Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Chapel of St. Nigel - Making Terrain on the Cheap

I'd been thinking about Dethtron's Gaming on a Budget series over at the House of Paincakes and I realized that I had a piece of terrain, circa 2005, sitting in the old storage cabinet that I could share with you to illustrate some of the principles that Dethtron has been writing about, hopefully motivating you to join the ranks of the home made terrain enthusiast - wow, I feel like Alton Brown.  Anyways, click on the links sprinkled throughout this post to read the related HoP article.

If you've played Warhammer long enough there are certain items that you've probably accumulated over the years, like the red plastic rulers that come in the boxed sets* and piles of tiny white dice.  If you had the 3rd edition 40k boxed set, or maybe even one of the original battle-forces, then you probably have some of the old plastic gothic ruins lying around.  Sadly, I never had any of those ruins, but I did amass a small collection of Lord of the Rings ruins from my days as a GW red shirt (we got a free box-game ever time one of the movies came out).  Alas, they are not nearly as cool the 40k ruins, but sometimes one must make do with the contents of one's proverbially terrain making pantry.  Here's what I did to spruce some of these ruins to turn a bland, ho-hum piece of terrain into something better, the Chapel of St. Nigel!

To start this off, I cut a piece of MDF board to fit the footprint of the terrain piece, beveled the edges and glued down the ruins.  To make the nifty floor tiles, you'll need some regular thin cardboard, like from a blister pack.  I cut these out into squares and then snipped and trimmed them to make the cracked and broken tiles.  In order to make the ruins look more bombed out I made some rubble out of wall spakle (or filler if you're not American), sand and some plastic sprue rubble - although I now wish I mixed in some other random bits and pieces to make the rubble look more authentic and less uniform.  Additionally, I did not have a meat grinder at my disposal, which, as Dethtron demonstrated, makes for more realistic rubble when cutting up the plastic sprue.

Next thing I did was raid the ol' bitz box where I found an Imperial Aquila emblem from a Rhino kit to decorate the archway and some pieces to make a statue.  I have no idea what line this figure came from, I grabbed it out of a box-o-random-mini's down at a FLGS for practicing my color layering skills on.  It's mounted on an old Ral Partha paint pot lid.  The next step was to paint and flock the whole thing, using inexpensive craft paints.  If I were using some plastic ruins that had windows, I might have even made some broken glass out of the plastic from a blister pack.

Also, here's the recipe for painting the weathered bronze statute:
(1) base coat the whole model Jade Green (which is OOP, you can mix something similar, I have faith in you)
(2) heavy dry brush of Tin Bitz
(3) heavy dry brush of Burnished Gold

If you hadn't figured it out by now, the Chapel of St. Nigel is a tribute to my terrain making hero, Nigel Stillman.

*I'd have more of these, but when I first started playing Warhammer as a 13 year-old my mother realized that these devices where more often used a weapons amongst my brother and I, rather than for measuring - thus they were confiscated.


  1. That's a good looking piece of terrain. The beauty is it's ruined without being unbearable, so you can actually place models without them falling over.

  2. Very astute of you to notice! I originally considered modeling part of the collapsed roof and maybe even making some wooden pews. However, when I built it I wanted to be able to fit an Ork mob (my army at the time) or multiple Guard units (my regular opponent's army) inside. So I scaled back the plan and found a good balance between form and function.

  3. You can have some of my ruined 40k buildings.

  4. Sounds good to me - I also forgot to get some of those bulkheads when I was up last weekend!

  5. Nice article. I like the statement about the old red rulers that you got from the old boxed sets. Lol! At one point I think I had about 50 of those...

  6. nice terrain piece, i love building terrain it's one of my favourite parts of the hobby. Try cat litter for the rubble (just keep it away from cats....) it looks really good and is dirt cheap, my vampire temple and Pringles tower have it scattered and it's very effective

    just a thought

  7. Great stuff. The lid really blends in as well. The older guys at GW almost do become figures of legend over time.