Monday, February 25, 2013

Wrath of Kings: Concept to Completion

Creating a piece of terrain is like raising a child– You pour all of your knowledge and love into it and, when it's all grown up, send it off into the world. There's a bit of anxiety and some empty nest syndrome when it leaves, but you're kind of glad to have it out of your hair.

That's how it is with the Wrath of Kings displays as I prepare to ship them out. They've been the focus of my life for the past two months, which may not seem like a very long time but, in the world of terrain building, it's an eternity. I didn't ever think I'd see the surface of my work table again! My studio will definitely feel empty without them, but the good news is that there's always more terrain to build and models to paint.

I took the time to take plenty of detail shots before I packed them up, and they'll be added to my new Wrath of Kings Terrain gallery shortly. In this week's post I'll show the steps each display went through from concept art to a finished piece of terrain.

For each display I drew on inspiration from Five Houses' environmental art. From there I worked out a color concept for the layout, taking care to incorporate as many flat surfaces as possible for model placement. Then it was on to the construction and painting. Here's how everything shaped up:






I'm really happy with these. Each display has its own unique style of architecture and distinct color scheme. They all presented me with different challenges and the opportunity to try out some new techniques. The coral on the Hadross table, for example: I wrestled to come up with something I could use to make convincing coral formations and when the solution finally presented itself it was so glaringly obvious: Wood glue-soaked foliage clusters. The glue hardens the spongy clumps, and then they can be painted to resemble coral.

Well, it's time to send the kids off to their new home...

'Til next time!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wrath of Kings Displays

I've been working for the past month or so on a set of small display tables for Cool Mini Or Not's Wrath of Kings game. 

Many of you will remember the diorama that I made last year. That was a Goritsi city, under attack by a Teknes force. Kevin from Cool Mini contacted me about building five small displays for each of the different factions. Each display measures 18-inches square and they'll be used for box and book photography, and will serve as displays for the studio miniatures at conventions (so you'll have the opportunity to see these in person if you swing by the Cool Mini booth at some of the upcoming shows). Check out their Facebook page, for updates on the game and miniatures.

After looking over the environmental concept art, I drew up some plans, got them approved, and set to work:

[Faction names link to their relevant page on the Wrath of Kings site, and all quotes are taken from there.]


"War is coming to Arikania such as it has never seen. The night will run red, and the shadows shall feed." 

This setting is a ruin that's been overtaken and fortified with some wooden supports. The basic construction is pink insulation foam with cut and pressed rocks.

Here's the piece with a little more progress. The hills and rubble have been added.

For the flagstone courtyard I used cardboard chits, glued in place with sand between the cracks.

Once all of the stonework was finished, I gave the sides a coat of wood filler to smooth over all of the joins.

In this image, the wooden walkways are in place, and all that remains is to add the trees and shadow creatures.


"Nasier`s nation of Kartoresh is united behind its Scion King and the Great Temples of its elemental patrons."

The huge Nasier temples are a little large for an 18-inch display, so I "zoomed in" to focus on a section of stairs leading up the temple. This is all foam construction, with cardboard stones for the balconies.

The cracking brick facade was made by adding a thin layer of foam overtop of the underlying structure.

Once the painting is finished, small torches will be added along the stairway.


"These masters of steam and steel have re-forged their nation and gained a new purpose. A fire burns within them as hot as the boilers of their machines."

This table was probably the most challenging to construct. It's an industrial waterfront with a multi-tiered dock, and pipes running everywhere. This shows the initial layout of the shoreline. The tower was made by stacking two-inch layers of insulation foam, and sanding them round.

Next, I added the rock face and covered the buildings with wood filler to simulate a cracked, plaster surface.

The docks were constructed using basswood strips, and dowels for the posts. The rope wrappings at the top of each post were made by twisting 22-gauge floral wire together with a power drill.

To finish the display, all manner of pipes will be added using PVC tubes and bendable drinking straws. Doors, windows, and rooftops will be added, too.

And what good is a dock without a boat? This little guy was made from blocks of foam, covered with rivet-pinched sheet styrene. The portholes are grommets, inserted into holes cut in the boat. There's a little work to be done yet to finish off the stacks.


"Uniquely favored by the gods, House Shael Han's nation of Achrion is disciplined, pious, and surprisingly strong for an island kingdom. Their divine magic and powerful technology makes their soldiers capable of amazing feats of skill and perseverance."

These shots were taken after the construction was finished and the display had been primed and sprayed with its undercoating color. All of the Shael Han environmental art depicted massive walls and adjoining buildings, so I designed this table to show the top of the wall, with paths and walkways that wind down along the rooftops.

The shingles are cut from strips of thick cardstock, and the brick and stone floor textures are cut and pressed into the foam.

To achieve the exposed stone under the cracked plaster, I cut the stone texture and then spread a thin layer of wood filler over the rest of the surface. When dry, the wood filler was sanded smooth.

All of the chimneys, windows and doors were kept separate for painting.


"Unknowable eons past, an otherworldly power neither elemental nor god left its mark upon Arikania. Hadross pledged himself and his people to this elder thing, sacrificing himself to save all that he loved. More and more of them are not even remotely human, and the possession of their bodies by servants of their Deep Gods accelerates these changes."

The underwater cities of Hadross really intrigued me. One option was to build the display to represent the ocean floor, with buildings climbing the sea wall. I instead settled for a surface city, surrounded by coral formations and pools of water.

This is the only progress picture I have so far– the basic foam forms cut out and towers shaped and sanded. I haven't been documenting the process much because I'm trying to work quickly, so this one will be more of a surprise.

Coming up, I'll have pictures of the finished displays and comparison images showing their progress from concept art to completion.

'Til next time!