Asteroids – a space scenery building guide

Ok, so one of the first things I wanted to do, after my very first game of X-Wing was build some full 3D asteroids. X-Wing is a great game, one that takes place in a 3D environment and as awesome as the ships look (and they are pretty much the best pre-paints I’ve personally seen) they look a little flat on a board with the asteroid tokens from the core box scattered around.

At this point I need to give full credit to Marcalla on A Few Maneuvers- Asteroid Building Guide since his post provided the inspiration and basis for how I went about doing it.

Now I’m based in the UK and I find it very hard to find guides for projects like this that use UK product names and UK Stores as suggestions for materials to use and where to buy them. I’ve decided to buck that trend and, as much as possible, I’ll detail the local names of materials and provide links to the stores I purchased them from.

Finally I should highlight that I’m not a particularly skilled modeler or painter, I won’t be winning any Golden Demon or Crystal Brush awards, and so the guide is going to be simple enough for anyone to follow and make their own pretty awesome looking set of asteroids for X-Wing or any other space combat miniatures game.

Without further ado, the guide-

Asteroid Tokens

First of all you need to create tokens to sit flat on your board so you know when your ships base is overlapping it and when your movement template puts your flight path through the asteroids area. These need to be the exact same size and shape as the official tokens so as ensure that the game is fair and balanced. For this stage you will need-

  • Your X-Wing Asteroid Tokens
  • Some thin Cardboard (I used the box that my Sky router came in)
  • A pencil
  • A pair of scissors or a very sharp modelling knife
  • Some black paint of spray paint (Pound or discount stores are a great place to get cans of black spray, look for an isle that has car maintenance equipment)

This stage is very easy and only takes half an hour or so start to finish. First of all trace around your existing X-Wing Asteroid Tokens, on the thin Cardboard, using the pencil. Try to be as careful as possible so that the final asteroid base tokens will be as close to the same size and shape of the official tokens as possible. It should be noted that any tokens that you make will not be allowed in official tournaments.

Next, using the scissors or if you are skilled enough the sharp modelling knife, cut out the token, using the traced lines as a guide. Again try to be as careful and exact as possible so as to ensure that the final tokens look as close to the size and shape of the originals as possible.

At this point your tokens should look something like this-

Asteroid Tokens

Next you need to spray the tokens (both sides). I sprayed mine black because my board is black and I don’t want them stealing focus from the asteroids-

Painted Asteroid Tokens

That’s this stage done. You could do more, by adding stars to the tokens or you could go utterly over the top and add decoration like sonar hits.

Asteroids

This is when you actually start work on the Asteroids proper. Before you start you are going to need a few things-

Roofing Foam- I got mine from B&Q for £5.68 and specifically it is Celotex Roof Insulation (L) 1200 (W) 450 (T) 50mm. This piece is enough to make dozens of asteroids so you can share with your friends if you like.
Flying bases- I got mine from Ebay and paid £3.50 for 25 of them so just do a search for Flying bases on that site.
A sharp craft or Stanley Knife
Black Spray paint- See above.
6 wooden kebab skewers or something similar- I got mine from Asda during the summer for BBQ’s and paid around £1 for about 100.
2-3 gray paints, each a slightly lighter shade than the last- see below for more information but I just used Games Workshops Eshin Gray, Dawnstone.
1 white paint, I used Games Workshop’s Ceramite White.
A large drybrush and general painting materials

Step 1

Cut a strip of foam from the sheet, roughly 3 inches wide, and then cut the strip into blocks, roughly 3 inches wide so that you end up with half a dozen or so 3″x3″ blocks of foam. In actuality I ended up with 8 or 9 blocks. You don’t need to be particularly exact so don’t worry if your blocks are perfect or equal in size. Each block should look roughly like this-

Asteroid Build, cut foam block 1ck Asteroid Build, cut foam block 2

Step 2

Peel the card/shiny covering off each side of the blocks you have just cut. This should come off fairly easily but you can use a knife to assist you. Again, don’t worry about being too exact, you are about to start hacking the block up anyway.

Once you have removed the covering start ripping chunks off the block with your fingers like this-

Asteroid Build, plucking foam

Dig into the block and try to use all of your fingers and your thumb as each will form a different size and shape mark on the asteroid. Keep ripping and sculpting in this way until you reach a shape and look you are happy with. I will say that the sound that the foam makes when you pull it apart is utterly horrific and I couldn’t do it without loud music through headphones so if the sound of polystyrene or nails on a chalk board bothers you then be careful as chances are this sound will haunt your dreams! Once you have done this the block should start to look something closer to an asteroid-

Asteroid Build, fully plucked block

Step 3

Take you wooden kebab skewer and push the sharp end into the sculpted asteroid. This hole will be where you are going to later fix the base so make sure that you set the asteroid at an angle you are happy with and that it will not overbalance later. Use different and creative angles and try to envision the finished asteroid tumbling through space.

This skewer will allow you to hold the asteroid at arms length while you spray it and give you the ability to spray the whole asteroid easily. Once the asteroid is sprayed it should look like this-

Asteroid Build, sprayed base coat

You can easily spray all of your sculpted asteroids in one go and just plant the other ends of the skewers in a plant pot or, if you want, another chunk of the roofing foam.

Step 4

Once the sprayed asteroids have dried then it’s simply a case of building up layers of colours to give the appearance of rock, you won’t be painting blocks of colour here, it’s all about drybrushing. In case you don’t know, drybrushing is a the process of using a flat tipped brush with minimal amounts of paint on it to apply paint to the raised areas of an object. Very simply put you should water your paint down a little and, after dipping your brush into it, then brush most of the paint off on a piece of kitchen roll or toilet roll until almost no paint remains on the brush.When brushing do so roughly and concentrate on getting paint on all the raised areas rather than onto the flat surfaces.

You should start with your darkest paint and gradually work your way up to the lightest applying less and less paint either time.  I’d suggest leaving the kebab skewers in place at this stage as it makes the asteroids easier to manipulate while drybrushing. With the paints I used the order was-

Eshin Grey-

Asteroid Build- Eshin Grey

Eshin Grey/Dawnstone 50/50 mix-

Asteroid Build- Eshin Grey:Dawnstone mix

Dawnstone-

Asteroid Build- Dawnstone

Dawnstone/Ceramite White 50/50 mix-

Asteroid Build- Dawnstone:Ceramite White mix

Ceramite White-

Asteroid Build- Ceramite White

It doesn’t take long to apply a single coat to one asteroid, perhaps a couple of minutes because you don’t need to be particularly careful, beyond making sure that there isn’t too much paint on your brush, and by the time you have finished a coat on the last asteroid the first should be dry enough to start the next. It took me maybe an hour and a half to fully paint 6 asteroids. As you can see each separate layer doesn’t look like it adds much, especially in the first stages but it’s the process of adding all the layers that adds up the the overall effect.

Step 5

After you have finished drybrushing the layers and you have obtained an effect you are happy with it’s time to mount the asteroids on the flying stands. First remove the kebab skewers carefully, as you don’t want to stretch the holes or cause damage to your pretty new asteroid, then, if you haven’t already, assemble the flying stands. It’s up to you how permanent you want the completed asteroid to be but since I have the storage space I decided to  glue the flying stands into the asteroids by just applying a small blob of superglue to the tip of the stand before carefully pushing it into the hole left by the kebab skewer.

After inserting the flying stand you are done and hopefully your completed asteroids, with tokens should look something like this-

Asteroid Build- Completed Asteroids Asteroid Build- Asteroids with X-Wing

That’s it, it’s a nice, simple and quick process that yields pretty awesome results. If you have any questions or comments then just let me know.

Leave a Reply