Mos Eisley Project: City walls

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The city walls begin to take shape. Still a bit “blocky,” but I think I can bring this simple structure to “life.” Note the sharp edges. Everything was cut with a table saw.

If you’ve followed the Mos Eisley Project, you know that we’re working to create a tabletop desert town that’s similar to the infamous backwater community highlighted in the original Star Wars movie.

We want to make it as cool as possible. That means we need to add some interesting highlights. My thinking was this: What do I want people to see when they walk up to our table?

How about a solid city wall, bristling with weapons and as intimidating as all hell? After all, our Mos Eisley will be located on the planet Morkai in the Grimdark of the 41st Millennium. It’s an era of non-stop warfare. So, of course, we need an impressive and grimly militaristic defensive wall.

Starting with foam

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Angling the blade of my table saw, I was able to get exact angles to a section of the city walls that angle away from the flanking tower to the table’s edge.

So, how do I make a four-foot-wide city wall? Insulation foam!

Using a table saw to get very exact angles and edges, I cut 2-inch-thick insulation foam into 6-inch-tall sections. There’s one long section with a gate, two flanking towers on each end of the main section, and then two smaller, angled sections that connect the flanking towers to the edge of the table.

Working with a table saw is wonderful. I have a full-sized saw in my workshop, and I can make exact cuts, with perfect lines and angles. If I need several similar-sized blocks, I run them through the saw consecutively, and each copy has exactly the same dimensions—a level of accuracy that you can’t get with a ruler and knife.

(Just be careful. Read up on safety rules regarding power equipment. A table saw is safe if you treat it with respect.)

The shape of the wall was certainly solid looking. But I was concerned. I’m not the greatest painter in the world, and I don’t want people to walk up to my table and see a slab of foam painted to look like stone. I want them to see a city wall.

But I took comfort from some advice offered by a YouTube terrain builder, whom I sadly cannot now remember. I paraphrase: The more detail you add to a terrain piece, the less likely people will notice the paint job.

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To ensure that the wall wasn’t just a solid block, I widened the top walkway and used angled blocks of foam to make buttresses. Under this overhang I’ll install pipes, hanging cables, debris, and maybe a few beggers and makeshift market stalls on the street below. Anything to spice it up with details.

The details

Now, you can add only so much detail to a centuries-old stone wall. Otherwise, it will look silly. So I have to be careful with the details I use to draw the viewers’ eyes.

My first decision was to move away from a simple vertical slab of stone.  On the city side of the wall, I extended the top walkway about 2 inches past the wall, supporting it with “plascrete” buttresses that have a 30-degree-angle cut into them. This creates an overhang, and I can put an assortment of interesting details here:  a supply hut, hanging electrical cables, piping, trash, graffiti, etc.

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A few millimeters of the foam wall was dug out and stones carved into place, suggesting that the city walls are very old and built by ancient laborers out of old-fashioned stone—not plascrete.

On the more imposing but duller outer wall, I’ve added two 4-inch Imperial aquilas—cut by hand from cardboard. I also took two heavy bolter sponsons  out of my bitz box and added them to the front of the flanking towers. I’ve also used by CNC milling machine to carve out an ornate plasteel gate for the city entrance.

After examining my work, I decided to add some flaws to the wall. Here and there, I scraped back the foam a few millimeters and carved stone blocks into the wall. This will help give the impression of a poorly maintained wall where the stucco is falling off to reveal the primitive stone construction underneath.

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I also focused on adding details to the front, including Imperial aquilas, built-in heavy bolters, and some huts on the top walkway that will be mounted with Icarus Lascannons. Note the worn areas of the outer stucco where the stone foundation of the walls can be seen.

What’s Next?

At the moment, I’m adding a thin layer of wood filter in random locations. The idea is to add some texture, some unevenness, to the city walls. These are old walls. There should be a certain uneven look to them.

Next will be to add another texture to the walls: a stucco look. I’ll coat the walls with Mod Podge and sprinkle on some bathroom grout (premixed with sand) to create a lightly textured surface. I’ll then spray it will The Army Painter‘s Skelton Bone spray paint, followed by some washes to age the surface.

Then I’ll add things like ladders, light posts, anti-air weapons on the top walkway—anything that I think will be interesting but not “over the top” in terms of quantity.

If all goes well, people walking up to the table will see the city walls first—and they’ll get a good first impression. Wish me luck. I have the vision. I just don’t know if I have the skill to achieve what I’m hoping to achieve.

We’ll see.

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. Looks great. I’m pretty surprised pink insulation cuts so nicely on a table saw, I would have expected the weird tearing/ragged edges you get with a hand blade when you are pushing rather than slicing.


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