Crypt of the Damned, 28mm, Dungeon Crawl, Module, 3D Tiles, Wargames Factory Skeletons 28mm

Crypt of the Damned – a Soul Shattering Tutorial Part III

The degree in interior design did pay off. The undead completed their new musty home without major incidents (only two groups of adventurers had to be driven off). All that remains now is the covering of the sides, bottom and top with protective styrene sheet.

In Part I of this tutorial the basic layout of the Crypt was created, covering the walls and the floor. Part II focused on vegetation, such as vines, moss, mushrooms and roots.

In this part we will add skeletons for the alcoves, urns, candles and sacrificial offerings.  The reasoning behind my design choices will be discussed and a list of materials used provided followed by detailed step-by-step instructions.

Some thoughts on Crypt Dressings

Being a place where the dead rest a crypt is not only a sombre place, but also a place of commemoration. The civilisation that built this place may have long perished, but the signs of paying tribute to the dead entombed here will outlast their creators for hundreds if not thousand of years.

The long time since anyone, may it be priests, kin or tomb raiders, entered this place needs to be reflected in the appearance of all objects contained in the crypt. Vessels or offerings  made of metal need to show signs of rust or verdigris, surfaces need to be dusty and any organic materials should show signs of decay.

Candles were used in combination with the light shafts to enable kin and priests to pay their tribute. They burned down and were replaced with fresh ones, leading to a built up of wax. In small, narrow bowls libations were presented, still showing remnants of wine long reduced to a brown desiccated layer. The candles, too, may have been lit to remember of the one’s gone, to keep vigil or lead the way to the afterlife.

Grave goods like swords and daggers were given to the revered ancestors, their bones carefully placed on richly coloured fabrics. Well-off families commissioned statues of their ancestors, portraying them as ageless heroes. Hundreds of years later the swords are rusty, the fabric eaten by moths and decaying through the permeation of water. Statues are tumbled over, broken or covered in dust and verdigris.

Burial rites may have changed in the course of time, it is thus not surprising that burial of bodies in the alcoves and urn burials are both represented. Urns are placed in an alcove to set them apart from other vessels, which contained incense and embalming materials.

Just as in Part II this dictates again some design choices:

  • Anything made of metal needs to be heavily rusted or covered in verdigris.
  • Skeletons should be placed together with grave goods to “tell a story” and should be heavily weathered.
  • Candles, urns and offerings should be placed in a logical way. One alcove might have been used for libations, the other to display a statue etc.

Naturally guidelines are not something that should suppress creativity, but they can provide a cross-check when deciding where to place elements. On that note – let’s place some stuff!

Offerings detail
This is what we are going for.

 

What you need

For the candles:

  • Some cylindrical shape as a basis for the candle. I used some plastic sprue cuttings. Equally possibly is balsa wood, green stuff or any other scrap materials as long as they have the right size and are cylindrical.
  • Golden Acrylic Gel matt or liquid green stuff to sculpt the wax.
  • One strand of copper wire cut in small pieces to depict the wicks.
  • Acrylic paints. Candles come in all kinds of different colours nowadays, but in a Fantasy setting it might be good to use natural tones. I went for off-whites, especially Yellowed Bone by Reaper.
  • Fast setting glue to attach the candle to the module.
  • Brown and grey pigment to depict dust.

For the urns, bronze vessels and libation bowls:

  • Depending on how much money you would like to spend you can get ceramic vessels in 28mm or 15mm scale from Baudea. The jars, amphorae and vases come in handy to depict urns, but might need a lid made of green stuff. Alternatively (I used both) you can also get some cheap spherical beads, add a lid and paint those up as vases or urns.
  • Green stuff for lids and libation bowls.
  • Golden Acrylic Medium matt to cover the beads and improve adherence.
  • Brown and beige acrylic paint (can be cheap stuff) and GW Agrax Earthshade. Bronze and silver paint. Vallejo Smoke. For verdigris effects a jade like tone. If you want to add free hand adornments to the urns you can go for a lighter shade of the base colour or introduce some other colour, in my case dark red.
  • Brown pigments to depict grime and dust, red pigment to depict the remains of a libation offering.

For the skeletons and their grave goods:

  • Any number of Wargames Factory Skeletons. I went for four full skeletons and one skull.
  • Some of their weapons to depict grave goods. I went for a sword and a dagger.
  • Green stuff to sculpt fabric cloth the skeletons rest on.
  • Acrylic paint. RMS Yellowed Bone, reds, metallics and greens.
  • Different pigments (browns and reds) to depict grime, dust and rust.

Tools needed:

  • Brushes of various sizes to apply paint and wood glue. Old bristle brush for dry brushing.
  • Sculpting tools.A selection of sculpting tools. The ball tip is quite good to smooth the clay and to make organic looking indentations. The needle tip I used for carving the brick pattern.
  • X-acto knife.

How you make it

The candles:

  1. Cut as many pieces of sprue as you need candles. Using some Wood Glue glue them on a piece of cardboard or plastic card. Let dry.
  2. Cover the cylindrical sprue piece with either liquid green stuff or Golden Acrylics Gel matt. Both products have a nice thick consistency and allow to sculpt an uneven surface. The idea is to make the candles look like they burned down a bit.
  3. It is now also time to insert the copper wire in the top while the gel is still wet.
  4. After the first coat is dry, you might need to apply another one to pronounce the effect and secure the copper wire further.
  5. Using RMS Yellowed Bone and subtle highlights with some more white mixed in paint the candles. Use some RMS Pure Black for the wick.IMG_5223
  6. Glue the candles in place on the module.IMG_5232IMG_5231IMG_5233
  7. The candles look the part, but over time wax would have trickled down the rock walls or they would even be a wax built up. To depict this use again the matt gel and apply around and in between the candles. The matt gel does not dry translucent, but has a certain cloudiness to it. Perfect to depict wax.
  8. If necessary add some more RMS Yellowed Bone to pronounce the texture.
  9. Finally dust the candles with grey and brown pigment and fixate with some AK Pigment Fixer.IMG_5452 IMG_5461

Urns, statue, bronze vessels and libation bowls:

  1.  Clean and basecoat the Baudea vases. Sculpt a lid and add to the vases. I used two Baudea vases.
  2. Glue the beads on a piece of cardboard or plastic card. Dilute the matt gel slightly so that it is runny and cover the entire bead with it. Let dry. Sculpt a lid and add it.
  3. Form a ball of green stuff and using a sculpting too with a ball point make an indentation in the middle of the ball. Form until you achieve a bowl shape. Let set.
  4. Basecoat the beads, bowls and Baudea vases with brown acrylic paint.
  5. Paint the beads with bronze paint, adding some silver paint for the highlights. Darken some areas with Vallejo Smoke.
  6. When all this is dry make a wash using  a mixture of green, blue and white. We want a nice Jade tone. I suggest a mix of 10 to 1 water/ paint.
  7. Apply over the entire vessel and let dry. Repeat if you would like the verdigris effect to be stronger.IMG_5455
  8. Highlight the Baudea vases and add some ornaments if you like. I went for a very simple geometric pattern.IMG_5446
  9. Paint the lids just like the bronze vessels adding the verdigris effect in the end.
  10. Add some red pigment to the bowls to depict the remains of libelation offerings.
  11. Sprinkle with different pigments to add grime and dust and fixate the pigments with AK Pigment Fixer.
  12. Repeat the steps above for the bronze statue. I used and old 15mm miniature I did not particularly like. The face is very rough, but suits a statue perfectly.IMG_5479

Skeletons and their grave goods:

  1. Assemble the Wargames Factory Skeletons as if they would lie down. This might in some cases necessitate to literally break their bones.
  2. Basecoat the skeletons with a bone colour. I used Army Painter Spray Primer Skeleton Bone, followed by Agrax Earthshade and highlights with RMS Yellowed Bone and RMS Pure White. The sheath of the dagger I painted dark red with iron fittings, the sword with Vallejo Gunmetal Grey highlighted with Vallejo Silver.Alcove Skeletons
  3. Using red pigments add some rust to the sword and dagger and fixate with AK Pigment Fixer.
  4. Using some green stuff sculpt the cloth. The X-acto knife is quite good to give the edges a ripped look.IMG_5370
  5. As you can see I put the green stuff on a piece of glad wrap and placed in one of the alcoves. The idea is to prevent it from sticking to the surface, but to allow positioning off the still malleable green stuff. Let set.IMG_5371
  6. Take the cloth pieces out and paint them. I used different shades off brown, red, green and yellow. I didn’t want to ovedo it with the highlights, as the cloth is old and in the process of decay.IMG_5382
  7. Glue the skeletons on the cloth pieces, sprinkle everything with pigments and fixate them.
    I applied some grey pigment to the skeleton in the top right corner. As you can see it is quite a bit ofpigment, but this will look quite different when the fixative is applied.
    I applied some grey pigment to the skeleton in the top right corner. As you can see it is quite a bit of pigment, but this will look quite different when the fixative is applied.
    IMG_5387
    More pigments for everyone before the fixer is applied.
    IMG_5390
    The finished skeletons, ready to be glued in the alcoves.

     

  8. Now all that is left is to glue the skeletons in the alcoves. Some of the alcoves I left empty or put only some cloth in.

Alcoves with skeletonsAlcoves with sacrifical offeringsOne last step has to be carried out to draw it all together: Apply pigments to all surfaces which still appear too clean and fixate.

IMG_5430

It took some time, but the crypt is finally finished. As mentioned above styrene covers for the sides, bottom and top are still missing, but the interior is fully operational.

IMG_5429

I hope you enjoyed reading this series of tutorials and I would be very pleased if they inspire you to try your hand at a crypt yourself. If so, please let me know in the comments, so that I can check out your work.

IMG_5426IMG_5438


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37 thoughts on “Crypt of the Damned – a Soul Shattering Tutorial Part III”

    1. Thank you for your kind words. The detailing was really the best part. Finally I found some good use for that uninspired 15mm miniature I once ordered as a trial. The rough face really works for a statue. To achieve the realistic poses for the skeletons one really needs to cut the legs off the hip bones or cut them at the knees. The arms can be arranged easily, however. I can only recommend the WGF skeletons for any dungeon dressing projects.

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    1. Thank you. At first I had some problems with getting the pigments fixed in place without destroying the look. The AK pigment fixer on enamel basis (basically enamel paint without pigment) works like a spell. I can only recommend it to spare you some frustration when you start out using pigments.

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  1. Outstanding work. I love finely and lovingly detailed elements on scenery as you’ve done here. I’ve also really enjoyed reading through your rationale for the different elements. Kudos!

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    1. Thank you. Always pleased if the tuts are inspiring. I am already thinking about where to go from here. More crypta themed stuff or some more generic modules. I might stick with the crypt theme, without getting too boring or samey. I am thinking of an underground lake or doing something with that massive Kaladrax model I have lying around.

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      1. I’m really liking the crypts, though you can always create some tiles transitioning into underground caverns or into “dungeon basement”. Maybe both over a period of time. Crypts transitioning into natural caverns and caves into an underground river feeding into a lake would be an amazing project to see…

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      2. You know what, I think that is exactly what I will aim for. It also makes sense if one applies a bit of logic to the Dungeon. First they realise there are natural caverns under the soil and they built a necropolis on top. The caverns are extended where necessary, but surely some smaller natural caverns remain. Here I can see some nice transition into some kind of grotto. The actual living quarters for priests can be separated by a steel door. This way I can use the living quarters as generic dungeon rooms, too. Finally I could even have some underdark terrain. Might even be an idea to have a stack of tiles, with staircases allowing to climb deeper into the dungeon…Thank you for the inspiration. Connecting it all like a organic structure should make it easy to combine all of the tiles without having unused ones stored away or the whole thing making no sense, a problem many video games have.

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    1. Thank you, much obliged! Chuffed and puffed. I need to work on several pieces at a time to get more modules ready to play faster. I guess now, as I learned quite some lessons, it should be easier to built other crypt modules.

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  2. This is great work as ever, but I’m a bit confused as tot which golden’s matt gel you use. There seems to be quite a few, is it the same stuff you use in the ancient yew tree also.

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    1. Generellay speaking I use the Golden Acrylic matte Gel both soft and regular, depending how much body you want. I still thin it slightly depending on the application. As a topcoat I try to achieve a consistency similar to slightly thinned acrylic paint from the usual modelling brands like Vallejo, Citadel or Reaper. If you go too heavy the gel can get cloudy (which is by the way an excellent effect to depict wax). Coating branches etc. is done using acrylic caulking, because it is cheaper. You could use some heavy body gel and see if you can already achieve a bark texture at this stage, but I prefer to carve it in an additional layer of woodfiller.

      I think buying a heavier body gel is always a better choice. You can easily thin it down to whatever consistency you need. The other way round is not possible.

      Acrylic gel gloss is excellent for water features, puddles and snow/ice effects. You can use it to stabilise surfaces, too, if you paint over it. For instance if you use the crackle medium you can use thinned down acrylic gel to make it more resilient.

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  3. good thinking on the going thicker but then thinning as needed. I got a matt medium from winsor and newton, but it was a bit thin for doing the first branch layer, took a few coats sometimes. Doing the candles it would run down to the bottom. Ordered some regular, thanks for the help.

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    1. You are welcome. Yes, matt medium will be a bit thin if it is supposed to be used to give your paints more body. The gel I went for has the consistency of hair gel, not quite toothpaste, but as I said, you can easily thin it down if it tuns out too thick for your specific application.

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  4. hello me again hope all is well, just a question about using the vallejo smoke on the bowls and stuff. just wondering how heavily to thin am i using it more like a wash or a normal colour ?

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    1. All going well over here Shane. Thank you for asking.

      To answer your question: I use Smoke more like a wash. At least thinned 1:1 up to 1:5 (Smoke to Water). Smoke is pretty opaque and strong unthinned, but the magic happens when applied sparingly. You can build the effect up and experiment. It works best with metalic paints to add contrast.

      If you use it straight from the bottle it can be used for rust effects. Maybe use some pigments to add a bit of body.

      Happy crafting and all the best!

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      1. i usually use airbrush thinner to thin paints but ill use water so it works the same way as yours does. i did an experiment with the smoke and i noticed when it was thinned on my little pot it seemed to be gritty, but it was all drying so that might be what that was about. im going to try one of the citadel technicals nihilakh oxide for the verdigris, i have a vallejo game colour paint called verdigris going to see the diffrence in the shades prehaps one could be a heavier effect than the other.

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      2. There is a bit of a gritty texture there, but thinned down it behaves likr a wash. Could be that feature makes it so good for bronze.

        You can use acrylic thinner, too. Less problems with water marks.

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  5. Well the thing I was painting was only very small and no nooks and crannies where the wash might leave tide marks, so that was not a problem.

    It turned out the technical and the verdigris are as far as I can tell the same shade, but the technical was more wash like and its chalky, so I think that one seemed the best.

    However, now I have stuck the candle on you do not see much of the effort I put into painting them. Do you think I should bother pigmenting candles that in an outdoor setting? Bearing in mind it is supposed to be very old, like your vampire graveyard. Cheers

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    1. If it is a very old setting I would recommend to use some very fine pigments and dust them lightly on. Then brush away excess and fixate. The candles would surely be covered in dirt or dust over the years.

      If the candles don’t have enough contrast dry a brown wash and highlight them as you would do with a miniature. Bleached Bone works well for this.

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  6. Yeah just looked at the candle now, been thinking something was missing, the contrast is a bit mild so i shall give it a wash.

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      1. yes i shall show you., the bowl for the candle I messed up, tried to peel the matt medium back as very little of the paint job could be seen, it took some of the paint off. So I changed my plan a little bit, anyway to get to the point I will base coat the stairs and the top level, get some dry brushing and weathering on these few items that have detail. It will be an ipad photo so it will need all the help it can get for you to pick anything out, also I have the Wizard’s house with painted decking to show you as well, that is the only progress on that though.

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      2. Sounds excellent. I recommend to take pictures close to a window with natural daylight. IPad cameras are actually quite good resolution wise. You caa post a link to the picture directly in the comments. If need be I approve it, so that it can be displayed.

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      3. right I got some images of the Wizard’s house, they are not very good but gives a basic idea. I should have maybe taken them when the sun was a bit higher, the balsa looks quite fluffy with the sunlight directly on it. I am still dry brushing the terrain thing i am working on.

        Wizard's Hut

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      4. Thank you for the images. Looks already very cool. I think the Balsa has a nice weathered look to it and the detailing on the door worked out well, too. If you are concerned about the Balsa you could try to apply a bit of shellac (maybe thinned) and paint it afterwards, so that it is sealed against moisture.

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  7. thanks thats a very encouraging compliment, i looked for shellac on ebay and it just brought up nail varnish after nail varnish. but it only seems to look like that in the sunbeams, i really like the door in the last image where the lights casting shadows from the boards that are more raised than others. i tried to do the door with the adornments but it was not going very good so i went for a plain strip of wrought iron but i seem to have lost that piece of green stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. thanks for the compliment azazal and the tip on the shellac varnish. I find i have to do the door detail on a different surface and then transfer it to the door other wise the green stuff takes the weathered shape of the door and makes it all much harder. @daggerandbrush

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