Terrain Talk Pt. 10 – Walls! Quick, Dirty and Cheap

IIIIIIIIIIT’S CHRISTMAS! 

Well, not exactly. But – IIIIIIIIIIT’s December! And as some of you may recall, we’ve been planning to celebrate the 25th anniversary of WH40K 2nd Ed by staging the Armageddon mini campaign that came in the box set. Now, we lucked out with our eBay purchase, but one thing that was demonstrably lacking was the cardboard terrain.

See, this was the first ever 40K box set (I know, right?) and GW were trying to have their base of starter players completely covered – rules, miniatures, army lists, counters and terrain – in this instance, cardstock push-fit walls to create LOS blocking ruins. We checked the campaign maps, and there were a LOT of these little buggers. 20, as far as we could tell. So if we were going to come up with our own DIY versions, they would have to be cheap, quick and easy.

The Skinflint Way.

We also decided, that since we’ve been dipping a toe into Deadzone waters, they should (at least for the most part) be compatible with 3″ squares. Fortunately, we’ve watched a LOT of Terrain Tutor videos – and we were up to the challenge!

We began with the base – lolly (popsicle to our friends across the pond) sticks. We measured these as 10mm wide, so here’s where it starts to get ingenious – we cut one piece 3″ long, mark it L for long. Cut the next piece 3″ less 10mm wide – mark it with an S for short.

Position in an L shape as follows:

Next up – foamboard. This is bog standard 5mm stuff, which we picked up off eBay in A4 sheets.

We drew 2 rectangles – one 3″ x 2″ to be marked L, one 3″-10mm x 2″ to be marked S. Next, draw a wobbly diagonal line across each square – this represents the outline of the wall. Like this:

Cut this out with an Xacto hobby knife – I used a steel ruler for the straight edges and cut the wobbly ones freehand. You’re making ruins, so no need to be too precise.

You’ve now got a long wall (L) a short wall (S). Glue the short wall over the long base and the long wall over the short base, then glue the walls together like this:

The long wall overlaps onto the long base and glues onto the short wall, creating a tough and sturdy L shape corner ruin. Don’t worry about the join – a) life’s too short, and b) we’re going to put more stuff on it.

The next step is optional, but it’s pretty quick and does help the look – bevel the edges with your knife (Health & Safety disclaimer – Knives are SHARP. Handle them carefully).

Next, we covered the ruins in texture paste – this is fantastic stuff, a home made brew of PVA, sand, powdered Polyfilla with some black craft acrylic mixed in and watered to taste. Leave this to dry – 24 hours if possible. You want it to be solid. Make sure you daub liberally over any exposed foam too, as the next step is spraying black primer which will melt any foam left uncovered.

Although I forgot to take pictures, this is also the stage at which I got some acrylic filler (aka decorator’s caulk) and pushed some cat litter into it to create rubble effects.

One can of black £1 spray paint later….

Next up, painting  – colour scheme filched entirely from Lukes APS and has served us well so far. First, duck egg blue drybrush:

Crown house paint tester pots, £1 from Wilkinson’s

Next up, drybrushed on some red splodges from cheap acrylic craft paint – yeah, I know, red???? But this is the Squire Of The North, and he’s not steered us wrong yet!

Overbrush with City Break mid grey:

Drybrush with Cloud Burst light grey:

Next up a couple of washes – thinned mix of Vallejo Black and Smokey inks, applied with a wet brush – water keeps everything moving and evenly blended. A home made dark green wash finished things off nicely, and the various layers of greys and other things give a real depth of colour.

You can switch things up a bit from this basic design too – For these last two, I added an extra floor and a couple of bits of guitar string to represent rebar rods and cabling:

Really pleased with how these came out, and although there’s scope for adding flock and dust effects I think for now these are good to go! Some last pics of them in situ, both Deadzone and 40k:


As always, stay thrifty out there, and as this is almost certainly our last post before Christmas, here’s wishing you all a very merry one!

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Terrain Talk! Pt.1 – Ruins

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:

 

Bultha’s Rise

 

The Farm

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.

  1. – 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

20170801_232706

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…