Wargaming Tradecraft: Building Display Boards


Building Display Boards

My Midnight Court project was the first I've created a display board for, so I thought I'd walk through how I built it. Most of this is planning, cutting and gluing but I'll touch on a few unique supplies and techniques as well.

If you'd like to see some details on how I created the black water with a mirrored sub-surface, take a look through this tutorial.


The first thing that's important is to plan the layout of your miniatures. There should be enough room to to fit everyone while not appearing cluttered.

 Some sort of a sketch will help, even if its in your minds eye.

Keep in mind how each level of the display will be. It's best to raise the back rows higher than the front ones to help miniatures stand out. Pay particular attention to larger models as they'll block visibility to anything behind them.

Once you've got a plan, it helps to trace that out on the board so you can remove all the bases while you work.

Building Material

You'll notice I'm using pink Styrofoam. The reason for this is that it stays together better. The white stuff breaks up and makes a huge mess. Pink and Blue are denser so it cuts cleanly.


I decided to start from the top down. So, I cut out the top level using a box-cutter type knife.

I traced each level on to the level below. This let me have an idea where other levels and ramps go while I'm cutting things apart.

Some areas, I cut in stages. Below, I've cut the water feature out but traced roughly where I want the dip to be. For ramped areas, I turned the blade on an angle and shaved a little bit off at a time.


Styrofoam is also super easy to assemble.

  1. Use some white glue between each layer.
  2. Press the layers together firmly.
  3. Wipe the edges with a moist sponge or paper towel to clean up the excess glue.
  4. Wait for things to dry.
I'd strongly suggest putting out some newspapers below your project because there's a good chance you'll have some glue leak out the sides of the layers.

FYI, I've gone into plenty of detail on glue before if you're interested.

Warning - plastic or super glue, will probably eat through your foam instead of sticking anything together. So will spray paint.


 Just the Styrofoam is a boring surface and doesn't fill in the gaps between each layer.

I used some Plumbers Putty from Home Depot, scooping and applying using a small trowel.

Sculpting Gel - With White Flakes

Fire effects with gels.
I've shown how I use my gels before and this is another unique type. It's a rubbery plastic like gel that dries hard and clear but it's also full of small white flakes. This creates a pretty unique texture.

When using a display board, you'll want it to match your bases. In this case, I've used the gels to cover the bases....

... then to bring the aesthetic together, I used this across the display board - on edges, cracks, walls and a little bit spread about.

I also used this stuff when making the base for my Wife's Legion of Everblight ice base.


The beauty is that once it's all painted, it blends together. This was relatively easy by thinning my black Gesso down. (paintable primer) Once it's primed with Gesso, it's (roughly) safe to spray with normal primer. The spray paint caused a few rough spots where the Gesso didn't perfectly cover, allowing the spray paint to easy at the Styrofoam.


Sticking with black to white colouring, I bought a few cheap brushes from the dollar store and got some sponges from miniature packaging.

From the black base, I just used progressively lighter paints, not really cleaning my brush/sponge so that paints mix together.

Do make a point of pressing firmer with the near/white layer when you're on the raised areas.

In retrospect, I definitely would try some Michaels brand cheaper paint on a project of this scale. All you need is covered and that would have been MUCH cheaper.

Paint the shades on unevenly. It's ground... nature... it shouldn't be perfectly uniform.

Notice how the gel does a great blend between the base and the large stone for the miniature?

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