Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Desert Monoliths - 15mm SciFi WIP

I've been building some "rock" monoliths for my desert table.  Here's a bit of how I did it.  I wasn't very consistent with documenting the process but I think you'll get the idea.  If you have questions about how I did it, leave a comment and I'll try to answer.
I began with some beaded styrofoam insulation boards.
These are about an inch thick.
I broke out my old Woodland Scenics foam cutter.
This is one of the handiest terrain building tools I have.
I also needed my hot glue gun.
I couldn't find my low temp one but the high temp works fine.
Only problem with it is the foam will melt because the glue is too hot.
It isn't an issue on this project because all the glued surfaces are hidden.
I neglected to take pics along the way.  But what I did was cut out random shapes of foam and then glue them together to form larger blocks.  These blocks I then carved into suitable shapes.  I experimented and found some techniques that produced the look I wanted:  sandstone monoliths with wind erosion.  After I carved each monolith, I glued them to CDs for bases.  This is what I ended up with...
Basic monolith.
You can see I've coated the bases with Liquitex Course Texture Gel.
I describe this product in an earlier post.
Next I painted them all with the "Desert Yellow" texture paint I mixed for the terrain table.
Following are some closeups prior to final painting.  I made six of these pieces, which should provide some good terrain coverage for my 3'x3' table.  I'm also going to make some areas of rough ground, which I will write up in another post.
Two larger monoliths.
Two groups of smaller monoliths.
Two shapes that are more interesting.
The arch was an experiment.  It's probably a little big for 15mm.
The one on the left is designed to allow units to get up on the level space.
After the texture paint I used some light brown craft paint to make a wash and "weathered" the rocks. I didn't cover the whole model with wash. I just drizzled it on and let it drip down to make streaked stains.
Again, I neglected to take photos, but after the "weathering" I went back over everything with a heavy dry-brush of the base color.  This helped to blend the dripped wash, making it less stark.  Then I mixed in some Ivory colored craft paint and highlighted the whole model.  I built up layers of highlight until the final highlight was pure Ivory craft paint.
Large monolith base coated, weathered and dry brushed with highlights.
After that all dried I used some white glue to add the same kinds of scenic material to the bases that I used on the table.  I used Woodland Scenics course dry grass to add some small scrubby plant material near the base of the stones.
Here they are lined up on the table!
Some close ups of the models in pairs...

I'm very pleased with them.  I'm looking forward to getting a battle going!  I've got a couple more terrain projects to finish and I need to paint my minis, but I'm making good progress.  Most importantly, I'm still having a blast!

That's it for now.  Until next time, carry on!


  1. I do like them, great modelling.

    1. Thank you! I haven't made anything like this in many years. I'm glad I can still do it! : )

  2. They came out great! They seem quite large for 15mm, just what you'd expect in an actual desert!

    1. Thanks. Yeah, I thought that too. I'm too used to modeling in 28mm, I guess. Still, they work and can be used in larger scale games as well.

  3. Thank you for inspiring me. I had built some monoliths for an ice world and had forgotten them. So obvious that I can just re-paint them and yet until I saw yours I had forgotten all about them. Bravo Sir.

    1. You're welcome! Glad to be of service! Now you've got me thinking about an ice world set up...thanks, I think. : )

  4. They are excellent; I've worked with polystyrene for many, many years, my main tools in the past was an electric bread knife - I never did like aany heat-related tools. The liquid gel stuff you use is vastly superior to the various fillers I used and gives a really great effect.
    This has made me want to get my Pony War 15's out and make some terrain for them ! (I doubt that this will happen though -sadly)

    1. Thank you! I've used knives on this stuff and the mess is horrific. Plus the static makes the beads stick to everything. I much prefer the hot wire cutter. The only issue with that is fumes so you have to be sure to keep the area well ventilated. In fact, I about froze working on these because I kept a basement window open in subzero temps LOL!

      The Liquitex product is good stuff. Look for it (or something like it) in art shops. It is used with acrylic paints on canvas to make textured paintings.

      Dig those 15s out and give us a look! : )

  5. Those rocks look very useful - I must make something like that myself!

    Do you plan to make more of the same? Or will this be enough for now?

    1. Thanks! I really like them and they were pretty easy. Give it a go and show us what you come up with!

      I don't have plans to make any more just now but I'm sure eventually I will. Right now I'm working on some areas of rough terrain and I've got a few buildings I've started. I've also got some ideas for making some simple, modular tunnel tiles for when my desert campaign goes underground. So, I've got plenty to keep me busy for now. : )

  6. Take a bow, sir. These have turned out excellent and probably the best compliment I can pay you is that I'd be proud to own them myself. Well done, Ironmonk!

    1. (Bows) Thank you, sir! I appreciate the high praise.