Friday, October 9, 2020

Project Log: The Tombs of Tithing, Part 1

This is a project that has been a long time coming. I've wanted to build a set of elaborate tombs and catacombs, and GW's Bonetithe Nexus kit provided the last bit of inspiration to get the project off the ground. This series will follow my progress as I build the tombs.

The primary model components I'm using are the Bonetithe Nexus and the Sigmarite Mausoleum (formerly known as the Garden of Morr). I also have some 2-inch insulation foam and foam core board that will form the walls and hills.


I had a general idea of what I wanted the tomb to look like, but I wasn't sure how I would be able to build it with an exposed interior, so I drew some sketches. The concept is a tomb set into a hill, with steps leading up to the entrance, and a mausoleum interior, with graves on the top of the hill. I'll have one side of the hill broken open so the interior will be visible, and steps leading up to the top so the scenery will have areas for models to interact with it (playability is always a concern).



The basic design will be half of the Bonetithe Nexus' steps, a mausoleum front for the "door" and foam core board for the front wall. The floor of the tomb will be on the 2-inch foam, which I will shape into the steps and the bottom of the hill. Once I have the entrance worked out and the general size established, I'll build up to the top of the hill in with more layers of foam.



I traced out the shape of the entrance onto the foam core. I'm considering using the two halves of the top of one mausoleum as dormers on either side.



I decided to recess the entrance to create a larger platform where a character could stand atop the steps. I used the pillars that I had left over from one of the Sigmarite Mausoleum gates as the sides, and trimmed the mausoleum front to fit them.



Using a steel ruler and an extendable knife, I cut thin slices of insulation foam for the stonework on the wall. Each slice is about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and will be glued to the exterior of the foam core and textured with a stone pattern. I attach the foam with Liquid Nails construction adhesive and a dot of hot glue to hold it in place while the construction adhesive dries.



I assembled the mausoleum entrance and built the wall behind it. The opening will allow you to see inside the tomb.



For the angled walls, I added a few individually cut foam stones to get a precise fit.



The recessed entryway was then fit into the main wall. The foam stones were coated with Mod Podge and then painted with thinned black acrylic paint to protect the foam. I began building up the foam layer on the rest of the wall.



I added some styrene card, cut to match the paving stones at the top of the steps.



Then, the rest of the foam was added, and I cut more individual stones to go around the corners.



These corner stones were trimmed, and the rest of the stonework was added by cutting in the lines with a hobby knife and then deepening the cuts with a wood pencil. Some stones were pressed in and chipped with a knife to add variety and depth to the surface. I also pressed the stone with a rock to add a little more texture.



The foam was then painted with Mod Podge and black paint. One final touch was to add some sand and skulls below the entrance.



I cut a recess in the insulation foam for the wall to sit in, and attached it with Liquid Nails and hot glue.



That's the front of the tomb finished! I still need to fill in the gaps in the skulls where the chests and barrels would normally go. I'll eventually add an MDF base, but I can't do that until I know the final size of the piece. 



The next step will be to build the tomb's interior. I'm planning to use a sarcophagus from one of the mausoleum bases.



'Til next time!


  1. Wow! What a great project. Cutting the stone out that way certainly enhances the look. (and I am surprised you do not have a hotwire cutter!)

    1. Thanks! I've got a handheld wire cutter, but it's easier to get straight cuts with a blade, especially when a precise thickness isn't necessary.

  2. Looks amazing already! The step by step tutorials are great inspiration and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop.

  3. Great work! Quick tip: I use a band saw to cut my foam, it 's quick & easy and everything is quite straight! Would have been seconds to cut those thin strips you used for the rock frontage.

  4. Thanks! I have a scroll saw that I use for large irregular shapes, but the cuts are never as smooth as a knife cut. Plus, it's more work to set it up, attach the shop vac, make the cuts, and then clean up the rest of the dust on the table and the saw; best to just make a few slices off of a piece of scrap.


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