Making Cork Bark Cliffs and Hills

After finishing off my Chainrasps last week I wanted to do something big and messy to detox from all the fiddly detail painting, and with the weather being so gorgeous it was a great opportunity to get outside and use some grown-up sized tools and paintbrushes. After our skirmish weekend we’d discussed that we’d didn’t have a lot of generic terrain, and I also wanted to see if I could scale up the colour scheme I used on my Nighthaunt bases, so I set out to make some cliffs and rock spires to act as blocking terrain.

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Out of the bits I bought, I was able to make three cliffs…
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…and four towers.

Cork bark makes amazing quick and easy rock faces, and it’s cheap as chips if you get it from the right places i.e. pet shops. It’s the same stuff you use for lizard terrariums. It’s a lot handier that using plaster cast rocks and it looks waaaay better than polystyrene. In fact the GW Studio guys make regular use of it. It’s all over the place in the new Nighthaunt book, and you can see it in plenty of other bits of studio photography, like this one:

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This won’t be a full tutorial because, while easy enough to do, it has quite a lot of steps that are really boring to explain and look at. Saying that, I took pictures while I was working and I’ll pop a gallery down below with captions by means of a step-by-step. You basically just need to buy your cork bark in bulk, clean it, cut it to shape, stick it on a base, fill it, texture it, seal it, and paint it. Nothing too complicated at all.

Plus, there are a lot of great video tutorials out there for how to do this kind of thing, like these two, which I referenced most while working:

 

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I based these two so that I could set them together as one big piece with a passage down the middle.

Here’s my step-by-step gallery:

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I learned a whole lot about terrain making while I was doing this. The main thing to take to the next project is to to use a greater variety of small rocks to make the scatter look more natural. The next thing I want to do is to make some lower hills and barrows for my Nighthaunt army to emerge from, similar to the hills in the second video above, but with crypt doors in them. I might go repaint some of my other stuff to match this first though, cause I really like how they turned out!

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“The way is shut.”

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7 thoughts on “Making Cork Bark Cliffs and Hills

    1. There can be some weird-shaped bits that will break off, but you can snap most of those off before you paint it and then it’s pretty sturdy. Give it a matt varnish spray when it’s done and it’ll take as much abuse as any other scenery.

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      1. There’s an ‘australianorchidnursery’ on eBay that’s selling some pretty big chunks. If you search for ‘cork bark’ on eBay they should come up.

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  1. Those bark cliffs look amazing – so simple yet so effective. They match your Nighthaunt perfectly as well, without being cartoony or over the top. There’s a lovely subtle menace to them, which is impressive considering its just bark cliffs and towers. Looking forward to seeing more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m rather pleased with how they turned out myself. I was originally going to go with a richer brown for the basecoat but I’m glad I didn’t as these ones feel much colder and more barren.

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