Journey of the Demon King by Oliver “HonourGuard” Spath

Journey of the Demon King – PRELUDE

Oliver is a figure painter from Esslingen in Southern Germany whose work I greatly admire. I love his use of muted colours, natural lighting and atmosphere and above all else I love the realistic effects he achieves with his scenic bases. Oliver’s skill set comfortably blurs the boundaries between hisorical and fantasy genres, he is a comfortable with one as the other. You can check out his page here as HonourGuard and his gallery of awesome works, both fantasy and historical HERE!


The build prior to primer and paint


Jason asked me to write up a little background about how I create my dioramas. With this report I want to give you a little insight into how I created my last project “Journey of the demon king”. It isn’t an exhaustive account by any stretch of the imagination but may give you some idea of how I created this piece and the reason behind it, it might even inspire you to create your own “framed diorama”.

This project started with a rough idea at SMC last year, I saw a figure stand with many dioramas inside picture frames together on one wall. Very cool scenes and with the painted background and sides, the scene looked “fuller” than usual dioramas.


close up of the two protagonists

When you view figures or dioramas on a wood socket they mostly have no real sides yet they mostly have a main direction and sometimes the background is higher than the front. I can recommend that because you see more of the diorama when you observe it directly from the front. But back to what really impressed me.  I really loved these scenes because they were full of narrative, painting was not necessarily of the highest standard  but they had captured a perfect atmosphere.

I wanted to try that too, I had a different forest idea in my head, but I changed it a bit, because for a long time I wanted to paint some models of my friend Fancagne Didier from Kaha Miniatures. So I decided to use his figures for the project I had in mind, in my opinion they fitted really well in the end.


I started creating this diorama very fast, I have built the complete scene in just one day (without painting and basing). Firstly I wanted to set my standard or my goals in “smooth working” a bit down to focus more on the overall scene and atmosphere. But in the end I really liked the project and tried to reach for the best possible result I could create.


using the airbrush to create the initial tones of the underlying atmosphere

Maybe some more words about the build process. I always start with creating the full scene with the miniatures before I start any paintwork. I can recommend to paint the figures on a separate wood plinth or on a piece of cork. It is much easier than to paint it on a bigger diorama. I also did that with the small animals, like the butterflies or the monkeys. The base was built with Milliput, tree bark, many different roots, with earth and stones.

I think about the composition, the positioning of the two main protagonists, the positions of the other creatures, keeping it realistic and believable. Other than just using the Milliput to help create the groundworks I also used it to extend branches and to also sculpt partial trees on the sides, the trees aloong the sides really helps to create my vision of forest all the way around the small clearing.



adding additional colours to differentiate between the different elements

For the painting I started with a dark green (see pic above) and used my airbrush again, that can save you a lot of time especially when you have so many different wood roots, trees and bushes on the base. I added more yellow to the base colour and sprayed the lights in the front and on the figure positions (see left).

After that I started to paint the base with the brush, but the colours was not too thick, it was more some kind of layering. I wanted to ensure you can see a tonal variation between, the stones, the earth and the different trees. I also added different washes of green and red.

After that I added AK Wash earth effects on the base and added different pigments on the complete base. With an old brush and with white spirit I mixed it on the base, so long that I liked the result.


foliage, canopy and undergrowth added

Take care that you don’t use too much of the wash and pigments, because you still want to see the different colours of the base that we’ve painted earlier. This technique can help to connect the different elements of the base.The next step is my favourite: adding plants and other foliage. For that I worked with really many products (about 30-40) and built the scene up step by step.

Companies that make great stuff are Polak Model, Heki, Noch, Mininatur, Woodland Scenics and mother nature, you can really find some nice small plants outside.I wrote a Step by Step about the basing on a big fantasy base on Massive Voodoo with some more detailed information:

After that you can wash the complete scene with a dark brown or with some pigments again, that helps to connect the plants with the base. But take care that it is very, very thinned with water. After that the plants don’t look that founded anymore.

In the end I added some little waterfalls, mushrooms and some animals here and there. For the animals in this scale I use the small animal set from Busch or the animals from, they’re really awesome in my opinion.


the two central characters

Parallel to the base I worked on the models. I painted a hard light from the front and the back of the models are very dark. That’s why I create the base with the model, because now I know where the models are placed in the scene and where I have to place the light and shadows.

Now the models are glued in the base and I prepared the picture frame with the LED lights. The LEDs should represent the natural sun light that shines through the trees. Over the whole project I was unsure how the result would look and I was scared that details of the scene get lost in the shadows of the box.

But in the end I am happy with the result and the diorama also works pretty well in a dark room too. Last but not least I created a little title shield for the diorama, a short Step by Step about that is on my facebook page:


the complete diorama – framed

Sorry that I can’t post more finished pictures here, but I think with that I would blow up this post, as I already wrote a fair a mount of words. You can find a complete gallery here:


With this article I wanted to give you a rough overview how I work on my projects and what steps are important in my opinion. I hope it is a little inspiration for some people. It isn’t a must do order, because in the end there are 1000 ways to come to nice results in our beautiful hobby.

My motto is to always enjoy what you do, your finished projects but also keep an eye on things that you can improve, can try out and stay critical.

Best regards