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Artist brings Warhammer 40k Garden of Nurgle to life

Artist and teacher Roman Lappat spent 230 hours painstakingly converting and painting Warhammer 40k minis to construct the gorgeous diorama.

Warhammer 40k Garden of Nurgle diorama by Roman Lappat - diseased, armored warriors advance from a burning hellscape towards us

Visual artist Roman Lappat created this mind-searing diorama, ‘Gardens of Nurgle’, sharing a vision of the Garden of Nurgle in the Realm of Chaos. Lappat fully assembled the complex composition of Warhammer 40k miniatures in three dimensions before he painted it, taking around 230 hours.

In the Warhammer 40k universe, the Garden of Nurgle is an extra-dimensional hellscape. It’s the foetid domain of the 40k Chaos god Nurgle, a blighted jungle tended by Chaos daemons and other unholy servants of the plague lord.

Warhammer 40k Garden of Nurgle diorama - a Plague Marine looms from a tide of nurglings

Lappat says he was inspired to bring it to life by his love of Nurglings, tiny, mischievous plague imps. “They make a lot of fun when integrated into story-telling dioramas”, he explains.

“From concept, collecting the material I need, building the composition of it… to finishing the last brushstroke”, the creation process took Lappat around 230 hours. You can see more photographs of this diorama, and more of Lappat’s work, via his online portfolios.

Warhammer 40k Garden of Nurgle diorama by Roman Lappat, a black picture frame filled with a seething tide of hellspawn

For this kind of diorama project, Lappat says “planning, preparing, sketching, flipping ideas around is absolutely necessary… on paper and in your head”. This kind of pre-production is vital, and will prevent the build process from becoming derailed by difficulties. If you plan well enough he says “there is nothing to fear when tackling bigger projects”.

Lappat fully assembles his dioramas before he starts to paint them. “This allows me to create a full harmonic picture”, he explains, adding “miniatures react with the environment, their neighbours, close-by effects” in ways they simply wouldn’t if the miniatures were painted in sub-assemblies and then brought together.

Warhammer 40k Garden of Nurgle diorama, work in progress, plastic miniatures assembled into a montage

Lappat’s fascination with dioramas began with Lego sets as a child: he created “dioramas of Robin Hood, knights and pirates”. He discovered Warhammer aged thirteen, via Heroquest – a dungeon crawler board game that Games Workshop co-published with MB games – and its sci-fi sibling Space Crusade. Around 2004, while studying fine art and art history at university, he started working in a local hobby store, and began painting miniatures for clients.

Lappat loves “the joy of storytelling and creation” that comes from the hobby: he says “it is special to spend your time in a moment of zen meditation with yourself”. He’s also inspired by the community around the hobby: “it doesn’t matter what you look like or what your social background is… we are all equal and love this [craft]”.

Warhammer 40k Garden of Nurgle artist Roman Lappat, a smiling white man with a short grey beard and moustache and square glasses

The artist says he has more ideas than he has time to work on: “about fourteen ideas a day”. He runs art classes, and is about to hit a busy patch: “[I’ve got] several big weekend workshops to teach at my studio and some private lessons ahead”. When he’s able to return to his own work, he aims to create “a framed diorama for all four Chaos Gods one day, in Warhammer 40k and The Old World”.

For more insight from a master miniature painter, check out our interview with Alberto Moreto Font, the winner of the Slayer Sword at the UK Golden Demon 2023 painting competition. For more dioramas, look at our interview with Baharroth about his colossal diorama recreating The Coronation of Guilliman.