Building Epic Ruins

There is nothing like a deadline to get you organised.

For some time now I had wanted to get some of the Epic 40,000 ruin sections I had and create some simple scatter terrain for our Epic Armageddon games. But, as happens, I never really got around to it and it took volunteering to present some Epic Armageddon exhibition games at the Vancouver GT this January to finally get me to finish this project.

The idea was to create 15 ruin terrain pieces for the exhibition games. While I have a large collection of Epic buildings and some rather nice Forgeworld Epic terrain sections I wanted to build some terrain pieces that would help the game stand out. And nothing says “Epic”to me like a table full of ruins and rubble!

Since I was going to be doing 15 pieces at a time, and also using a considerable amount of paint, I decided to use acrylic craft paint instead of my normal figure paint. In Canada there is a very good range called Delta Ceramcoat that comes in a wide range of colours and is very inexpensive.

The primary colours I used were Burnt Sienna for the sand and Storm Grey as the base for the ruins. The Burnt Sienna turned out to be a bit too red to use as a “dirt” colour so I had to add some Sunburst Yellow to the paint to make it more earthlike.

Normally a project like this would require some masonite. Masonite is cheap and thick enough that it won’t bend when the glue and sand dry. Cardboard, even stiff cardboard, will warp so its not usable for this type of project. Unfortunatley I live in an apartment and cutting masonite isn’t an option as it creates quite a lot of dust.

As it happens I have a considerable number of old CDs that would make excellent foundations for the terrain. They are very strong and so won’t warp as the glue and sand dries and large enough that they can make sizeable terrain pieces.

Step 1

Once all the CDs and ruin sections were assembled I glued the ruin sections to the CDs arranging them into rectangular spaces to imply the shapes of buildings. Some of the larger ruin sections had floors added to them. I cut some small pieces from plasticard and cut some rough areas into the edge of the card to make the floors look more distressed. Once the floor sections were shaped to my satisfaction I glued them into the ruin sections using the lips on the side of the ruins as supports.

Once the glue dried the ruins and the CD surface were primed black.

Step 2

Once the primer had dried I glued sand to the CDs. The hobby store where I purchased the Delta Ceramcoat paint also had some small plastic mixing bowls and a wide assortment of large, course bristle brushes. Between the glue and the sand you are going to ruin the brush so its best to get a large brush, to make painting a large surface like a CD easier, that is also cheap and expendable.

I mixed some white glue with water and then applied this to the CDs. Since I had primed the CDs the glue had a surface to adhere to. If you try to apply glue to the unprimed surface of a CD you’ll have a less than positive experience as the glue will bead and you’ll not be able to cover large areas of the CD quickly. Each CD was then placed in a small box and modelling sand was poured over the CD. This was allowed to sit for a few seconds and then the excess sand was removed and any areas that didn’t have sand were re-glued and had sand reapplied.

I then applied larger, courser rocks to the CD near the ruin sections. This is going to be painted grey to represent rubble from the buildings.

I didn’t take much effort to avoid getting glue and sand on the ruin sections as I think the addition of dirt to the rubble makes it look more authentic. Just amke sure to paint it as well as the sand on the CD.

This was then repeated for the other 14 CDs.

The CDs were then left to dry

Step 3

After the sand had dried it was time to apply the base coats for the ruins and sand. I first painted all the ruins using a watered-down wash of the Delta Ceramcoat Storm Grey. Even with water added the acrylic paint was far thicker than GW paints so some care had to be taken to make sure that the paint didn’t clump and conceal the detail on the ruin sections.

Once all the ruin sections had been base-coated I went back to the first CD and painted a mixture of the Delta Ceramcoat Burnt Sienna and Sunburst Yellow to the sand. This paint was mixed very heavily with water in order to ensure that the painted flowed into the sand and also to make it easier to paint with.

All the dirt and stones were painted with this earth colour, even the stones that were going to be painted light grey. This helps merge the two types of dirt together visually and make it appear as if the grey rubble has mixed with the brown dirt.

This was then repeated for the other 14 CDs :-)

Step 4

Once the basecoats were dry (the terrain pieces were left overnight to dry) a wash of Black paint (the acrylic not GW Chaos Black) was applied to the ruins and to the stone rubble. This was allowed to dry and then the ruins were drybrushed with lighter and lighter shades of the Storm Grey and acrylic White.

Once this was done the sand and stones were drybrushed with consecutively lighter shades of the Burnt Sienna, Sunburst Yellow and acrylic White. Again I wasn’t concerned if the earth coloured paint made its way onto the ruin sections as this just helped to make the ruins look dirtier and more authentic.

Then the stones were drybrushed using the same Storm Grey steps as the ruin sections. In addition to the stones I also drybrushed grey onto the sand to create patches of rubble coloured areas. This helps to break up the brown sand and also adds some detail to the terrain piece with only a small amount of effort.

Step 5

Finally some flock and static grass was applied to the sand to add some detail to the pieces and also, again, to break up the large areas of brown on the CD. The flock is actually a mixture of various types of flock that I have thrown together to use when flocking large areas. Since the flock isn’t consistent it looks more organic and natural, to my eye at least, than a single texture of flock.

The addition of flock and grey “rubble” areas also helps to anchor any troops that are on the terrain pieces regardless of the manner in which the units have been based themselves. If a formation of Imperial Guard are huddled around the ruins and they have been based using GW green flock then there are still areas of green from the flock and static grass that the units can blend in with.

The edges of the CDs were then painted with Vermin Brown and once everything had dried the new terrain pieces were sprayed with GW Purity Seal and then Krylon Matte Sealant.