Simple pillars

Published 22 April 2021



With the excess foam from my previous project, I started crafting some pillars. Once again, they are heavily inspired by Black Magic Craft.


I stack them four by four and put a nail in the middle of the stacks. This allowed me to bind them together nicely, and also gave some weight to the build.


I will then glue two stacks together on top of each other for a complete pillar.


Here is what they look like once painted. This was a messy dry brush of light gray on the stone.


I painted a few stones in various colors for variety.


I tried a brown wash on them. On the left is before the wash, on the right after it. It certainly tied the whole pillar together in the same color space, but it toned down some of the colors so much that I wondered if it was worth the time painting those bricks in various shades of gray in the end.


And for scale, with some other minis and other fun foam stuff I was messing around with at that time.

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Black Magic Craft Tower

Published 21 April 2021


This is heavily inspired by the modular mage tower build by Black Magic Craft.


Draw the same shape over and over again on a large sheet of foam.


Use a utility knife to cut those shapes out, and draw irregular stone patterns on the sides.


Glue them all on top of each other at an angle to make create a stair effect.


Once stacked, and with a stone pattern drawn on it. I wasn't really sure what to draw on the top floor, so I went with a star pattern with alternating stone size.


The usual mix of black paint and mod podge to both seal and act as a basecoat.


Grey overbrush on the stone, and tried another stone color on top.


I painted a few stones in different colors to break the monotony, but they came out a lot lighter than expected and I was afraid it would look too distracting.


I applied a black wash on the grey stones, and it toned it down enough for my taste. I then started painting the top stones in various colors that I thought would go well together (dark red, brown and tan) but it just made the whole piece look like a giant chocolate cake.

Well, this was a fun build and pretty easy to do. I should have applied the stone texture (through the ball of aluminium foil) before glueing the pieces together, though.

After I finished the build I decided that I should made a few others, so I could stack them to build a really high tower. I also decided that I should add a custom top level on each side, allowing more more versatility on what the last floor would look like.


I took inspiration from the winds of magic of the Warhammer world, and decided to build one tower top for each wind.


I created two more towers.


The same but face down (or up, or whatever).



Some closeup of the hand drawn runess


Here it is, after the first coat of paint.


And the view from the other side


I tried drybrushing some brown and green here and there to give it a rough and used look.


The final effect is ok, but I think I might have had to add some color variety to the stones before doing all this colorful drybrushes.


I tried again on the next part, again with the green and brown on top of gray stone.


And first layer of colored paint on top. The stone pattern on the top floor was done using a GreenStuffWorld roller I just received and wanted to test.


For this one, I went all gold on the top.


The purple wind. I tried some kind of light aura effect around the rune.


I don't really know what I did there, but it was a mistake. I think I tried to apply a red wash, or a red drybrush, but it just ruined the initial effect that was so much better.


Finally, it was time to paint the runes and apply a wash on the tops. This took quite some time as I had to first wait for the rune paint to dry before applying the wash (I'm using cheap craft paints, and if I try applying a wash before it's completely dry, it just removes the paint). Also, because the surfaces to paint are on both sides, I had to wait for one face to be done before moving to the opposite face.


With the other projects I was working on at that time.


I had some issues while having them dry, I accidentally left a sheet of paper on top and the still wet wash adhered to the paper and ripped the paint off.

Unfortunately, I don't have a group picture of all the tower parts because I was putting them in boxes (I'll be moving to a new house soon) as they were finished.

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Magnetic Sewer Tiles

Published 29 August 2020


I'm a sucker for magnetic terrain. I'd love my dungeon tiles to automatically click to each other when they come near. I haven't found a reliable way to do that yet, but I decided to take the opportunity of crafting sewers tiles to give it another go.


I went with 3x3 tiles, so I could carve the sewer in the middle.


I drilled small holes with an knife halfway in the width and height of the right and left squares. To make sure I always drilled at the same spot I made a quick cardboard helper. I then added a small neodymium magnet in the right hole and a screw with a large head in the left one.

By putting the screw always on the left and the magnet always on the right I'm sure that no matter how I organize my tiles, I'll always have a magnet in front of a screw. I could have put magnets everywhere but then I would have had to worry about polarity (to make sure they were attracting, not repulsing each other).


I tried various ways of carving the inner sewer part. I tried cutting small lines of foam, or larger ones. In the end I went with cutting 4 small lines as it was very fast and I plan to fill the sewer line with modeling paste anyway.


I added some stone pattern on the sidewalks with the usual pen and utility knife technique.


I decided to change the flag stone pattern on some tiles by not using only straight lines and I'm glad I did because I like the way this turned out.


I was out of magnets and my order didn't arrive yet, so I could only add the screws and store those babies on the shelf for a few weeks.


Once my order of magnets arrived, I added them in the holes. I then covered the sides with black-tainted wood glue (two layers) to protect them and keep the magnets in place. Without this protection I was afraid they would get out of the holes I drilled and stay connected to the nails on the other tiles.


Then it was time to fill the canals with filling paste. The paste cracked when drying in a few spots, though.


This is the complete set with painted sidewalks. I used magnetic paint here, as an experiment. It protects the foam from scratches and is already black so this has pretty much the same effect as the usual black wood glue; and I had a can laying around. It is also quite heavy, so this was giving some weight to the tiles, which is always a good thing.


Gray drybrush. I might have overdone this one layer though.


Second, slightly lighter, layer. I really like the irregular stone pattern better than the regular one. It's also much faster to draw.


First coat of green paint, taking care to also paint the edges, so it really looks like there is some depth when looking at them from the side.


The cracks are really showing here. I should have fixed it by applying a second layer of paste before painting.


The overall effect looks great though. Some of my tiles are not perfectly square, and even if they still click together correctly two at a time, when building a whole board like here you can see that they start to not align properly. Magnetic terrain is tricky, I think it only really make sense when you can cut perfect shapes in a consistent way; and as I don't own one of those fancy Proxon wire cutter tables, I guess I won't be able to achieve that level of consistency.


To fix the cracking issues, I added another layer of matte gel on the canals. This had the double benefit of masking the cracks, and adding some undulating effect that might look a bit like ripple (with a great dose of imagination).


I then added a dark green wash on the canals and a bit on the sidewalk. The result is... messy. I was a bit disapointed at this stage, thinking I had ruined everything.


So I applied another dark red was on the inner parts of the sidewalks, and finished with another light drybrush of light gray on top to blend the two.

And here they are, some sewer tiles for when my players want to chase a mutated goblin that escaped from a carnival. All great stories start like this.

Some more shots of the tiles with some minis for scale:


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Magnetic Paint tiles

Published 29 August 2020


I had a pot of magnetic paint and decided to give it a try on some tiles.

The paint does not really contain any magnet, but it is filled with iron particles, which iron adheres to. It is also black, which make for a great priming/basecoat. Because it's so filled with iron, it also has some weight to it, which make the tiles heavier. It also dries very quickly.

From this initial first test, it seems to be a better alternative to the mod podge/black ink coat suggested by Black Magic Craft.


Even once dried, details are still visible.


I made some walls out of foam, and added magnetic adhesive band below them to see how it would work with the tiles. Turned out it adheres pretty well. At least well enough to prevent the walls from falling when moving the tiles around. Not strong enough to hold the tile when moving the walls, though.

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Foam bubbles test

Published 29 August 2020


An order I made arrived packages in those little foam bubble. As they are almost rectangular in shape and with a rough texture I thought I could try to use them for brick walls.


So I coated a piece of foam with the mod podge / black ink mixture and glued them on it. I liked the way it looked like a rough stone wall.


Unfortunately, those little "bricks" react to water by shrinking. And even if there isn't much water in the mod podge, it still shrank them. They shrank so much that the game between the rocks was clearly visible and it didn't look like a wall at all.

So, this was a failed experiment. Still, what I learned is that I can use a few of them to add on an otherwise simple flat wall to add some interesting bits.

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Creating my own black wash

Published 29 August 2020


I followed instruction of Black Magic Craft to make my own black wash and was incredibly happy with the results. One layer on primed miniatures already showed the details more sharply.


Also worked well on some tiles I was crafting to test some colors chemes. It really tones down the color so I really shouldn't be afraid of using bright colors.

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Bhaal Display Diorama

Published 29 August 2020






I'm starting to have a fair amount of painted minis for my games. I store them in plastic drawers but even if this storing method is practical, it is not very enjoyable. I like seeing my miniatures. I wanted to have a way to see them often, while still being able to quickly pick some for an upcoming game.

So I started working on a piece of terrain whose main purpose was to display miniatures. I intended to store this in one of the cubes of my IKEA Kallax, so I needed something that would take advantage of the 33cm x 33cm x 33cm of the cube. I had never worked with insulation foam before (but watched a lot of BlackMagicCraft videos).

Temple of Bhaal

I also wanted to build something that was reminiscent of the Temple of Bhaal, the room where you fight Sarevok, the final boss of Baldur's Gate. But because I needed to use as much vertical space as possible in my Kallax, I also needed some lower and upper levels. For the lower level I imagined some classic catacombs, and some elevated stairs for the upper level.

Turned out I completely miscalculated the space all of that would occupy and ended up with a construction much smaller in height that I imagined.



This is the final shape of the structure. The lower floor will be some stone tombs, and the upper one will be the Temple of Bhaal. Now I need to start carving this.


After some carving and minis for scale.


With the first bricks of the wall and the upper floor carved.


Everything is now coated, and painting will soon began.


Painting has started, but no wash has been applied yet.


This time it's finished, including the wash and the varnish.


The Dungeon


I started by cutting the foam in the desired dimensions. The main floor structure is 31cm x 31cm. I decided to keep 1cm on each side to better slide the piece in and out of the Kallax.

I also decided to have half the depth of the lower level "filled" and the other open. My idea that because I would add a first floor, it would be hard for me to access miniatures situated at the far end of the bottom floor, so I decided that actually didn't need the second half of the floor and decided to put a wall there. In hindsight I should have used the whole depth as the first floor is removable, it wouldn't have been too hard to access the minis at the far end.


On the background is the lower floor, with its side walls. Foreground is 4 boards of foam glued together to "fill" the second half. Again, in hindsight this is a waste of foam and next time I will use the whole depth.


I started with the lower floor. Simple 3cm x 3cm square pattern. I use 3cm because it leave enough room for any 2.5 cm base to fit even when they have arms outstretched or weird poses. I then added some damage through holes or chunks of stone remove. I draw some cracks to went through them with an x-acto knife later.


I cut some bricks from foam to put on the walls of the lower floor. This was a long process because I sanded the edges and corners of each brick individually. In hindsight I should have sanded them before cutting them in small pieces. While I was nearing the end of the bricks I found a few ways to optimize my workflow, but it still took 2 to 3 hours to do enough bricks to cover my walls. I usually craft while listening to D&D live play podcasts, so I don't mind spending hours on it, though.


The brick wall a long process but I like the final look of it. In hindsight, I should have painted the wall black before gluing the bricks as it it now very hard to reach the wall between the bricks.


This is pretty clear in this picture. The wall behind the bricks shows too much.


I used very diluted black paint and a small brush to try to cover as much of the back wall as possible. The end result looks ok, but it was a long process and next time I'll definitely paint the wall before attaching the bricks.


Base coat of grey. I was a bit too heavy on the central squares.


I painted a few bricks in various shades of gray.


With the second dry brush of lighter gray and the wash on top.

The Temple of Bhaal


For the upper floor I started with the same grid pattern, then added some irregular smallest stones to it. I kept a circle clear at the center to carve the skull later.


To carve the central skull I printed the Baldur's Gate logo on paper, cut it and then pinned it to the board. I then cut each tear around the skull with my x-acto knife through the paper, which marked the foam below it.


I did the same thing for the skull, and was left with a rough shape.


I pushed the small cuts with a pen to widen them. I wasn't 100% happy with the way the lowest tear turned out, nor the nose or eyes, but it was too late to fix them.


I then slapped a first coat of modge / black ink on the upper floor and started painting.


I painted the stone floor red and the skull orange.


I then painted a few bricks individually in similar colors, and painted with cheap metallic paints the skull.


I was afraid the contrast between the orange and the red would be too stark, so I decided to drybrush some red on the skull to blend the two together. This was a mistake and ended up looking very bad. I thought adding a black wash in the next step might fix this, so I didn't try to save it too much.


The wash was even worse... I don't know what happened with my wash, but it completely removed the copper paint I had on the tears as well as the paint on some of the bricks I had individually colored. I think it's because I'm using cheap craft paint and they seem to react weirdly with the wash. I need to wait for the paint to really dry overnight and not just 30mn to be able to apply the wash correctly.


So I decided to repaint the skull on top of the wash. This time waiting 24h for it to dry. This time I decided to paint the eyes red.


Once I was sure it was really dry, I applied a liberal amount of wash to it and let it dry.

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Wyrdstone Egg

Published 27 August 2020


This is a Jurassic Park promotional egg, I guess it's from MacDonalds as well. I wanted to paint it as some crackling egg releasing some kind of foul energy. I had never painted anything like this before, so I thought that having such a large miniature to try would be perfect.


Applied a fair layer of modeling paste and sanded it to give it a smoother texture.


Priming it black.


My plan was to make this a stone egg, with some weird green light coming out of it. Now that I think of it, I don't know why it should be made of stone. I must confess I didn't really think this part through. It would have been more logical if it was colored more like a bird egg, or a weird color.


Second coat for more depth.


Now my plan is to paint the cracks as green light. I had never done this before but here is what I'll try to do. First paint the cracks with a deep green, then drybrush around the edges with a light green, repaint the center of the cracks with the same green, and unify this with a wash at the end.


First pass of green in the cracks.


Drybrush of light green around all the cracks.


Lightgreen inside the cracks

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Wooden logs

Published 27 August 2020


This seems to be a Flintsone vehicule. In the cartoon the "wheels" are supposed to be made of rock but here the texture made it look like some kind of wood, so I thought I could transform that into logs.

Original car


So I dismantled the car and kept the "logs". The other bits went into my bits box, maybe for future use.


Put some paste in the holes.


Priming them black. Now I can see that the circle don't really look like wood logs. They don't really look like stone either to be honest.


Painting them with a rough drybrush work.


Adding some more colors.

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Undergroup Aquarium plant

Published 27 August 2020

The Underground Plant


This is an aquarium decoration made of some kind of plastic. I wasn't really sure what I would turn it into when I bought it, but I figured I would find out as I was painting it.


The only modification I did was removing the starfish and adding some modeling paste before priming.


Ready to be painted.


I wasn't really inspired for the color scheme here. I took some random colors and painted the various parts with them, then I drybrushed some yellow on top of it to homogenize the plant. In retrospect I should have used brighter colors because in its current state, it's hard to tell the various parts.

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