Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Graveyard kit

Introduction

I don't normally write articles about work-in-progress, though occasionally I have shown incomplete models as part of a blog post.  On this occasion I'm going to go even further, though: I'm going to outline some plans I have for a model which isn't even started.

Recently (well, for several years, at least) I've been thinking about expanding my terrain collection for 28mm gaming.  I have so many plans, but I never seem to get around to executing any of them.  Here are just some of the projects for which I have already acquired the materials, but haven't begun any work:

  • Modern hospital (for All Things Zombie)
  • Pictish/Scot village (for SAGA)
  • Paths, streams, coastline, forests (for 28mm Robin Hood, 28mm SAGA, 6mm Napoleonic...)
  • Old West undertakers & yard (for The Rules with No Name)
I could go on - there are so many more things that I'd like to do - but this small list should give an indication of my hopeless megalomania :-( .  Rather than agonise over how I'll never finish it all, I've decided that the best thing to do is just to start on one project.  Maybe it won't be as difficult as I imagine and can be done quite quickly?

The Gothic (?) Graveyard

Right, let's see.  I have (I think) all the parts that I need for my graveyard model.  Ideally I'll be able to use it for any European setting from witch-hunting in the 17th century up to the zombie apocalypse in the 21st century.  As with all wargaming models, it must be practical: I need to store it when not in use and be able to move figures around on it easily, without causing damage, when it is in use.

From a model-making perspective, the cemetery should be a place that gives a slight sense of fear.  It needs to add to the story that the game is telling, but how does one achieve the right atmosphere?  What makes a graveyard "Gothic"?  Does it need mist and fog, or should it be heavily overgrown?  Or maybe something else altogether?

I've already decided that my model will be made from modular tiles.  This is partly to make the model easier to store, but it will also allow me to vary the size of the cemetery from a token area to a sizeable necropolis.  It also means that I could add a church, crypt or similar features later on, just by constructing extra tiles.

So, here's the first part of the "kit": I've cut out a number of 6"x6" and 6"x12" pieces of 3mm MDF.  These will be used as the bases (obviously), though I might use some polystyrene foam to add slight rises to some parts of the graveyard.

I hunted for suitable fencing for a long time before I came across these lengths from Fenris Games.  Some of the pieces also have pedestrian gates in them, so I'll add a few small openings at various points on the boundary.  Mind you, I'm not at all sure how to make the fence look broken down and falling apart in places.

Note that I could have used a wall for the enclosure, or even a short wall topped with a fence.  Both are quite appealing from an aesthetic point of view, but I've gone with the fence alone.  Although a short wall topped with my fence does sound good, now that I reflect on this...

The lych gate (covered approach) is from Petite Properties; I mentioned it in a very recent post and there's not really anything new to say about it.  I'll use it as the main entrance to the cemetery, though I'm just wondering if I also need a separate vehicle entrance for hearses?

The last components for this project are some gravestones.  I've got 4 metal ones from Black Tree Miniatures, bought so long ago that I don't even remember, and a pair of the much newer sprues from Renedra.  In addition, I can probably find a few Games Workshop gravestones from my spares box.  Mind you, I haven't done the sums but I'm beginning to think that this won't be nearly enough for my project.  Perhaps some parts of the graveyard are as yet unused?

Conclusion

I'm comfortable when painting figures, whether they're 6mm, 15mm, 28mm or larger.  However, realistic scenery is not something I've practised much and I do feel quite daunted by the graveyard project.  I'm particularly concerned about how to make it look slightly overgrown and unkempt, without it being lost to the wilderness.  I don't want to end up with a perfect rectangle of completely flat ground with neat rows of headstones and smooth, monochrome flock for ground covering!

So all of this goes to show that I'm feeling very nervous about this project.  I can see it in my imagination but  I'm afraid that in reality it won't look anything like as good as I wish it to be.  If anyone has any good ideas, whether on model-making techniques or on overcoming psychological hangups, then I'd be delighted to hear from you!

25 comments:

  1. A graveyard set is a project that has been on my to do list for many years now. I now have enough gravestones, tombs and mausoleums to build a massive graveyard but I doubt if I'll ever make anything that big. Anyway, when tackling a project like this the best advice I can give is preparation and planning. Plan on what you're going to use and where everything goes. Will there be paths or roads or both? Will part of it be hilly? Will it have trees and/or bushes? Decide upon how many gravestones you need and where to place them. As you said you could leave part of the graveyard bare for future expansion. Mausoleums offer places to hide behind or in, if you make their roofs removable. There is no right or wrong way to making a graveyard. Just trust your instincts and do as much prep work and planning as you can before hand. I wish you the best of luck with this project.

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    1. To be honest, I'm more concerned about the implementation than the planning! Trees or bushes are a good thought, though - they'd certainly help to break up the monotony. I don't have a mausoleum (yet!), but that can go on a future tile, if my plan for expandability works well. Thanks, Bryan.

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  2. I think the art here will be to resolve the available space (I guess 30 of fewer plots, typical of a tiny churchyard) with the setting. The Lych gate implies a churchyard - Perhaps an old one that has collapsed or been demolished (Cultists?).
    The Iron railings remind me of post industrial - in the UK this tends to imply a large civic cemetery, though perhaps the abandoned graveyard was fenced off. Those superstitious villagers talk about ghosts, but we know there must be a rational explanation don't we?

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    1. I hadn't thought of a ruined church, though that seems like a fairly obvious option now that you've mentioned it. You're probably right that iron railings would be Victorian or later, but I might just stretch a point on this. Hmm, a haunted kirk populated by witches and cultists? Can't help feeling that it's not an original idea, though it's still a good one :-) .

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  3. Some references here: http://lisanneharris.com/2013/05/12/sadly-utterly-abandoned-churches-cemeteries/

    So many different reasons for the sites to be abandoned. Notice the distinct character of sites in UK, Eastern Europe and USA.

    Snow: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/a-weidinger/8264206911/

    And if the setting is victorian you've scope for some fairly imaginative memorials http://cemeteryexplorers.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/gladys-spencer-music-hall-star-who-died.html

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    1. Thanks, Steve - there are some good links there! I think I've still got some old GW wraith models - they're the classic "Death" (hooded robes, bare skull and scythe), so they're very suitable for use as rather macabre statues. Not sure how I'd do the sentimental Victorian style of memorial, though :-) .

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  4. When it comes to modelling for wargames the best advice I can give is ROBUST, down right indestructible or something that you can drive a truck over. But remember don't sweat the small stuff.

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    1. That's one of the things that sets us apart from railway modellers! It has to be a compromise between toughness and appearance though, doesn't it?

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  5. Already, I'm looking forward to this, I'd spied those railings over at Fenris myself so really interested to see how they work out.

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    1. Well I'll try not to let you down, Michael :-) . It might take a while before you see any finished model, though.

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  6. I'd go for a split level cemetry, but as you say planning is easy, you do need to decide whether it'll initially be a cemetry and maybe later a graveyard (difference being whether or not a church is attached).
    On large pieces of terrain I've gone with all manner of material but polystyrene (like ceiling tile stuff) is one of my favourties,. It makes smooth hills, rocky crags, cliffs and all manner of other goodness, when covered with generous layers of wall filler, the base need to be failry rigid for such an apporach though.
    I'll be interested to see the progress of ths .
    Eric the Shed has made a cemetry/graveyard for his immaculate church too I see.

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    1. Well, I do hope to have a small hill or some other elevation changes! I think that my 3mm MDF is reasonably stable as a base material, so long as I don't create any tiles that are too large. So the "polystyrene covered in filler" method should work well enough, I think. Thanks, Joe.

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  7. Well looking forward to seeing this take shape. Besides the regular size tombstones. Perhaps some larger crypts, angels etc etc would give it that Gothic theme as well. Or perhaps leading to some tunnels from one tile to another perhaps?

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    1. I'd certainly like to include some crypts and mausoleums at a later date, though I haven't got any such models at the moment. I hadn't thought of tunnels, though obviously any tomb that is large enough could potentially be an entrance to an underground system of some sort.

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  8. This should look grand when you are done. The fencing alone will really help sell the idea of a graveyard. I agree with Bryan, plan it out, but make progress - even a little, and you'll get it done. Maybe start with a 'basic' small cemetery (3-4 tiles?) that you can expand on.

    So is this the Hospital for ATZ? I mean, that would be a graveyard in the zombie apocalypse... :)

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    1. Thanks, that's pretty much what I plan to do: start with a few tiles and expand later.

      No, the ATZ hospital will be a regular district health centre with a few wards. I haven't thought much about it yet, other than to look at the Grekwood PDF hospital building.

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  9. It all starts with a good plan, and motivation. Seems a very ambitious program. Maybe starting with the smallest size you want first and keep it open for expansion.
    Graveyard may have crypts and alley, as well as sometimes a house for the keeper (look at Dellamore, Dellamorte - or "Cemetery Man" for Graveyard and zombies)

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    1. You're right: there could be a lodge house or similar attached to the graveyard. Hmm, perhaps that's too ambitious?

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  10. Ah, Colgar Colgar, I am repeating myself over and over again, but you are always one step ahead of me! I had a graveyard in mind for a very long time as well, and I, too, have Rendera grave stones stashed for "some day".

    I gave it a lot of thought and looked all over for an inspiration. I think what makes a graveyard spooky and horrifying are dark colours and that morbid, abandoned feel, so overgrown stuff works.

    Check this post on my blog:
    http://mathyoo28mm.blogspot.com/search/label/Abney%20park

    and I might have some bad photos of an old jewish cemetery in Prague (or just google it) . Tombstones are really closely put together then (make sure some are broken or at least tilting to a side).
    Because miniatures have huge bases, I think best effect would be produced if you'd put a lot of tombstones in clusters and avoid the temptation to give miniatures space to stand in between every row. It will look better and still be playable in my opinion.

    Symmetry is order and order is no good for horror imo. Make a rough ground with some smaller "hills" perhaps and certainly make an open grave pit!

    I'd suggest you mass produce "filler graves" if you will need many and put them in the back lines - I found cork works fine for those.

    And stick to it, I'm sure the end result will be fantastic!

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    1. It just goes to show that most of us are thinking along the same lines!

      I think that you're right: undergrowth will be the key to a good appearance. This isn't something I've tried to model in the past, so it could go very wrong :-( .

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  11. Some great kit to kick off with dude.

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    1. Yes, but I've got to do something with it now, haven't I :-) ?

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  12. I fully sympathize with you on the "so many plans and ideas" front. I've got a to do list about 8pgs long. This looks like a great project! Looking forward to further progress reports?!

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    1. Thanks. I'm looking forward to making progress on this as well, but I'm not sure when I'll have time :-( .

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