Wednesday, 18 March 2015

LXXXII. The Cemetery Project vol.2

When seeking visual reference and inspiration for this project, besides searching the web for photographs and artwork I also took a stroll through Diablo III. The game is rich with fine-looking environments, and it's a great source for terrain ideas. There are two places I wished to visit this time: Cemetery of the Forsaken near Tristram and the vast and urban Briarthorn Cemetery in Westmarch. My Barbarian took selfies in breaks between fighting throngs of violent undead, so you will find some Diablo III screenshots illustrating this post. 

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 Urns and Planters

I found ready-made miniature planters, urns and jars in online stores of various companies. But I was a bit put off by their price. It's not that the items themselves are that expensive, but when one adds the price of shipping to Croatia the total becomes too much for that sort of thing. This is why I started thinking about a way to save money through cunning improvisation. I came up with a plan pretty quickly, and the very next day I hit a local arts&crafts shop to buy the necessery materials. So, I suppose my being stingy benefits my creativity. Anyway, here's the deal:


Groups of urns will be scattered across the bases of my graveyard terrain. Among other things, they will help visually blend the plastic Citadel terrain with my own scratch-built pieces. The idea comes straight from Diablo III. I'll show you how I make them.

The required materials: metal rings of small diametre and plastic and wooden beads of suitable size and shape. I found all these in a local arts&crafts shop. If you don't have one of those nearby, ebay is a good place to find the stuff. It's all cheap- each of those packets cost me around a dollar.
The beads. It is good to have a variety of shapes and sizes. The smaller ones here are 10mm tall, and the bigger ones about a 1/2 of an inch.

To make a rim around the mouth of an urn, just superglue a ring into place. The smaller ones I have look just fine even without a rim.

To blend the rings and the beads together, as well as to provide texture, coat them with Liquid Green Stuff. Depending on the kind of beads you start with, it might also be necessary to do a bit of non-liquid greenstuffing.

Finished, speed-painted urns.

Briarthorn Cemetery (Act V)

Crypt of the Skeleton King (Act I)


Planters, too, suggested themselves as a nice detail to add while I was whirlwinding throught swarms of zombies. I've come up with two ways to create them - one very simple and the other more advanced.
Cemetery of the Forsaken (Act I)
The easy planters:
Some sort of plastic jewellery elements I found while browsing an arts and crafts shop. One can run into all sorts of things...

This was a no-brainer: I just glued the bits together. The trickier part of the process was finding the right materials to work with. These aren't that big, standing about 10-11mm tall.

I filled the soon-to-be miniature planters with sand and coated them with Liquid Green Stuff.

And this is how they look when painted. When adding them to my terrain I will probably put them on some sort of pedestals.

And the complicated ones:

These started as a single metal bell, with its knocker removed. I added rings to the sides for decoration, and then made a mould with Oyumaru so I can make plaster copies. The copies need to be hollowed out using a sculpting tool or a rotary tool (best done while the plaster is ready to get out of the mould but is still a bit wet). Then you can let them dry fully, fill them with sand and paint them. 

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Iron Fence

Briarthorn Cemetery (Act V)

I've done the preparation on the Garden of Morr iron fence.

One of the four iron fence pieces from the GoM set. I was worried that the skulls on and between spikes would be difficult to remove without mutilating the fence too much in the process. 

Luckily, I was wrong. After ten minutes of careful cuttting with my hobby knife I ended up with a very much skull-less fence. And the damage was minimal.

The holes left by the skulls were then filled with bits of plasticard, which was first cut to size and then carefully glued into place. Tweezers come in real handy for this kind of work.

Good as new. I did this to all four iron fence sections, and now they are ready for painting.

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Cemetery of the Forsaken (Act I)

Basically, I have cleaned them up and prepared them for painting.

Mausoleum I. The four little club-shaped niches were emptied of skulls and candles and filled 2/3 of the way with plaster. I filled visible gaps with green stuff. And in total, I got rid of twenty skulls and eight twin-tailed comets. The tools used for this were a rotary tool, a hobby knife and a file. 

Mausoleum II.

Mausoleum III.


  1. Awesome! Keep up the good work! =D

  2. Wow this is great, super intelligent use of bits.

  3. Arts and crafts meets gothic horror!

    You, madam, are a genius!

  4. Your blog needs an "awesome" button!¡! :D

  5. The fences and mausoleums looks great - congrats on successfully de-skullifying them!

    I like the idea for the vases and planter (I may have to steal that someday). If you don't want to drill out the center of the planters every time, you can take something like a small thimble, or a small rubber ball, or even shape a piece of blue tac however you want the cavity of the planter to look, then grease it up with Vaseline or even cooking spray, and sink it down into the plaster while it's still wet in the mold. When the plaster cures, you can de-mold the planter and take out the object to reveal the negative space.

  6. Great post, Ana. Very resourceful work on the urns and planters. I just may have to steal Odie's idea to steal your idea.

  7. As usual your work is awesome! Diablo 3, what an inspiration! Those cemeteries are one of my favourite environments. Thank you for showing us your methods!

  8. Great looking, and very clever, little bits and bobs mate.

    With the fence, I almost would have left the gaps in the railings from where you had removed the skulls, or deliberately repaired them to suggest the metal had snapped/rusted away to suggest an aged and worn set of fences.

  9. Thanks, everybody! :)

    @Odie - great idea, I'll experiment with that.

    @Finch - by all means, do. Perhaps, in the process, you'll think of something that will improve the idea, and then I can steal that from you. :P

    @ Frothing Muppet - I considered leaving the gaps there, and it would have worked out. But patching it up was a more challenging path - which meant a greater sense of accomplishment in the end. Don't worry, there will definitely be rust present in the paintjob.

  10. The metal rings on beads to create vases .. genius..! I really like that garden of morr set.. whilst you are deskulling i plan on the opposite ;-)

    1. Thanks! :)

      The opposite? You mean, you'll actually add more skulls? Wow.

    2. Ana - your blog is superb! I've been meaning for around a year to comment and thank you for the wonderful inspiration your art has provided. I love the tone and creativity of your conversions and the atmosphere of your game world. Lovely stuff :) I also have the Gardens of Morr(skulls) on my workbench - I'm a big fan of the GW plastic terrain but this set takes things to a very silly level.
      I love the urns and planters - a great use of craft parts! The urns would come in handy as part of a market I have planned also - can I ask what I would need to search for to find the various parts you've use on eBay? The names/sizes of the various beads and rings?

      Once again, many thanks for the wonderful inspiration you've given :)

    3. Thank you, Chris. :)

      For the rings, search "jump rings." They come in different diametres and weight, and if you know exactly which diametre you need add it to the search (e.g. 3mm, 4mm - mine are about that size). When looking for beads, the key words are "beads oval wood plastic." As you will probably notice when you see the search results, there are many Chinese sellers who offer these materials. The Chinese usually offer free international shipping, regardless of the amount ordered.

      The elements I used for easy planters are a mystery to me, because I don't know how or for what they are originally meant to be used. The labeled bags they came in are of no help, since they read "plastic beads" and "metal elements" - vague descriptions at best. I picked them up at a local art&craft shop. So if you wish, I could stop by there next week and ask the shopkeeper to identify the items.

    4. Thanks for this Ana :) if you're visiting the art shop again that would be wonderful! I've just got around to ordering some beads off ebay, fingers crossed!

    5. No problem. I stopped by he shop this morning and this is what I learned:

      - for the bits I used for the bowls of the planters, search: "spacer bead caps." You should find what you're looking for among the search results.

      - the metal parts that make the feet of my planters are apparently called "earring stoppers." You can get at least a hundred for a dollar...

      Have fun. :)

    6. Many thanks for your help Ana! I've now purchased a bunch of different stuff, hopefully they'll be what I need!

  11. wow, that's a lot of work on those buildings, surpised though how easy it looks to convert the fences.