In Part 2: Terrain Construction, I detail how I built up the scenic terrain for the board, to tell a mini story about my army of choice, The Crimson Fists.
First, I put together a concept design. This helps give you a feeling of spacing, as well as to decide on thematic elements. I chose a strong thematic vignette, based on the background of the Crimson Fists, as first introduced in the Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader book, detailing the destruction of their citadel during a massive greenskin attack. To portray that story element, I designed a simple board depicting some sort of ruined shrine or Imperial structure. The focal point of this was the Crimson Fists logo, inlaid into the heavy stone walk way, in front of the destroyed entry, with craters, and ruined walls depicting the destruction. This could represent a detachment of the Crimson Fists finding an outpost, in search of lost STCs, or returning to the Citadel in order to defend and reclaim it, etc.
Once I had the basics of the design concept fleshed out, and the narrative set, it was time to lay it out on the actual display board. I outlined the feature locations on the board. I took some plastic Games Workshop craters and located them roughly where I wanted them to be, based on the concept sketch, then traced around them with a marker.
Then I drew up the details on some 1/2" thick pink Styrofoam insulation board. I cut the details into the board with a sharp hobby knife, textured it by pressing on it with a rough stone, and laid out how the crater and ruined walls will be located. I then removed the stone blocks where the crater will sit, so I can give it a 3D effect. These would be textured and glued back down around the craters, and throughout the ruins and ground to give the appearance that the explosion blew the pieces upward and outward.
Next, I glued the foam insulation board and single crater down. I built up the level of the double crater to give it support, using a "stone clay" product I got from Michael's. This stuff is awesome to use. It's super soft, and easy to work with. It seems to dry quickly, and can be carved after it's dry. It can also be tinted or painted.
I then built up the flat board where the dirt/grass will be and gave it undulating form, then textured that with a rough stone, and a crinkly plastic bag. I pressed these items into the clay to give it a rough dirt like appearance. I also built up more clay around the single crater, to hide the lip. Then glued in the double crater, which I had to do last so that I could give it support, since it was partly on a raised surface.
When that was dry, I added more clay around it to hide the lip and blend it in better.
I then glued on the large stones around the craters and scattered around to give it a ruined appearance.
Next, I glued on some plastic ruined wall sections from the Games Workshop Cities of Death terrain, as well as some of the older gothic ruins that Games Workshop used to sell back in the years of 3rd and 4th edition 40K. Note that I decided to change the position of the walls as I wanted it to appear they were breached with shelling, as well as to give more variety in where I could place miniatures for dramatic effect.
Finally, I textured the ruins with mixed course ballast and sand, which was glued on with PVA glue.
After the ruins were completely dry, I added a sand and rubble texture to the display base. This was a mix of the course sand and plastic sprue rubble. I then gave it several light misting sprays of a PVA water mixture to encourage everything to stick together, and brushed on pure PVA onto the foam to give it a more durable surface for painting.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Painting!
Build an Army Display Tray - Part 1: Assembly
Build an Army Display Tray - Part 3: Painting