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Author Topic: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....  (Read 450 times)

Offline The Black Knight

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Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« on: November 02, 2018, 07:08:20 PM »
Right guys!

So I thought that since I've been on these forums for something like 13 years, it might finally be the time to post something relevant (lol). As you may or may not have gathered from my post count, I am NOT a very active member, although I lurk here sometimes and this place has brought me much joy over the years. So I thought that maybe I can contribute a bit myself by starting a little blog. The time seems to be right, as this year is my 20th anniversary of getting into wargaming (as my younger sibling has had the nerve to recently remind me, the little bastard).

So was thinking how to celebrate this. I have something like a 4-5K imperial army, but sadly I do not feel like the time is right to work on it yet (probably gonna give it a couple more decades at my rate ). I have other unpainted armies, and a goblin army that is almost finished, but I also didn't fancy doing any of that right now. So I was thinking what to do and what I came up with is this - how about finally making some decent looking terrain? I'm sure that many of you have nicely painted armies, that you've put a lot of time/effort/money into, but you - like me - are playing on old, crappy terrain that you've cobbled up when you were 16 years old and lets just say it has not aged that well. Which kind of defeats the purpose of a nicely painted army, when you are pushing your models over styrofoam hills slapped with a bit of green paint. Not what I've imagined myself doing, when in 1998 I pored  over beatuiful diorama-like battles found in the pages of white dwarf!


Over the last two years me and my afformentioned brother have created a nice little desert 4x4 board for 40k, and built and painted some terrain for it and our games have gotten much more cinematic thanks to that. Now it's time to get the static grass and flock out of the box!

So what is the plan? I've decided that I want to get myself a 6x4 gaming mat, and make a set of terrain to match it. I don't want to do crazy stuff right now nor a bucketload of pieces - just enough so that I can finnish it in 2-3 months and play comfortably on a nicely decorated table. I also don't want to spend a crazy amount of $$$, I'll mostly scratch build stuff or use things that I already have.

After having watched what feels like 10hs of terrain-related tutorials on youtube and arming myself to the teeth with all sorts of bizarre materials, I've managed to make a short list of things to build:

1) Touching up a couple of old pieces that are salvageable
2) Scatter terrain - bushes, rock piles, lone trees
3) Finishing up a merchant house started a looong time ago
4) Re-working a hirst-art house I got from a friend
5) Two forrests with separately based trees
6) A set of ruins from LOTR + some ruin scatter pieces
7) three rocky hills
8) A couple of additional fences/hedges

This should give me enough to fill out the 6x4 table and make it look jazzy.

So, now that I have probably lost all my readership thanks to the TL;DR introduction I can safely put up some pictures without the worry of beeing riddiculed ;):

First of all I've been re-working some old terrain. It's all over the place right now, so no pics just yet.

Then I've made a start on some scatter pieces of terrain:


A few ovalish bases cut out of an mdf board I had lying around, some filler, sand and rocks - nothing special yet! These are mostly gonna be bushes, with lichen used for the armatures:



(pro tip - this stuff pops up in gardening centers around christmas time and costs near to nothing, avoid the model shops).

Next up, I did some excavations in my working area, and have uncovered an ancient relic which I will talk about in my next post.

To be continued!
« Last Edit: November 03, 2018, 09:21:04 AM by The Black Knight »
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Offline Naitsabes

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2018, 07:56:04 PM »

(pro tip - this stuff pops up in gardening centers around christmas time and costs near to nothing, avoid the model shops).

super-pro tip: depending on where you live, this stuff may just be hanging from the trees in your friendly neighborhood forest...year-round.

Great post, enjoyed the read as I can relate to the need for proper terrain. Looking forward to the next update.
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Offline zak

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2018, 12:55:07 AM »
Yeah go to Wal-Mart and pick up trees for $1 and then spray green over the snow or keep the snow look
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Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2018, 08:18:48 AM »
1am looking forward to this thread. Dumped almost all my remaining terrain and may start again with some new ideas
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Offline Zygmund

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2018, 02:37:09 AM »
Great start for a blog, and a very relevant & interesting list of terrain to build. I made a list similar to yours a couple of years back, but went fancy and most of the things are still unfinished. Looking for inspiration from you.  :-)

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Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2018, 11:15:29 AM »
Wow, thank you for all the comments gents, this forum is so alive it feels like it's 2010  :happy:!


(pro tip - this stuff pops up in gardening centers around christmas time and costs near to nothing, avoid the model shops).

super-pro tip: depending on where you live, this stuff may just be hanging from the trees in your friendly neighborhood forest...year-round.

Great post, enjoyed the read as I can relate to the need for proper terrain. Looking forward to the next update.

That is indeed a very good observation! I havenít bumped into this stuff while hiking, it must be found further up north.

So here it is Ė my main project right now and a reason that I feel that this blog belongs on the site Ė an empire household!



Believe it or not, but the blueprint for this house was actually downloaded from the GW site around 2002 or 2003. Back in those days GW published modelling articles that were actually helpful and which did not claim that the only way to build a peace of terrain, is by kitbashing 200 quid worth of plastic. They also werenít so reluctant to admit that exotic items such as plasticard, PVA and expanded styrofoam  existed, and can be indeed used as a slightly cheaper alternative.

Anyways when the teen version of me got hold of the blueprint, I remember turning to my father Ė an avid modeler himself Ė for help. Now, the article recommended foamcore for the walls, which he said isnít very sturdy and can be messy to work with. So instead I used expanded PVC. Itís basically the same white stuff from which plastic plumbing is made of. You can buy it in sheets in varying thicknesses, itís not as hard as plasticard/polystyrene so it can be carved easly, yet it is sturdy enough to withstand gaming, transport and being occasionally dropped off the table. In short, this stuff is great and should be used be terrain makers extensively.

So Iíve built the walls out of it, added some wooden profiles to imitate the timber-frame constructionÖ. and then I put it into a box and moved on to another project, as all normal people do. Fast-forward till now Iíve dug it up, dusted it off and started to think what to do with it. I did some serious googling of XVI-XVII c. era buildings and decided I will try to finish-off the timber frame look, with bricks peeking from under cracked mortar. Hereís two inspirational pics by a certain A. Durer.





In my mind this would be a small merchantís house. Not very large nor rich looking, but a start to a small settlement, located somewhere in the empire. The house would be a bit run-down, but with plenty of detail, bags of grain, crates, barrels and all sorts of other stuff surrounding it.

So as a start I tidied up the haphazardly glued timbers with strips of balsa (sorry no pics from this stage)! Then I added random patches of green stuff and quickly formed the bricks.

Then Iíve mixed my mortar to go onto the walls, between the timber frame. I knew it had to be thick so that I could make the bricks look like they were peeking from underneath it. So Iíve mixed a light coloured acrylic wood filler with some ballast Ö namely chinchilla sand! That thing is super fine but adds a bit of volume to the filler and the appropriate rough texture (normal sand is too coarse Iíve found). I applied it using a putty-knife and then pushed it around and evened it out using a peace of sponge.



The stone underpinning at the base of the buidling is strips of PVC that were carved up and stuck into place using superglue.

After all of it was dried, I brushed the balsa parts using a wire brush. This adds a ton of fantastic looking grainy texture to the wood and will definitely help with painting (nicked this idea from The Terrain Tutor on youtube). 



Stairs were added, made of PVC rectangles glued together and carved using a x-acto knife.



After having the walls done, it was time for the roof - to be continued!



ps. let me know if the pics aren't too big/small. I am extremely rusty when it comes to posting pictures on forums.
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Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2018, 12:11:18 PM »
Love the stucco look. That is going to be a great building. Iíve had endless problems with roofs so will look forward to the next indtsllment
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2018, 01:18:03 PM »
Awesome!  Thanks for the tutorial approach to sharing how this was made, yes!

I like the idea of using plasticard for the structure of walls, although it is a bit more expensive around here than the foam board.
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Offline Midaski

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2018, 01:47:54 PM »
The beauty of foamboard is that you can usually pick it up for free from out of date shop advertising/promotional stuff.
Big sheets too.

If you intend to use Polyfilla (spackle ? to you yanks ) then it doesn't matter what colours or writing is on it.
I got a couple of big boards that hung from ceilings by wire in a bed shop.

I find balsa a bit too lightweight and have used wood battens and wooden lolly (popsicle) sticks or coffee stirrers for the framing.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 01:50:22 PM by Midaski »
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Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2018, 02:20:50 PM »


I like the idea of using plasticard for the structure of walls, although it is a bit more expensive around here than the foam board.

Thanks GamesPoet! I don't think what I'm using for the walls etc. is plasticard. I always have a problem describing what it is exactly as the names for these various plastic products differ in various countries and are not very consistent. What I think I'm using is this: https://www.curbellplastics.com/Research-Solutions/Materials/Expanded-PVC - expanded foam polyvinyl chloride (sounds like I'm planning to kidnap someone for ransom I know). It's often used for producing advertisment boards etc. and it's super cheap when compared to plasticard.

Plasticard is much tougher and much more expensive, I do have both. I'm not 100% sure but I think that the proper "trade" name for plasticard is high impact polystyrene (help, is there a chemist on board)? Plasticard would be very difficult to shape like this, you will see what I mean when I get to the roof tiles  :smile2:.

The beauty of foamboard is that you can usually pick it up for free from out of date shop advertising/promotional stuff.
Big sheets too.

If you intend to use Polyfilla (spackle ? to you yanks ) then it doesn't matter what colours or writing is on it.
I got a couple of big boards that hung from ceilings by wire in a bed shop.

I find balsa a bit too lightweight and have used wood battens and wooden lolly (popsicle) sticks or coffee stirrers for the framing.

I have some foamboard that I have acquired just as you have described here, I need to experiment with it I think. And yes, what I meant by acrylic filler is polyfilla/spackle. It's my second favourite product after PVC!

You are right, balsa is very brittle and I try to use it only when it's supported by PVC or some other strong material. Battens were used for the framing too and for the roof. I'll get to that part soon, I just need to snap a couple more photos.

In the meantime, work has also been progressing on the scatter pieces. Got the lichen stuck to the bases with a hot glue gun (that thing is a horrid invention and leaves a terrible mess):


EDIT: a sneaky pic of our 40k board as background

I then gave the lichen a quick blast of green paint with an airbrush:



I know that they were green already and I could have left them as they were, but to my experience lichen tends to get really soft and upleasant looking after a couple of years (I guess it just rots away). Maybe the paint will seal it and help preserving it better. I am still planning on spraying it with glue and adding clump foliage  to it, and then probably varnishing the whole thing just to make sure. I'll let you know if it worked in 10 years time....
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 08:55:18 PM by The Black Knight »
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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2018, 03:27:09 PM »
Ah, well I stand corrected.  "Expanded PVC" is not the same as plasti-card, yet my confusion has now been cleared. :icon_cool: :::cheers:::
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Offline Midaski

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2018, 06:24:23 PM »
Hey Black Knight
If you are concentrating on Scenery and Buildings this would be better in the Empire Crafts and Skills Board.

Would you be happy for me to move it?
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Offline Realjuan

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2018, 07:04:57 PM »
nice nice work. Would love to do stuff like that. Maybe in the future
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Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2018, 12:27:13 PM »
Hey Black Knight
If you are concentrating on Scenery and Buildings this would be better in the Empire Crafts and Skills Board.

Would you be happy for me to move it?

Hey Midaski, oops I haven't noticed there is a specific terrain subsection on the forums! If you feel the thread is ill-placed here you can move it if you wish of course. I posted it in the glass cabinet as I figured that's where most of the forum traffic was and where I could get the most interaction  :icon_smile:.



Anyways, where were we? Ah yes, the roof. I did it in a pretty convoluted way, so I wouldnít go about it the same if  I were to make another one. But I will roughly try and explain what I did and why (Warning! long post).

So in essence I tried to copy what a real timber frame roof would be built like, getting a lot of inspiration from the Tabletop World buildings and some online pictures.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_roof_truss#/media/File:Roof_parts_simplified.svg








So the easiest way would be to cut some battens to length and stick them to sit on the two triangular gable walls. They would imitate the purlins, which can occasionaly stick out of the face of the wall, as you can see in the images below.







Then I would cover them with some balsa to represent the laths (or slats as they may be called, the long strips of wood onto which shingles or roof tiles are nailed to) and finally cover it all up with roof tiles. I didnít have to worry about representing the rafters, as they would be pretty much obscured by the laths and tiles in real life. However I did not have enough of battens nor balsa to do the roof like that, thus a lot of improvising ensued.



What I did  is I made the roof slopes out of two pieces of PVC to save on balsa strips. Then I cut some short pieces of battens to imitate the purlins and I stuck them to the triangular gable walls on either side of the building. I had to pay attention so that they would line up. They were of course falling off constantly and in the end I had to pin every single one of them (at this point I started regretting not going to the craft store and just buying longer battens).

Then I added four longer strips of balsa to act as the rafters that would actually be visible.



For detailing the eaves (the edges of the roof which overhang the face of the wall) I stuck some shorter pieces of balsa between the rafters and the gable wall, scoring them with a pencil to imitate the laths. In some places I did this on both sides, so that I could do a few missing roof tiles and have some cool looking wood peeking from underneath





This is how the house looked at this stage:



At this point I also added the little shed you see on the picture (it's where they keep the granny). This time I made one of the walls out of thicker balsa, to add some variation. The other walls were finised using my stucco mix.


For the roof tiles I had a bit of conundrum. I wanted to go with slate tiles, but also didnít want to go the usual cardboard tile way, as they look a bit flat. So I went with PVC as it looks a bit better in this scale. The PVC was textured and carved into strips to save some time and then stuck onto the roof using superglue.


some very inspirational slate


A thin sheet of PVC I textured by hammering it with a piece of rock.



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A chimney was added shortly, also carved out from a piece of thicker PVC, and stuck to the roofÖ..completely skewed! Damn. Had to tear it off and re-align it.


(btw the red dots are blood, my thumbs will never be the same after all of this)



I left a couple of areas where the laths peek from underneath, with missing tiles etc. to help achieving this 3D look.

So this is where I finished last night, both of the roof slopes are pretty much done. I still have to do the ridge area, add the ridge beam sticking out from the gable wall, and then probably add some tiles to the little shed.





Otherwise I can start working on a base and finally start adding some finer details, which I'm really looking forward to. Stay tuned!

« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 12:31:56 PM by The Black Knight »
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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2018, 12:52:12 PM »
I'm liking all the detail, well done! :eusa_clap: :::cheers:::
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Offline Midaski

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2018, 05:27:22 PM »
I'm impressed with the roof - firstly the beams, and then the polystyrene is a first also.
I have seen and done mine with card strips from cereal packets, but the polystyrene does give a thicker dimension to the whole thing.

Your creativeness and attention to detail is inspiring.
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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2018, 05:52:41 PM »
Anyways, where were we? Ah yes, the roof. I did it in a pretty convoluted way, so I wouldnít go about it the same if  I were to make another one. But I will roughly try and explain what I did and why (Warning! long post).

So in essence I tried to copy what a real timber frame roof would be built like, getting a lot of inspiration from the Tabletop World buildings and some online pictures.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_roof_truss#/media/File:Roof_parts_simplified.svg



It is interesting how this roof is not symmetrical in construction, and I'm wonderign why?  It says it is a granary, so perhaps that has something to do with it?
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

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Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2018, 07:23:02 PM »
@Midaski @GamesPoet

Thank you very much for the kind words gentlmen!  :icon_redface:

@GamesPoet - about the weird looking roof from the picture, if you look closely you can see that the attic was raised slightly in a later time period. The ridge beam shows where the original roof ended, you can see its outline on the gabel wall, a triangle of wooden beams marks it. They added more bricks to the gabel wall to make it higher, but only on the left side, which made the axis of the extended roof shift to the left. This has most likely made the whole structure a tad unstable. That's why they added a few rows of bricks to the left-hand wall, in order for the truss to sit better. They also supported one of the purlins with those huge blocky diagonal struts. EDIT: The entire left side of the roof slope was reconstructed, the rafters on the right are massive and visibly old, while those on the left are much thinner.


I absolutely love their attitude about the whole thing "yes it looks weird but it hasn't collapsed on our heads so who cares"

This kinda fits with what I remember from my art history studies. It was not uncommon that roofs, vaulted ceilings and other "complex" structures weren't always perfectly symmetrical. Buildings were often constructed without precise mathematical calculations and bigger or smaller "mistakes" did happen. Some of them weren't even mistakes at all. If you scroll up to see Durer's little study of some little rural hamlet, and look at how the timber framing and windows are placed, you can see that symmetry isn't really their thing. Windows and doorways were placed where they would be useful/comfortable to use, and not necessarilly following any strict architectural guidelines.

Even large, official structures show a bit of "freedom" with the interpretation of these guidelines. Sometimes they resulted with a window placed in an odd position: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/Ko%C5%9Bci%C3%B3%C5%82_Mariacki.JPG (from a church in Danzig). Even the most lavish medieval churches are not free from funny cockups, this is from the Canterbury Cathedral:

.
Working the night shift I suppose

My medieval architecture professor used to collect pictures of things like these, claiming that they were charming.

Sometimes the mistakes were much more grievous. For example the Beauvais Cathedral witnessed some pretty horrific accidents, including the collapse of part of its vaulted ceilings, which killed many stonemasons.

Umm sorry for the long post and the "lectury" tone, I get easily excited when talking about this stuff! :icon_redface:
« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 07:31:52 PM by The Black Knight »
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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2018, 07:41:55 PM »
No need to apologize to me.  I like this stuff too.

So I suspect the granary was already having an issue and they adjusted for it.  Good to see!
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Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2018, 09:46:19 PM »
Wow! That roof brings tears to my eyes. Not the same type of tears I had after my fiasco. This is magnificent.
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
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Offline Realjuan

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2018, 09:04:02 AM »
Great read!!!

looking forward for more
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Offline Zygmund

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2018, 11:19:40 AM »
Great handicraft skills, and great reference. Very inspirational! Thanks, and please keep it coming.  :-)

-Z
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Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2018, 12:57:55 PM »
Thanks for all the kind words guys! I’ve managed to squeeze in another little update, before my week turns really busy.

Work has progressed on the terrain bases / scatter pieces / however you want to call them. I got the idea to do them after getting to see what the historical-wargames guys do. They often seem to make pretty lavish looking tables, filled with all kinds of little details, bushes, random trees – all that jazz.


(Nerdgasm! From the Scrivland blog)

It does not have to impact the game in terms of line of sight, or movement of big bodies of troops etc. It’s just there to add to the spectacle and look pretty. I very much like this approach!

These are very handy for skirmish games also – I’m having some buddies over next week for our traditional seasonal Malifaux event, and these will help filling up the tables.





They have been painted, drybrushed and then very liberally covered in all kinds of flock/static grass that I have at my disposal. I’m pretty much experimenting with all these various products and just seeing what sticks (groan).
They still have some way to go, right now I’m pondering on how to finish off the bushes. I might just flock them with some fine turf. There’s also an option of getting some of these fine leaves made by Noch.



They look great and would be also very useful for making trees. Or I could just leave the bushes as they are. Undecided!




Well, as I ponder on this matter in the meantime here is my first piece that I think is truly finished



The timeless gamer classic: “boulders stacked onto one another by an unseen force”. The rocks were recycled from another piece of terrain, that I felt could not be saved. I’m happy that I trashed it, as I have to say that I’m pretty stoked about how this one came out!
A bit of work got done on the house also, but nothing picture worthy just yet.

More updates after the weekend.

Cheers!
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 01:42:34 PM by The Black Knight »
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Offline warhammerlord_soth

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2018, 04:46:49 PM »
Looks great. Keeping a tab on it now....

Have one  on Midaski's tab.  :::cheers:::
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Offline Gankom

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Re: Getting some fantasy terrain done at last....
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2018, 04:24:37 AM »
Wow everything looks so fantastic. Meanwhile I'm over here with my buildings made out of lego and spray painted black.