Terrain Modelling – approach
As discussed in the last entry I use a base colour (chocolate brown) and dry brush 3 colours on top and then apply two different types of grass for my miniature bases. I use exactly the same approach on my terrain pieces (more or less). For me the aesthetic side is important as it helps the immersion in the game. I do not mind playing with pieces of felt but it is relatively easy and cheap to achieve something slightly more pleasing to the eye and where the pieces interplay to create a (in my opinion) more pleasant experience. For me the game itself includes the terrain and the miniatures – but I know that is not an universal opinion. [I will not drift away talking about preferring to sit in my comfortable sofa, as opposed to a camping chair, whilst watching a good movie.] By using a consistent approach you can use the terrain pieces you make for most of your game and scales. This is not a step-by-step guide but more a high level discussion/presentation with some links to sources. If you have any questions just ask here or come to Joy of Six on the 17th July 2016.
As we will use two tables for the Saga demonstration game at Joy of 6 I needed two 3 by 4 playing surfaces. I normally use terrain boards but wanted to allow more flexibility in setting up and the mats (as opposed to boards) are taking less space. I got inspired by this posting on the Meeples and Miniatures blog on making your own wargames mat using acrylic sealant and canvas. I followed the approach as described but (i) applied the static grass after it was all dry (this allowed me to drybrush the mat before grass was put on top – using my three colours) and (ii) made the acrylic mix dark (chocolate brown) using Brown acrylic sealant and dark chocolate brown emulsion, (iii) used plastic backed drop sheets instead of canvas, and (iv) spread the mix with an old plastic VHS tape cover. I am happy with the results. It is easier than it looks and make sure to secure the sheet when you do it with clamps as it does shrink a little.
Note: Buy the acrylic sealant (sometimes called adhesive) from places like Screwfix at about £2 or less per 310ml to use in an applicator gun (silicone based sealants do not take paint well so avoid these). Use cheap paint. Allow a weekend for this project, do not apply to thick and make sure there is sufficient amount of sand to create some graininess without making it to dry when you mix it. Also vacuum clean the mat when dry to get rid of excess static grass.
Roads, Rivers, Marshland and Shoreline
To create roads, rivers, marshland and shoreline I use “Nylon Adhesive tile planks”. They are normally 3′ (90 cm) long and allows you to create continuous looking pieces for terrain. I bought mine from Wickes. I use acrylic sealant mixed with brown paint and sand that I spread all over the road (and then use a plastic fork to create a wagon trail), create banks for the river and to do the land for the shoreline piece (work on the sticky side).
I paint the edges of the road in the normal three dry brush way, as well as the banks and the shoreline land. I painted the river and the ocean in shades of blue with some white detailing and applied Gloss Mod Podge carefully on top to create some structure as well as a gloss shine to the water. I applied the same process for the marshland, but use a darker green-blue shade for the water.
Note: Be careful with these long pieces as they snap easily if you bend them too much. If you have no space to store them make smaller lengths instead.
I use Styrofoam that I cut out and shape to taste, brown acrylic mixed with sand on top and then the normal procedure. There must be thousands of tutorials on making hills out there – pick your favourite.
Mailed Fists wargames group put on a great looking participation game at JOS 2015 called “The Hungry Legions” that had some nice forest tiles that allowed the creation of pieces of forests as opposed to trees (the bases could “hide” under the trees). After some searching on the net I found something very similar here. As always I did make some changes:
(I) Instead of the Woodland scenic foliage I decide to do my own as I recalled a youtube video on making your own foam foliage that you can find here. Great stuff and cheap. I bought a budget range mixer for £10 and got a £5 bag worth of upholstery off cuts, some cheap green emulsion and mixed with some brown colour to create different colours for each little batch I made. Most blenders are designed to run for about 2 minutes continuously – any longer and they may overheat and possible stop working. Be careful and take small breaks. It needs to dry for some time so this is a slow project is terms of waiting time. It will take days for it to dry so plan for it accordingly.
(ii) I opted for removable tree trunks instead of building them into the base or the canopy. This makes it less bulky to store as well as the ability to make stumps for different scales. I did mine 30mm that will work even with the mounted based for this project. If I would use these for another scale I just need to check my tallest model that will be used and adjust the tree trunks accordingly. The tree trunks are twigs mounted on 20mm penny washers using putty pellets from poundland – I made 39 treestumps with a pack!. I also made the forest tile slightly darker than the the mat itself – i.e. more dark static grass.
I wanted bridges that could allow the 25mm square bases to sit comfortably on the top and to work with my river tiles. I could not find anything so I made some from a lolly pop stick, matches and spaghetti – “Cheap as spaghetti as they may say in Italy!”. They look alright and make a great story. The final result can be see in the picture of the river above.
I have some rectangular fields that I bought a few years back that are ok but put together on a table they look too similar and unnatural for my taste. I wanted to create some funkier looking fields and did some odd shaped nylon tiles with fields all over the place. To avoid the problem of floating bases on top of high coir mat sections (that can look a little bit overwhelming in 6mm scale) or needing to remove sections I just used different colours of short static grass. I applied a layer of browned acrylic sealant and shaped ploughed fields with a plastic fork, then let it dry and put some pva on top of the furrows (leaving a few gaps here and there) and use a different colour every day for a few days (to allow the pva glue to dry between grass applications) and you end up with some funky looking field tiles (me thinks!). Then I add some borders (brown acrylic) and brushed them up with the three colours and decorated with some static grass and tufts. Does it for me.
None of these projects are difficult if you plan carefully and take your time. Next time I will discuss the “terrain items” I did not do from scratch and where I got them from – the villages and viking ships. Bye.