Archive for the ‘Terrain’ Category

So as a follow up experiment with paper mache, I have decided to make a trench system. Actually, its not so much a trench system as a modular fortification system. I say this because the walls only go up to a trooper waist (so line of sight can be drawn in both Warmachine and Warhammer). Anyway, before making a full trench (ish) system, I decided to do 3 peices as a prototype. Its a good thing too, because so far the whole thing has been littered with mistakes and regrets. Hopefully the 3 I am doing now turn out slightly good, so that the rest can be much better.

I started out cutting the masonite bases 4″ by 4″. I only beveled 1 edge (1st mistake). Using some basswood rods (I think 3/16″) and popsicle sticks, I made my trench walls. Hot glue attached them together.

Next I mixed up my paper mache. Now, in an effort to not repeat my previous mistake, I made another mistake. I did not drain enough water from the last batch of paper mache, and it was way too wet and unruly. This time, I drained almost all of the water from the paper mache. The result? It was very difficult to work with. As it is drying, I question its durability.

After applying the paper mache to the base, it looks mediocre. I am hoping it looks better after drying. The last bit I made didn’t look all that great until after it was sanded either. Here you can see how they work together to create a nice system

I am going to try and not include too many minor details here. My process hasn’t really changed from my previous terrain articles. Once the mache dries, I coat will kitty litter and sand for texture. I did do something new here. After the sand dried, I applied another layer of glue ontop of the terrain for added durability. The extra strenght was really apparent in the final product.

Next was my standard paint job:

Finally, I add the static grass and consider it done.

These are actually alot of fun to do and use. I may make another tutorial covering making corner pieces or bends for the trenches. Another great learning experience for me. Now that the prototypes are done, I can start mass producing. Oh, I almost forgot the bottom line (I am cheap, remember?). Given that I found a cheap piece of masonite, I can make roughly 20 of these pieces for $10; maybe a little less depending on glue prices. Thanks for reading!


So, after spending a few days and making my first pieces of paper mache terrain (the post can be found here), I figured I would write down some notes about the process.

What I would do differently:

  1. This is number one and single handedly the most important: make sure you drain the excess water from your paper pulp before adding glue. This changed the entire project for me. It caused slow dry times, warping, and excessive shrinking.
  2. After the glue / sand / rock layer dried, I should have re-coated the entire piece in another layer of water / glue. This would have added strength to the sand and rock that was there. What happened in my project is that certain rocks weren’t held tightly, and after painting, they came off and left unpainted spots. Another glue layer would have helped hold everything firm.
  3. The first layer of c0lor I painted (the dark brown) was put on over the black too sparingly. It made the base too dark. The result was that the whole piece was very dark, and if I added more highlight to it to brighten it, there was a stark contrast.
  4. In the future I will be more careful (aka, stingy) with the static grass. Too much of the stuff just does not look right, and it took my “woodland” piece from being my favorite, to my least liked instantly.
  5. I wish I would have built bigger. Considering how much everything shrank (probably because of #1), the finish product wasn’t big enough to be affective to scale.

What worked for me:

  1. I very much enjoyed my color choices, and while bare they looked odd, once I added the grass they really popped.
  2. Paper mache is cheap and very durable, I will definitely use it as a sculpting medium again.
  3. The pieces are very modular while also matching. They would look good alone, or with each other.

All in all, the project provided for a great learning experience. I can’t wait to make some more terrain and share it here.

(To jump straight to the “What I Learned” section, click here)

I have recently started wanting to play more games at home (babies will do that). Not wanting to spend $40-$60 on a play mat, I (being cheap) just bought a big piece of green felt. If you buy a sheet slightly larger than 4′ x 4′, you can fold over the edges and stitch them in place. It makes for a very nice mat (for felt anyway). Terrain, however, is a different story. I bought some felt for rivers, forests, roads, etc, but it just felt a little too cheap (strange coming from my mouth). So I set out to make some nice terrain that wouldn’t break my (very small) bank. After reading several tutorials around the web, especially, I started making my plans.

My first step was to provide something very sturdy for my terrain to sit on. I had some MDF lying around from when my wife relayed our kitchen floor (I know, how lucky am I? I mean, having some extra board…oh, and the wife thing too). I set my jigsaw to cut at a 45 degree angle and set out to make some amorphous shapes. All pics are with my cell phone.

Once I sanded off any rough edges, it was time to build up some actual terrain for my terrain pieces. At this point, you have a ton of options. You can use clay, putty, rocks, foam core, or my choice paper mache. I chose paper mache because of its ease of use and relative cheapness. I had an egg carton in the fridge with only 1 egg in it (yoink!) and I have some Elmer’s glue (double yoink!) and I had everything I needed to make my mache. Recipes I found online told me to tear the egg carton into confetti (I only used the top half and had more than enough) and soak it in water over night (or a few hours). When I came back, the paper was like soggy Wheaties. I shredded it a bit more and then put it in the blender with more water (check with your wife first… learn from my mistakes). Only blend it for a few seconds. When I lifted the lid off, the mixture was so thin I thought I had obliterated the paper so bad that there was nothing left to make paper mache with. Luckily I waited a few minutes before dumping it. As the paper separated form the water, it became the perfect consistency. After straining it out, it looked something like this:

Notice the water in the bottom of the bowl? Be sure to strain it all out. The recipe told me to remove excess water, but of course I thought I knew better than the recipe. So now I am on day 2 waiting for this damn stuff to dry. Learn from my mistakes and squeeze out excess water. At this point, I mixed in a bunch of glue. I can’t tell you how much. Basically, I took the lid of the bottle and added some glue, then mixed it around. Repeat until consistency you desire. My general rule of thumb is “You can’t have too much glue.” I began adding the paste/pulp to my MDF and it built up really nicely.

The first piece I did was a “forest/natural” piece. I will later add a few trees and brush. You can see, I added a little hill and some nice natural curves.

Next was a trench piece. Mostly just a wall of “dirt” or maybe sandbags if I feel like sculpting more when this dries.

Finally, I wanted to make a blast crater. As you can see, the middle is rather bare and then blast “marks” are fanning out. The center of this will be painted black that fades into normal soil colors.

All three

After 2 days of waiting for it to dry, I got a little impatient and threw them into the oven. Set the temperature to 200, and then turned it off before putting the terrain in. I cooked them 3 times. Afterwards, the one piece was still a little wet, but oh well. I have noted 2 things that I will do better next time. The first is to definitely remove the excess water (am I stressing it enough?) and the second is to compact it more as I am sculpting it. I loosely put it on the board. The result of the above 2 things is that my mache terrain shrunk while drying and deformed a little. It is also a bit spongy now. Luckily, none of that is too bad and I can continue with this project. The next thing I did, when it was mostly dry, was to water down some Elmer’s glue and coat the entire terrain piece (board and all). Once coated, I sprinkled some kitty litter for rocks and sand for general texture. Let dry completely before continuing.

After everything dried, I put some paint down. I started with a base coat of black. This gives it some nice shadows. The next coat is a dry brushing of “Traditional Burnt Umber”. Drybrush very thickly, as it is a dark brown color to begin with. Next I did a light drybrushing of “Cinnamon Brown”. Finally, I did a very light drybrushing of “Amish Grey” on the smal stones only (All of the colors were from the cheap $1 bottles of Acrylic found at craft stores).

OK, after all of the paint dried it was time to add some static grass and call it done. For my trench, I wanted it to look like the earth was shoveled up, so there would be clumps of grass on the trench top itself.

For the crater, I tried to make the inside black, so it would look charred. I added some grass inside the crater and then brushed it black to look like burnt grass. In my opinion, it came out so-so. It is a technique I will have to work on to get better.

The last bit is my “woodland” piece. I have to be honest and say I don’t like this one at all, even though it started out as my favorite. It had unfavorable shrinking when it was drying, no direction, and a crazy amount of “over-grassing”. In the end, it just looks….eh to me.

All in all, I feel that this was a very successful first attempt at better terrain building (on the cheap). I will definitely be doing more projects to hone my skills and get more tutorials out there.

Later today (or tomorrow) I will be making a new blog post regarding what I learned during this process. Hopefully it will help me organize my notes and allow people to learn from my initial mistakes. Look for the link here when it is up.

With all of the new Grind excitement, I decided I wanted to try and make a grind ball. Now I know a ball will come with the game, but I figured in the meantime it would provide something fun to do. I knew the ball had to be metal and spikey, but besides that, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted, so I hit the internet. After a bit of searching, I found this page. This had pretty much what I wanted, ranted it was in german and I don’t speak german. Go Go Google Translate! Anyway, I made one just like the german guide showed (and subsequently didn’t take pictures of it because I forgot my camera) and took it to my LGS for some fun. Someone there mentioned how awesome they would be as mines and objectives in games too, so I set out to make 5 more of them. This time, however, I was going to do it even cheaper than my first one. To make it less expensive, substitute toothpicks for spears, leave out the snaps (they were the most expensive part of the whole project), and use cheap flat black paint instead of primer. Here is my step by step:

This is everything you need: A 3″ foam ball, some cardstock (cut into strips), White glue, toothpics, a balsa wood base, and paint (not shown)

Spike Ball 1

Next you glue the strips around the ball is a completely random, haphazard fashion

Spike Ball 2Spike Ball 3

After that, cut your toothpicks in half and start sticking them in

spike balls3spike balls 4

Finally, spray paint it black and dry brush it metal. This is the step you will spend the most time on (or the least time if it really doesn’t matter what it looks like). For my, I tend to build up layers and add rust and blood effects, but for now, here is the image with just a Pig Iron base

spike balls 5spike balls 7

And there you go. The original way (with the spears and snaps) really wasn’t that expensive, but if you want to even shave off the last couple of bucks, this is how to do it. I have seen them used a couple of different ways now:

  • Grind Balls
  • Mines
  • Barracades
  • Objectives (that randomnly detonate on a roll of 1)

Anyway, enjoy.

Mine Scenario

Posted: October 2, 2010 in Pictures, Terrain, Terrain Building

I finally finished a piece of terrain I have been working on for months. I got the idea for this from NQ #14 (I think). I read the battle report and terrain building article and new I had to make one myself. It ended up being a huge undertaking on my part, since I didn’t even own all the tools I would need to make it. In the end, I scrapped the idea of laying tracks, lights, and minecars, but I am still quite happy with it. It is killer fun to play on. Some of the rules we use for the board:

  • Defender deploys first when attacker isn’t looking, then places the cap on
  • Attacker goes first without knowing how the defenders are deployed
  • No flying, arcing fire, or jumping inside the cave
  • Defenders win when attacking lock/casters are dwad
  • Attacker wins when caster/lock gets to the back corner of the mine

Without further ado, some picture:

So far I have only played 1 game on it, but it is killer fun. All in all, it was a great learning experience, and not too bad for a first terrain piece.