Of Scenery and Baleful Realmgates

Scenery.  For me it's a really important part of our hobby.  It helps to cement the period or genre or mood of the game we are playing.  And if, like me, you like playing a lot of skirmish games, the more you can have of the stuff, the better.  Arraying your little men on beautiful terrain is perhaps the greatest joy of the hobby for me.  I don't claim to be brilliant at making scenery, nor do I claim to be some Golden Daemon quality painter.  But as I said in my last post, our hobby should be about finding our own standard we are happy with.

I remember going to Osprey's World Wargames Championship in the 80's in what was then my hometown of Derby. Back then it was held in the Assembly Rooms.  I remember being fascinated by all the periods on display, and somewhat horrified by the boards the championships were taking place on.  I didn't stay all that long, mainly because you were supposed to be quiet while they all played their games.  A teenager pointing and saying, "But...but...!" wasn't going to go down so well.
You see, they were gaming with figures on two dimensional boards.  Green felt mainly.  Streams were straight strips of blue.  Hills were light green blobs.  Woods were dark green blobs.  And I just couldn't understand it.  Why bother with models at all if this is how you want to play?  Save yourself a small fortune and cut some squares our of card and just go for it.

So as you can see, scenery is something I'm really rather passionate about.

You can imagine my joy when I got the chance to put some paint on Games' Workshop's Baleful Realmgates for our games of Age of Sigmar.  To me, this is iconic terrain for the game and really helps embed the fact that my boards represent the Mortal Realms rather than a generic field.

Both were undercoated in grey primer.  The real decision was in choosing what colours to paint them in. And I must apologise because I was having so much fun painting them that I completely forgot to take any in progress shots. 

I decided to do the first in grey.  For this I turned to my GW paints, Mechanicus Standard Grey and Celestra Grey.  The stonework was painted in Mechanicus Standard Grey and left to dry.  I then began a series of progressively lighter drybrushes, adding a little more Celestra Grey each time.  Drybrishing works wonders on this sort of model as the grainy nature us perfect for representing stone texture.  I deliberately place the drybrush layers to give shade to the model.  Recessed areas are left as dark as possible. 

I then applied some Army Painter Strong Tone to certain recesses of the model.  I put it in places I really wanted to stand out.  If you don't have any of this, it's virtually identical to Agrax Earthshade. 

Once dry, I turned my attention to the sculpted details on the top.  I decided to contrast these in a golden brass kind of colour.  I painted the details with GW's Retributor Armour.  Once this had thoroughly dried, I applied more of my Strong Tone and left it to dry for a half hour.  I then selectively drybrushed the Retributor Gold.

Finally I applied a roughly 70-30% mix of Celestra Grey and Mechanicus Standard Grey as almost an edge highlight where I felt it was needed. 

Skulls were painted in Vallejo Khaki, highlighted with Stone Grey and then a mix of Stone Grey and White.  They were given a wash in the recess areas with my Strong Tone.

And to provide some contrast with the stonework, I decided to go for a green colour to the magical energy.  This began with a white basecoat, followerd by a wash of Hexwraith Flame.  When this was fully dry, I applied Nighthaunt Gloom around the recesssed edges to give the illusion of it blending int o the stonework.  Then I drybrushed some white in the exposed edges and touched up any areas with some carefully placed strokes of Hexwraith Flame.  You know, just to keep the green element.

And here's what it looked like...!

I was incredibly happy with the result.

A few days later, I had opportunity to paint the second Realmgate.  I decided to do this one in a more sandstone colour.  I was determined to take some more photos, but didn't fare much better than before to be honest.  

The painting began with a basecoat of Vallejo's English Uniform.  I then began my drybrushing using a mix of English Uniform and Golden Brown.  Then I went for layers of Golden Brown and Dark Sand.  Final highlights were a roughly fifty-fifty mix of Dark Sand and White.  

To provide contrast, I decided to use a more silvery colour for the carved areas.  This was done using a base coat of Vallejo's Gunmetal Grey.  A was of Army Painter's Dark Shade was applied (Nuln Oil would be another option).  I then highlighted with a drybrush of Natural Steel.  And then, when this was fully dry, I did the lightest drybrush of that 50-50 Dark Sand and White on some of the areas to make it look worn.

The other colours were painted very much as before.

And here's the final result...!

And here they are with the result of my latest painting efforts, my remaining two Evocators on Dracolines.  
As always, thanks for stopping by!


  1. Fantastic job on the Realm Gates. I like your other tables as well!

    1. Thank you so much Skully! All the other scenery you see (except for the Viking Longboat) were scratch built by myself. How I did it all is all here on my blog.

    2. Nice work, another fine bit of scenery for your collection. My problem is that i am running out of storage space for all mine... I really must check out GW's recent scenic pieces.

    3. Hi David. I know what you mean about storage space. Its the downside of all this skirmish wargaming in particular. It would probably be easier to just fight large scale wargames on green fields. Trouble is, I'd take a dozen lifetimes to get everything painted before I'd be able to game!

  2. Fabulous looking gates!

    I completely agree about the terrain, it is often spoken of as the 3th player for a reason.
    The biggest disadvantage of terrain is the fact it takes up a lot of storage space. Partialy because of this I'm moving more and more towards the smaller scales. In 15mm for example you can still have some visually attractive terrain but with a much smaller footprint.

    1. Hi Wouter,
      Thanks so much for your kind words! I confess I love having scenery specific to the time periods / milieu I'm gaming in. And as I generally tend to play narrative skirmish games, the general rule of thumb is the more you can have, the better your game will be. This is wonderful for the game and theme of the table, but as you say, it gets harder and harder to find the room for it all.

      I certainly think gaming in smaller scales is a great way to resolve this problem. And I've seen some lovely tables in scales as small as 6mm. However, I've had mixed results in painting these scales. So for me, I'm sticking to larger scales, a shortage of space, and the hope that my loft has elastic walls...!

      Another thing to consider is that as you change between different scales, you also have to double up on scenery. I've found this with Normandy 1944. I began gaming this in 1/35 scale (Absolutely loved it too!). And any time soon I'm going to crumble and need to do it all in 28mm. And let's not mention the 15mm minis and 1/72 (20mm) tanks I have for What a Tanker!

      So I'm hoping that by largely sticking to one scale, I can save duplication of scenery. Also, if a lot of games are playable on one base board colour, you can normally get a way with a lot of 'generic' terrain that you can use in multiple periods. Dirt roads can do anything from Dark Age to Modern. Fences and Walls can cover hundreds of years. Some Medieval Buildings would still be around in the Tudor and Stuart ages. The odd one can look lovely on a VBCW table in amongst your post offices and so on.

      Anyhoo, I hope these ramblings make sense and maybe help.

    2. They certainly do!
      Painting in 15mm or even smaller isn't indeed the same as in larger scales, especially in close-up you see all the flaws (at least that's the case for my painted miniatures), though you can spend some extra time on larger monsters and such.
      In the end it's all about where you feel the most comfortable with, it's a hobby after all.


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