Category Archives: Terrain

Wargaming terrain & scenery posts.

Links of Interest, 12 December 2019

If you’re interested in terrain building but not sure where to start, or you already craft terrain but want to step your game up, there’s a bunch of great YouTube tutorials out there these days. I’ve linked to Mel the Terrain Tutor before, but Black Magic Craft (YouTube homepage, website) is one I just recently discovered, and on his website he’s got a fantastic list of Essential Equipment with discussion of what he uses each tool or thing for and links to the various incarnations of Amazon to buy the things. Very useful regardless of your experience level.

By way of example, here’s one of Black Magic Craft’s videos on Better Stone Painting with some good stuff on getting your stone to be something other than flat grey, which is a thing I still struggle with after years (decades, gah!) of making terrain! (direct link to video, if the embed decides not to work)

Terrain is the third army, so why is it so neglected? was posted a couple of years ago (2017 sometime) but remains true and is a useful short rant on the importance of what might be my favourite part of this hobby!

Blinky blinky lights! Aircraft-style strobes on models with really simple electronic components, via Instructables. I still want to do some sort of shuttle or dropship for sci-fi gaming, might need to bump it up a notch and add lights now! Hmm, maybe a live lighthouse on the 1/1200 naval terrain I’m doing?

In the “It’s insane, I kind of want one, but storage would be a nightmare” category, Things From The Basement has a 20th Century Train Station that is 45″ (yes, forty-five inches, almost four feet) across! Some other neat stuff too including a batch of Russian buildings and scenery. There’s a fantastic fully painted and decorated version of the train station with lots of photos over on The Demo Gamers. You could run an entire pulp game just in and immediately around this thing…

Finally, from the recent (Nov 2019) Burrows & Badgers Kickstarter, a post with a trio of really nice painting tutorials all in one shot. One on tartan, one for worn leather, and one for leaf-patterned cloaks.

More on the naval gaming front soon, although expect a bit of a blogging break over the Christmas & New Years holidays as I shall mostly be out of town. On the off chance that I don’t actually blog again before leaving town, I hope my readers have excellent holidays. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and so on and so forth!

Improving Old Terrain

TerranScapes has a good video on using gloss gel for water, and I also found a video on using gloss gel medium for ship wakes, so naturally I had to pick a tub of the stuff up from my awesome local art supply store, Island Blue. (shop local, folks. Local stores are always cooler, and the staff far more likely to know their stuff!)

Anyway, I pulled out two of the shoreline/river bank modules I made over a decade ago (Part One, Part Two). For pieces started in June 2010 from matt board they’ve held up remarkably well, and they made ideal test subjects for learning how gloss gel medium works.

two shoreline segments w new waves
Gloss gel waves applied to two of my shoreline or river bank segments. Click for larger.

Gloss gel medium works beautifully for waves, and the main thing I learned is not to be afraid to put more on than you might think is wise, because it shrinks a fair bit when drying. It also doesn’t dry perfectly clear when it’s thick, which is fine for waves. That might be a function of humidity, according to the TerranScapes video. He talked about putting terrain pieces in a box with desiccating (silica) pellets to get everything perfectly cured and clear…

I’ve got another two or three of these modules around here somewhere, so they’ll get spruced up with gloss gel now too, eventually. I’ll also redo the foliage along the banks, and probably have to repaint the undersides to take some of the warp out of the cardboard again. Not bad for terrain that’s over a decade old!

Fenris Games Runestones

I picked up a few things from Fenris Games back in June or July, and the first pieces are finally getting completed and onto the gaming table!

runestones, front.
Two Viking Runestones from Fenris Games. Click for larger.

These are “Viking Runestones 2” from Fenris, cast in pale grey resin. Each is about 2″ tall. The carved runes on the front are very finely detailed; I wouldn’t be surprised if they had been laser engraved on something (thin acrylic?) and that was then embedded in putty or something to make up the rest of the stone.

runestones, back
Runestones, rear view. 28mm Warlord ECW figure for scale. Click for larger.

I’ve got a few other bits and pieces from Fenris in progress. All of their stuff is really high quality, their range is huge, and shipping was fast. Highly recommended!

A 17th Century Bastion, Part One

Several of the scenarios in Pikeman’s Lament ask for a bastion or earthwork to be attacked or defended, but at a maximum area of 9″x9″ it isn’t going to be some grand fortification or anything.

I wasn’t sure what, exactly, could be done in that area, so I cut a piece of heavy plasticard that size and started arranging my Assault Group guns and crews around the 3d printed gabions we found over on Thingiverse.

The 3d Printed Gabions

As seen previously here on The Warbard, my brother Corey owns a 3d printer. A Creality Ender 2, apparently. Gabions are big roughly-made wicker tubes filled with dirt, basically, used for temporary fortification for centuries – right up until at least the First World War, in fact. They’re iconic looking but would be really, really fiddly to scratchbuild. Finding the set of 3d modelled gabions for free over on Thingiverse was what kicked this whole project off.

3d printed gabions in closeup. The striations of the 3d print process nicely add texture. Click for larger.

If you haven’t got access to a 3d printer, Renedra will sell you a couple of sprues of quite nice-looking gabions for a very reasonable sum.

The Bastion

The 9″x9″ footprint was dictated by the Pikeman’s Lament rules, but proved to be a good size anyway for a bastion that could hold one gun with crew or a full unit of 12 infantry in the Pikeman’s system while not dominating the table. It’s still a very, very small bastion; even single-gun emplacements in the English Civil War were usually bigger than this once you included their surrounding ditches and such. Compromises are always made for tabletop usability, however!

The actual gabions and fortified part of this are raised slightly on a 6″x6″ offcut of 1/8th” EPVC plastic board, with openings for cannon to fire through on two sides and a ramp leading down and out on the third side.

Gabions in lace and planking started inside. Assault Group guns and crew and a Warlord plastic infantry figure for scale. Click for larger.

I used chunks of styrofoam to fill in the area outside the gabions, sloping up slightly from ground level, holding it in place with hot glue to speed up construction.

Styrofoam to fill in the slight slope up to the outer edge of the bastion itself. Click for larger.

To cover the styrofoam I mixed up premixed plaster, white glue, sand, and a bit of water to make a tough textured fill, then pushed it into place with a tongue depressor. The interior has flooring/duckboards made from wooden coffee stir sticks, with sand filling the gaps between the boards.

Plaster, white glue, and fine gravel over the styrofoam. Click for larger.

Paint tomorrow after the plaster has had a chance to dry fully. I thought about putting extra obstacles in the ground outside the gabions, but have decided to leave it mostly bare earth. I do have my recently-bought Renedra chevaux-de-frise to add around the bastion once it’s on the table, after all.

A Graveyard (Much Delayed)

File this one under “long neglected projects finally finished”, I guess. I’ve finally based, painted, and finished the last of the Renedra gravestones I started way back in February 2013, which were actually purchased in December 2012.

Back in 2013 half of them (one of the two identical sprues) got cleaned up, based, sand added to the bases, and grey primed, and that was it. For more than five years.

graves13Feb13
The original 2013 batch of graves, based but not yet primed. Click for slightly larger.

In early 2018 I pulled the 2013 bits out of storage and got them painted up and flocked fairly quickly for the game I ran at Trumpeter Salute 2018.

The paintjob was pretty simple. I hit all of them with a wash (GW Nuln Oil or Earthshade), then drybrushed and scrubbed various other colours across the stones. Two different shades of grey, some dark green, two shades of tan, and two shades of off-white applied in different amounts to different stones give a bit of variation to each stone.

Finally, this week I’ve pulled the second sprue out and got them all based up.

Latest graveyard stuff all based up. Click for larger.

The bases are all leftovers from various Warlord ECW plastic box sets. I think the newer stuff is from the Firelock Infantry box and the older from either the regular infantry or cavalry box. Waste not, want not, and I wasn’t ever going to use them for figures! The freshly dug graves (great potential plot points!) are just scrap styrofoam glued down and then sanded.

Latest graveyard bits. Fresh graves in front, regular gravestones behind. On the left is a base of chickens from Warbases, just for fun. Click for larger.

I’ve used the Celtic cross and some of the base pedestal bits to create a roadside cross or shrine. Just the thing to lurk on a dark and misty moor or something!

The roadside cross, still in progress. Complete with ominous raven! Click, as usual, for larger.

Finally, I used Rain City Hobbies tufts and flowers to add some detail and interest over my usual mix of flock. I really like the little pops of colour the flowers provide, and they’re becoming a standard feature on my scenery, especially the English Civil War items.

Finished, all these years later! I’ll get some photos of the full graveyard setup soon. Click for larger.

Should you want your own gravestones the two-sprue set is still available from Renedra which is definitely not always the case when coming back to some products after this long. Hopefully you take less than seven years to get yours ready for the tabletop!

Savannah Terrain

This is diorama-level scenery building, but almost everything he does in this video is applicable to wargamer-proof terrain too and the final result looks awesome.

Paepercuts is a great channel; he was quiet for a while but has been putting out new stuff regularly now and is well worth the subscription over on YouTube. One of the comments in the Savannah video describes the host of these as “the Bob Ross of scenery videos” and I realized that’s one of the things I like about him, there’s none of the “HEYYYYYYY GUYSSSSSSSSSSS” weird loudness that is apparently standard issue in far too many other YT videos.

As for me and my house, I’m still not doing much gaming-related stuff but I can feel the new-project itch starting up. This might be something completely different, away from the various 28mm projects I’ve spent time on the last five years or so. Possibly Russian Civil War at a grand tactical small scale, 6mm or even 2mm/3mm for that “miles of open steppe” feel… we shall see!

Trumpeter Salute is next month in Vancouver and for the first time in years I’m not running a game but I’m still really looking forward to being there. Trumpeter has been great for blasting the wargaming cobwebs off in past years, we’ll see what it does this time around!

Stable Genius

After finishing the three little cottages on Saturday, I decided to do something slightly different on Sunday and made a building that could serve as a stable or other outbuilding for a manor farm on my ECW/English pulp tables.

It’s 3″ deep and 4″ wide, so actually larger in footprint than the little hovels. Horse need their space, tenant farmers not so much! Same construction, 1/16th mattboard (picture framing card) with wooden coffee stir sticks for the timbering. The roof is assymetric, with the peak closer to the front of the building instead of down the centreline, for no other reason than it looked more interesting and on a gaming table, people spend a lot of time looking down at rooftops!

Stable “blank” assembled, with window and horse both from Warbases. Click for larger.

A roof with a pitch like this should probably be shakes or slate or something, because a steep pitch is part of what helps keep a thatch roof watertight, but towel thatch is a heck of a lot faster to assemble than a shingled roof, even with Warbases’ nifty lasercut tile cards available! Perhaps I’ll go back and rebuild this roof with tile card in the future, when I’m not under a pre-convention time crunch… but don’t hold your breath!

All the half-timbering complete and unthatched roof in place. Click for larger.
Roof off, showing the card “beams” to give it some strength. Click for larger.
Towel thatch in place, including an extra strip across the top ridge. Paint to follow! Click for larger.

I’ll add open doors on the big doorway on the front; the doors are built but not installed yet. I might whip up a couple of horse stall walls to put in the interior, but honestly that seems like a post-Trumpeter addition to me…

Hovels & Gardens

With the clock running on toward Trumpeter Salute 2018, I need to get serious about producing the new scenery the linked pair of games I’m running there need!

I’ve got more than enough hedges, dirt roads, and other greenery bits from previous scenery projects, but the farmhouse/manor, dovecote, and barn I’ve built previously need more buildings to hit the table along with them if I want to do a 17th Century English hamlet up properly.

This weekend I sat down and cranked out a trio of little (tiny, really!) thatched and half-timbered cottages or hovels, along with a pair of fenced gardens.

Three cottages underway. 28mm Warlord officer on a 25mm base for scale. Click for larger.

These are simple little buildings of 1/16th” mattboard with half-timbering from wooden coffee stirrers and thatch from towel. The windows are lasercut from Warbases in the UK. For a bit more bulk the roofs have a substructure of corrugated cardboard with the towel hot-glued to that and then further stiffened with white glue. All three roofs are removable.

Towel thatch roofs in place. Click for larger.

For the gardens I started with 1/8th” foamed PVC board as a base, then used some of the 3-d printed wattle fencing from Thingiverse that Corey has run off from me the new 3d printer he’s also using for the tricycle truck project.

Large fenced garden with a tree. 28mm Warlord officer on 25mm base for scale. Click for larger.

The tree has a core of paperclip wire, bulked out with soft iron craft wire, then covered in hot glue to fill in between the wires. The garden beds are also just hot glue “sculpted” into place with the hot tip of the glue gun.

Painted cottages and painted and flocked garden. Click for larger.

I’ve also done a second garden piece, slightly smaller, but haven’t gotten a photo of it yet. The cottage roofs need one more drybrush to really pop the thatch texture, but the cottages themselves are all done, and the gardens are fully painted and flocked outside the fence. The tree needs some foliage, and the gardens inside the fences need greenery and detail, but not bad for part of a weekend’s focused effort!

Modular River, Part Seven: Resin Complete!

Hope everyone had a good Labour Day long weekend, if that’s a thing for you, and a good return to school, if that’s a thing for you and your family!

My hobby time has been really minimal the last while, both because the weather has been awesome, and because of whole piles of family stuff going on, both good and bad.

I’ve nevertheless managed to get the last of the resin water poured into the river modules, and touch up some of the earlier pieces done with epoxy glue with a skim of pourable resin to improve and harmonize all the water on all the segments. The two corner pieces done with epoxy had gone quite matte when the glue cured fully, not like the full gloss the resin retained.

A ten segments (and the pond test piece) laid out on my floor. Click for larger.
Another mediocre picture of my floor, but the only passable shot I have so far of all ten segments all at once. Click for larger.

Not quite done with these river segments yet, though. The ends of each segment needs cleanup. There’s bits of blu-tak that have bonded to the resin and will need to be scrapped off, a little bit of overflow resin to carve off, and most of the segments have little ridges at each end where the resin has crept up the tape-and-craft-stick dams at the ends of the segments. I’ll need to carve those off carefully with a sharp knife, and might need to mix a tiny batch of resin to patch a few bits.

After that the flocking on the banks all needs to be re-done; I’ll just cover over the existing flock with a new layer after the thinned matte medium went all milky.

Looking forward to getting this project done and onto the table during an actual game, it should look pretty damn good and I’m happy to finally have a high quality set of river segments at long last!

Some of the segments laid out on my desk for inspection. You can see some of the bits of blu-tak on the ends, and the milky stains on the flocking. The water looks great, though! Click for larger.

Modular River, Part Six: Resin Water Photos

Gradual progress on pouring resin into the river segments, doing one segment every night. I work on an old plastic cafeteria tray and cover the tray with a box lid to keep out dust, cat hair, the cat, and other household sources of lint, dust, and fluff that will happily glue themselves to freshly poured resin.

One ounce of resin (half an ounce each of resin and hardener) is enough for one of the long 12″ river modules, which makes for easy measuring. I bought a batch of disposable plastic 3oz shot glasses to mix the resin in, and those seem to be working out nicely so far.

I add 8-10 drops of GW brown wash as I mix the resin, just enough to darken it a bit and add a bit more depth to the water effect. Between that and the shading I painted into the river bed sections I think I’ve gotten a reasonable feel of depth from a layer of resin that’s only about 1/8th” deep or so!

Overhead view with some almost-finished Warlord firelock musketeers about to charge into the water. Click for larger.
Lower view, nicely showing off the reflective surface of the resin. Click for larger.

There’s a little bit of a lip on the ends where the resin has crept up the sides of the dams, but I’ll use a knife and wet sanding to get rid of that and a bit of gloss medium (or an additional dab of resin) to fix any scuffing from that process. I need to scrape off or cover the bits of blu-tak that have been glued into place by the resin, too, but I’ll do that last while I’m fixing the discoloured flocking along the banks, the places where the resin has soaked up into the flock, and adding the rest of the foliage.

Onward to the next resin pouring session!

(Semi-random aside: This is the 480th post here on The Warbard! Here’s to 500 before the end of 2017! September 2017 will mark seven years of our current WordPress based format; November 2017 will mark 19 years (!) of a wargaming web presence of some sort or another for me. I should probably organize something interesting for our 20th anniversary in November 2018…)