[This article is part of the Painting for Tournaments article series.]
I am about ready to wrap this article series up. Our final, article focuses on display boards and why they are a huge part of your army's presentation.
In my second article, Basic Basing Principles, I wrote about creating consistency across the army through the use of a repeatable basing scheme. You want your army to look like it is all fighting on the same battlefield. Well, your display is the completion of that thought. It is the battlefield. It is the atmosphere. It is the story behind your army. It shows the overall theme and background of your army in a single glance. When you can put that together with well painted models, you will have a great army that scores very high in soft scores. Many players actually go to tournaments betting more on their ability to get good soft scores and take home the best army or best painted awards rather than actually playing a strong set of games to win. There isn't anything wrong with that. Take Jawaballs' 2011 tournament army that he took to Nova. He stated his main goal would be to go for renaissance man or best painted, both of which rely heavily on soft scores to accomplish.
So, to get a few preliminaries out of the way, a display board is a two-fold device. It is the story-telling display for your army. It gives them a solid theme and ultimately is the presentation method for your army. It also doubles as a handy transportation platform during tournaments. It is quite convenient to be able to place your models on said board, pick it up, and walk between games, though I admit some players do a bit more of purpose A than B and sometimes boards can be hard to handle due to size or construction.
Here is a display board that I did for my Fantasy Dark Elf army a few years back. You may have seen it in a post before.
It is certainly not the best board I have ever seen, but it fits the majority of basic requirements that I think a board should have with an odd exception or two. Let's go over those requirements then.
1)If you are going to build it, build it. Simply put, if you are going to invest the time and energy into a display board, do it well. Don't make a crappy, half done board that doesn't add to your army. You are better off just putting your stuff on a cafeteria tray. Take time to create a unique backdrop for your army.
I use some basic terrain creating techniques and supplies to create a board. Pink insulation foamboard is a great item to use, but also get creative. The tower in the picture above is two Pringles cans (American potato chips). I was the proud owner of the tallest display board, the year I took this display to tournaments! The bottom line is to take your time and do it right.
2) Make it sturdy. There is nothing worse that taking models that you have spent hours upon hours working on and placing them in precarious positions. Ugh.... A display board also needs to be sturdy. You shouldn't have to worry about whether you models are going to fall over every time the thing is moved, etc. Make it sturdy.
My favorite method is to build a board over an already sturdy frame. My display board above is created by using a corkboard bulletin board and cutting a sheet of foamcore board to fit inside its frame. This created a very solid board and should I need to, I can pull the foamcore layer off, maintaining the display I have and simply put down a new sheet to create a new one. Voila! Inexpensive reusable display board!
If a board you make feels rickety or shoddy, reinforce it. I once made a board for a friend/client and it had to be a bit bigger to fit a double land raider GK army on it. I ended up having to undergird the entire board with wood slats so that it wouldn't torque and bend.
3) Space! One thing I fell down on the job with the board above is that it doesn't have quite enough space. It is interesting, it keeps my theme, but it is a hair too small. The army feels a bit cramped on it. You want your models to have enough room to be recognizable as separate units and you want any lookers-on to be able to allow their eyes to travel over the entire board and your army easily. You want space. Especially, when in 40k, units don't have set limits to their grouping like in fantasy (rank and file/movement tray system). You want to be able to create visual separation on the board and to do that, you need space.
4) Location, location, location. Believe it or not, you also want to be careful where you place your models on the board. HQs and unique models need to be placed where they are easily recognized and attention is drawn to them. In my board above, my characters went on top of the small mountain/hill. To a paint judge or bystander, they are easy to find and are in a prominent place in relationship to the rest of the army. That is important. I have actually been a participant in a tournament where a person asked what they could do to improve their presentation score and the judge told them to place their HQs/characters more prominently and to provide better separation of units.
5) Bring some character. Add small details. Do things that will make others marvel at the level of care put into the display board. It doesn't take tons of work to do this. It does, however, take being thoughtful. Simple additions can pay off big time.
Again, I am mentioning Jawaballs. If you read his blog, you know that his mission this year is to have a great looking army with a great looking display. If he can win games, great. If not, he has a sweet army to show off. Here is a picture of his army.
Blood Angels by Jawaballs.
That about wraps it up. I will post a quick summary in a day or two. Hopefully Gone to Ground Jr.'s ear infection/cold/general unhappy state of being will be gone soon and I can put out some more articles quickly.
Other useful articles:
Why You Should Spend More Money on a Better Brush
Product Review: Simple Green
Why being a nice guy could be the best thing you do for the hobby
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