So after “Monster May(hem)” and “Forgotten Heroes”, we come to the challenge with the awful name (coz I didn’t come up with this one! 😁). “Dave Stones, Season of Scenery”. Seriously though scenery is something I really don’t make enough of, so this is a good chance to finally get some pieces done to go with all the figures I have. However instead of that I decided to make something I don’t really need at all first… a 28mm fantasy “Altar!”. Now I haven’t played a 28mm fantasy game for….Well I can’t remember the last time I played any 28mm fantasy, 15mm yes, even some 10mm, so you’d think I’d do something in one of those scales? Well welcome to my blog, because if you’d been around a while you’d know that’s not how it works around here, I get an idea into my head and it has to come out whether it’s useful or not! (Usually not).
The inspiration for this came from a picture in an old “White Dwarf” magazine that was given to me (I didn’t buy it honest!!) by a friend at work, in it there was an article (well advert) for the “Temple of Skulls” a plastic piece of scenery in the form of a ruined temple, well to be honest it was more of a rocky mound with a couple of pillars a big rune on the ground and some big skulls scattered about, it’s quite a nice piece to be honest but it’s £20.00, and I wasn’t going to pay that! (Especially as I said I have no real use for it). But I did have access to most of the component parts (well sort of) to make something along the same lines myself, though rather than a “Temple” I thought I’d make an “Alter of Skulls!” (Que’ dramatic music! D💀M’ D💀M, D💀M!).
If you cast your mind back a few months you may remember I got my hands on some “Blue stuff” a reusable mould making material, and I’d cast myself up a large’ish skull in plaster using this (details are on the post linked to at the bottom of this one), well after the success of that, I saved the mould along with another I made of the same “Skull Eraser”, though this time I made it a bit shallower and teased the sides in a little to make it narrower and elongated, and set to work casting four of these flatter skulls and five more of the full ones out of “Plaster of Paris”. Two of these I didn’t fill completely as I had a plan in mind for them. These came out quite well, but were far too smooth for what I had in mind, so the next job was to “weather” them a bit (well a lot!). I found that I was able to carve and chip away at these really well, as though they were set they were still soft enough to take texture well, one technique I found worked well was rolling them on a rough paving stone and tapping them with the back end of a small paintbrush. Anyway once suitably rocky and weathered enough they were put to one side while I cast up a base for my altar to stand on this was from an old “Woodlands Scenic’s, Rocky Outcrop” mould I’d picked up when a local model shop was closing down, and I’d last used back when I was building my “Islands” to use with our “Dystopian Wars” fleets a few years back.
The actual “Altar” was next, to make this I took the two “full” skulls I’d cast that I’d only filled to the bottom of the upper teeth, these then had the back of the skull cut away so it was flat, then measuring across the top I judged when it would be about 32mm across the top and then cut away the top of the skulls to make a flat top just above the eye sockets, where your helpless victim would lie. I then tried to glue them together with some PVA wood glue, but this didn’t hold them securely enough so I ended up drilling a hole into the back of each side and taking an old “knackered” paint brush cut a length about 15mm long and used this to “pin” them together (I never waste anything!). I then carved away the sides to make them flat, sanded the top and used a little “Tetrion” filler on the sides and join to rough it up. I them scrapped a circle and some lines on the top as a bit of a “Demonic rune”.
I tried “dry” fitting all the pieces together until I was happy with the general look of the overall piece, then marked around the outline onto some 3mm MDF and cut a suitable base, then glued the “outcrop” down with some more PVA glue. The altar and flatter skulls were glued in place next with copious amounts of PVA glue. I thought it might be interesting to have one of the larger skulls split down the front as if the face had fallen away at some point, so I sliced it down behind the eyes and then split this in two as well. I thought I would probably need something to make the “full” skulls a bit more secure so I cut up the rest of the old paintbrush handle and after drilling more holes into the bottoms of the skulls glued in short lengths of the “handle” sticking out as “pegs”, and once dry drilled corresponding holes into the “rock” and glued them in place.
Then it was just a case of filling around everything with more “filler”, I found the best way to get the “lumpy” effect I wanted to match the skulls was to take an old “scenic” brush, dampen the bristles then use this to tap the filler into place around the various separate bits. I also ran filler out to the edge of the base, and superglued so of my old faithful cat litter stones here and there. Finally I dabbed on some more PVA and sprinkled some “cork railway gravel” over the odd place to add some more texture. Watered down PVA was brushed over these once dry to make sure they were securely in place. And it was all left to fully dry out.
And that dear reader is where I am up to as I write, I did if I’m honest start this last weekend, so before the first of the month, but as I read it, the scenery only needs to be completed in the two challenge months, and that’s what I hope to do this week as I’ve just the painting to do (as an interesting aside, I don’t actually own any knife wielding cultists, or lying down victims…something I think I’ll have to address at some point 😈).
Till next time, stay safe and enjoy the scenery, cheers Roger.