Friday, January 30, 2009

Euro Terrain Project Part 1 - Table

Euro Terrain Project - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

An interesting few weeks I have had. I spent them scouring the internet and my terrain and wargaming books to finally settle on a set of terrain that I may be happy with.

A while back I posted a thread on TMP and The Guild about spending lots of money over the years on making my own terrain and never being satisfied with it.

I saw some great stuff on the web. Some guys are really talented. These inspirations include:

Dougie's Afghanistan terrain from The Guild

War Artisan's Battlecloth terrain

GaleForce 9

Griffin Tabletop System

Terra Firma Studios

RPG terrain

Wargame Innovations

There are probably a few more but I will have to add them later.

So during this time I evaluated all the techniques I had tried over the years and thoroughly read all the above sights and even tried a few sample tests myself.

The Outcome?
Most of what I have tried is stuff I am still not happy with. I think this is more about me as an artist and creative individual than about the technique used. So I needed to settle on a set of techniques for 2 sets of terrain (central Europe and Afghanistan) for 2 scales (6mm and 20mm) that is easy to do and does not require must artistic flair but gives good results.

One of the techniques I have used over the years is to get mdf board precut to 300 x 300 or 600 x 600 square. I then get 10mm rubber/foam sheet and cut it to 305 or 605 square and glue it down on the mdf. The reason I use this is that I can pin terrain items in place. This helps as most terrain pieces made at home are very light and can shift around on the board during gameplay. The other reason I use foam is that I can never get modules of terrain board to butt up against each other seamlessly. Especially in 6mm, you can really notice the lines and any gaps that may exist. Because the rubber foam flexs easily you can push 2 boards together and they kind of adjust their edge to close any gap that my be there. A good thick flock on those edges and the line is minimised. Add terrain pieces on the lines and you can do a good job of hiding them altogether. After glueing the foam sheet on, I then paint brown and while the paint is wet, throw on a combination of light green and dark green very fine flock. Then a coat of thick coat of hairspray and all is done.

Over time I have testing adding hills to the boards or leaving the hills as separate pieces. When adding them to the boards, each board then becomes a small model in itself. You then feel tempted to add bushes, a tree or 2, or 20, a farm or a village and pretty soon it gets very hard to store these boards and you seem to always be fighting on the same area or the world right down to the line of trees outside Smith's farm. I found that if I left the hills as separate pieces they often warped or just sat about 1mm or 2mm above the terrain board partly because they have not real weight to them and partly because there is a thin layer of flock between them and the board. A shadow at the bottom of such a hill can be very annoying. I noticed that some modellers glue their hill to a piece of mdf to get weight and then model that bottom layer as part of the hill. I think this is a good idea but without a jigsaw or filing tools or skills, I had to abandon that idea.

I've also tried larger and smaller boards, cork instead of foam, sand and paint instead of flock, foam board instead of mdf and a myriad of other options.

A Decision Made
At the end of these 2 weeks I presented a number if ideas to my wife (a non gamer) along with photos of all. I presented photos because I like to document my gaming here on my blog so whatever I use going forward will need to look good to me, a gamer from a local club and a viewer online). While looking at the images and samples, my wife also had to balance any need for artistic flair and the cost of materials required.

The end decision negotiated between the 2 of us was:

Europe - Foam layer on mdf 600 x 600 square. Thick brown paint with patches of sand, light green, dark green and combined flock. Rivers and rough can be cut into the foam but everything else will be separate fully modelled terrain pieces such as farms, villages, hills and woods. Base all of these peices on thick card or thin mdf where possible and cut and model as part of the overall model and flock exactly the same. Make lots of them so the terrain lines are covered and there is a lot to fight over. DAS clay to be used to model ground and such in some of the terrain models. Items such as small hills and ridges and river banks and berms will use such clay. The idea is that each piece will be a separate model and artpiece in itself and can be added to any place on the boards because all of the boards are flat. The base will weight it down on the board or pins can be used.

Afghanistan - same except that instead of flock on the wet brown paint, a thick layer of sand will be placed. When dry it will be dry brushed with 3 shades of dark sand, light sand and then white. All terrain will be modelled separately as well and will be flocked the same as for the boards.

Luckily I still had 4 of the 600 x 600 boards with foam from an attempt long ago with house redering paint. So I slapped on a thick layer of brown paint and threw on the flock first with handfulls of sand, then light green, then dark green and then both light and dark combined.

I then created a hill from foamboard and based it on stiff card and flocked it exactly the same way. While doing that I threw together another smaller hill and added undergrowth and custom made trees and flocked it also.

Here are the results so far:

Part 2 to follow.

As usual feel free to comment or make suggestions.

Euro Terrain Project - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4


ScannableGoose said...

Thanks for the links Dave!
The new terrain looks nice.
I'm going to be on a terrain kick this year as well.
Looking forward to seeing more of your output!

rpardo said...

Thanks for all the useful info. I am thinking to change my veeeeery old EPS terrain modules, so I am considering several alternatives.
Your solution seems to be very good. I'll foloow your efforts!