Credit where it’s due – pretty much everything I’ve used here, I learned from Mel The Terrain Tutor and Luke Fellowes of Lukes Affordable Paint Service. If you’re interested in building better terrain, these two gentlemen are an invaluable resource and I urge you to check them out without delay!
So recently, inspired by the release of the new edition of 40k and the 30th anniversary of the original game, Dan & I staged the classic “Battle At The Farm” scenario with DIY minis and some specially built terrain constructed using the techniques we learned from watching the two aforementioned YouTube channels. Our first attempts using polystyrene and foamboard in place of our previous stalwarts of cardboard and paper mache yielded up these:
Pleasantly surprised, to be truthful. Of course, the problem when you have a nice shiny (figuratively – I seal with a matt finish, yo) new terrain piece is that it makes your other pieces look a bit crap by comparison
So being Skinflint to the core, we decided rather than buy a load of new stuff, we’d just revisit the stuff we had and try and get it looking better. Step 1 was ruined buildings, so I’ll walk you through the “upcycling” process.
- – The Original Piece
This is a ruined building made from the carcass of a wine box (the dispenser nozzle went to make the Vrilfire thrower in the ASV Dauntless, by the way) – basic cardboard frame with a bit of paper mache added to make a crater edge, suggesting a building hit by an artillery strike. Not terrible I suppose, but certainly nothing to show off. So, inspired by The Terrain Tutor’s “Ruined Buildings” series and the stunning work of 3T Studios, I set off to make some improvements.
2. – Basing and Texturing
‘The original piece was mounted on cardboard that had inevitably warped over time, so my first step was to saw off an appropriately sized MDF square (wear a dust mask for this, MDF dust is NOT something you want to inhale – especially if Papa Nurgle has blessed you with asthma, like he has me..). This got bevelled with a DIY knife to create a slope rather than a sharp step, and I sanded it down to smooth the edges.
Next up, I glued the piece down onto the base using regular PVA, weighted it down with various bits and pieces, and when the glue had dried I scooped filler (spackle, if you’re in the US) and used it to smooth out any gaps between cardboard and MDF base. I then started making the piece a bit more interesting – extra walls from foamboard off cuts, a bit of sprue as a fallen girder, filler sculpted into crater adges – and then went to my go-to rubble material – cat litter! I dosed this in generous quantities, puddles of PVA glue in the corners and pushed into the filler too. Check some pictures of ruined buildings in places like Stalingrad to get a feel for where rubble is likely to build up.
I also used cocktail sticks pushed into the filler in the walls to represent rebar rods, and some chopped up guitar strings to represent torn and broken cabling (cheers Mel!).
3. – Painting
Spray black with cheap £1 matt black car spray paint.
Using a combination of stippling, overbrushing, and drybrushing, I worked up three layers of grey – all cheap emulsion sample pots from Wilkinsons, I used City Break for the base tone, then drybrushed Granite Dust and Cloud Burst for the final highlight (pallet recommended by Lukes Affordable Painting Service, I believe)
Next up came earth tones – a series of browns, cheap acrylic craft paint gradually lightened. I actually chose my paints by watching a 3T studios video tutorial and ordering the exact same ones off Ebay! Who says you have to be original?
4. – Flocking and Detailing
Next up, I put flock all around the edges of the piece to ensure it blends with the board and in the corners and basically anywhere i figured grass might realistically grow. I used Jarvis flock, JTF 2 as my mid tone, JTF 1 as my highlight and JTF3 for the dark mossy corners (again, credit to the Terrain Tutor there)
5. – Finishing Up
Final touches! Coarser flock to represent bushes and my secret ingredient – dust from the garage floor! Sprayed the flock with PVA and drizzled it strategically, before spraying another layer of PVA to seal the piece, then finally hit it with a spray of gloss and then matt varnish to ensure durability.
And there we have it! One ruined building – over the past couple of weeks we’ve gone through our ruined pieces and performed the same process, and the result is a rather impressive looking ruined village, hopefully able to represent anything from the Northern German plains of the 1950s, to the world of Hyperia, to any number of 23rd century human colonies, to the grim darkness of the 41st millenium!
So, til next time, stay tuned, stay thrifty, and we’ll continue the terrain odyssey…