Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Flames of War Display Board

I built this display board for last year's Historicon but never posted any pictures of it.  I was inspired by the boards in 2013, most notably Dennis Campbell's.  I designed it to be mostly neutral, that way I could use it for multiple armies, but also wanted to represent some rural location that could fit the Eastern Front theme of my list last year.  I knew I needed a pretty large flat place for all of the infantry, a road to put the tanks on, and I also needed some kind of focal point to draw interest.

I layed out my army and how I wanted it to sit, then marked a rough idea of where I needed to make the terrain.  I decided to put a hill in the back left corner to give the board three height levels, and a creek on the far right edge.  A bridge would give me my focal point.
Pink insulation foam and a shadow box picture frame.  I think most display boards start life this way.
Marked so I don't cut the creek bed to wide.  Got to try out a foam cutter for the first time.
Because the creek would run all the way to the edge of the frame, I needed something to box in the edges.  Aluminum angle cut, bent, and welded.  This would give the board rigidity while still keeping it ight enough to carry comfortably.
MDF cut to fit into the frame, this would give the creek a botom and also provide added strength.
I sanded down into the foam to create a rutted road.
All together in the frame.  White glue and some c-clamps would keep this until dry.  One nice thing is that the entire assembly can be removed and swapped.
The hill is just a piece of scrap foam.  I imbedded the tree bases into the foam so that they could be removable for transport.  A piece of bark will be burried in the hill to provide some contrast.
Fine grit sand spread around most surfaces.
Flocked.  I tried a spray adhesive but it stayed too tacky.  Had to use watered down white glue eventiually.
With the flock finally dry I could fit the bridge.  It was some kind of balsa Roman-era footbridge but I was able to modify it to look like a rural Russain bridge.  Pilings woud be permanent but the ret of the bridge could be removed for transport.
Trees placed and a fence added from scrap balsa.  The fence really brought some visual interest to the foreground.
Close-up of the bridge.
Close-up of the fence.
Tufts, flowers, bits of flock added.  I also stained the balsa with enamel washes.  Dry pigments also added the the road.
Found some more small trees to add as well.
Grasses and scrub plants added to the creek bed.
Top-down view, pre water effects.  Everything else complete.
Final layout.
Here we are at Historicon, post water pour.  I used two-part epoxy and after some trial and error, got it to work as desired.
I'm quite pleased with how it came out and it made me feel comfortable if I want to attempt making my own terrain.  The little bridge was pretty fun to build and modify too.  I may need to make another one for this year though if I bring a Japanese list.


  1. Really like that. Very complimentary to your minis.

    1. Thanks. I tried to keep the look similar, but generic enough to use for multiple armies. The other one I did for my Gebirgsjäger army only got used twice.

  2. Looks great! I have a few different ones. May have to try another modular thing as they are a pain to store.

    1. Thanks! Not having to buy more than one frame keeps the cost down too.

    2. I like trying to find interesting borders at the second hand store. I used an old wooden cutlery box for my last one and a kitchen dinner tray for the one before. I may have to make a modular system.

  3. SUCKS! (Dennis Campbell here) Just kidding man... it looks great. Glad I could be of some inspiration, sadly I was unable to make this year's Histo with my Italians (father in law passed away) but I think my MW Brits for Canadian Nationals are looking great, and will probably challenge for best painted.. as that is always a crap-shoot. Hope to see you next year at Historicon.. I aim to be there.

    1. Thanks man! Too bad you couldn't make it this year, sorry about the loss in your family. Good luck at your Nationals, and maybe I'll see you next year at H-con!