Building ork huts with foam board

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Two of three ork huts that I threw together out of foam board and bitz in my workshop.

Although The Gaffer is our “ork guy,” I recently decided to build a few ork buildings for future skirmish games. Why not?

My first decision was the aesthetic style I would use. I remember fondly the box-like ork buildings that appeared in White Dwarf  in its early years, and I have a lot of box-like resin shanties from Miniature Building Authority, so I decided to go with that style.

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This White Dwarf photo is one of many that inspired my project. I remember these buildings fondly.

For simplicity sake, I decided to build with foam board. It’s not a construction material I use a lot, but I’d recently seen a number of YouTube videos where foam board was used, and I had a few sheets of the stuff lying about.

One reason I usually avoid foam board is that I’m not every good with cutting the stuff. I know you can get a fairly good edge if you use a sharp knife (and switch it out once it starts to get dull), but I always seem to end up with ragged edges and corners. 

Well, with ork buildings, who cares? Certainly not the orks.  And, as it turned out, I did a passable job in cutting out the walls, and the end result was quite acceptable.

Once the walls were glued together with PVC glue, my newly constructed shell  proved surprisingly sturdy. So it was time for details.

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Corrugated paper, plastic mesh, balsa wood, cardboard, and a few bitz from the bitz box helped turn this building into the ramshackle mess that it is.

To highlight the ramshackle nature of the buildings, I cut bits of corrugated paper, etched plastic strips, bits of textured wood, a few Hirst Arts blocks, and some ork icons I cut out of cardboard. I also threw in a few plastic I-beams, some 3-D printed tires and concrete blocks, an old metal “control panel” and other bitz that I found on my shelves.

In the end, I had a building that looked like it was cobbled together from whatever was lying around the junkyard (which pretty much reflects how I built it). So, next was to prepare my ork shanties for painting.

I started this prep work by painting the cardboard surfaces with a layer of Mod Podge—essentially a mix of PVC glue and synthetic resin—that both strengthens the foam board and makes it more robust to rough handling. I then primed the building with Rust-oleum black primer, and then sprayed on a base coat of Army Painter’s Skeleton Bone.

After that, I went to work on the various sheets of materials that covered the walls. I most used washes of various colors, so that one piece of corrugated metal looked a faded blue, while a nearby sheet of plywood was a faded gray. I colored some sheets of the wall with a drybrush so the wall looked sand-blasted by the desert wind.

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As the roofs are the most visible part of the model, I thought it important to really bring home the ramshackle, slapped-together construction of the building. So, I added lots of metal and wood sheeting, along with tires, concrete blocks, and scrap metal.

I used a brighter color, like a red or yellow, to draw attention to various ork glyphs, and I painted a bunch of ork icons and graffiti to give the building a more “lived in” look.” I also used Citadel Paints’ Typhus Corrosion to create stains, and drybrushed some edges various oranges to represent rust. Then I washed it down with various washes, such as Citadel Paints’ Typhus Corrosion.

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The salt-weathering technique creates a very realistic rust effect. Alas, this photo doesn’t do the model justice. But it’s a great technique.

For one of the smaller buildings, I also added a water tower to the roof. It was made of a rounded-end cap of PVC pipe, glued down to a wood base for a floor, and then I propped up the tank on  legs of 1/8th-inch-square wooden strips.

I tried something new with the tower: the salt-weathering technique. You’re probably familiar with it, but just in case: I first spray-painted the water tower in a rust color, then after the paint dried, I brushed the tower with water and sprinkled salt on it.

I let the salt dry, and then I spray-painted the tower a flat green. Once that dried, I brushed away the salt, uncovering the rust color underneath. This made it look as if the tower’s green paint was flaking off, a look that’s hard to achieve with drybrushing or sponges.

You’ll find plenty of videos on YouTube about using foam board for construction, as well as details on the salt-weathering technique for highlighting rust. So, I won’t bore you with all the details here. Instead, I’ll finish by saying that this was an easy and fun project, and you might want to give it a try.–TheGM

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

Categories: Terrain

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2 replies »

  1. Foam board tends to do that scrunching up/tearing/ragged edge thing if you are cutting with the blade too vertical (90 degrees to the surface). Its a subtle point but knifes cut as they are ‘drawn’ across the surface. So with a high angle you are less cutting/slicing than chopping. Imagine what it looks like as you drag a spoon through noodles in the pot.
    By going at a much lower angle you end up with a longer section of the blade dragging/slicing along the surface and you get a much cleaner cut. It helps to cut on a surface that the tip will cut into a bit as well. Like a soft wood (waste) board or cardboard or whatever.


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