Armies on Parade Prep – Part One

Posted on Posted in Work in Progress

With Armies on Parade only two and a half weeks away, I am working my backside off trying to get the display board for my Fimir ready in time to be taken to the Cribbs Causeway store on Saturday October 13th.

Today on the blog, I will talk about the stages I went through to construct my board, and then in a couple of weeks’ time, on the Wednesday before Armies on Parade takes place I will hopefully be able to show off how I painted it.

1: It begins

My board started off with a 10mm thick, two foot square piece of MDF that was an off cut from my as yet unstarted gaming table. Having had this cut by the professionals at my local B&Q (a large hardware store for those not in the UK) it just needed a little sanding to take off the rough edges.

On this board I sketched out how I saw the board looking in my head. I would need to build up some hills that sloped down from the sides and back to the lowest point at the front of the board. Not only would this give the board some height, but would also display similar miniatures in steps so they could all be seen. The Thunderbeetle would be positioned in the top right of the board on the larger flat area.

2: Building the Hills

To construct the hills I purchased some dense Styrofoam sheets from eBay. For £10 I got five A3 sized sheets, that along with some old off cuts, would give me enough materials to build up the board to a suitable height. So not to waste material, the lower layer of Styrofoam does not actually cover the entire of the board, instead just disappearing under the next level with some stilts strategically placed to make sure it doesn’t all fall apart.

It didn’t matter that as this point there were some gaps, as these would be filled before the board was painted. All that I was hoping to achieve here was to get the basic structure in place before more detail was added.

3: Carving the Styrofoam

Once I had the basic shape in place, the next stage was to smooth off the edges of the layers to create a more hill like structure, as well as carving some nooks and rocky outcrops into parts of the hill. I did this with a mix of kitchen and hobby knife and little care for the well being of my fingers. Luckily no blood was shed in this process, and the board was starting to take shape.

4: Cork rocks!

To match the bases of the Fimir who would be displayed on the board, the next stage was to create rocky areas on the board out of self-adhesive cork tile, the same stuff I had used on my armies bases. The cork is thin enough that it can be curved over the slope of the hills with little effort, although it does like to unpeel itself when you’re not looking.

It took a little longer to get all the cork down, but as I added more layers, the board began to take more shape, and closely resembled the vision I had in my head.

I also at this point, had a dry run with the trees I was going to add to the board later in the process.

5: Edging & Filler Time

Once all the cork was down, I added a frame to the board. For this I used thick stock card bought from Hobbycraft (a large stationary store for those outside the UK) I cut this in to two foot strips that followed the contours of the hills, giving an approximate 10mm lip showing over the hills. One by one these were glued to the edge of the board with PVA glue, allowing one to dry before adding the next.

Once the frame was on, it was time for the filler. I used cheap filler from the pound store to fill all the gaps in the Styrofoam construction as well as any gaps left after applying the frame. This was left raggedy in places, but smoothed out with wet fingers in others, depending on the effect I wanted in certain areas.

6: Planting the Trees

After my earlier dry run with the trees, it was now time to attach them permanently. Having marked the board with where they would be placed, they were PVA glued to the board and then held down even firmer with more filler. I wasn’t too worried about covering the base of the trees with filler, as this would help with the illusion that they were bursting from the ground.

7: On with the Sand

Once the filler was dry it was time to add the sand. For this I used builders sand from B&Q. First I applied PVA glue all over the board on the areas that I wanted the sand and then poured copious amounts of the sand on the board and left it to dry for a few days. After this I tipped the board over allowing all the excess sand to fall off, leaving a strange patchwork picture. Any areas that were missing sand were then hit with more glue and more sand.

You may notice an area of fresh filler at the top of the board, this was added after I decided that I would add a small swamp come pond to this part of the display board. The white areas have also been sanded to blend it in. After everything has been painted up I will add some water effect to hopefully make it looks all wet.

Well that’s the construction of the board, now it was on with the painting. I have started this and have successfully undercoated the whole board black, dry brushed the rocks and base coated the sandy areas, but you’ll have to wait to the next installment in a few weeks to see how that went; let’s just say that I may have run out of orange paint before I got the sand base coated….

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