. All of the Space Marine helmets were replaced with more skulls and zombie parts. The measurements for the courtyard are 10" wide by 4.5" deep. That will accompany about 60 models, so I could place two pretty sizable units in the defended position. The entire piece measures 16" x 20."

The gate guardians are old Wight models with plastic shields. They are painted with Tin Bitz and Brazen Brass and washed with Jade Green to create a copper patina. (A trick I had learned a long time ago, and later mastered by painting copper rooftops and steam pipes for the Iron Kingdoms!)

The stone walls and ground were painted in much the same manner as my graveyard bases but to match the green battle mat I added some Woodland Scenics flock before applying the clumps of static grass.

The keep itself is constructed from a cut-down tower from the plastic Warhammer fortress. Skeleton shield icons were used to decorate the top, and a metal door from the Arcane Architecture range was added. In order to accommodate the height of the door, I had to recess some steps leading down to the doorway. Kind of a pain, but it creates a nice illusion of there being more castle underground.

The skulls on stakes leading up to the door are from Gorthor the Beastlord's trophy rack. The impales skeleton on the left is the banner bit from a Black Coach.

Of course, the castle grounds are littered with graves of the restless dead. I used a lot of skulls, tombstones, and model parts for the details.

Since this was for a campaign, and one of my primary adversaries was Orcs & Goblins, I added a few Orc casualties on the premises. Mordheim casualty markers and some spare model parts can be seen here.

The rear of the keep has a walkway leading through the rocks, to a back door.

The rocks are cut from pink insulation foam, built up with some wood filler putty and textured with sand. To create a haunted atmosphere, I cut some subtle skull imagery into various places around the rocks. Nothing too obvious, like the "Skull Mountains" that GW's terrain boasts nowadays. Just enough that the keen eye will pick up on it while still appearing as though it may have occurred naturally.

Trophies and warnings litter the back door. There's even a chain on the wall where Marduk might tie up his "dog." I had considered adding a dog dish, but figured that strayed too far into the realm of camp. (I take my toy soldiers pretty seriously, after all!)

But that dog's gotta eat, so dinner is always waiting.  That's a Night Goblin Fanatic, converted with plastic zombie hands.  He's long dead, and has gone zombie himself, but just can't seem to get down.

The Graveyard

This was made around the same time as the keep, anthough I honestly can't remember which came first. Maybe this graveyard was a "proof of concept" before tackling the big job?

Either way, this has become the centerpiece of my army, and when I would do the tournament circuits this was almost always on my army display board. The piece measures 11.5" wide by 6" deep.

The walls are the same as the ones from the keep. The gate guardians here are the Epic 40K Mortarion miniature.

The tombstones are a combination of metal parts from the Arcane Architectire range, and some plastic tombstones from a model railroad cemetery set by the now defunct Mouse Models.

Lots of zombies and skeletons rising from the graves. Notice the face-down skeleton in the center– I remember reading a story about the undead, and how sometimes the dead are buried face-down to confuse them in the event that they are reanimated.

So, at least one family tried to protect their deceased against the inevitable horrors of necromantic resurrection. I guess everyone else thought it was a good idea to bury their dead with knives and swords!

Til' next time!


  1. These look really great. I like the idea of cutting down the tower to fit. I have some of these going around and I may do the same. I look forward to seeing some more.

  2. Oh wow, this looks fantastic! I love it! I was looking for some inspiration to make my own graveyard terrain and then I found your blog. I am going to follow you now. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Greetings, Sofie

  3. Fantastic work here. Really impressive. Now I'm going to have to go through the rest of your pages...

  4. Fantastic work.
    Thank you a lot for your inspiration!


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