Skull Rock

Hey, a quick post for whoever’s interested in cheap scenery...

It’s Halloween again, which means your local discount stores probably have a ton of cheap skulls, bones, and other odds and ends that can be used to great effect.

For example, check this out.  My local 99 Cents Store had a couple dozen skulls like this.  A seven-inch skull for a buck!  There are a lot of uses for such a thing in Warhammer 40,000 or Fantasy.  Enough that I figured it was worth reminding people to keep their eyes open for such things.

However, I was inspired by a post I’d seen at the Bell of Lost Souls.  Brent showed how he made a really nice, inexpensive skull monument with the Halloween skull he found.  And he posted it on the internet, which is pretty much akin to smacking the whole world with a gauntlet (in a good natured way).  And I found myself thinking, “heck, I could make something faster and cheaper than that...”

So, I headed out this morning to put my money where my mouth is...

11:55 – I arrive home from errands with my new plastic skull.

12:10 – With groceries put away, I scraped off the big mold line running down the center.  I also figured out the three points where it makes contact when it sits.

12:20 - I superglued it to a CD base.  A plastic plate would work well, too, and the 99 Cents Store has tons of those, too, if you wanted to go a little bigger.  I also added a few wedges of foamcore and card that I had kicking about.  I trimmed a few of them to give it more of an uneven, rocky look.  I also piled them high, because I want this to look like one big chunk.

Honest Disclosure – Okay, the CD base is a bit of a cheat because I’ve got three or four of them sitting around waiting for different scenery projects.  If you’re building one on your own, it’ll probably take an extra hour for that glue to dry and cure.

Helpful Hint – I didn’t do it, but it probably wouldn’t be too hard to put a few small lumps of green stuff or chunks of foamcore on top of this thing as “balance points.”  They’d make it look a bit more rough and uneven at first glance, but actually create a level spot where you could stand figures.

12:35 – Union-mandated lunch break.  Well, not really.  But I did need to give everything some time to dry and I hadn’t eaten yet.

2:00 -  Once the glue was dry, I hit the whole thing with some textured spraypaint.  You can buy it at Home Depot or Osh.   It’s a little pricey, so you might not want to buy it just for this, but if you use it for the right things it’s worth it.  I’ve had two and a half cans of it kicking around for a while from an old film job.  

You can also get the same effect by buying a bottle of white glue, painting the whole thing, and then just dumping some coarse sand on it—it’ll just take a while longer.  You could even leave it as is, basecoat it black, and just drybrush it with a lot of different grays.  The goal is to make it rock-like.

4:30 – Done.  The textured paint takes a while to dry, but in the hot sun it did just fine.  In less than an afternoon I have Skull Rock for less than two bucks (less than three if you went for the larger plate-base).  A perfect scenery piece or an objective.  I almost hit it with a coat of gray spraypaint and some drybrushing to make it look more like granite, but I’ve decided to go with this basic, sandstone look.  It fits the desert tabletop my lovely lady and I tend to use at home.  I might do a little work around the edge of the base, but that’s it.

If you’re a Fantasy player, it might even work as an Arcane Fulcrum, yes? Although it may need a few magic symbols painted in blood or some such thing.  Not really sure how those work...

Later this week... well, I’m going to miss the rest of week, to be honest.  I’m one of the guests at ZomBCon up in Seattle.  Maybe I’ll see some of you there. 


  1. I love the variety of inexpensive skull decorations that come out for Halloween - it's pure bliss for the fanatic Warhammer terrain builder. And yes, your Skull Rock would make a perfect arcane fulcrum even as is...it reminds me of the days when even GW had to scratchbuild their terrain pieces.

    While I do love their ready-made buildings, bastions, and bunkers, it's good for both the soul and the imagination to fashion some terrain out of found items, home reno stuff, broken toys, and other discarded junk. Hell, it's practically the only way to make any kind of emplacement that isn't Imperial...

  2. Sean, I know just what you mean. I love the Basilica kits and the Bastions and all that, but there really is something about the homemade stuff that helps remind you this is supposed to be a fun, creative hobby.

    Speaking of which... check out my quick filler article for this week. ;)