Imperial Fists on Black Library

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in

Even though it is; once again, Imperial Fists as plot device* - it's fiction that involves the Imperial Fists. GO AND READ IT!

* Think about it. Usually when Imperial Fists show up in a story, it's to either provide the shining example of Space Marine this-or-that, kill off something, provide a plot hook, or die gloriously to show that the threat is legit. Sometimes all of the above.

Are you an author of 40K fiction that's written yourself into a corner? Send in the Imperial Fists! They'll clean it up. No problem.

Ultimately this isn't a bad thing ... fans of the Imperial Fists have always known that they were the best chapter ... it's just bad for ever getting a good novel about them written.

2 chapters of Hammer and Bolter Issue 1 are up as free downloads: Black Library Ebooks

The first couple paragraphs alone, describing Phalanx, are worth the time it takes to install an ebook reader and download the file.

Sgt Anton Beckenbauer

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , , ,

Brother Sergeant Anton Beckenbauer commands the 1st Tactical Squad of the 5th Battle Company, known as Squad Bayern. Members of the squad are marked by the wearing of the "Azure Lozengy" heraldic badge (typically on right knees and left elbows) found on the squad banner.

(ps - I'm trying out thumbnails linked to full size images, if you want to see better detail, just click the image)

ps - Football (Soccer) fans may recognize the name. ;)


* Regular tactical marine plastic body and arms
* Base from Dragonforge Designs, Urban Wasteland set
* Helmet, banner pole, shoulders from Games Workshop Crimson Fist Command Pack
* Backpack from the Games Workshop Crimson Fist Tactical Pack
* Pointing finger power fist from the Devastator box set sergeant
* Combi-Melta from Chapterhouse Studios

Works in Progress and a Baby!

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , ,

Sorry for vanishing in late September but my second child (and first son) Morgan was born... needless to say I've been a bit busy doing fetch and carry for the wife as well as wrangling the 2 year old so that Mom and baby can get caught up on sleep.

However, I was working on stuff before we went to the hospital and life went topsy turvy. The Sergeant for my Tactical Squad is coming together. I had to pop his arm off to incorporate the magnetized combi-weapon kit from Chapterhouse Studios. I also was working on filing down a Predator front glacis (also from Chapterhouse) with sandpaper in preparation for my Predator kit.

I hope to have finished pictures sometime soon.

Bearded officers

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in

I would have done beards anyway even without fluffy justification; however, it's always fun when your gut instincts are backed up by fluff.

   "Aye." Garro studied the other men in the room. "This is Dorn's senior cadre? They seem a sombre lot."
   "True enough. Even on the best of days, the Imperial Fists are a stiff breed. I remember battles my lads of the Third fought with Efried, my opposite number." He indicated a bearded Astartes in the other group.
   "Never saw him crack a smile, not once in a year-long campaign."

Flight of the Eisenstein (aka "Horus Heresy 4") by James Swallow, Chapter 14

Tip: Squeeze bottle airbrush paint

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in ,

Sometimes it's the little things that takes a "duh!" moment to realize. So after mixing my own custom batch of Reaper Pro-Paint Sunlight Yellow and airbrush medium (in my case "classic blue Windex" in 50:50 for the umpteen billionth time I thought.... there's got to be a better way.

Enter 80 cent squeeze bottle from Hobby Lobby. This is a 50ml bottle. I used a graduated cylinder (my wife has some old baby bottles with milliliters marked on them) to measure my ratio (in this case 50:50) and marked 25ml with permanent marker. I then wrapped the bottle in clear packing tape (to protect the marking). Luckily 50ml is the top of the bottle otherwise I would have marked the top of the fill line as well. If you're using 3:2 for a non-thick paint (Reaper Master Series, regular GW or Vallejo... 3 parts paint: 2 parts airbrush medium) I would mark the 30ml line instead. The 50:50 is for thicker paints (Reaper Pro Paint and GW Foundation).

Now, when I need to refill my airbrush paint cup, I just squeeze in what I need. Soooooo much easier.

Vindicator 'Dresden' ready for battle

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in ,

Well, this took far longer than I thought it would. I have been gathering ideas for so long I figured it was time I put my paintbrush where my mouth is and do a tank.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I'm trying to incorporate Empire (from Warhammer Fantasy) into my Imperial Fists for various reasons. I started with a Vindicator because it's the closest thing to an Empire Steam Tank.

I used metal bits from the Games Workshop Imperial Fists icons pack. The rest was done with an airbrush and Reaper Master Series Paint. All of the text was done freehand with a Micron technical pen. Obviously that text is an homage to the intricate scrollwork at the bottom of an Empire Steam Tank and the add-ons bring to mind the shields. The font is my attempt at Fraktur (the German font) in freehand.

This took 3 evenings to complete. I will most likely add weathering to the tank at some point... but not yet. I want to enjoy it in the "pristine" condition for a while before I gunk it up.

The text is from Psalms 25:18 and can be found in an earlier blog post about using Latin for 40K.

Vide adflictionem meam et laborem meum; et porta omnia peccata mea.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

The Imperial Fists and Warhammer Fantasy

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in

...That is why we adopted - "
"We?" sneered Lexandro.
"-why we adopted the Junker model of behaviour."
Lexandro did not know the word Junker.
"Yes, the ancient Prussic code." Valence was only to happy to explain. "Named after Prusse, on old Earth. ...

- Chapter 4, Ian Watson's Space Marine

So I need to define for myself what exactly this means. As this is a Games Workshop game, I decided that first, I would reference the Empire Army Book. To my mind, the Imperial Fists are the "Empire Knights" of 40K in terms of mood and feel... mainly Reiksguard, and draws upon the Prussian Junkers subculture (or rather British stereotypes of the Junkers subculture) for filling in holes.

First of all, any serious study of this topic starts with Bolter and Chainsword's wonderful articles (linked on the menu on the right). There are 2 novels with significant Imperial Fists presence (Space Marine by Ian Watson and Sons of Dorn by Chris Roberson). More fluff is tucked away in many other books, pamphlets, flyers, and White Dwarf articles (like the Index Astartes series).

What is known:

1 - They duel. This is a highly ritualized non-lethal modification of the Academic Fencing with Schlagers (Akademisches Fechten or more commonly... Mensur). In Ian Watson's Space Marine this was a strange affair that involved blocks that gripped the Marine's feet and the duelists basically swung foils at each other until one of them got a scar. ... rather boring actually. ... not the part where they get the scar (called a SchmiƟ)... the standing in blocks swinging foils.

2 - The earliest battle honor of the chapter says "Rome" and the city colors of Rome are Red and Yellow. Fans of the Fists should recall that the yellow armor and red chest eagle are the among the few "constants" across several old editions for the chapter's coloration.

3 - They recruited from Earth once upon a time (and had a planet based chapterhouse there... was this in Rome? Who knows). Depending on how old your fluff references are, either the Imperial Palace is in England (over Nottinghamshire) or somewhere in the Himalayas (more recent fluff). Prusse is likely one of the old regions of Jermani on Earth back before the Emperor unified them.
Regions mentioned in fluff are: Urash, Urals/Terrawatt, Panpacific Empire, Yndonesic Bloc, Jermani, Gyptus, Merica, Nordafrik Conclaves, Alba, Frac, Nordyc, Britonnica, Europa, Hy Brazil). Those old regions don't really matter in current 40K fluff because of tectonic shift due to the Horus bombings and age Earth looks nothing like it does now. However, they help frame some of the oldest fluff and likely give us insight into the personalities of some of the warriors that were part of the 7th Legion (The Imperial Fists).

4 - They are a Fleet based chapter (well... planetoid based, due to the size of Phalanx), and recruit from all over the Universe now. They maintain a few chapter monasteries on a few specific worlds (Inwit, Necromunda, and others) but the most recent book suggests that when recruits are needed, they just drop onto a world and grab up young teenage boys (14 years old +/- 1 year) and put them through their paces. The survivors become Scouts.

5 - They maintain some kind of presence by the Column of Glory and Pillar of Bone on earth (in my mind, sort of a "second Reclusiam") with a Chaplain there. Likely this outpost provides Terran recruits from time to time (Lysander came to the Chapter in this manner, Shadryss was the Chaplain on Earth that brought him in).

It's also likely this is the liason to various Imperial/Ecclesiarchical/Inquisition contacts there on Earth. That's speculation, but seems logical due to other fluff that suggests that the Imperial Fists often lead Deathwatch Kill Teams (more, as a percentage, than many other Chapters); that suggests the Chapter has some political clout with the Imperium from somewhere that's over and above what one would expect from them being a first founding Chapter.

6 - The chapter seems to have a pain fetish along the lines of old Christian (especially Catholic) self-mortifcation... flails and cilice belts and whatnot. This fits with my assertion that they're the 40K version of Empire from Warhammer Fantasy. The Warhammer Fantasy army features "Flagellants" that mortify their flesh to show their devotion.

7 - According to Ian Watson (and this may be getting retconned by Black Library as it's barely touched on in the most recent book) the senior members of the chapter tend to compulsively scrimshaw the fingerbones of dead chaptermates. While 40K itself has a strong "bone/ossuary" motif I suspect that this being a psychological compulsion may be removed from the fluff and replaced with a strange chapter quirk.
In Space Marine, Watson suggests that the fleshless, cleaned hands of fallen battlebrothers are handed out as laurels and semi-battle honors to survivors of glorious combat actions. These are the fingerbones that get scrimshawed. Since one of the few pieces of Rogal Dorn to be recovered were his hands... this kinda makes sense. I guess.
The left hand, the same hand as used on the Chapter symbol, is slighly more significant/more prestigious/higher precedence than the right hand.

What I'm doing:

Warhammer Fantasy Empire Influence

1 - My tactical marines are going to have individualized markings on the right kneecap/shin and left elbow cop. This is in honor of the colorful, Landknecht inspired "slashed and puffed" style of the Empire Miniatures from warhammer fantasy. This jives with many other Codex chapter practices of marking Tactical squad affiliation with kneecaps and the like.

It's also subtle. I have no desire to put frilly cloth and floppy hats and feathers on my Space Marines.

2 - Sergeant and Officer Banners will be painted in honor of provinces, city-states, and noble families of Germany - like the Empire Regiments and their many colorful provincial flags.

3 - Depending on availability and my skill at converting, my officers will have facial hair. The "bald head" works great most of the time, however nothing screams "Empire" more than a dashing, suitably "Germanic" beard.

4 - I have a shoulder pauldron with a wing available from both Chapter House Studios as well as Games Workshop itself (the Fists command sprue). This looks very much like the old shoulder guards from Warhammer Fantasy knights. I plan to use this more often. See Sergeant above.

5 - Vehicles will have "trim" - after studying the Empire Steam Tank model kit, I plan on painting freehand scrollwork along the bottoms of my vehicles and add lots of decoration.

... in part 2 of this, I will spend more time studying the Prussian Junkers system and see how that will affect my fluff and backstory.

Bayern Multi-Melta

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , , ,

Here's the Multi-Melta trooper from Tactical Squad Bayern. I painted him during Labor Day.

GW Fists Command Sprue

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in ,

I purchased several GW Crimson Fists Command packs, and this is my first figure using the bitz from it. The power fist came from a Devastator box set. The base is from Dragon Forge's Urban Rubble Wasteland set.

This will be Sergeant Anton Beckenbauer that commands Tactical Squad Bayern (5th Battle Company).

Terminator Sgt. Von Bose

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , ,

I posted the flesh layers back on the 30th, this is the same Terminator Sgt. except now he's finished. After re-reading Ian Watson's Space Marine (even though Black Library is "distancing" itself from the fluff contained in it) it's clear that once upon a time, the Imperial Fists had a Germanic (Prussian Junkers subculture) vibe... much in the same way that the Ultramarines have a "Roman Legion" vibe.

   Lexandro shrugged. "How do you come by this wisdom about duels?"
   "Through observation and study, brother, rather than through ecstatic intuition. Imperial Fists are dedicated to the fastidious and meticulous detail, by the grace of Dorn - detail in military tactics and in personal conduct too. That is why we adopted - "
   "We?" sneered Lexandro.
   "-why we adopted the Junker model of behaviour."
   Lexandro did not know the word Junker.
   "Yes, the ancient Prussic code." Valence was only to happy to explain. "Named after Prusse, on old Earth. ...

found in Chapter 4 of Space Marine by Ian Watson

In that vein, I felt like painting my Terminator Sergeant with the heraldry of my wife's maternal family line from Saxony-Anhalt (which was part of Prussia at the time they emmigrated to New Braunfels, Texas). Karl is a very, very common male surname in the von Bose family thus the name of my Terminator Sergeant - Karl von Bose.

This model is also magnetised, below you can see the assault terminator arms that I also painted so that I can swap depending on my needs. This was about a 4 hour paintjob.

Experiments in Paint

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , , ,

I was experimenting with new painting techniques over the weekend. My first effort was painting a Marine without an airbrush.

You can see my newly acquired Games Workshop Crimson Fists Tactical Pack (Link here). I'm not thinking this will be the final paint scheme. It's derived from Les Bursley's from AwesomePaintJob except with Reaper Master Series paints instead of Citadel. The resin base is from (the Urban Rubble Wasteland set).

I just finished it off rather than trying to clean it up too much. My next go around will try out a different inking wash over the white primer. On this one I used 3:1 yellow to brown liner. That was a little too strong.

However, the knee shows off my new tactical squad recognition heraldry. Each tactical squad will feature the heraldry of a german region/city state/etc. - a la Warhammer Fantasy "Empire" ... in honor of the Junkers/Germanic theme of the Imperial Fists (hinted at in Ian Watson's very old novel Space Marine). Here you see the 5th Company's First Tactical Squad Bayern.

Next up is the flesh of an Assault on Black Reach Terminator Sergeant. I'm rather happy with the way it came out. Though the picture doesn't show off all the layers, I'm going to type up my colors just so I have them for future reference.

0 - White Primer (Tamiya)
1 - (base coat) 50/50 Blood Red & Rosy Shadow watered 50/50 with "Slick Water" (10 parts distilled water to 1 part blending medium)
2 - (glaze) Rosy Shadow 50/50 paint:slick water
3 - (first highlight) Rosy Skin 50/50 paint:slick water
4 - (second highlight) Rosy Highlight 50/50 paint:slick water
5 - (fine highlight) Fair Skin 50/50 paint:slick water

And my Terminator Chaplain from before (with technical pen scripts)

Latin for 40K

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in

So I decided to write some latin on my vehicles (especially my big land raiders) and decided to look up some good scripture in the Vulgata. For my purposes I needed to create 1 new word (Telum = Bolt/Arrow/Projectile, -ium/-ia = suffix denoting an act, office, condition or character ... thus Telumium/Telumia a thing that bolts, one who bolts, aka "a bolter"). I also jammed Imperator in a couple of places and probably didn't conjugate it correctly... luckily for me High Gothic is NOT exactly latin so I can fudge a bit. I am not a long student of Latin (only a beginner actually) so if you see any glaring grammatical errors with what I've done please let me know. Also note that unless it references Imperator, Lorica, Telumium/ia... it's directly from the Catholic Latin Vulgata.

Please note these are for Imperial Fists... so there are several that reference pain and suffering in amongst the "kick butt and take names" ones.

Psalm 23:4 (modified)

Sed, et si ambulavero in valle mortis, non timebo malum: quoniam tu
mecum; es lorica tua et telumium tuus ipsa consolabuntur me.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will
fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy armor and thy bolter they
comfort me.

Joshua 10:19 (modified)

Vos autem nolite stare, sed persequimini hostes et extremos quosque
fugientium caedite ne dimittatis eos urbium suarum intrare praesidia:
quos tradidit Imperator in manus vestras.

And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost
of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the Emperor
hath delivered them into your hand.

Jeremiah 30:23 (modified)

Ecce, turbo Imperator furor egrediens, procella ruens: in capite
impiorum conquiescet.

Behold, the wind of the Emperor goeth forth with fury, a continuing
tempest: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked.

Numbers 35:19

Propinquus occisi homicidam interficiet statim; ut adprehenderit, eum percutiet.

He that is 'The Revenger of Blood' shall slay the murderer himself; when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.

Psalm 79:10

Quare dicunt gentes ubi est, Deus eorum? Nota fiat in gentibus ante
oculos nostros ultio sanguinis servorum tuorum qui effusus est.

Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is God? Let him be known among
the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants
which is shed.

Deuteronomy 32:42 (modified)

Inebriabo telumia meas sanguine, et gladius meus devorabit carnes de
cruore occisorum et de captivitate nudati inimicorum capitis.

I will make my bolters drunk with blood, my sword shall devour the
flesh of bloody murderers and the bare heads of my enemies.

Psalm 25:18

Vide adflictionem meam et laborem meum; et porta omnia peccata mea.

Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

Jeremiah 15:18

Quare factus est dolor meus perpetuus, et plaga mea desperabilis,
rennuit curari facta est?

Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed?

Job 14:22

Attamen caro eius dum vivet dolebit, et anima illius super semet ipso lugebit.

But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.

Job 5:6

Nihil in terra sine causa fit, et de humo non orietur dolor.

Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth pain
spring out of the ground.

Master of Sanctity Lo Chang

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , , , ,

So this is possibly my favorite Space Marine miniature. It has intimidated me since I first set eyes on it. Well, today I set aside my reservations and painted it. 8 hours later, I present Master of Sanctity, Lo Chang of the Imperial Fists.

These pictures were taken prior to my application of Dullcote so that I can use a technical pen and add script to the various scrolls and seals.

Stop "Company-centric" Thinking

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , , ,

So I've decided to abandon what I call my previously "Company Centric" thinking for 5th edition (in our new "templated" paradigm). This is a blog entry on my thoughts on the matter.

I think most of us can agree that (if we choose to make "Codex" Chapters) that we can sometimes feel limited in our options to try out the new latest and greatest Codex that comes out for some other variant Space Marine army (typically you've got "Vanilla"/Ultramarine - Blood Angel - Space Wolf - Dark Angel - Black Templar plus minor mini-lists found in multi-army books or White Dwarf articles). You should NOT feel this way. NEVER regret the colors that you chose to paint your models, NEVER feel that your chapter cannot do anything and everything you would like it to do (within the scope of the rules and WYSIWYG model upgrades/options). You paid the money, you're the customer, it's your game, they're your toys.

You chose to be a CODEX ASTARTES army, you chose FLEXIBILITY... not rigidity. In the fluff the purpose of the Codex Astartes was to codify the ways of war, organization, and logistics for any given tactical situation. As the saying goes, "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy" ... are the superhumans of the Imperium stupid or are they the living embodiment of generations of human warfare knowledge? ... which gives more laurels, defeat or victory?

Allow me to take a different view from the "the Codex is inflexible" viewpoint that many have adopted. The Codex Astartes is the ultimate in flexible thought. I challenge that if you cannot come up with an in-game fluffy way to organize your battlefield options within the model painting unit/insignia framework and company structure of the Codex Astartes... you've missed the point. One thing that may be contributing to your narrow scope is "Company-centric" thinking.

Yes indeed. If your goal is to paint every single one of your models in the 2nd company or 3rd or 5th battle company...yes, it may be rather difficult to do everything you would like to do.

However... your models represent a small portion of an entire Space Marine CHAPTER. Think in terms of your CHAPTER.

Remember even (and especially) in the fluff... rarely does a single Company do ANYTHING unsupported by elements of the 1st (veteran) and 10th (scout) companies. The Reserve companies (6-9) exist for the very purpose of replenishing losses or adding tactical flexibility.

Examples of CHAPTER-centric thought:

Painted up a Captain for your Company? Cool! Want to paint up another? You have 9 other Company Captains to choose from (8 if it's not in Terminator Armor). Paint the shoulder trim in a different color!

Need another Terminator Captain? Who's to say that your Chapter HQ (where your mighty Chapter Master resides alongside additional Chaplains and other veterans) doesn't have a loyal Captain serving in special duties or perhaps a Terminator armor wearing Veteran Sergeant from the Veteran Company is elevated to Captain in a "brevet" role for a battle? (white trim)

Remember that several of the Captains of the Battle Companies are also "Masters" (Master of the Fleet, Master of Rites, etc.) that serve vital additional duties in the Chapter. When they're off doing something else for the Good of the Chapter or at the orders of the Chapter Master... who's to say that a Reserve Company Captain or a Brevet Captain aren't slotted in to command?

Want to try out that new Codex? If they're allowed more Assault units than you are (Blood Angels, Black Templars) you've got the 8th Reserve Company (grey trim) to draw from. Paint up the units that you would not normally be allowed to field in a "Vanilla" list in the 8th Company and use them in special games. Perhaps the Codex demanded this particular battle focus on "up close and personal" combat and the Assault Reserve Company was needed (and your newly converted Kayvaan Shrike "template" Captain of the so-and-so Company).

Want to try out Space Wolves? Paint up your extra devastators in 9th Reserve Company (Devastator) that you're using to represent options you don't get in "Vanilla" mode. Need Runepriests? There are tons of librarians of various ranks sitting around in the Librarium looking for a chance to go fight (ok, maybe the giant wolves is a bit of a stretch... but even then, surely some local alien wildlife can be forced into service with your chapter... librarians are powerful psykers after all!).

Want to try out White Scars? The 6th and 8th Reserve Companies are FILLED with Bikes! Your 6th Company Commander could easily be a Template Kor'sarro Khan!

Think like the Chapter Master you are, not a mere Company Commander. You picked a CODEX army as your own... that means you will always, ALWAYS have options.

Odds and ends

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in

Started painting some Terminators and another Rhino today. No photos since they're not done.

Tac Squads 1 & 2 get weapons

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in ,

Just painting up options for my tac squads.

Assault Weapons

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in

Well the wife ran off with the camera. :) I'm painting up some Meltaguns and Flamers for my two tac squads. I'll take pics when they're done.

Astronomi-con Dallas

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in ,

Astronomi-con is coming to Dallas in 2010, how cool is that?!

The XM Moon Campaign

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in

Went up to XMax Games tonight and fought a couple of short Combat Patrol battles as part of the XM Moon campaign.

I took the Orks this time out. The boys went 1/0/1 beating the Sisters of Battle and getting eaten by the Space Wolves. Much fun was had by all.

Painting Imperial Fist 2 of 2

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , ,

Painting Imperial Fist 1 of 2

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , ,

Assault Terminators WIP

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , ,

Well I finally decided what to do with a few of my old unassembled Terminators. Assault Marines!!!! Chapter shoulders and eagle stormshields by Chapter House Studios, wooden bases by Litko.

Ebay provided the bits for the arms and the Crux Terminatus shoulder pads but I had all the bodies already.

Old Dreadnought Finished

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , ,

Brother Alaric has his new base and it's done.

ps - I just bought the Ciaphas Cain 3 volume trade paperback... that's why I'm not getting a lot done right now. XD

Predator Baal to Autocannon Conversion

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , ,

I've been working on converting my freebie Predator Baal back into an autocannon. It's now magnetized and I have both turret and both sponson options. You can see the Lascannon sponson barrels attached to the flock jar to the left.

HTUD Doubles Battle Report

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in ,

My partner in crime posted a battle report over on his Salamander's blog.

Razorback WIP mostly done

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , ,

Well I tried to finish it tonight but the primer blew chunks all over the gunner so I have to strip it again.

Plaster Cloth Backdrop "Tutorial"

Posted by Matt Ragan | Posted in , ,

I didn't take anywhere near as many photos as I should have of my backdrop as I was working on it.


However I did take a couple at the early stages. It starts with a 2 foot x 1 foot piece of foamcore. Nothing fancy, just a rectangle. I could have used plywood or MDF or anything else, I had foamcore on hand which is why I used it.


The "fortress gate" was created by measuring out a rectangle big enough for a land raider plus a bit of extra space, then adding two triangles which I then score the backside and folded in. A shape basically like this:

Then I taped the gate to the foundation, no glue, no pins, nothing fancy, just packing tape. I folded the triangular "wings" to form a 45 and 90 degree panel.


The backdrop is pretty simple to figure out from the "after" picture below. I just made a backdrop of some posterboard all across the back and up the sides up equal to where the forward leading edge of the "wings." I had some junk red posterboard lying around. It's black here because this is after the primer step.

Crumpled up Paper and Masking Tape

Then I used wads of crumpled up newsprint and masking tape to make a kind of netting of "filled" tape (or rather say fluffed, inflated with, puffed, etc.). It's as simple as 1) crumple up a sheet, 2) stick the wad on the terrain, 3) stack it higher, 4) if it gets unstable use a piece of tape to hold it temporarily, 5) when you're done make a "net" of masking tape over the entire paperwad "mountain" (you can see some of the red posterboard backdrop at the edges of the tape).

When I was done with my lattice-work, I clipped the corners of the posterboard on the sides to round them off.

Plaster Cloth

So you can go buy plaster cloth at the hobby store or you just make it. How?
  • Buy some absurdly cheap fabric from the fabric store (We had some old $1 a yard cotton muslin lying around) and cut it into strips. Natural fibers or a very loose weave make this easier. Heck, old gauze bandages would work fine.
  • Fill a dixie cup or old McDonald's cup you have lying around with Plaster of Paris (mixed in whatever ratio the directions say, the one I bought was 2 parts plaster, 1 part water).
  • Dip the strips in the cup until they're totally covered, you can use your fingers to move the plaster all around the fabric.

  • ps - You dip each strip as you use it, don't dip them all at once. :)

    Apply Plaster Cloth

    Starting at the outside edge, just drape the plaster cloth down and shove it around a bit until it's lying on the paperwad/tape network. Then put down the next piece of plaster cloth slightly overlapping the previous one. Continue until you're finished and all your paperwads are covered.

    Let it dry

    Go away and come back the next day. :)


    No picture.

    Primer the whole thing whatever color you want. I used black spray paint. Then go away and let it dry. It'll probably take a while. You could use brown spraypaint on the ground and gray spraypaint on the rocks and skip the Basic Airbrush step below.

    Basic Airbrush

    No picture.

    I just airbrushed the "rocks" and "gate" gray and the "ground" brown. Then I did a few horizontal lines to represent layers in the rock formation. If you don't have an airbrush this can be done with a regular brush just as easily, just not as quickly.

    Spot Airbrush

    I did gray first because I wanted to spray brown to represent windblown dirt etc. etc. in various places on the rocks above. Basically anyplace on the rocks that had a surface that looked somewhat horizontal I sprayed some brown on it.


    I went into my backyard and got some lava sand from my backyard garden supplied, used a flour sifter and sifted out the big chunks. The smaller stuff that fell through the sifter I kept in a big jar. Just plain dirt or sand works fine too so long as you let it dry before you use it. The "sifter" is what separates the big pieces out that don't look "to scale" with the 40k figures. You don't need a flour sifter, any kitchen strainer will do fine (just wash it before you use it again for food obviously).

    Dirt Flock

    I used my finger and spread a whole layer of basic crafter's Wood Glue down on the "ground" and then dumped the lava sand on it. Then I just kinda tipped the whole thing on its side and dumped off the excess lava sand back into a bucket to be reclaimed for later.

    Wash and dry your finger/hands before the next step ...

    White Glue "sprayer"

    You can guy a terrain sprayer at the hobby store or just use an old spritzer bottle. I had some old 2 year old Chloraseptic (a year past the date on the bottle) and I just dumped it out and used the bottle.

    Spray White Glue

    I mixed some white glue (Elmer's Glue or PVA glue) and water (roughly 50/50, I just eyeballed it) and put it in the sprayer bottle.

    Then I sprayed the "ground" in various places where I wanted "grass" (the white glue will make your stream more like a jet rather than a mist, so just be aware). Don't be afraid of splatter... random splatter is your friend actually.

    I also sprayed all the horizontal surfaces of the rocks and let a little bit dribble down. See the "bushes" step below for a picture.


    Then I dumped a bunch of flock on all the glue, patted it down gently with my hand to make sure the flock was solidly shoved into the glue, then tipped the terrain over to dump off and recover the excess flock.

    As you can see, random splatter picks up flock and adds to the random/organic feel.


    I dribbled the wood glue (direct from the bottle and undiluted) into all the corners where the stone backdrop and the ground met, and in random areas on the stone where there were cracks or horizontal surfaces where seeds might collect. Then I sprinkled some Woodland Scenics Clump-Foliage on it, shoved it down with my finger. Then I dumped the excess off to recover it.

    Let it Dry and Blow Off The Excess

    The ground, flock, bushes, etc. will take many hours to dry. Also when it's dry a bit more will come off so you'll want to tip it over when it's try and dump/blow off (with your mouth) the excess... otherwise it'll come off on your bases or all over the floor of the event/store/tournament.

    I'm not really happy with the gate area so I'm not going to cover it.

    Spray it With Dull-Cote

    Locks down the flock and dirt a bit better.