Brilthor Keep – An elven stronghold in the Blue mountains – Part 1
Gastblog door Jeroen Mies / Guest blog by Jeroen Mies
A few years back I decided to build my own scenery for a collection of Skaven miniatures that I had painted. Since painting the miniatures was my main reason for buying items from the Warhammer world I needed something to display them. And so Skullvane Mansion was built and now a part of the bookcase in our living room.
Since I also painted a large number of Elven warriors I decided a few months back to start another project for displaying these mini’s. But this time I planned to also document the proces and share the results during my build.
In this blog series you can follow along with the creation of Brilthor Keep, an elven stronghold in the Blue Mountains.
Skullvane Mountain was a very nice project and even though I was unsure how the project would turn out I was very pleased with the end result. Skullvane Mountain was designed around a large scenery building from Warhammer (Skullvane Manse) and I made sure it would fit exactly inside the corner of our bookcase in the living room. Adding light turned out to give it a special and somewhat eerie look that i liked as well.
Brilthor Keep did not start with any prefab elements, but instead was inspired by a number of images I found online. Several of which from the China Stone Pillars and the floating rocks, the Hallelujah Mountains, from the Avatar movie.
So I started out with a rough scetch and found a location in our home where the final scenery would be located. I don’t want to build something I won’t be able to put in a nice location obviously. At the start of the project I was not sure how I would actually make the rocks float. Using transparant nylon wires was an idea, but I decided later to use the bridges that were gonna connect each rock/building with each other as a integral part of the structure.
The next step was to transfer the conceptual idea onto a piece of triplex wood and design the scenery in the right scale. Cutting out the base layer was easy, though I was still worried about the strength of the remaining structure. It needed to be strong enough later to carry all the weight of the plaster I was gonna add to it and also strong enough to be able to transport it should that become necessary.
I considered the idea of embedding metal rods in the structure, but changed that to using a lot of wood strips that would be glued onto the bridge elements when the time came.
Finding a proper construction ended up easy after visiting a local store where I bought the smallest table stand I could find. Using a bolt and a few large washers, the area to connect the floating and bottom base together was pretty large and very strong.
To ensure that lighting would be possible later, I continued with setting up all wiring to each main building and ordered LED’s with a large lumen output so it would be lit up sufficiently later. I also ordered corresponding reflectors and caps, so I could direct the light properly and easily insert coloured gels to change the colour if I wanted to.
Next up, was building up the bottom side of each floating element. By using polystyrene, and making the walls as thin as possible, the weight was kept as low as possible and providing enough room for the lighting later.
Note that all these images show the construction while being mounted upside down on the stand. So while building up the bottom level, I had to make sure everything was tightly glued and fitted so it would also keep in place when it would be mounted in the correct position.
For the bridges I started to use different types of wood. Both premade sticks, but I also carved out several dozens of planks from lollipop sticks.
For the top layer of each of the rocks I intended to also use a number of cast plaster elements. When I created Skullvane Mountain, I had made several molds from structural elements of the building using liquid rubber. These molds were now used to create additional walls, doors, road and staircase elements I intend to use later in the project.
Next phase was to cover everything with a small layer of plaster. For the first time, instead of using regular plaster, I used a lighter and stronger material, called Shaper Sheet Plaster. This material promised to provide a harder layer and also be very light.
Well, that it did. However, once it cures, it transitions very quickly into a layer that is much harder to sculpt and mold. So I am not 100% satisfied with it and will start using it for specific areas only. But more about that in a later blogpost.
Next series of images were taken after the plaster dried and I mounted the upper level in the correct upright position again.
You can clearly see the fortifications and open rock area’s where light will be used to illuminate the scenery later in the project.
Here are the links to other parts of the series on building Brilthor Keep…