Terrain: More Defensive Walls

Defensive Walls

I’ve made a few of these walls before, and posted the photos, so this time I thought I’d do a step by step guide as to what I did.

I’m effectively making a poor man’s Aegis Defence Line, but they could also just be used as generic terrain. The template I’ve used for these are a little different from the first ones to give some variety. You can play around with different shapes, sizes etc but the basic principles would stay the same.

For something like this, I like to start out on paper. A few (very) rough sketches of what I want, followed by some templates I can use to mark up the foam board. For the templates, I used a few infantry models to make sure I got the sizes right.

Wall Sketch

Wall Template

Wall Template

Using a Guardian as a guide, I made the template about 1″ high. This is enough to poke a head and gun over. Then for the higher part of the wall I made it high enough to hide the whole model (can’t remember the exact height, but it was about 1.5″). Then a made each short length of wall long enough to hide a few models, so in total a unit of 5 could hide behind one length of wall. Where the wall needed a ‘fold’, I marked vertical lines 3mm apart and those that will be cut out on the front are shaded (as some will be cut out on the back – see below).

Cut out walls

I used the third template above to mark out the foam board (£3 for an A2 5mm sheet from Hobbycraft). From this I can cut and fold to create the wall out of a single piece. Cut out a single piece of foam board per wall. Mark on the foam board the vertical lines that show the ‘folds’. For each fold cut the card on the relevant side (the side you’re cutting will be the ‘inside’ of the fold) and remove that strip of card and the foam behind it, but don’t go through the card on the other side. This will allow you to be able to fold the wall to make corners to match the original template. My design has two on each side.

Wall on base

You can then PVA the folded foam board onto a hardbaord base. I created the base from 3mm hardboard (£3 from B&Q), using a template for the size. I wanted some fire points, so before gluing to the base, I cut out some slits and stuck on a little cardboard to make surrounds. You’ll see on my older walls, they’re all one height, so I’ve not done this on those.

Wall - hole

If you want the walls to look war-worn, we need to do that now. This isn’t essential, but it does fit more with the W40k universe. I use a small modelling drill with various attachments. Mostly I use a small bore bit and a small sanding disk. Not sure quite what the intended use is of the small bit (it’s not a drill bit, more a sanding bit, but with a narrow pointy end), but I use it to make small holes of various sizes to look like bullet holes. Then the sanding disk is great for taking the sharp edges off, putting scores and gouges out of the wall etc. Imagine it’s seen a bit of action, maybe a power sword has missed its target and taken a great chunk out of the wall. Go nuts at this point. I’ve tried to make sure there are no untouched surfaces and all edges have chunks and nicks taken out. I’ve even put a hole right through one wall.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos at this stage, but you can see the end result after it’s been painted.

Where the foam board has been cut, the edges expose the foam between the card. I use DAS modelling clay (£3 for 500g in Rymans). There are better modelling putties for detailed work on minis, but at this scale I find the DAS works fine, and is pretty cheap (compared with £7 for 20g for Green Stuff from GW – that’s almost 60x more expensive gram for gram!). All we need to do is give the edges a fairly even, smooth finish (not too smooth, and you can always hack at it to match the damage you’ve already given the foam board), so roll some out quite flat and thin, and stick it on the ends and top of the wall. Add more water to make it more malleable if necessary. Let the DAS dry.

Walls - undercoated

I’ve then added sand to the base. It’s a cheap way to cover large areas and you can just use PVA to glue it down. Finally, if you want any other features (discarded weapons, ammo etc), add them now. Then we’re ready for a black undercoat. After the undercoat, you might need to touch up a few of the hard to reach areas with black – e.g. in bullet holes and the like. These are the areas that most need to be black, but are most likely to be missed when spraying!

Walls - first coat of grey

The painting of these is actually pretty easy. You can’t go too wrong as you want them to look pretty worn and battered (at least I did!). Start with a liberal drybrush of grey. Something similar to Vallejo Cold Grey or GW Codex Grey/Dawnstone, but I used Royal & Langnickel (59ml for £1.09 from Rymans) – it’s a cheap alternative for covering large areas. You want a pretty good coat of grey, but it’s fine to have some black still showing through. This gives the feel of it being uneven and unevenly worn. All the bullet holes, missing chunks, nicks etc start to really stand out now, as they’ll all remain black.

Wall - washed

Next I used sepia wash liberally, everywhere where they might be water marks, damage, mud etc. Basically around all the holes and nicks, running down from bullet holes, all the corners and along the bottom of the wall. It might look a little messy at this point, but don’t worry, that’ll sort itself out in the next step.

I also painted the fire point surround boltgun metal at this point, as I wanted that to be metal rather than concrete. Again drybrushing means the damage on the wall shows up on this too.

Walls - 2nd coat of grey

Now for a second drybrush of grey. This pulls the colour together a little, giving a more even finish to the grey, whilst the sepia wash shows through to give the impression of various stains on the wall.

I also highlighted the metal fire point surround with Mithril Silver to give it a little more depth.

Essentially you wall is now done, but the base still needs doing. I’m going to do a separate blog just on this one day, so I won’t go into detail here (also, you can see more in the post on the Ammo Dump), but it’s basically a heavy drybrush of burnt sienna (sometimes 2 coats), then a drybrush of grey, then a light highlight with Bleached Bone/Ushabti Bone (or Almond, if you’re going for the cheap Ryman’s brand like me). The edge is then painted solid black.

Finish wall

The finishing touches are to paint up anything else you added, guns, ammo etc and I’ve also added a few Imperial Aquilas as well. You can make these look worn by dabbing them with the colour underneath (i.e. grey) using a sponge – again, something you can see more of in the Ammo Dump.

Finish walls

Finish wall

Finish wall


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