Lords of Hellas – 3D game board tutorial

Lords of Hellas is a board game we have been following closely since the Kickstarter campaign was live. Now it has finally arrived and we are super excited about it! With loads of miniature armies, monsters, and statues, the game naturally has a lot of 3D presence already, but we thought we could enhance these elements even more by creating a 3D version of the grounds they were standing on. You might be wondering what the original from the box looks like:

And our version of it:

As this is our very first 3D modeling challenge we love the end result and hope it will get you guys excited for making one of your own. That’s why we set up a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to recreate this and what products we have been using for it.

First things first, you need a base to build upon. For this, we used an 84×56 cm MDF board. If you are feeling up to it make it 10cm larger to increase the size of the regions and give yourself some more space for units and to work with decoration. We would probably do this if we’d be recreating this project.

We bought some cheap styrofoam because we are covering a large area and want to keep the costs as low as possible, also it’s a very light material and we need this as we will be putting on some more weight later. Then we drew the lands on the foam. We printed the map in real size on A4 paper and used the carbon transfer papers to transfer the shape of the land in the foam.

After that, we can start cutting using a Stanley knife. Try to make some nice curves carving from the top to bottom. If you want to make slopes, cut towards the ocean, but never make the playing area on top smaller. Trust me you need all the space you get! Then just cut out some hills for the second layer, we used 3 layers of foam to build up what we call Mount Olympus. This will be the spot to place your hero when you go on a quest. After all the cutting up, we glued it all down with PVA glue.

When this was dry we used a Creme Brulee burner and moved along all the edges of the foam mountains. Be careful not to burn yourself and go slow, the foam will melt very fast! This technique will build your hills and cliff sides really easy for you and will give a nice organic shape to it.

Then we covered it all with PVA glue, just brush it on to give it a layer of strength. When it was dry (next day) we used wood filler and plastered all over it. There are many different products that you can use for this step, but we used wood filler because we had a lot of it laying around in the working place. Now start sculpting some textures and just be rough.

After this was dry we put another layer of PVA glue on top along with some small gravel and rocks on the sides of the mountains. Also, we wanted this board to be indestructible! 😀

Then after that dried up, we sprayed it all with Color Primer: Matt Black Undercoat and highlighted it with Uniform Grey Color Primer.


Now let’s give some more definition to our board! Cover the top with ground texture, we used the Vallejo Earth Texture, but you can really use whatever you like for this.

Then we head over to the mountains and cliff sides! We started off dry brushing with blue/grey acrylic paints fairly heavy. Don’t be afraid, all will look ugly the next 30 minutes.

Then without cleaning the brush, we went to a dark red, and we made some lines. It’s like the layer parts of a mountain, just play with it a little. (DO CLEAN YOUR BRUSH AFTER USING RED!)

Now a very dark grey on top to tone down the red and blend it all in with the light grey.

After this, we made a mixture of water with black and brown paint (I don’t have the exact proportions just drop in a good chunk of paint and mix it well). Slap this on all the mountain ridges and cliff sides, it’s not going to be pretty for now.

When that’s dry we did a quick dry brush with a very light grey, just look at the hand for the colour reference, it is all just a mix from now.

At this stage we started to work on the ocean, I wanted to do something else than the cliffs. So really easy step, use a dark blue and paint heavy all the water, then use with and wet blend it in on the edge of the cliffs to give it a shallow look, and after that still when the blue paint is wet use black and wet blend it in in the parts where we have the deep oceans.

Then we used The Army Painters Crusted Sore to dry brush the mountains lightly, creating some lines in the ridges and mountain just like in the picture. It’s all really light and built up in many layers, but have trust in that the eye will notice more layers, even if you feel that you’ve done some coloring without any big impact.

Now here’s a VERY IMPORTANT STEP: The Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone. We can’t say enough great things about this stuff when it comes to building scenery. Cover all the cliffs and mountain with this amazing product and let it dry out for great shading results, this stuff really gets ROCK HARD!

Then we sprayed it with The Army Painter Color Primer: Anti-shine Matt Varnish. This is really important because we don’t want our terrain to be glossy.

Looking back at the next step we should have probably saved this part for last as later steps can hurt the outcome of the water, but we just couldn’t wait to get into water effects! We started to fill up the ocean area with a crystal clear sealant, which was perfect for the job. It’s lightweight, very tough and keeps its form in an instant. We divided the ocean area into 4 parts and started covering it with the sealant. You can use a spoon to smooth it out and give some textures and shape to your waves, you’ll be amazed by how easy but rewarding this part can be. A good friend came up with the idea of using little wooden cubes to illustrate the shipping routes, which we pressed into the sealant before it hardened up.

We liked to idea of having designated spots for the pieces of the terrain expansion set, resulting in an easier set up as it is very clear where cities and temples will be placed. So we took some old poker chips and placed them on a location we found fitting and started covering them with earth texture. You could spend some more time putting down a second layer which will result in a smoother hill. We were really amazed by how cool it looks to have the cities and temples stand out from the board.

Now it’s time to do some flocking, and we used a lot of different flocks! The Army Painter Battlefields Basing Set comes with everything you need and is a perfect starter kit to decorate this model with.

What you do is mix 50/50 water with PVA glue, then cover one area with pure PVA glue and stroke it out with a brush and watered down PVA glue. After that, you can start flocking in the way you like. We suggest you always use multiple flocks or a mixture of it for a more dynamic overview, maybe use darker flock where shadows might be and lighter flock where it might be highlighted.

For the middle section, we wanted to create some kind of deserty look, we used Citadels Martian Ironearth for this. This stuff you apply wet and once dried it will result in a nice cracked surface, which we then dry brushed with a little brown and sand colored paint.

When we started to paint the colored borders for the regions we were in a little shock as it wasn’t giving satisfaction we thought it would give. It looked rather pasted on and we felt a disconnect with the rest of the piece. That’s why we decided to make engravings on the board where the borders would be, this way we could again give the board some more definition and we could eventually use a wash to tone the colors down. After we’d done this we did feel the need to flock our board again to fix some of the engravings edges. While doing this it’s important to take some watered down PVA glue (about 70% PVA, 30% water) and brush it very neatly around the edges of the engravings, if the some of the glue runs into the engraving no problem, having some flock and/or tufts on the border randomly helps blend those lines into the piece.

After this step we cut up some wood into blocks of 18x18x10 mm and glued them on the spots where the temples would be located, we choose spots to the sides of the regions to have as much possible ground for placing our troops. We then covered them with ground texture, rocks, flock and eventually some tufts. To finish them up we painted the top of the hills with The Army Painter Greedy Gold just to make them pop out much more.

A good friend designed some 3D models for the region tokens. These will be used to indicate how many hoplites are needed to take the region. We primed the tokens in the colors matching the regions and then painted the roman numbers with some black to make it stand out more. You might be wondering, where are the names of the regions? That’s something we considered as well, but eventually decided on leaving them out and thus keeping it natural and saving space on the board.

We are finally down to the last bits. That mountain in the back feels oddly empty right? That’s because it was waiting on another model to be 3D printed! This awesome model was also painted starting off with 3 layers of Color Primer Skeleton Bone to cover up any print lines on the model.

Then we used Typhus Corrosion on the walls, bricks, steps, and pillars to again try to cover up the print marks and give a nice aged effect.

After this, we again apply a layer of Skeleton bone (Don’t worry you’ll still see the Corrosion effects). Then we applied a nice layer of Quickshade Strong Tone to add some shadow all over the model.

To accentuate the pillars we dry brushed them with some Skeleton Bone. Then we dry brushed some more with Barbarian Flesh, make sure you brush from bottom to top so the heaviest effect is in the bottom. To create a nice gradient we used Brainmatter Beige, this time brushing from top to bottom. For the walls and bricks, we used Stone Golem and Barbarian Flesh very lightly, again dry brushing it because it’s an easy and effective way to create highlights. The torches were painted with Matt Black and after that, we covered the surface of the model with Vallejos Dark Mud and covered it with some mixed basing. We couldn’t resist in adding some more snow before we finally called it. The last step would be to apply Anti-shine Matt Varnish to make sure there’s no gloss and all the paints would be locked onto the model.

Our friend designed region name tokens, compact region tokens and mission steps for you to download and print. You can find the region name tokens and compact tokens here . And the mission steps here. Don’t forget to like/comment on his stuff, I’m sure he would appreciate it!

So here’s a little word after this all. We like to paint miniatures but have never attempted to make anything like this or even remotely close to making a diorama. This was our first time working with styrofoam or even sculpting landscapes. But the good thing about making something like this is that there is no right or wrong, you can make up steps as you go. Somethings you might want to do differently or even leave out and that’s fine because you are the judge! We hope you realize that although it looks complicated, we as newbies managed to do just fine. As with all first times, it did take quite some time to make. But hopefully, that doesn’t stop you from making one for you and your gaming group, this game deserves it!

If you have questions or need any advice making this yourself, leave us a message. Also, we are very curious to see what you guys think, would you be interested if we would make another 3D gameboard for another board game? If yes, what game? In case you are as excited as we are about this project, show us some love by sharing this page. Here’s the end result:

Paints we used:

Links to 3D files: