Cruel Seas, Resources

Spotlight: Building Islands for Cruel Seas

no comments

As many of the scenarios in Cruel Seas feature coastal skulduggery, we’ve sat down with studio head Paul Sawyer to talk about how he built his islands!

Materials & Tools


Step 1: Research

Before you get started, spend a bit of time researching islands from your chosen theatre of war. The sandy atols of the Soloman Islands are going to look very different from the rocky outcrops of the North Sea or the windswept coastlines of the Black Sea.

Once you’ve got a few reference images and have assembled all your materials, it’s time to get started. Paul’s gone for a Mediterranean theme for his islands, and the types of flock and undergrowth used reflect that.

Step 2: Basic Shape

First, cut the MDF sheet to mark out the basic footprint of your island. Use a craft knife to shave down the raised edges to give a more natural look.

Step 3: Adding Height

Cut layers of Styrofoam to size using a sharp knife or hot wire cutter. These should be smaller than the MDF base. Stick the foam to the base using No More Nails.

Once you’ve got the first layer of foam stuck down, you can add extra height by cutting smaller pieces and stacking. Use your knife or hot wire cutter to smooth down the edges and create slopes.

Step 4: Texture & Paint

The rocky texture is added to the foam by using a steel ruler to repeatedly scuff the outside face, tidying up any foam using a stiff brush or hand.

Once the foam has been textured, cover the whole island with a mix of PVA Glue and fine sand, leaving it to dry overnight.

Step 5: Adding Detail

Paint the whole island with a medium brown, using lighter colours to bring out the texture through drybrushing. Rockier areas should be undercoated with grey.

Grassy areas can be flocked, while areas of woodland are created by using cocktail sticks for tree trunks, then gluing the woodland undergrowth to the top.

A selection of islands created using this method.

A selection of islands created using this method.

Tom Mecredy
Tom spends most of his time buying books and painting miniatures. He enjoys putting animals on the bases of his miniatures and half-finishing side projects. Some say that he lives in a tower on top of some windswept northern hill with his wife and cow-patterned cat, Spaghetti.