Armies on Parade – Building a Better Board

Armies on Parade is the perfect time to flex your terrain-making and composition skills with a great-looking display board! Building a themed board helps tell your army’s story and provides contrast to help the models pop. Today, we’ll talk a bit about creating an entry that will catch someone’s eye. 

Plan It Out

Put some thought into your display before you break out the glue and paints. If you’re feeling like you’re not sure where to start, ask yourself some questions to help direct your thoughts.

– Where does your army come from? 

– Who is your army fighting? 

– Where is the battle taking place?

– Does your army have a distinct culture or theme? 

– Which colours complement or contrast with your models? 

– Which scenery or terrain kits do you want to incorporate? 

Narrowing down some of these details can help you come up with something that fits the bill. For instance, if you have an army of Gloomspite Gitz, would you rather show the damp and foreboding caves from whence they came or the fungi-infested forest they’re invading? What will look the best against their dark robes and red squig flesh? Do you have some Awakened Wyldwood trees already or do you like the idea of sculpting rock formations? There’s no correct answer, other than what sounds fun and looks remarkable! 

Compose the Display 

There’s no right and wrong way to fill your board. In fact, it can be as dense or as sparse as you like. Will you choose one flat layer or make it vertical with tall structures breaking up the space? 

Once you have a basic plan in place, you have to think about how you want to arrange your models in the space to best show them off. 

Arranging a display board is rather like building a big diorama. Look for inspiration in off-the-wall sources like fancy layer cakes and high-end fish aquariums* – search for things that are meant to be viewed from a specific angle and incorporate interesting balance and movement. 

Keep in mind the number and size of models you want to add. A Tyranids army can be a horde of swarming creatures, full of a few, huge gribbly beasts, or something in between – and you’d want to display each differently. 


Many hobbyists will physically arrange the board elements, using stand-ins or unpainted models, moving them into different positions and formations until they’re happy with the overall arrangement. Time spent in this stage will pay dividends later, so don’t be afraid to play around until it’s just right. 

Start the Build

Hobbyists these days are spoiled for choice when it comes to scenery and terrain kits. If you can use them, they’ll make your end results look great with far less effort. Most armies now include some big, eye-catching pieces, and a display board is a fantastic place to use them. What’s more, kits like the Battlezone: Manufactorum – Vertigus or Dominion of Sigmar boxes will fill a display board well, and easily allow you to add more due to their modular nature!


On the other hand, a display board is a great place to try your hand at some DIY, if you’re so inclined. Forest scenes and rock formations like those mentioned above can be created using all sorts of crafty methods – for example, from fully sculpted elements to scavenged foliage, tiny rocks, and lichens from around your garden. The key is to make something that not only looks interesting but works well with your models.

Paint It Up

Whether you build your own terrain or use kits, at some point you’ll shift from building to painting. It’s a good idea to match the bases of your models to the display. Some hobbyists even go so far as to make divots so the bases fit right into place. 


You want to make sure your colour scheme offers a good contrast so that your army stands out against it. On the other hand, some people have very effectively made their army appear to be camouflaged. It’s risky, especially with a photography-based competition, but it’s a fantastic effect if handled well. Once again, it’s entirely up to you – the point is to make it a conscious decision and put some thought into why you want to do it that way. 

The Icing on the Cake

Armies on Parade is a celebration of the hobby, pure and simple. We want to see what you’ve been working on, and the display board is a fun way to show off your collection. It’s not essential, but it adds something to the experience – an impressive display board can elevate a project from “this is pretty cool” to “you’ve got to see this one!” real quick.

Remember that this year you have the option of presenting your army on a 22” x 30” board – such as those in Kill Team Environment Expansions, Warcry Ravaged Lands and the Battlezone: Manufactorum sets. These already look great, and they’re one less thing for you to worry about painting, giving you more time to focus on your models and terrain!

Don’t forget that you’ll need to think about how to photograph your entry since you’ll be sending it in via email instead of taking it to a shop as would be the case any other year. We’ll let you know what email to send the pics to, but this is your moment to get cracking if you haven’t already!  


* Doubly useful if you’re working on Idoneth Deepkin!

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