Monday, 23 February 2015

Building ruins for Malifaux

So following up from my Terrain Musings post I decided to go with some Badlands themed terrain. i was casting some moulds for a future Victorian themed table. I happen to have quite a few Hirst Arts moulds. I was casting some cobblestone moulds and I still have not got the volumes right so I had spare hydrocal to go around. So I poured the extra into my large Caverns Floor Mould. And then the idea struck...I could mix the floor moulds with some rocks for an outside ruin look.

Materials used

  • Cast cavern floor moulds
  • Blue styrofoam
  • MDF board
Not pictured:
  • Sharp exacto knife
  • Sand
  • PVA
  • Paint
  • Small stones
  • Lumps of turf


I cast this quite a few times to have some spares. Some notes on lightweight hydrocal (LWH):

  • This is not the same as hydrocal.
  • Hydrocal you can mix without measuring just by adding it to water slowly until it stops mixing in.
  • Lightweight hydrocal requires specific measurements (5 parts LWH to 2 parts water).
  • I added it slowly to the water with a spoon. It will float on top. As you add it use a mixing stick to slowly push it under water.
  • Once you have added it all wait a minute or so to let the LWH soak into the water.
  • Slowly mix it in for another minute or so.
  • Add it to the mould with the spoon. It should stick slightly over the edge of the mould.
  • Bang the table and wobble the moulds to get rid of the air bubbles. 
  • After 5-6 minutes the LWH will have a toothpaste like texture, use a ruler or flat edge to scrape the top of the LWH so the finished cast will be flat.
  • Wait an hour before popping the casts out. Wait 24 hours before using them.


Here it is in a rough idea of where I wanted the pieces. You can see I completely disregarded my original plans marked out on the board.

I did not take any pictures of the carving process, but my aim is to cut irregular shapes from the rock and to try break any straight lines.

Adding texture

I used PVA to set the pieces in place. Once that had hardened enough for the pieces not to move I painted more PVA to the base. I sprinkled some small stones and sand on top.

This makes quite a mess so do it on top of newspaper. Quite a bit of the sand wont stick and you can use the newspaper to collect it for reuse.


I have painted blue styrofoam in the past and it can just soak up paint. So for this step I mixed PVA in with black paint and water and covered the entire piece.

I have no pictures of the next step but I drybrushed the rocks quite heavily with white paint. It was important that the crevices kept the black but the other pieces needed to be white for the heavy washing technique that I would use.

Painting - rocks

I mixed up some very watery paints. I used the following colours:

  • A dirty green
  • Orange
  • Brown
  • Black

I added these quite liberally in sections. Then immediately wiped them down with a cloth. This creates a number of strong colours and the white below helps to keep the colour bright.

Painting - other pieces

The floor moulds were painted various shades of grey with a touch of blue. I like adding colour to my greys otherwise they look flat.

The sand was painted various shades of brown. The highlights were yellow to contrast with the blue of the floor moulds. The sand was actually painted first so it picked p various greys from the dry brushing of the floor moulds and the washes from the rocks.

Highlights and final touches

 I highlighted the pieces with greys and whites and to make it pop and tie it together.

I also added some tufts of grass to bring it to life.
Quite pleased with the final outcome.

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