Tuesday, 12 February 2013

In The Zone with Zone Mortalis

I had coveted the Zone Mortalis tiles ever since they first turned up a few years back on the Forgeworld site, I would sit and stare at them weighing up the time and cost of me scratch building a close approximation against just shelling out the cash and buying them outright.
 I would need at least a 4x4' table to make it worth my while so that would mean sixteen tiles in total putting me £350 (approx $447.50) out of pocket, on the plus side shipping was free.  I must have spent the best part of a year letting the idea bubble quietly in the back of my mind.  Then one day I was listening to The Independent Characters podcast and they were talking about having played in a huge game called The Mestre Incursion on a scratch built Mortalis style board and all the work that went into making it.  
 Zone Mortalis was now firmly on my mind and after I saw the pictures and video footage of the battle across this scratch built board I was convinced that Zone Mortalis was for me, £350 later I had done it, now all I needed to do was wait (insert evil overlord laugh).

So within a week the tiles turned up at my work packaged across two huge boxes, upon closer inspection each tile was in its own box so that solved the problem of keeping them safe while in storage or in transit.
Now began the process of deciding what colours and methods I would use to make them look good while at the same time no taking 100 years to finish them.  I set my self the goal of getting them all done in time for Xmas 2012 giving me 4 months which would break down to approximately one completed tile per week.
Stage 1 – The Clean Up 
The Mortalis tile come in a black resin which is much better than grey or white but they still needed a really good washing in warm soapy water to remove all the release agent.  This was a really horrible job and took me about a week but if you don’t wash them the release agent will repel any paint you try to apply.

Stage 2 - Undercoat 
I then undercoated all the tiles in a dusting of Citadels Chaos Black spray this gave a good matt finish and would give any subsequent paints something to bind to.
Stage 3 - Base Colours 
I decided to use Humbrol spray paints to put a base colour down on the wall and floor sections, for the floors I used Silver 11 then once that was dry I masked the floor and sprayed the walls in Grey 27 then again but from an above 45 degree angle with Grey 64, this added a highlight.  I then worked in some Citadel Ironbreaker to tidy up the metal surrounding the floor panels.

I then applied the following Citadel base colours

Steel Legion Drab – floor panels
Zandra Dust – wall panels
Leadbelcher – Cables and lamps and other metal details
Balthasar Gold – ceiling pipes and Aqiuila details

Stage 4 - Shade 
I then mixed a shade (wash) that would work well with all the base colours I had used, I decided that Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade would make up the bulk of the mixture and then I added some Druchii Violet for a bit of colour.  I then needed to add a little water to thin it down, it ended up one part water and two parts shade I then applied it liberally over the entire of each tile using a large soft bristle brush.

Stage 5 - Weathering 
Once all the shade had dried it was time to add some weathering to the grey metalwork areas so I mixed up a 50/50 of Rhinox hide and Abaddon Black and concentrating on the edges where possible I lightly sponged it onto the grey wall areas.

When it was all dry I felt the need to protect the floor sections from endless dice being rolled on it and models dragged across it so I added a layer of PVA glue.  The glue dried clear and gave the floor a strong durable plastic covering that would proof it against anything gaming could throw at it, I then added a blast of Citadel Purity Seal varnish to add a further layer of protection to the rest of the tile and take away the gloss finish of the PVA.

Overall I must have spent about £100 on painting these tiles and almost exactly four months to the day and now that I have had a few games on them I am convinced that it was all worth it.  A word of warning for those less industrious than myself, if you are someone who never finishes a project you might be better off spending your money elsewhere as it's not until they are finished that you really get the full effect.

while I was painting I started to plan a narrative team game that would include these tiles in the form of a planetary defence platform which will take place on Feb 23rd,  I will be reporting on this after the fact.
With my Narrative game taking shape it was clear I needed/wanted a 6x4’ set of Forgeworld Cityscape tiles but that’s a story for another day.


  1. For the record - I have come at look a this several times as I prepare to paint mine :)

  2. Wicked! I have been following your Mortalis progress on Facebook

    Glad to help I am a big fan of the show and and would love a shout out :)

    I will get some more Mortalis pix up soon.

  3. Nice job. I wish I had the money to throw down on a ZM board. :(

    My favorite picture is the WIP shot with the blue starry field in the background. Pretty!

  4. Excellent job! You have created a legendary gaming board :D

  5. I'm having trouble with the primer scraping off very easily. Have you had this issue?

    1. Once all the release agent had been washed off with warm soapy water I had no problems.