Saturday, 30 March 2019

The crow-walk modular wall section

The fantasy genre has occasionally offered us glimpses of strange and incredible cities. Urban environments that seem anchored in reality, but far outstrip anything we may have encountered in life. If you're interested in this kind of thing, you may have some favourite locations that really stand out in your memory. Fictional places where your explorations seemed so vivid, you can almost imagine you were there. For me it's towns like GormenghastKharé, New Crobuzon, Hammerhal and of course Mordheim. Twisting, dangerous municipalities, where the weird and exceptional is often considered entirely normal.

Cities like this may boast cobbled, winding streets that rarely lead where they seem, or endless seas of undulating rooftops, where chimney stacks create forests out of stone, or foreboding, crenellated walls that, as much as keeping intruders out, could equally be holding something darker and more nasty in.

Games Workshop has recently announced the release of its Age of Sigmar skirmish game, Warcry. This looks to be set in what could potentially be another of these exciting, visceral cities, Varanspire, and it seems there will be a new range of fantasy, urban terrain to accompany it.

Following on from last week's model tree, I thought now would be a good time to share another piece of my old, scratch-built Warhammer scenery. A modular wall-section that is very much based on how I imagine one of these cities may look.

All my fantasy terrain was conceived to sit together – or at least to not look totally out of place when next to one another. The idea was that I could use different combinations of pieces to build a variety of locations. I had hoped that one day I'd have enough bits to build anything from a graveyard to a farm, a small village, or the aforementioned, twisted, inner streets of one of those dark and oppressive cities.

Of course, like all my projects, much of this is still a dream, but that's not to say I didn't finish anything at all. This wall section, named the crow-walk by my six year old son, is meant to be part of castle, a citadel or a keep. I wanted it to be able to represent buildings in a variety of different states, so I settled on the idea of damaged roofs. When placed next to buildings in tip top condition, they will hopefully make it appear only slightly more run-down, but, with a little luck, when placed among ruins, the broken roofs should help portray the idea of a sacked or neglected settlement, or even one recently overrun by the forces of Chaos.

The model is based on a polyboard frame, that has been detailed with card and balsa wood, then textured in places with polyfilla mixed with sawdust. I added some barrels and ladders (that I picked up from a third party seller at Salute many years ago), and some tattered and torn posters that I slapped together in Photoshop and printed out for this purpose. The roofs are removable to allow access to the inside.

This is one of my larger models, but there are a few other bits and pieces in my back catalogue – including at least one that was designed as a counterpart to this, and may even be slightly larger. I'll try to share this and some of the other items over the next couple of months.

Friday, 22 March 2019

From tiny acorns...

Back in August, 2003, the above photo appeared on the back of White Dwarf magazine in the UK. Two months later, in issue 286, we were given a step-by-step guide showing us how Mark Jones, then studio scenery builder, had made the tree for the launch of the new Beastmen range. This was back in the days before Games Workshop's selection of plastic scenery was so all-encompassing (and you couldn't, for example, just buy a box of these), so scratch-building your terrain was still very much encouraged by the company.

Although the article was a little plain to look at, it broke the construction process down into easy-to-follow steps, and quickly became another of those White Dwarf articles that really resonated with me – inspiring me to build my own take on an old, scary-looking tree. But where Mark Jones' original tree was possessed by a malevolent Chaos force, I wanted mine to simply look like the kind of gnarled, old thing you might find in the centre of a graveyard. Where the original was being lifted off the ground by its roots, I wanted mine to look like the roots were instead enveloping and perhaps even choking the surrounding area. 

The original idea was that I might one day build a few other bases of graves and sepulchers, to create a wider cemetery to go around this, although, of course, me being me, I never really got around to this. But now that I'm desperately trying to finish my small selection of Undead models, accumulated over the last 30 years or so, having a little graveyard to sit them in is starting to look quite attractive again.

I built and painted this model many years ago, so, once again, my Addiction Challenge score remains sadly unchanged.

I'm really going to have to put some work in soon.