Building the Cities of Sigmar

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The new Cities of Sigmar battletome is packed with incredible scenery. Based on the growing wealth of art that brings the magical metropolises of the Mortal Realms to life, these epic scenery projects were the work of hundreds of artisans, taking them many months of labour and requiring hundreds of model kits to build… right?

Wrong – they were, in fact, made by the very talented Jay Goldfinch, one of the elite hobbyists from the Army Painters team, in a mere matter of weeks, using kits and materials that you might already own.

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Before he worked for Games Workshop, Jay was the primary terrain and battlefield builder for his gaming club. His creations for Cities of Sigmar aren’t just gorgeous, they’re accessible to everyday hobbyists, and with a little flexibility, you could build your own gates of Hammerhal with minimal hassle.


The Gates of the Living City
The first terrain piece Jay built for Battletome: Cities of Sigmar was the mighty gate of the Living City – an organic scratch-build with its roots firmly in the lore.

Jay started by imagining just how the walls of the Living City might look. Inspired by this art…

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… he decided he wanted his Living City scenery to look as if it was carved into Ironoak from the trees that form a natural border around the city. From there, the project began to take shape.

The majority of the structure was made from XPVC, a nifty plastic material that’s ideal for hobby projects. XPVC is easy to mark and carve, making it perfect for Jay’s purposes. Using a ballpoint pen and a hobby knife, he carved organic patterns into the XPVC, mirroring the lines and shapes of trees and vines. Combined with plastic pillars, plenty of Citadel Vines and a Wyldwood or two, the results are stunning.

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When it came to painting, Jay tied the model together by using the same colour across the entire gate, using woody tones and helping contribute to their organic, natural feel.


The Walls of Hammerhal
After this, Jay embarked upon one of the book’s most eye-catching scenery pieces – the mighty walls of Hammerhal itself. His starting point was this artwork, depicting Hammerhal Aqsha.

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From here, he set out to create something “big, brash and ostentatious”, while still looking functional. After all, Hammerhal Aqsha isn’t just a place of magic but also one of industry and tireless expansion.

Jay’s walls are made of Stormvault components, mounting the bridges on foamex boards then adding extra detail like crenellations and braziers with other components of the set. The pillars, if you can believe it, are those used for wedding cakes.

The gate itself was constructed similarly – look carefully, and you’ll notice that the top part is made of a Sigmarite Dais half turned on its side. Overall, Jay reckons he used about three or four Enduring Stormvault kits to make the piece. As the walls and gates are built to be modular, you could easily get started with a single Enduring Stormvault set. Here’s an idea – team up with your regular gaming group, build a section each, and combine them together for an epic battle on the outskirts of Hammerhal!

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The burnished gold effect of Jay’s walls is a minor miracle, managing to be suitably glorious and gaudy (as befits the Twin-tailed City) without being too distracting in photos. This comes down to cunning painting rather than post-production wizardry. First, Jay sprayed the walls Chaos Black, before giving them a light spray of Retributor Armour, aiming to “dust” over the initial undercoat rather than cover it completely. Next, he knocked back the gold with repeated coats of Agrax Earthshade, using it with an airbrush for maximum speed and coverage. Finally, he drybrushed the structure with a very light coat of Pallid Wych Flesh to further tone down the gold and to tie the entire project together.

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Lastly, the gorgeous banners on the walls were made by printing the Hammerhal symbol, carefully cutting it out and mounting it on plasticard – paper tends to look a tad thin on dioramas, even if strictly speaking, it’s to scale.

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Building your very own glorious City of Sigmar could be much easier than you think! Find inspiration and pre-order your battletome today – or grab an Enduring Stormvault right now and get cracking!
 
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