Before/After Mansion Scatter

Published 17 December 2023


Dungeon Tiles are great, but they are not enough to convey the mood of each room adventurers explore, especially in large dungeons.

Scatter pieces, or dressing, are what really "sells" what a room is about. So I decided to extend my collection of scatter bits, suitable for what you would find inside of a mansion.


I took various bits from my bits drawer, glued it all together, trying to have some interesting shapes.


I found toy vases (Playmobil and others), added a few balls of tinfoil into them, then glued real foliage flocking on top, to make small decorative trees.


I recycled my daughter Elsa and Anna beds (from a Frozen toy). Added bed linen made out of tissue paper on top. I don't have much picture of the final painted result, but... it doesn't look very good.

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Collapsed Dungeon Tiles

Published 8 December 2023


I sometimes need to mark some areas of a room as collapsed. Even for no specific reason, adding collapsed markers help create some difficult terrain and some challenge in encounters.

For the scenario I intend to run, the dungeon map indicates some areas as collapsed. Instead of crafting collapsed marker and making sure they would fit in my dungeon tiles, I decided to directly make collapsed dungeon tile.


I started with regular dungeon tiles, and added some shape with tinfoil.


More foam bricks, balsa beams and some plastic columns.


Then glue, sand, more glue.


And we paint that in a few different shades.

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Zombicide Wooden Tiles

Published 30 August 2023


After my stone and earth tiles, I also needed to work on the wooden tiles. As you can see in the picture, I made some simple and some double tiles, to represent the two sizes of rooms available in Zombicide.

Those wooden tiles are meant to represent the inside of houses. I know that in the official tiles of Zombicide, not all houses have wooden floor, but with the 3D representation I'm going with, it makes distinguishing the difference between inside and outside easier to have all insides wooden.


Similar to the stone tiles, I start with the basic pattern. Each square is made of three wooden slats, and I alternate the orientation so all squares are perpendicular to each other. I also add a line on the side, to give the 3D illusion of a floor.


Before applying the black layer, I did brush every single slat with a steel brush, to simulate the imprint of wood grain.


Initial overbrush of brown.


First drybrush of light brown. I didn't apply it everywhere, instead I did some circular motions here and there to give it a random look.


I did use different kind of browns, at an attempt at simulating different kind of wood. I wouldn't be able to replicate it if I wanted, but I like the variety it gave me.


Same as the stone tiles, I did paint randomly some slats in a different color. Once again, it's a way to add visual variety and the the final result doesn't look like one big brown area.


And here is what it looks like once finished.

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Zombicide Road Tiles

Published 30 August 2023


Next up would be the road tiles. For those, I went with a stone pattern that still let see the 3x3 matrix inside. I thought that even outside of Zombicide, I could use those tiles in other tabletop games.


I started with the same layer of foam glued on existing wooded squares, and cut to size. I traced the initial 3x3 matrix (each square is itself 3cm per side).


I then carved each square in stones. The full process isn't shown here but what I do is split each square in two alternatively horizontally and vertically. I do not put the separation in the middle, but always slightly off.

Then, for each square split like this, I split again randomly one of the sides. Sometimes I split both sides. Sometimes I split one side twice.

Then it's a matter of carving a thin line with an exacto knife, making it bigger with a pen, and rounded the corners by going along the curvature. It takes times, but is easy to do, so you can definitely do it while doing something else (I watch Critical Role myself while doing it).


Cover in black.


First gray overbrush.


Drybrush of a lighter gray.


Adding various grays and browns in what I call the "Chocolate Phase".


Darken everything with a black wash.


And drybrush everything one last time with light tan, to unify it together.


And here they are, drying after the varnish, along with the wooden tiles.

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Zombicide Earth Tiles

Published 21 August 2023


I have started a large project of recreating 3D versions of the Zombicide: Green Horde board. I did a first version with MDF boards for each large tile, but this time I went with something more modulable and that hopefully took less storage: individual squares.

Each Zombicide tile is made of squares, on a 3x3 matrix. Each square can either be the inside of a building, or the outside of it. The outside squares have some variety. You have the deep water tiles, and the high ground tiles. The ground tiles themselves are split into two type, for aesthetic purposes only: stone road and earth gardens. This means that you basically need 4 different types of squares:

  • Water tiles
  • Wooden (interior) tiles
  • Stone tiles
  • Earth tiles

This post is about the making of the earth ones.


I cut glued isolation foam to square pieces of mdf I bought. Then I cut the foam to the size of the board. Each board is about 9cm x 9cm. Gluing first, then cutting allows me to have clean cuts and each square with the same dimensions.

Then I rolled a texture roller on it (really heavily) to imprint some pattern. It won't show much once I'll add the texture and paint, but where it does it adds a nice effect.


I then added added glue and baking soda, to add some rough texture. This was a big mistake, as I'll discover later. Baking soda seems to react to either the sun or the heat, and even painted it turns white again. This ruined my paint job a few times in this build...


I also added fine sand here and there, which is a different texture, bigger grains.


Then basecoated black and with a first drybrush of brown, we can still see the three layers of texture: the roller, the baking soda, and the sand.


I continued with a lighter brush.


And some tan on the sand texture.


This is the ruined effect I was talking about. At some point I had to clean my desk, and I put my (still running) laptop on top of the tiles. Somehow the heat of the laptop reactivated the baking soda and my painted tile turned all white again.


It looked horrible, like mold.


Thankfully, it was simply turning white, so it was easy to cover it back in brown with diluted paint. It ruined a bit the effect and I had to re-apply the various dry brushes.


And , being extra careful not to put the laptop on top, I put them outside to varnish them. The moment the sun hit them, then turned white again. I still varnished them, thinking that hopefully the varnish would protect the baking soda and prevent it from become white again next time.


Thankfully it worked, and I could turn to finally flocking them, with small patches of greenery. I wondered if I shouldn't have done it in reverse: mostly green with only patches of brown instead of that.

What I learned

Not using baking soda for texture. Or really mix it heavily with paint first, and then apply it. Since that episode, I avoid baking soda much.

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WoW Miniatures

Published 19 August 2023


I used some of my new acquired Speed Paints to paint a bunch of World of Warcraft miniatures I had. The miniatures are coming from the board game, that I bought second hand, and never played. I only kept the miniatures.


The ghouls I had already started painting in a more traditional fashion before getting the Speed Paints, though.




Witcher Drowner

For the murlocs, I did the traditional Murlocs colors, and some I painted in more muted colors, like the Drowners from the Witcher serie.

With the Tritons and Murlocs, I have enough miniatures to populate a Sea/Swamp type encounter if needed. They are smaller scale than my usual miniatures, so they could easily represent low level creatures.

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Random Scatter: Pillars, Walls and Altars

Published 19 August 2023


This is one of those builds I didn't really know where I was going with it, but just kept building, and learn along the way.


I was watching an episode of Critical Role, and there was a nice epic battle in a cathedral, with huge pillars blocking line of sight and adding interesting tactic to the battle. That made me want to have some large pillars as well. Not only small ones for dressing, but larger one that force players to take line of sight and movement into account.


So I gathered everything I had that could remotely help in building pillars. Plastic tubes, foam tubes, corrugated cardboard, etc.


For the large ones, I cut a bevelled base in the foam tube, added a heavy metal washer for weight and glued everything on a square wooden tile (the same I use for my dungeon tile system).


I then glued old pharmaceutical tubes in a circle to simulate columns, and topped it with another bevelled foam slice.


To make the texture a bit more rough, and cover the areas where various parts meet, I covered it all with a goo made of glue, paint, sand and small rocks. In retrospect, it wasn't such a good idea because it gave a too rough texture. I was planning to have them work as underground dungeon pillars, but the texture was so rough that I had to turn them into outdoor overgrown temple pillars.


For other pillars, I directly used well textured MacDonalds toys that I topped up with some circular foam.


Another one I built with straws glued together around a empty roll of thread. I used old Scrabble tiles for the floor and once again a top carved in the foam tube. The straws have some visible lines that I will manage to hide with the goo, but once again, it will look like an overgrown outdoor pillar.


I made some simpler, ornamental pillars as well, for simpler dressing.


But once again, the too rough texture kinda ruined the effect. It didn't look like an old stone pillar forgotten into an old crypt anymore. It more looked like a half-buried pillars that had stayed outside against the elements for years.


This broken column was part of a plastic toy. I covered it with my goo to roughen the texture. I didn't go too much overboard here, so the end result was fine.


I also tried to do some with corrugated cardboard glued around smaller foam tubes. I ended up not finishing those, and kept them in my bits drawer for later, though.


What I did finish though were those pillars made out of foam tubes, with poker chips at the top and bottom. It might have been a good idea if I knew how to cut straight (which I don't), so all pillars are slightly slanted. Also, the very light nature of the foam added to the very heavy nature of the top/bottom poker chips make those pillars have a weird center of gravity. The heavy metal washer I added at the bottom prevent them from falling, but they still feel clunky.


I carved the foam to make it look like it's made of several stacked stones and also added some cracks. The goo texture was the worst on them. They really look like they beet sitting at the bottom of the ocean for decades.


Here you can see them after the first grey coat.


I added some oil washes (one of my first try with them), and they turned way too green. The green aspect plus the too rough texturing is what decided me to turn them into outdoor pillars.


Once covered with flocking, they look a bit better, but that was not exactly what I was aiming for initially.

Garden gates


I took some Christmas decorations, and glued some Kinder (I think?) toyr on top, to make them look like gargoyles. I would have rather have too similar, but I didn't.


I made the texture more irregular with simple spackle added.


And added some sand to turn the initial snow into dirt.

Not seen on the pictures, I finally added some flocking to the bushes, to make them more real, and the end result is great. It's actually one of my favorite builds of this session.

Skull Altar


Another build where I wasn't sure where I was going was this skull altar thing. I took an Halloween decoration, glued it on top of an​ Action Man prop, added some fake metal swords around it and kept adding stuff.


I added a rim of skulls, more horns and texture.


I don't have a good picture of the end result apart from that one, but it's not looking very good in my opinion. The initial skull sculpt was too cartoonish, and I didn't really manage to make it look dark and oppressive as it should be.



I also made a gated wall section out of a Megablocks piece.


A coffin from what ​I think was a Playmobil chest.


This is a picture during the first stages of painting. It isn't finished yet, but it already looks more like a coffin than a Playmobil piece.


More scatter from Megablocks bits and other toy soldier items.


I painted those into more earthy tone. They are really nice looking, and quick, cheap and easy to make: my favorite kind of terrain.

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Mine Entrance

Published 19 August 2023


This is a terrain piece I wanted to have for a long time. So many stories start with the players going down into an abandoned mine, and I wanted to have something to represent that. Even if we never use it in play, there is something about it that brings so much memories, from my first foray into the​ Nashkell mines in BG1, to the Mine instance in vanilla WoW.


I started with a Playmobil base as the terrain base. I like those bases because they are very sturdy, and already have an irregular beveled shaped that fits well on a table. In addition, this one already had paved stones carved into it.

I also used some Megablock rock formation for the main structure, and an wooden pallisade I cut in several pieces for the mantel around the entrance.


I did a dry fit of the various pieces before glueing anything. I added some foam under the rock formation, so the height could accomodate my miniatures.


I then glued it in place, and added more and more foam to cover the gaps between the main pieces.


Same on the back. It's very rough at that stage, but I'm going to cover it later, it's just to give the generic shape.


The interior required more precise cuts. In retrospect, I should have done this part before gluing everything.


Using a knife, I then scratched at the foam to make it more rough.


It also removed a lot of the bulk of the piece.


I then covered it all in tinfoil. At that stage I'm not even sure I needed to do the previous step of scratching the foam. It did make the build a little smaller, which I like, but I lost almost all the texture I added in the previous step.


I also tried to cover some areas with paper towel dipped in glue+water. I basically wanted to see if it would be easier to apply that the tinfoil. It was not. It was way more messy, adding water everywhere and took forever to dry. Next time, I'll stick with the tinfoil and not bother with paper towels at all.


I covered everything with modpodge mixed with grey paint. I didn't use black paint this one, to see if I could gain some time on the initial overbrush. Whatever I'll paint later, if I miss a spot, it will be grey instead of black.

I added the leaves and tree as a dry fit, to see how it would look. I didn't really like having the tree here in the end, as it will prevent the placement of minis.


I added more details here and there. I find that it's those little pieces of details that add life to a build. Your mind fills the gaps and imagine why they should or should not be here, and a story develops in your head because of those small details.


I added more spackle around the wooden pieces to make the transition smoother. It wasn't very clean but I didn't care, I knew I would cover it all in flocking at some point.


And my initial idea of using gray in the modpodge didn't really work because I ended up spray painting the whole thing to get even coverage even in the hard to reach areas (like the interior)


So I went back to the base colors: brown where people walking killed the grass, green where it still grows and grey for the stone.


I added some secondary, lighter, drybrushes on the main zones. I also painted some details.


I covered it all in oil washes.


I mostly covered everything in a dark wash, then splotched some brown, ochre and green here and there on the stone, to give some irregularities. It's subtle, but it does break the stone monotony a bit.


Once dried, I added flocking with white glue here and there. And once this glue was dried, I applied another layer of water/glue (50/50 mix) on the flocked areas to really seal the flocking. I also added some aquarium plant decorations to add some volume to the vegetation.

As this is a very messy step, I do that on a foldable silicone mat (the kind you use when cooking in the oven). Silicone is great because it doesn't stick to anything. You can have all the glue you want dripping on it, once it's dry you can just peel it off and have your silicone mat brand as new. This is my go-to material when doing anything that has a chance of putting glue everywhere.


And the final result is one of my favorite build. It's sturdy because of the Playmobil base. It's simple enough that you can recognize it easily. It's the right scale to put miniatures. It's also full of details so you can tell your on stories.

It's displayed on my shelf, along with my favorite builds.

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Published 17 August 2023


Xvarts in BG

Xvarts are horrible little creatures in D&D. First time I encountered them was in Baldur's Gate. They are nice monsters for a level 1 group and bring some change from the usual kobold / giant rat trope.


I wanted to have some myself, so I set out on finding the right miniatures for that. Official Xvart miniatures are way to expensive.


I picked those old orcs I had lying in a drawer. They are very tiny scale, as you can see, I fitted them on one cent coins.


I painted them blue, and added some very light drybrush on their skin, but painted their clothes in brown shades with a dark wash. The contrast made them distinctive enough for my purpose.


I expect them to be living in sewers below a small scale city.

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Swamp Bridges

Published 17 August 2023


When you're crossing a deep swamp, and you don't want to get your feet wet (or worse), you need bridges.


I initially wanted to build city docks, but it actually turned out more like what you would find in a swamp.


I all started with some old table sets. They were made of tiny twigs weaved together. I cut them in vertical stripes, keeping the rope part visible. I then had to apply a lot of glue behind them to prevent them from falling apart now that​ I had broken them. Thankfully it's hidden below the bridges so you can't see it.

The pillars are made from decorative driftwood, and also heavily glued to the rest.


I painted the floors and the pillars in slightly different tones so it didn't only look like a brown mess.


And here it is, next to another creation. The scale is good enough that it can also probably be used in a forested bandit camp.

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