How to Create a...Watchtower Base

Materials Needed: Large and Relatively Flat Piece of Styrofoam (now you have an excuse to buy that new flat panel tv!), File or Rasp, Plastic Foliage, Tacky Glue, Green Flock and/or Rock Debris, Paint & Brushes

watchtower base
» The final base displaying my orc/lizardman watchtower.

This is a base that I created for my orc/lizardmen watchtower. It is made from Styrofoam and uses some plastic foliage that I salvaged from cheap Christmas decorations.

watchtower base
» The Styrofoam piece that I chose to use for my base.

I chose to try Styrofoam for the base of my watchtower. I broke off a rectangular section of Styrofoam and then went to work on it with my metal file, sanding down any right angles to create a natural terrain look. My Styrofoam had a natural raised part, which I used to create a slight uphill on one side.

watchtower base
» The ad hoc fix of cardboard covered with plaster.

One side of my styrofoam had an indentation on the bottom, so that it did not touch the ground. To fix this, I cut out corrugated cardboard and put it underneath the Styrofoam. I used plaster (the kind you use to fill holes in walls) to fill up the corrugated part of the cardboard and give it a flatter texture so that I would be able to paint and flock it.

watchtower base
» An example of a roughed up edge on my base.

I made sure to rough up all the edges of the piece, as real terrain is rarely ever completely flat. With Styrofoam, it's easy to achieve this look due to the natural bumps that will arise if you drag a metal file over the surface a few times.

watchtower base
» A green base coat made the base look much better.

I wanted a more jungle look than usual, so I based the piece in green paint. After it dried, You can also drybrush some brown paint on to simulate bits of dirt visible through the grass. Don't worry if you miss a small spot here or there as the flock/rock debris will most likely cover it up.

watchtower base
» Green flock creates a perfect grassy texture.

I brushed on a PVA glue/water mixture (about a 1:4 ratio) and sprinkled on green flock. I chose not to use any rock debris this time to simulate the jungle terrain. You can also try to sprinkle on the flock/rock debris straight onto the paint before it dries to make things easier on you.

watchtower base
» Christmas decorations can be used for foliage.

Last, I added some plastic foliage. I did not buy plastic trees; they are often much more expensive than I am willing to pay. Instead, I went to my local dollar store and bought a couple of plastic Christmas decorations with green foliage.

I cut off a few branches and removed the red holly berries that were tied on with wire (I'm going to save these and try to incorporate them into a later terrain piece!).

watchtower base
» The plastic trees are held up by rocks (covered in green flock to blend in).

When I went to poke the trees into the Styrofoam I quickly found that they would not stay upright by themselves. To keep them standing, I added rocks around their base and filled the middle with LOTS of glue (it took me a few tries, they kept tipping over!) to hold them all together. Don't worry about using lots of glue because you can just spinkle green flock over it and it's not noticeable at all.

watchtower base
» The final base with the watchtower!

To avoid this trouble, you can use trees that are less top heavy or you can use a deeper Styrofoam base that allows you to stick the tree further down (my base is relatively thin).

Overall, it was worth the trouble, as the trees give a much more realistic jungle feel to the watchtower terrain. The final product looks great, though I may add a few lower lying plants to the piece in the future to flesh out the jungle.