Scratchbuilt Frostgrave Terrain: Frozen Ruined Dock

As part of my ongoing project to build a modular frostgrave table, I turned my attention to the dockside. I’d been wanting to play with some ice effects and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Adding water to a tile brings it’s own unique set of challenges, you either have to dig down below the surface of the tile or build up the sides of the terrain to contain the water. I chose the latter and designed the docksides to ride above the table level. This brings the water on a level with the other tiles.

The Build

This turned out to be quite a long build, not helped by building a new workshop halfway through.

I started with a 1 foot square, 6mm thick piece of MDF as the base. A quick prototype in sketchup (based on an inch flagstone grid) gave me the dimensions of the dockside which I cut from 50mm pink insulation foam.

Everything is dry fitted for now while I get the components in place…

Next I roughed up some balsa wood beams with a razor saw and carved notches in the walls to hold them. I started hacking bits out of the back wall to simulate a collision.

I used a template to cut out archway sections. These were measured to fit between the wooden pilings.

With them in place, I carved out the brickwork using a number 10a blade and a pencil. I prefer a pencil for brickwork, as the point is a ‘V’ shape (and doesn’t leave an ink mark that can sublimate up through the paint ruining the finish.

I selectively melt out some of the bricks using a dab of Tamiya extra thin glue, but any liquid plastic glue will do.

I finished off the brickwork and carved 1 inch slabs into the tops of the blocks. After cracking them (see my observations on cracks) I use the edge and corner of a steel ruler to push in some of the slabs (mostly around the cracks).

I further distressed the slabs with a crumbled up piece of tinfoil.

I scraped the edge of a scalpel along the side of the steps and wall to simulate crumbling stone and hacked out the damaged wall a bot more.

I broke up some distressed balsa strips and superglued them together to make a rough landing.

And glued everything (apart from the wooden dock as I still needed to work on the water) together with titebond 3. I used toothpicks jammed into the sides at angles across the joins to pull them together while the glue dried.

Once the titebond had dried, I went around all the obvious cracks and filled it with ready mixed filler.

A dock wouldn’t be complete (and the ruined wall wouldn’t make much sense) without a boat in it. Fortunately, I’d picked up a pre-built MDF model a few years back for a project that never happened (but one I still want to tackle…). It looked a bit too pristine, so I set about it with a razor saw…

And started trying out positions..

Next I pulled out my dremel knockoff and fitted a gnarly bit. Several brutal minutes later and I’d distressed the boat to my satisfaction.

The boat had some really nice laser cut wood grain which I tried to keep. It makes painting so much easier later.

I knocked off the rough edges with some fine sandpaper.

I toyed with the idea of adding some debris to the water and the ship.

I gave the dock and ship an undercoat of UMP black primer and hit the stonework with tamiya dark grey. This was just to give the piece a bit of coherency while I back brained what colour I was going to paint everything.

The fit of the prow in the damaged wall section needed a bit of tweaking…

But with a bit of gentle coaxing it went together.

The Paint

First, I turned my attention to the wooden pillars and dock. I gave them an undercoat of UMP primer and a base coat of LifeColor Weathered wood, roughly brush painted on.

Next, I wet brushed a lighter tone of Weathered Wood. Again, I wasn’t being too careful (just careful enough to avoid the stonework).

I let that dry thoroughly and then dry brushed using a very light weathered wood.

That rotten wood texture was made by dragging a razor saw across the beam to score the grain and an xacto blade to chew it up.

I dry brushed the stonework with Tamiya light grey using a 1/2 inch brush. Really knock the paint out of the brush! You want to layer the dry brush gradually (and from all directions as the tops of slabs are always in sunlight) – catch every edge.

The vertical faces were drybrush using strokes from top to bottom  to feather out the highlights towards the bottom.

Once the drybrush had dried, I mixed up some murky green oil paint with odourless thinner (very watered down) and started jabbing it into cracks and crevices and allowed it to run down walls.

I focused along the bottom of the walls with a slightly thicker mixture where they meet the water…

One of the joys of oil washes is they take a while to dry. Before the green had dried, I mixed up some burnt umber wash and blended it with the green.

Again, I focused on the cracks and crevices.

I’d ummed and ahh’d about what colour to paint the boat. I’d originally thought to do it white to match the icy theme and then realised it would be covered in snow and be lost. In the end I went for a similar scheme to the dock pilings using LifeColors again.

While this dried, I got out my pigment powders and dirtied up the breached wall and few flagstone cracks.

I used a couple of shades of brown earth pigments to give the mud a bit more interest.

While the oils and pigment powders were drying, I gave the ship a dark oil wash. This really brought out that fantastic wood grain and helped tone down the whole piece.

 

I grabbed some likely looking clump foliage from my ground cover bits box and picked a few that looked natural together.

I didn’t want to go overboard (no pun intended) with the clump foliage, but it’s great for covering up any mistakes and adding interest to corners.

Time to tackle the water. Well, ice. But I needed some water for the ice to float on. There’s something eerie about still, black water and even though you wouldn’t see it I thought it would lend an appropriate background for the semi translucent ice sheets.

I gave the base board 2 coats of semi-gloss tamiya black.

and broke out (aha! I kill me) the ice sheets. I sized it to the dock area, scoring and snapping to roughly fit.

This is the first time I’ve used Precision Ice and Snows products so I was quite nervous. Then again, I was going to be breaking it up anyway so there was little to loose…

It comes with a sticky backing that you can peal off. I left it in place as I cracked it to keep the bits together.

Once I was happy with the cracks, I separated them from the backing and dry fitted them in place.

I used randomly broken up pieced stuffed under the edge of the ship to hide the join and to give the ship a bit of an angle.

Once I was happy with the positioning. I squirted woodland scenics water tinted with green and blue ink in a pipet between the slabs. This sneaks under the ice sheets giving a very pleasing effect and holds everything in place once dry.

And after it had all dried…

It’s a shame to cover it in snow, but it’s called Frostgrave for a reason.

I first used some cheap ebay snow flock stuck in place with PVA to form the deeper drifts. Apologies for the potato quality photograph.

I then sprayed the whole piece with clear spray glue and sieved the snow power over the piece, I tried to focus around the drifts as to not swamp the piece and loose the stonework. I was only marginally successful.

Sadly, the photographs don’t capture it, and the reason for using the clear spray glue instead of pva is this snow has tiny, sparkly particles in it that capture the light just as you’d expect snow at that scale to do.

I fixed this in place with another spray of the clear glue and took a few photo’s.

The Result

Thanks for making it this far. I hope you enjoyed the build. Not sure I’ll use this snow product in future – or if I do it’ll be for a more thorough coverage. The ice sheets are excellent though pricey and something I’ll definitely try to DIY in future.

If you’re interested in Frostgrave or wargames terrain – check out my other terrain articles. I’m always happy to answer any questions you might have about the builds I do. Just drop them in the comments and I’ll try and answer as best I can.

Happy building! 🙂

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