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Building Haradrim Themed Terrain
A Fortified Camp
By Neldoreth
Nov 4th, 2006

The palatial tent in all its glory...


I must first mention that this whole project was inspired by the folks over at The Palantir. The Harad Allegiance put on a terrain competition, and I was compelled to compete. After much racking of the brains I decided my first entry would be a fortified Haradrim camp for the Haradrim themed terrain category of the competition.

The Haradrim Palace
from the computer game

So, once I decided on what I was going to build, it was time to decide on how and what it would actually look like. This is really the hardest part. I mean, collecting images from the Lord of the Rings movies to build terrain around is one thing, but coming up with a design from scratch is another thing entirely. Not only does it have to stand up to the images of the movies, but it also has to stand up to the Lord of the Rings community! People everywhere will want to see terrain that they feel fits in with the world...

So, I looked around for images that might help and came up with three different leads. The first was the soldiers of Harad as seen in the movies. I planned to incorporate their style into whatever it was that I made, including the banners they carried an so on. The second was the Mumak, particularily the structure on its back. That is afterall the only Haradrim architecture we get to see in the movies. Finally, I found my way to imagery in the Battle for Middle Earth computer game! When I decided to do a palatial tent for the camp, I typed haradrim palace into Google and blammo, I got a picture from that game. In the end I decided to focus my details primarily around the Mumak structure from the movies, as it would certainly allow me to stay closest to Weta's designs. Using these influences I was able to start the design phase...

Required supplies and tools:

The required supplies and tools in all their glory!

The required supplies and tools are:
  • Thin card (the GW boxes work perfectly!)
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Dry wall filler or Plaster of Paris
  • All purpose white (PVA) glues
  • Thin string
  • Super glues
  • Hobby knife
  • Clippers
  • 1cm foam (white is best, but pink will do)
  • MDF board
  • Course fabric (with a noticable texture for best effect)
  • A good assortment of Woodland Scenics ground cover for basing.

Designing the Camp:

The design phase was basically made up of sketch after sketch. It pays to be able to draw, and since I am not good this took some time. The two most important things about designing terrain are:

  1. Coming up with something you like and
  2. Defining exactly what it should look like.
The first is important because there is no point in putting a lot of time into building something you don't really like or want. The second point is important because it really helps to know exactly what you are building before you start. I have wasted a lot of time working from sketchy plans... It is worth noting that if you actually spend a lot of effort in the design phase you will know the design so well that you won't have to refernce your sketches that often during construction!

Once the design is worked out until you are happy and until it does a good job outlining what you will need to build, then it is time to move on to construction. Although the majority of the work is still infront of you, the most difficult work is behind you!

Implementing the Design:

The first thing to be done is to create the base for this project. Using 1/8" MDF (aka hardboard, pressboard) board as the base and adding some styrofoam on top would do the trick perfectly. The styrofoam is essential to allow us to stick the support poles into. Terrain always looks better when things like support poles are actually stuck into their base just as support poles would be stuck into the ground.

Make sure before glueing down the styrofoam to cut it into a (somewhat) smooth sloping hill. It is much easier to cut before it is fixed to the MDF board. Also note that we don't have to use the expensive blue or pink styrofoam for this as we will cover it completely with plaster later to cover up the white styrofoam texture.

Once the styrofoam is in place I did a quick sketch of the structure on the base. This is pretty essential in order to make sure the poles go in the right place. Once the sketch is done well enough it is off to construct the poles.

This image shows the sketch of the tent on the styrofoam. Note that it is somewhat out of sequence, as the poles are already in place. See below for more details on the pole construction.

I realized right away that there were going to be an awful lot of poles for this project. I had to come up with a quick way to create poles that looked a lot like those seen on the Mumak Howdah structure. Bamboo skewers were the first thing to come to mind, and so I went with them. They are easy to use and very cheap.

I decided that I would fix three poles together for the main support poles of the tent. This would not only look more like the thick supports used on the Mumak Howdah, but also add support to the model itself. By having a thicker base they fasten to the foam more easily and efficiently.

Fixing the poles together is simple. put some all purpose white glue (PVA glue) along one of the three poles and then stick them all together. Use some masking tape to hold them together until the glue dries. The great thing about this is that you can continue to work on them while the glue is drying! Once they are all ready, it is important to cut the tops into a shape similar to that on the Mumak Howdah. Basically I cut them all at an angle so that together they would form a point in the centre. I cut them using my handy clippers.

Here I am cutting the posts with my handy clippers! Note the angle that I am cutting them at.

Once all the poles are made it is time to start sticking them into the foam along the sketch that was drawn. Use a liberal amount of all purpose white glue when you stick them in to help fasten them. Once the are in place and the glue is dry, it is time to add the base texture. I use ready mixed drywall filler, but you could use pretty much any plaster (including plaster of paris) for this purpose. The plaster will also cover up the join between the foam and the MDF hardboard. When applying this stuff, try to texture it the way you would expect the ground to be textured. Since my model was based in southern Gondor, I made it a dirt-like surface. You might want to consider making it more sand-like if you want your terrain to be based in the deserts of Harad.

Once the plaster is completely dry (really it is the drying time that stretches out this project!) it is time to add the string to the tent poles. The best way I found to do this is to simply put a strip of all purpose white glue onto the pole where you want to wrap the string. Then simply wrap the string around it. As the glue dries pretty much clear you won't see it when it is done and it will hold the string fast! It is worth noting at this point that it isn't necessary to fasten seperate lengths of string to connect the poles. You can use a single length of string by wrapping it around each pole and then moving on to the next.

Adding the strings is fun. Basically, I connected all of the poles to each other using a single length of string!

Once the glue holding the strings is pretty much dry it is time to move on to adding the tent material. I kept a close eye on the way the fabric was added to the Mumak Howdah when cutting and placing the fabric onto the tent model. I wanted to be true to the movie images by creating walls and roofs while still showing the support poles and ropes that hold them up. To do this I used a seperate piece of fabric for each wall and roof section. The wall sections were cut specifically to show the strings and support poles by tapering the fabric along the sides toward the centre (please see the picture for the exact details).

I cut each piece of fabric for each specific wall section. This was essential as they were all slightly different lengths, and so I ended up spending a lot of time tailoring each wall section. I may have been able to save some time if I had measured each wall section to be exactly the same size as I could then have mass-produced the wall fabric sections.

Here is a piece of fabric wall section covered with glue and ready to be fixed to the string.

Once the fabric was properly cut I applied a liberal amount of all purpose white glue to one side. Once there was enough glue I folded the piece along the wall section string to form the wall structure. The white glue is perfect for this as it holds fabric really well. Furthermore, it add strength and rigidity to the fabric, while still allowing it to look like fabric. The fabric look is what I wanted as a modeler, the rigidity is what I needed as a gamer, so everything worked perfectly!

Sticking the fabric on is kinda messy, as you get glue all over your fingers. But since it is non-toxic and easily washed off it is okay! Just don't use superglue!

To add the doorway sections, the same trial and error cutting should be applied. Simply cut a single piece of fabric to fit over the entire doorway area, make sure it fits properly, and then cut it in the middle about 3/4 of the way through from the bottom. After it is applied you can then fold one side up and glue it to look like the door is open slightly. Adding fabric to the model is actually somewhat tedious, but if perseverance prevails and you finish it, you will defintely be happy with the results.

Here are the two pieces of fabric without my fingers getting in the way!

It should be noted at this point however that you should not add fabric to the roof. As we are building a removable roof it will take a bit of extra effort, so only add the fabric to the walls in this way. If you are not interested in having a removable roof though, you would add the roof by cutting fabric to fit the size and then applying glue as previously outlined. Once the glue is in place you would then place it over the top, using the strings as support. Don't be afraid to accept a few failures in the process though... It can be a trial and error sort of deal sometimes...

The walls are in place and the piece is primed. Note that I totally added the
rugs as an afterthought and so they are not primed :)

Once all of the fabric is on the walls, it is time to prime the piece. It is a good idea to add little things like rugs and any other details that are similar at this point so that they get primed along with everything else. I use watered down acrylic paint applied with a brush to do all my priming (spray paints are too smelly for me). Once that is done it is time to go ahead with the hardest part of the project...

To build the roof you must use the same trial-and-error cutting method, except initially we do it with thin card. Once the pieces are cut they should be fit onto the model and then fixed to each other using masking tape. Make sure not to actually fix the pieces to the model itself, as the roof must be removable! Once all of the pieces are fixed this way, the roof should be able to be put on and removed without trouble, and with the exception of adding the fabric, it is basically done!

Here is the roof piece competely built out of thin card. Also, I have begun
adding the fabric. Note how unpleasant the parts that are not covered look, but
once the fabric goes on things are starting to look better!

Adding the fabric at this point is easier than the trial-and-error method we have been using so far as it is possible to use the current roof structure to trace fabric outlines. Furthermore, if the fabric doesn't fit perfectly it is possible to trim it to the cardboard once it is glued in place. Once all the surfaces are covered, take the time to add some more bits of fabric to the top. These will be used to add detail to the final model and also serve to cover up any cardboard showing through at the top! The process of constructing the roof is also quite tedious, much more so than reading these two paragraphs :) If you stick with it though, it will totally be worth it!

Still working on covering the roof... It took some time and effort! Note that
in this picture the roof has been placed one the model. Make sure it is easily
placed and removed throughout every step of the process. It is easier to fix a
problem as it occurs as opposed to fixing a problem once the entire roof is done!

At this point, the model should be done. Once it is all primed, it is ready to paint! But, if you are like me you are probably ready to give up terrain building all together from all of the tedious work you put into it! As such, this is a good time to build the small details. I used green stuff to sculpt the pipe, the plates, the coffee pot, and the fruit (please see Ebob's sculpting articles for info on how to sculpt!). The backgammon board was made using plasticard and slices of cured green stuff that had been rolled into a thin cylinder. The tables were made using balsa wood. Building these little details offers a nice change of pace to the actuall terrain building itself. Once you are done, prime them up and we are ready to paint!

The water pipe in progress. Note the hose and
handle have yet to be finished at this point.

At this point it is worth mentioning how I made wicker bases for some of the other Haradrim terrain that I did. The floor of the watch tower and the base of the supply cart were both done with wicker. It was actually quite simple to make once the details were sorted out. First you cut a piece of foam core to the size and shape of the base that you want then you use a sharp pointed object (like an ice pick or a fine ball point pen) to score parrallel lines in it about 1/2cm (1/4") apart. Then you score curved lines very close together inbetween the paralel lines. It takes some time, but it is easier than using green stuff and once it is done and painted well it looks pretty good.

The paralel lines are scored.

We finish with the curved lines inbetween.

Painting the Camp:

Gotta love that Iron Wind
Metals Red Brown!

To paint the camp I started with my all time favorite paint: IWM Red-Brown! I have used it for my dwarves, my haradrim, my orcs, and many other figs (including Haldir). It makes a great base coat for anything red, as it is dark enough, but also has the earth-tone quality! Anyway, after the tent is primed black, put a liberal coat of red brown on there.

Now mix a 60%-40% of red-brown and white for the first highlight and apply it with a heavy drybrush. Now use a bright red paint and do a lighter dry brush over the entire tent. You are now finished the basic painting of the terrain piece! At this point you could decide that you are completely finished, or if you would like to add a few extra details, now is the time.

Using black I painted a stripe around the exdes of the tent. I then used ivory (GW calls this bleached bone) to paint a stripe right in the middle of the black line. Take care to make the lines as clean as possible, if neccessary go back and fix any mistakes up with either red-brown or black paint. Once the lines are in it is time to paint the 'S' runes all around the edge. Use a steady hand and take your time. Use that same steady hand to paint the snakes and whatever other details you would like.

The palatial tent in all its glory...

A shot of the detail at the top of the palatial tent.

Once the tent itelf is painted, paint the floor and the base as well as the rugs inside the tent. Add as much detail as you want at this stage, including things like pillows or whatever else you think might add flavour to the model. I added things like flags to the posts as well as pillows, however I made the tables and water pipe one removable bases for ease of play. Once all the paint is on, you are done, and now it is time to enjoy your model!

For more pictures of the Haradrim Camp, please visit Neldoreth's (aka revolutionary) miniatures gaming fan site: An Hour of Wolves and Shattered Shields.

The king has to have something to do while his servants do all the real work!

A good overview of the interior

Delicious fruit!