How to Paint Deathknell Watch - Stretching Scenery Budgets.

If you have any questions / comments, please feel free to post on the forum thread for this tutorial.

Hello guys 'n' gals, I've recently bought this lovely GW kit:

This idea was shamelessly stolen after seeing what Jon Kerr had done with his, making 2 pieces of scenery. I thought I'd take it a step further. People often see spending money (and time) on terrain as a bit of an unnecessary outlay, I'm the opposite, I love scenery! However I thought I'd show how with a bit of thought you can get multiple pieces out of one kit, stretching those pennies further, and possibly resulting in something that looks better also. So let's see where 20 can get us :).

As ever I've popped more ramblings at the bottom, if that's your thing maybe read them before as an introduction, if it's not; here's the tutorial:

Base section:

Deathknell Watch
Mixed Slate
Medium Thickness Cork

The Army Painter 'Base Primer - Matt Black'
The Army Painter 'Base Primer - Anti-Shine, Matt Varnish'
Matt White
Matt Black
Plate Mail Metal
Skeleton Bone
Uniform Grey
Dark Tone Ink
Soft Tone Ink
Mournfang Brown
Skrag Brown
Doombull BrownLeather Brown


Step 1: Assemble your's in one piece, so cut it from the sprue and remove any joining stubs :).

Step 2: Cork platform - in this case it just about fits on the cork, which makes things easy, draw around it, then roughly rip to this contour at an angle, I held it over the edge of my desk, whilst pressing the base down hard on it to make it easier.

Step 3: 2nd platform - as with before, draw around your cork, for this step I half-cut into the lines with my X-Acto, and then snapped the cork.

This leaves a very uniform edge, so scrape it a little with your knife to rough it up.

Step 4: Waste not want not! (Optional). To get the most out of the cork I hollowed out the pieces, the drawn line is helpful for this, I roughly 'sawed' about 1 cm in with an X-Acto, and prodded the centre out.

The resulting piece will be a nice organic shape, I ended up with two that go together fairly nicely for future use:). Up to this stage is also exactly how I make ponds, stop here, bulking out with filler, slate and sand, paint and add water effects.

Step 5: Stick it to your base - I use PVA, mixed with paint so I don't miss anywhere.

I also added an additional bit to the bottom layer, as ever it doesn't need to be neat.

Leave to dry..

Step 6: Bulking out - I used filler and slate.

Step 7: Texture - Again PVA with paint so I don't miss anywhere (it'll also make recesses darker in case you miss them whilst priming), sprinkle with small rocks first.

Then Sand.

Step 8: Bulking out again - If I'd been more careful/thorough with my cork stage this might not have been necessary. I repeated the last 2 steps.

Step 9: Pre paint - two coats of matt varnish (spray), all over the sandy bits. I never leave this stage out, it toughens stuff up, and ensures you don't both decimate your terrain, and leave a trail of sand about whilst gaming :).


Step 10: Priming - Chaos Black, all over, a couple of coats won't hurt as it's scenery!

Step 11: Building Undercoat (not natural rocks) - uniform grey, this is a pretty thorough undercoat here, super heavy drybrushing! The Texture on this stuff is lovely, we'll make the most of it in the final steps.

Step 12: Wash - Dark Tone Ink, aiming for the recesses, I used a slightly damp cloth (microfibre, not fluffy one), and quickly wiped over the areas to ensure it was only in the recesses. This is a super nifty trick, great for verdigris on larger scale stuff also.

Step 13: Ground undercoat WOAH! This looks a bit severe, fear not :). This is partially due to flash, but it is a big difference. I airbrushed to save time - uniform grey, all over, less in the recesses and centre of flat rocks.

Step 14: All over drybrush - uniform grey + a little matt white, not too heavy, take your time, largest brush possible.

Step 15: Drybrush highlight - matt white, super light, all over, again use a big brush sherever possible, maybe just small for bricks and steps.

Step 16: Pigments - Terracotta Earth, aim it for recesses, and where dust and sand would collect. This is a simple dry application, pick it up on an old brush, and prod it into where it's needed. If any recesses were missed in painting with the undercoat aim for them to hide your mistakes ;).

Step 17: Whirlpool thing - the previous layers of drybrushing and washing help us here, a thin coat of Lothern Blue + Glaze medium all over. I airbrushed it but a couple of coats with a brush would be fine, a lot of this will be hidden by water effects anyway.

Step 18: Drybrush it skull white, and flick some paint splatters on, re-wash sockets to add contrast.

Step 19: Water effects (+paint skulls skeleton bone). Water effects take patience, I did 3 layers and waited for each to dry.


(Yes I had a spillage..)

Tower Section:-

Step 1: Laying the foundations - Medium cork here, ripped at an angle, and plenty of PVA. A lot of PVA can make your base curl when drying, but we're preventing that with the subtle help of my friend Marcy :). Do as many layers as you like, and leave to dry.

Step 2: Initial bulking out - I mixed some generic polyfilla alternative (this is for pre-prep for plastering walls) with sand and PVA, and popped it around the base where it looked natural.

A good way to do this would be to imagine what it'd look like if you covered your base in sand, where it'd collect and form mounds etc. Don't worry about being too precise though - there's plenty of stages to come!

If you don't fancy a trip to a DIY store use tissue paper and pva, don't entire soak the paper, instead brush on thick pva under and on top of it - allow it to fully dry before proceeding.

Step 3: Attaching your tower - done in the same way as in the Pinning Models Tutorial, the cork is fantastic here, use PVA or superglue, and be generous, any spills can be covered.

Step 4: Playtime! Now we get to the properly slapdash creative part, I used slate to make some shabby steps, then more polyfilla mix and slate to pop in some features.

Step 5:- Sand and drying - PVA all over (where you'd like sand at least), and to help the building dry firmly in contact with the base Marcy stepped in again... x5. 12.5k overnight ensured everything stayed flat :). A couple of hours would do though.

Once dried:

Step 6: 2nd Sanding - 2 coats of sand really makes a big difference, you get some nice irregularities. I sprinkled a few small rocks on in clusters before coating in sand, always do bigger first smallest last with this stuff to ensure the big stuff sticks.


Step 7:- Pre prep - prime sand/base twice with matt varnish, and al over twice with black primer - read the ramble at the end for the full reasoning (basically it makes it tough).

Step 8: Super heavy basecoat drybrush, ALL OVER! I used Uniform Grey, and did a heavy drybrush, all over. In the areas where that wouldn't work (recesses etc) I'd drybrush elsewhere, and then, after a lot of paint was removed from the brush stipple and prob at the areas I wanted covered.

I continued this drybrush all over the base, and the wooden sections of the model as well. This stage takes a while, but everything speeds up afterwards!

Step 9: Drybrush Highlights - stage 1 - add matt white to previous mix, go lighter this time.

Step 10: Drybrush Highlights - stage 2 - add more white.

After this stage change brushes, and do a super light drubrush of pure white, this is the magic stage that'll make the building 'pop'. A large sift brush is best, barely any paint on it, and be rough and thorough.

Step 11: Earth basecoat - Mournfang brown, all over. I airbrushed this stage because it's faster, but a brush would be fine, thin the paint with a little more water than you normally would and get it in there. Again as with the building's basecoat stippling may be best. A bit of transparency here will allow the drybrushing on the base to naturally highlight everything, slightly blotchy is fine - earth ain't regular!

Step 12: Drybrush highlight - Skrag brown.

Step 13: Drybrush Highlight - Skeleton Bone - super light.

Step 14: Wooden bits - Basecoat with Doombull brown, exactly like the earth basecoat - previous grey drybrushes have pre highlighted.

Step 15: Drybrush - Leather brown, then wash with Soft Tone, and Dark Tone in the recesses.

Step 16: Metallics - Undercoat black (carefully, to the edges).

Step 17: Metallics - Plate Mail Metal Basecoat

Step 18: Metallics - wash with Dark Tone Ink, one or two coats to taste. Dot all of your rivets. (You could take these further by following something like the Dark Steel Tutorial). I added a little black to this mix and washed the skull-filled-window also.

Step 19:- Vegetation time - Clump Foliage first, mostly in sheltered areas.

Step 20: Tufts next - Wilderness tufts, which're shorter and more stubby than others, perfect for this.

Step 21: Flock! I PVA'd all around the base, and pressed flock in to this with tweezers.

Step 22: I drybrushed the skulls Rakarth Flesh, and then Matt White while the flock was drying. Then went back in and added patches of flock where I thought they'd look right.


Ramble Ramble Ramble

So - firstly why spend your hard earned cash on scenery instead of shiny new models!?

1.) It's different - just as a break, crack out your massive brush, and spend a couple of hours drybrushing, what could be more fun?

2.) You might learn something, it's different, but you can learn a lot from scenery, it encourages only using a couple of colours, it's all about texture, and it's very forgiving.

3.) Scenery looks pretty when painted! Hand in hand with the above points, scenery is simple, and it's big - which means you can get away with a lot. I'm not saying be completely sloppy, but if the paint from your base gets on your building, that's cool - dirt got there. It's like basing, so put your fine detail brush away, get out your tank brush, and accidentally paint something awesome.

4.) Last but not least - scenery works for every army! And a pretty gaming table is a happy one, it makes a real difference to play on a complete board, not one with books for hills :).

Stretching your budget

This can't be done with every plastic kit out there, but some are screaming out for it. If you spend a couple of quid more on some generic materials - slate, cork, maybe some tufts, or water effects if you're feeling fancy suddenly you can both bulk out your pieces, adding character, and get away with splitting them up! In this instance my aim was to take the DK kit, use the base to make a magical water feature, the tower to cleverly make...a tower.. And (not yet done) use the remaining crenelations/battlement bits to do something else, which I haven't yet decided on.

Making your terrain last
Finally I'd definitely recommend taking steps to make your terrain a little more bombproof than your minis - terrain gets abused, so giving it a helping hand will extend its life expectancy greatly!

1.) Spray varnish + Spray primers
I double coated these with both of the above, the varnish (army painter anti-shine matt) twice after it was built, before painting, particularly on the sandy bits, followed by the black undercoats.

2.) Putting it on a sturdy base.
You can use anything for this - I'd recommend some type of dense foam, wood (thin ply/mdf), or plasticard (double layered). If card is all you have then double or triple layer it, and use polyfilla or some other putty, or PVA+tissue on top to give it some solid structure. With card allow this stage to fully dry before going any further, this can take a while - but the time will be greatly reduced if air can circulate aroudn the entire thing, so popping it on a rack of some type will really make a difference.

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