An Unofficial Terrain Piece for a Horrible Rule that Only Applies to a Bad Unit

WH39kTrygonTunnels (4) (Medium)Man, I’m really getting into these multi-part blog posts as of late, aren’t I?  First there was the buildings series, and then the Fortress of Redemption and now this.  I should’ve been a farmer with the way I’m milking things.

Anywho, this particular post is a continuation of my first one, where I set out to make a piece of terrain to act as the tunnel/hole to represent my Trygons’ “Subterranean Swarm” rule.  When I last left off, I had assembled them and primed them, so this post will cover painting and giving them a little “depth.”

I’ll start off with the paint because there’s really nothing special here.  I had basecoated them with rusty-metal color so that they’d match the craters I’d worked up previously (though I don’t think they ever got a blog post of their own), and the rocks I did with my typical mix of paints starting from a “Charcoal” mixed with whatever light gray I have laying around.  These two paints are some that I picked up at Walmart many moons ago specifically to do terrain with, and I don’t think Walmart even carries that brand anymore.

The other bits (the “electrical cable”–aka. guitar string) got a silver coat and a light blue airbrush on the end to make it seem like it has a little live electricity still running through it.  The skeletons and gravestones got a pretty basic splash of color (I did toy with the idea of using a marbling effect on the gravestones).

I didn’t spend all that much time painting these because, as I stated to others:

“It’s an unofficial terrain piece for a horrible rule that only applies to a bad unit.”

Not exactly the sort of thing I want to spend a lot of time on.  So, with a little flock and an occasional leaf here and there, I called these “done.”

Oh wait, I forgot the part that I was actually happy about…

PitYou see, one of my fundamental requirements for making this work was that, as a hole that units were going to come out of, it had to have some depth to it.  Having a flat marker on the table would’ve made it indistinguishable from a large crater and lacks any real creativity or vision.  So, I knew that I wanted to paint a hole with little creatures emerging from it.

Well, more to the point, I knew I wanted it to look like that, but I certainly didn’t want to free-hand all of that.  Keep in mind, this is a unofficial terrain piece for a horrible rule that only applies to a bad unit…

Anywho, the idea came to me that I could just take a picture of what I wanted it to be and then paste it into the bottom of my hole, and voila!  I’d have what I wanted.

So, last Summer, I spent some of my idle time digging a hole in one of my wife’s flower beds (don’t tell her–but it’s still there to this day).  I too a few gaunts and rippers out there and did a mini-photoshoot of the hole from various angles and with models in various positions (though I would ultimately only use one of those photos for the final product).

So that was then, and now I had these rust-colored craters and some light brown (almost sienna) colored photos of Tyranids in a hole.  The idea was going to work conceptually, but without repainting the photo, I was going to run into issues.  So, I took to photoshop (which I recently discovered when I was making my stained glass windows) to see if I could fix the problem there.

WH39kTrygonTunnels (5) (Medium)I stumbled upon the “color replacement tool,” which would theoretically allow me to recolor parts of my drawing.  That worked out fairly well.  I won’t go into details on how I did it, as far smarter and savvier photoshopers out there will say it better than I ever could (see this tutorial here).  Essentially what I did was just download a picture of the Krylon primer from their website and replaced some of the sienna colors with the rust colors.  While it was a near perfect match, it didn’t adjust the hues.  So, the light areas in the picture were just far too light.

I tried darkening the photo, but that also darkened the gaunts and rippers, and that just wouldn’t do.  It was then that I discovered the magnetic lasso tool, which is frickin’ amazing.  With that tool, I was able to select the bugs, and then invert the selection which allowed me only to darken the background (though I ultimately needed to darken too much, so I wound up having to darken the whole image after a while–to prevent the bugs from standing out too much).  Still, that helped tremendously.  Between adjusting the contrast and the hue, I was able to get a pretty good solution (not perfect, but pretty good).

The other thing I found in photoshop was that it’s absolutely magical.  There’s a feature that enables when I cut out parts of a document (for instance: the date, or an unwanted gaunt/ripper base), that automatically emulates the surrounding area/background without me having to do anything.  I don’t remember what it was called exactly but it’s essentially the content aware fill.  That thing is absolutely fabulous.  With that tool, I was able to use the same photo three times (Which meant that I only had to go through the rigmarole of trying to get the colors/shading to match once) and just crop out a gaunt here and there to make all three look different.

So, the end result was that I pasted the photos in, and then touched them up a bit with leftover overspray from the rustoleum primer (which was a mistake), and then sealed them up with a matt varnish (to take away the glossiness of the photos).

Below you’ll find some pictures of the finished products.  They don’t seem to be amazingly well received locally, but I’m quite proud of them.  I wonder how many years it’ll be until they actually see the tabletop?

WH39kTrygonTunnels (14) (Medium)  WH39kTrygonTunnels (12) (Medium)  WH39kTrygonTunnels (10) (Medium)  WH39kTrygonTunnels (9) (Medium)  WH39kTrygonTunnels (8) (Medium)  WH39kTrygonTunnels (7) (Medium) WH39kTrygonTunnels (6) (Medium)  WH39kTrygonTunnels (5) (Medium)  WH39kTrygonTunnels (4) (Medium)  WH39kTrygonTunnels (3) (Medium)  WH39kTrygonTunnels (1) (Medium)

11 comments on “An Unofficial Terrain Piece for a Horrible Rule that Only Applies to a Bad Unit

  1. That’s pretty cool. I like the idea of having the images of hte troops coming up. One suggestion I’d have is to add some variety into the flock areas. (maybe a different tone of green, or maybe some browns).

    • I agree. I’m just running low on my static grass supply and am down to the one color. Since it’s something that I don’t plan on playing much, I think I’m ok with them as is. I probably could hit some of the grass with an airbrush to give it a little more variety.

      On Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 6:07 AM, Warhammer 39,9999 wrote:


  2. That looks great. I always thought about making these for my nids but I never deep struck a trygon. except in apoc with the formation that let guys assault when they came in.

    • I so rarely do myself. I used to do it more often, but found that they generally just popped up and died. With the new rules for Trygons nerfing them from last edition, they don’t see the table all that much for me–and when they do, they generally skitter across the table because of my lack of success with deep strike. Still, I had a wild hair, so why not?

  3. Actually using these might make the trygon somewhat playable now. You get some free cover and difficult terrain, I’m sure at some point I will be on the receiving end of these and I think it will be cool.

    • I didn’t figure they’d affect the Trygon much at all, but I s’pose if I positioned him so his back was towards the enemy, he’d get a save for popping out of the hole. 5+ cover isn’t a big deal really, but it might make him viable enough to see the table. Of course, that was never my intent when creating these.

      On Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 6:33 PM, Warhammer 39,9999 wrote:


  4. Love the image with the troops and the swarms coming up the tunnel. Really creepy and makes you wonder what other horrors are next.

    That piece of terrain looks great with the Trygon. And at such a speed the paint job is very nice too.

    • Mahalo. My only real beef with it is that the photo doesn’t quite match the walls of the hole (though I do think the coloring looks closer in real life). Still, I don’t plan to use them extensively and I rarely go back and redo models when I have so many unpainted figures left to finish…

      On Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 11:01 PM, Warhammer 39,9999 wrote:


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