Friday, 23 June 2017

Simple applique terrain pieces to denote rough terrain

When using a cloth thrown over hill shapes to form the basic topography for a battle, small pieces of applique terrain pieces to differentiate one type of hill from another, or simply to add 'texture' become very important. 

For several years I've had half a dozen rocky outcrops with bushes that I've used to indicate that a hill is steep, rocky, or that provides cover as the need dictates. However, six has never really been enough so this week, spending between ten minutes and half an hour a day in the evenings, I've added another dozen pieces. 

They are so easy (and cheap) to make that I'm not sure that this post is needed or required. By looking at this picture it's probably easy enough to see how they were done. However, perhaps to someone new to the hobby, or perhaps moving from modular terrain to a cloth, this short post might spark some interest. 

These pieces were made using the following materials: 

  • Bases were made from the thick card (or for half the pieces in this case, the hardboard backing from a broken picture frame). 
  • The rocks are stones picked up from the roadside. 
  • The bushes are pieces of horse hair (used in furniture upholstery, though these days I'd probably buy coir). 
  • The ground scatter is non-dissolving Tesco's own cat litter (the orangey-pink granular stuff), sand and grit.
  • The flock, is railway flock and flock shed from my tree collection over the past year or so (scooped out of the tree drawers and recycled).
  • The paint used was all household emulsion paint bought in small pots (probably the most expensive component but once you've bought it, a pot lasts for ages doing small jobs like this - these pieces cost a few pence worth of paint). 
  • Glue was PVA - quality thick stuff for sticking the rocks and horsehair down, thin cheap stuff for gluing on the sand, grit and flock.

First night: I cut out the bases and bevelled their edges with a large craft knife then, because the card is liable to warp, I undercoated the reverse side with household emulsion.

Second night: I undercoated the top side and stuck on the rocks and the clumps of horse hair. The rocks had enough weight to hold everything down flat whilst it dried.

Third night: I painted the rocks dark grey using household emulsion. Painted rocks always look better than unpainted rocks, in my opinion, because they blend in with everything else much better than something 'natural'.

Fourth night:  I glued on the cat litter, sand and grit.

Fifth night: I dry brushed the rocks and painted the base colour over the sand and grit - the latter was emulsion paint with a bit of PVA mixed in to hold it all together and provide durability.

Sixth night: I dry brushed the sand and grit with emulsion paint and stuck railway flock on the bases, and tree flock onto the bushes. 

Now I have enough to do quite a big stretch of hill, and I think, for what they are, they are both effective and quite pleasing to the eye.


Oli said...

Great idea - they bring better definition to the hill and somehow do make it look steeper.

Colin Ashton said...

Excellent even for us veteran wargamers.

Oleg said...

The excellent idea to ispolzovat a horsehair!!! Remarkable result. I have a question. Trees which you use in your games, did them or bought?

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Agreed! Thanks for sharing this. It is always terribly interesting to learn various ways in which tabletop terrain might be suggested or represented.

Best Regards,


Norm said...

A nicely executed idea


Hi Oleg,

Trees are by Andy Worsley at Last Valley. His prices are very good. He has an ebay shop.

David said...

A welcome and comprehensive How To we can all benefit from.

Oleg said...

James, thanks.

Chasseur said...

Looks very nice!

leang heng said...

The excellent idea to ispolzovat a horsehair!

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