Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What a Week!

There was no time to post last week as I geared up to deliver my tables to Gencon. This week I'll show you the final diorama shots of the Wrath of Kings Goritsi City, and I'll give you a look at how a commissioned table like the Von Drakk Manor gets developed, from concept art to construction.

Both of these tables have been added to my terrain gallery with a slew of photos, so check 'em out!


Kevin at Cool Mini Or Not was nice enough to put me up for the show, so I was able to meet everyone and walk around the hall. 

In addition to the Wrath of Kings Diorama, I finished off Von Drakk Manor, a haunted mansion for the upcoming Super Dungeon Explore expansion from Sodapop Miniatures. There was a lot of positive feedback for both of the tables (although I think the Sodapop booth babes got more attention!) and I really appreciate all the kind words.

I hung out at the show Thursday and Friday. Saw a lot of old faces and met some new ones as well. I even got to play a game of Warmaster. Good times!

Wrath of Kings Diorama

The miniatures for the Wrath of Kings diorama were painted over the course of a week, and pinned in place with wire. I think the Union Workers (pig men) with their Master-Blaster-like Union Bosses are my favorite.

Von Drakk Manor

The second table I'd been secretly working on is for an upcoming Super Dungeon Explore expansion. I got to see the figures for the new set at Gencon, and they look really sweet– skeletons, spiders, a giant werewolf and vampire bat, and new heroes. John at Sodapop commissioned me to build this haunted mansion, Von Drakk Manor, to demo the game at shows:

So, how does a table evolve from an idea to the final product? 

Concept Art

After getting the initial idea of 'a haunted mansion demo table' I worked up a concept for a 2'x3' board. This first piece has a few levels, multiple rooms, and is pretty involved.

That was a bit large for what he wanted, so I dialed things back a bit and gave John a few different options for a table that was visually appealing and would be suitable for a quick run through of the game basics.

John settled on design "B" and I tightened up the concept, complete with the floorplan, details, and exterior elevations so he could visualize what it would look like from the front, side, and rear.


Once those designs were approved, it was time to start building. I didn't really document the construction the way I did for the Wrath of Kings table, but I took a few pictures to keep John up to date on the progress.

The toughest part was working out the stairs and tile spacing. Each tile is 1-inch square, and the stairs needed to align properly and carry through to the second story without the railing interfering with gameplay. Consequently, there is a 1-inch row of "dead space" along the wall and railing. The other tiles make up the playable area.

The torn wallpaper was made by slicing the card covering off of a sheet of foam core, and using the foam 'core' to shape the stonework. The hanging tatters were sculpted onto the board with modeling putty. The skulls are Verlinden Productions resin skulls, and the doors are my own resin doors, modified with styrene strips. The railings were scratch-built using ship parts for the balusters and layered basswood dowels and strips for the handrail.

The window frames were resin cast, and I added some decorative plastic columns.

These next shots show the table nearing completion. The bookshelves were assembled using thick cardstock.

The draperies were made by soaking a length of paper towel in wood glue and laying it out on a piece of foam to dry. I folded and twisted it into the desired shape while it was still wet. If you try this technique, I highly recommend latex gloves; my fingertips were yellow for days!

I cannibalized some tea lights to make the torches. Everything but the bulb and battery housing was trimmed away and this was then covered with strips of card cut with decorative scissors to create a fixture that would sit atop the shorter columns.

The exterior towers and stonework were made much the same as the towers on the Wrath of Kings city.


I don't usually get to paint a lot of blue or purple, so this table was a nice change of pace. Nearly every piece of furniture and detail was painted separately and then glued together on the finished table. John sent me an illustration which I was able to print and place in a small frame.

I matched the tile pattern on the carpet using a gold pen to draw the grid and add a bit of decoration.

The windows all have a piece of card behind the frame with either a warm glow (for the exterior) or the moonlight shining through (for the interior). The frames were then glued overtop.

I think the tea lights turned out pretty well! The batteries are removable so they don't burn out. With a little more time or budget I'd run wires underneath and add a switch.

The client was very satisfied, which is always a good thing. (Actually, it's the most important thing!) All that remained was the 12-hour drive to Indianapolis to deliver it!

You can see more detail shots of Von Drakk Manor and the Goritsi City in my terrain gallery.

'Til next time!


  1. Yyou make it look so easy Rob. I am jealous I wish I got work like that! The haunted manor is especially good.

  2. Very nice.

    A question on the commission process: How do you decide on cost? (I'm not asking for numbers, just your process.)

    I've done a few pieces where I tried to estimate each section of a board and it got prohibitively complex.

  3. Holy crappola! Is this where you've been? Great job!

  4. Another fantastic piece of work, my admiration is matched only by my jealousy. This is fast becoming one of my favourite blogs.

  5. Got to see both table in the flesh this weekend. Didn't know the second one was yours Rob, but I should have guessed. Great work indeed.

    For some reason I kept reading the Wrath of Kings as Kings of War. Made a lot more sense when I saw the models not coming from Mantic on it at the booth.

    Looking forward to seeing the next table.

  6. I got the pleasure of running demos on the SDE board and it was awesome man. Hats off to you!

  7. Awesome, awesome stuff. The Von Drakk Manor turned out great. I can't stop looking at that last photo. Congrats on another terrific piece, Rob.


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