This tutorial will give you a step by step on how to make a custom dugout for Blood Bowl. This is one of several I have made in the past but as this is the first tutorial I have written I shall dub this particular version the ‘Mk.1’. And whilst this guide is specific to the dugout you see pictured please bear in mind that you can easily tweak my methods and sub in your own materials along the way. I’ll dictate the general specifics I followed (and a few optional steps) to make this but don’t take it for gospel, have fun and add a personal touch to yours.
The only language I know is English but at times even then that can be a stretch. If I’ve failed to explain something clearly please feel free to question, comment or berate me and I’ll do my best to explain it more clearly.
And if you do complete this tutorial please hit me up with your finished article. Ping me an email via my contact tab or tag me on Instagram or Twitter @haychdee. I’d love to see your finished projects and know that the tutorial makes sense.
What you’ll need:
- Picture frame (your choice for size)
- Foam core (generally 3mm or 5mm in thickness)
- Plain plasticard (various thicknesses)
- 7 x 25mm plastic bases
- Basing sand
- PVA/wood glue
- 29 x 2×1 magnets
- Grass tufts (optional)
- Green stuff or putty
- Small dice (I chose 10mm)
- Large ball (or some other form of a turn marker)
- NAF dice (or your own preference)
- Hobby knife + fresh blades
- Pin vice (with 2mm drill bit)
So let’s begin…
Take your picture frame and remove everything from the middle, we literally just want the frame. I also suggest removing the little clasps on the back that hold everything in. These tend to just get in the way later on. I find that pliers and a bit of brute force remove these easily enough.
Next up we need to cut a layer of foam core to slot into the picture frame. Measure the inside space from the back of the frame and not the front as we need it to sit on the lip. Cut it out as neatly as possible but don’t worry if it doesn’t fit super snug, that lip gives us a little bit of leeway. Then, holding the foam core firmly in place draw yourself an outline of the space from the front. You should be left with a piece of foam core (as pictured) that slots neatly into the back with your visible area sketched out. It’s important throughout this project to keep that outer border clear. That will eventually sit inside the frame and it needs to sit flush.
Now it’s time to start playing about with the layout. Use your miniatures (or spare bases) to start planning your dugout areas and lightly sketching out the general sections. Figure out the rough dimensions you might want everything to be. Sometimes I find it helpful to sketch up some ideas on paper beforehand. You might want a bigger reserves section over an injured section. Or maybe you want to add a separate section for sent off players. I went for three even sections but it’s totally your call.
Time to get a little more specific. Section off your reserve, knocked out and injured sections first as these tend to be the most important. Mine are designed to fit four 32mm bases comfortably and up to six if they’re bunched up. Hopefully I’ll never need more than that but I am forever at the mercy of Nuffle. I then marked out my strip and slots for my coaching staff and inducements (which you might personally forgo in lieu of a bigger reserve sections). Then lastly, I started playing about with how I wanted all of my stat tracking elements to be laid out. You may notice that I’ve used washers at this stage instead of the squares that you’ve seen in the finished photos. These were just quick placeholders ahead of cutting anything out.
Now we’re getting technical. It’s time to properly sketch out your plans. We can make some creative adjustments later on, but you need to be precise around any areas that require cutting, like the inducement slots, TC and casualty trackers. Try and keep your plans as clear as possible to avoid any mishaps down the line. I carefully measured up each compartment, slot and spaced everything out evenly. Also, at this stage I’ve roughly sketched out my dugout symbols and dirt patches. This isn’t too necessary, but it helps with the bigger picture of things. Also take note that this particular dugout uses magnetised re-roll counters. You’ll need to pencil out six markers for those re-rolls.
Grab that hobby knife, whack on a fresh blade and get cutting that foam core. A fresh blade at this point makes life (and making an offering to Khorne) a lot easier. Carefully cut out the circular slots trying to keep the blade as upright as possible to avoid sloping sides. This is important as we need to keep hold of the off-cuts for a later stage. You may notice that I haven’t fully taken my own advice here and some of my cuts are a tad rough. It’s not the end of the world, as long as that top surface fits snug it should work fine. If you do happen to butcher an off-cut beyond use then you can also cut more out of another piece of foam core using a base as a guide.
So now we are going to use those circular off-cuts to create a depressed level for the bases to sit in. You want to set these at a height equal to the height of the bases you’ll be using. The easiest way to do this is by using the actual bases. Place the off-cuts in the slots with the bases on top then flip the whole thing over onto a flat surface. Did that make sense? Hopefully the pictures makes it clear what I’m waffling on about.
Now that it’s all flipped over the bases will be flat and level with the surface of the foam core on the front of the dugout body. To keep those off-cuts locked in place I run PVA around the edges and then use some green stuff to really secure them down. Let these dry sufficiently to ensure they don’t budge later on. You can now get those bases out of the way until some of the later steps.
Now for the easier of the cutting stages, the dice slots. Slice out your four slots for the TD and casualty tracking dice. Nice and simple square cuts this time and no need to keep hold of the off-cuts. And if you’re smarter than me you may want to do this stage ahead of Step 8 before we made the back of the foam core uneven. Kudos if you’ve read ahead and done this.
Super simple, affix a small piece of foam core big enough to cover over the dice slots. Glue on with PVA and leave to dry.
Once dry, flip the foam core back over, water down some PVA and apply to all of the slots you’ve just made. This will help bind the pieces together and seal up the exposed foam. If you butchered the foam during the cutting process you may want to gap fill with some green stuff at this point before sealing it with PVA.
Time to put the foam core to the side for now and start slicing up some paving stones. I used plain white plasticard in several different thicknesses. If you only have one thickness it’s not the end of the world but the variety helps create a nice end effect. Just simply slice up the plasticard into strips of varying sizes. The less uniform the better at this point as it helps create a better overall variety. Keep the edges straight but make sure to mix the widths up.
Once you have your strips sorted it’s time to slice them up into individual stones. As you cut them up I find that it’s a good to keep them sorted into their respective piles. It makes it easier to find particular sizes later on when you’re affixing them. And if you think this is tedious way until the next step.
Que the really tedious part. Right now the stones are all perfect edged and not looking all too much like paving stones. So now you need to take your hobby knife and start carving in some imperfections. The first step should be to round off the corners. This to me is the single most important detail so make them stand out from random squares of plasticard. Next up you want to file down the topside edges trying not to keep it too uniform. Once you’ve done these first two steps you should have some nice rounded, worn looking stones. The overall goal at this point is to try and have a stack of individual looking paving stones. For the final touch I add in some chips/scratches. Just simply hack out little chunks along the edges trying not to go too overboard and avoiding regular patterns.
After that painstaking hour or two is over and done with you can now start laying some foundations. Mix up some watered down PVA and then start affixing those paving stones. Go nuts, plonk these down however you want. The only thing to bear in mind is how you want this to look in the painting stages. As you may notice in my finished product I painted on a symbol in each dugout section (that I also sketched out earlier). When I placed my central paving slabs I tried to use some of the larger pieces and limited the number of cracks I’d be painting over to ensure the symbol would remain clear when finished.
You may have also noticed in my finished pics that in my injured section I have a little pothole with raised slabs around it. If you fancy adding in a detail like this just carve out a little chunk from the foam core. Then, use the thickest plasticard you have to model the raised tiles around the edges. It’s as easy as that and I think it adds that nice extra touch of detail.
Once you’ve filled all your paved areas the next thing we need to do is to bust out some sand to divide the dugout sections, fill some gaps and add some detail. You’ll need to create some nice thick lines between the three main sections in order to create a clear divide. This might take two or three good layers until you have raised it to a good level. You also want to be filling in some of the bigger gaps between the stones as well as some sprinklings wherever else you see fit. Do this for the whole dugout and let it fully dry.
Once dry, brush off the excess sand, stand back and assess. I find that a second run of sanding helps add a nice level of detail. Those dividers we made tend to look a tad linear so adding some extra sand around the base ‘bleeding’ into the surrounding cracks helps it look a little more natural. Then we’re looking to fill in any big gaps we missed the first time and adding in any extra sprinklings where you see fit. It’s your call but try not to go too overboard with it all. I tend to focus on a bigger sand build up around the corners leaving the center a little clearer. We can make the stones stand out from each other during the painting phase.
So, let’s move away from the main paving stones for a minute and focus on the TD and casualty trackers. What we need here are smaller stones, made the same way as above but designed for the text as you see in my finished product. Me, Them, TD, CAS and Re-Roll are what I used but it’s your dugout, so you use whatever works for you. Decide on this beforehand and then slice up the appropriate sized stones. It might be worth practicing your lettering beforehand so you know just what size to go for. You may even choose to use a pen or even those cool little white letters you can get. Note to self, wish I’d thought about picking up some of those letters before I did this. Ignore the wet PVA you can see here. It’s just me racing ahead doing several steps at once.
Time for more paving stones I’m afraid but these are the last ones you have to do I promise. This time the stones/tiles are what we’ll be using for the turn tracker. So, you want these slabs to be nice and big, uniform in size but in a variety of thicknesses and individually worn down like those we’ve already done. You can see that I decided to model up a few with smashed corners for an extra bit of detail. Just bear in mind that we’ll be affixing the magnets in specific corners so make sure you’ve factored that in if you decide to do this to your stones.
It’s magnet time. First things first you should be carefully planning out the placement magnets. Using your pencil mark out where you plan to drill the holes for the magnets. Try to place these in the same place for each turn stone. Then take your pin vice (with 2mm drill bit) and carefully start drilling out the holes. Try and drill down just far enough for the magnet to sit in. At a minimum you want the magnet top surface to sit flush with the tile surface, but if you can, try and get it a slither above. This will help prevent the magnet getting covered during the painting process. I know this as again I didn’t heed my own advice and had to chip the paint away to uncover a few of the magnets. Then, THE MOST (really, really most) important step of all is ensuring that you keep all of the magnets facing the same way. If you put some in the other way around it means your turn marker and re-rolls will be repelled from certain squares. For me personally I glue a magnet to the end of a rod and I use that as my universal master. It also makes it easier to place the magnets rather than using your fingers. Ensuring that the magnets are all facing the same way, super glue them into the holes you’ve just drilled and give them a few minutes to dry. If you you’ve drilled too deep maybe add a dot of green stuff in first to pack it out. This stage is quite fiddly so I’d expect to glue a couple to your fingers in the process. And if you find that the surface of the magnet gets covered in glue or uneven in some way you can easily scrape that off with your knife once they’re set in place.
Well after that rather wordy step we need to do the same again but this time for the re-roll counters. As before, ensure that the magnets are all facing the same way and super glue them down onto the marks that should have drawn in during the planning phase.
Time to get sanding again. First off, I personally find it easier to sand in between the tile cracks and then do all of the rims around the slots/sunken areas. I actually use super glue for the rims to avoid the sand chipping away over time. And just like the dividers between the dugout sections you may want to go over the top of the rims with a second layer.
Next off it’s time to fill in everything else with sand, nice and simple. Do as you do when basing a miniature, water down some PVA and sprinkle on the sand. One thing to bear in mind are the magnets in the re-roll section. You don’t want these getting lost in the process, so I applied a lighter dusting of sand around these to make sure they remained prominent. Also, remember to keep that outer border clear. Sand close to it but not over it, we’ll sort that gap later on. They’re not pictured here but you’ll probably want to sand your bases at this point as well.
Skulls. What GW accessory is complete without their trademark detail. I used a couple of spare resin ones I had kicking about but whilst your sand is drying it’s the perfect time to adorn your dugout with finishing touches. Whether it be skulls, vines or bits of various equipment these extra details add to the overall look at the end.
We’re on the home stretch now and almost ready to pop all our hard work into the frame. At this point you want to take a step back, look over your work and make any of those last-minute tweaks. Add an extra skull, fill in another gap or batter up some stones. At this point the outer border should still be clear. If any sand has crept into there just brush it off or remove it somehow.
It’s prime time. If you’ve decided your happy with the construction, it’s time to get the body of the dugout primed up. I use grey out of habit but go for whatever colour suits you. You may even find that once it’s primed you spot one or two tweaks you missed in the previous stages. If it needs tweaking do it now. Again, not pictured, don’t forget to prime your bases.
Time to get the dugout body affixed into the frame. Hopefully the border we’ve left around the edges means that it all slots perfectly onto the frame lip. If the fit is good then dab a few drops of super glue into onto the lip corners and slot the body into place. The superglue is just a quick placeholder to hold the body steady. Next, we want to run some PVA around the edges on the back and if you feel like it maybe add some green stuff in the corners to hold it on place like we did with the slot recesses. You should probably let this dry but if you’re impatient like me you’ll just flip the whole thing over and finish it off by sanding around the edges on the front side. This completes the dugout and helps further bind the body to the frame.
Whilst the dugout out is drying the last thing we need to do before painting (or after really it doesn’t matter) is to get your markers and re-rolls ready. This is nice and easy though and takes minimal time. Your TD and casualty markers are nice and simple. I chose to use official NAF dice for mine but that’s your call. Next up we need to take our (smaller) re-roll dice. I picked up some 10mm dice to save space and better suit the little 2mm magnets. Following the golden rule of making sure they are facing the correct way just simply super glue the magnets onto the dice. To further secure them in place I tend to add a little superglue around the magnet and sprinkle on some extra fine sand. I find this keeps the magnet bonded to the dice and stops it coming loose down the line. Then last but not least we need a turn tracker. I chose a ball from the Elven Union kit but really you can use anything you fancy. Drill a magnet shaped hole into the marker and insert a magnet as per the others. Then you just need to paint up those markers and the dice if you feel like it. I kept my re-roll markers black bar one which I painted gold for that juicy Leader re-roll.
Paint the whole thing. Nice and easy, jobs a good’n. Obviously, I’ve breezed over a few painting steps here and that’s for two reasons. Firstly, we all paint at different levels and to different styles. Secondly, I actually tried do a time lapse of me painting it but I messed up my colour choices (twice), flocked it, un-flocked it, packed a sad and left it on my paint bench for weeks and weeks. This was definitely a (bittersweet) back and forth process for me until I got it to the point you see in the finished pictures. Whilst I can’t reel off a comprehensive painting guide for you I will say that I use a mixture of paints from Citadel, Vallejo and Scale 75. I used a variety of techniques including wet blending, layering and glazing across the whole project. I then finished everything off with pigments from AK and Scale 75 to get those grubby gradients you can see on the stones and turn tracker as well as tints in the dirt. Then once the painting was complete I finished the whole thing off with two colours of grass tufts and a generous covering of Testors Dullcote. Whilst varnish is optional if you’ve used pigments this will lock everything in place without the need for pigment fixer. If you have any questions about specific aspects of the painting process, please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email and I’m happy to talk you through it.
The numbers and the dugout symbols were all done by freehand. I tried to keep everything nice and simple blocky shapes. But you may notice that I have outlined each of them with a slightly darker grey. This was a back and forth process to get these nice and neat. If you don’t feel confident painting these on you could carefully cut them out of plasticard or perhaps look for an alternative like transfers.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. Any questions, comments or criticism please please feel free to drop me a comment or an email. Happy hobbying!