Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Great Terrain Adventure - Part 2

Before I continue on from the first installment of this particular insanity, I thought I'd take a moment for some thoughts and general observations.

I am not the most adept person with tools. I can muddle through some things but I've learned exactly how much I don't know about making and fixing things. What this means is that if I can do this you can too.  Really.  Trust me.

One of the side effects of the above is that I don't have a lot of power tools or specialized equipment. In fact one of the specific tools I started out with - a cheap, hot-wire foam-cutter - I gave up on because of the crappy results. I also haven't bought much in the way of tools for this project.

My overall goal is to end up with a nice looking terrain table for actual fantasy games with miniatures. I'm not making a showpiece diorama kind of thing where I want it to be 100% perfect to scale with amazing detail; moving miniatures around on that kind of setup would certainly mess it up.

That being said, I do want it to look nice. I would hate to put so much time into something and be able to see where I used cereal boxes and cottage cheese containers.

Lastly, whenever possible I try to avoid expensive materials and tools. The vast majority of what has gone into this came from local hardware and craft stores.

Ok, so on with the adventure!

After having done some rough gluing and sculpting in part 1, I continued to shape the terrain.  In the picture above you can see the mountains on the left now have some added surface texture thanks to me hacking away at it with a large utility knife (the yellow handled think to the left of center).

I had a lot of internal debate on this. Part of me wanted the mountain to be more realistic in shape, but the terracing effect from the layers of foam would allow for minis to be set partway up the mountain. I went ahead with functionality over reality (this wouldn't be the last time).

In the river section, I covered the built-up foam area with spackle and glued some molded plaster rock's to one side of the bank. The stuff starts out pink while it's wet and turns completely white when it dries, which keeps me from sticking my fingers in it to see if it's dry yet and messing up the sculpted surface.  Spackle is wonderful stuff. I went through at least a whole quart tub of it for the terrain overall. There's another molded-plaster rock (bottom center) in what will be the shallower part of the river.

Oh, that reminds me about glue. Through all of this I'm just using good old-fashioned Elmer's white glue. If you're going to make one of these, go to the hardware store and buy one of the gallon bottles. Really. I totally underestimated how much glue this all takes and went with the little frickin' bottles because they're cheap. Now I've gone through at least a dozen of them and wish I'd just bought the big one.

I bought the red-handled wire brush (just to the right of center) for adding texture and some coarse sculpting. Don't bother. I found it makes a mess and doesn't work that well. Maybe I'll use it to clean a grill or something.

On the far right you can see the trench I carved for the town sewer. It turned out it would have been a hell of a lot easier to cut this before I glued the foam to the hardboard. Live and learn.

In the next picture I've made some more progress. The river banks have been built up a bit more with spackle, and I've spackled some of the gaps on the mountains. The mountains also have some plaster rocks added to the top, and in that far back corner is the ruins of a tower (I'll talk about making these in a later post). I also added some rocks and spackle to the flat part of the mountain section to keep the terrain from being too ... well ... flat.

Just to the left of the river is a stone circle. I did a lot of going in circles (pun intended) over how to build it. I didn't want the stones to be soft foam so I messed around with the idea of carving them out of wood, modeling them out of clay, or molding them in plaster. The more I thought about it the more of a pain in the butt these all would be, so I ended up carving them out of some spare pieces of blue foam. Surprisingly they turned out to not be too soft, and once glued down (with a toothpick pinning each one for added stability) they're really well set and not going anywhere.

The little houses that were tan in the top photo were painted to the best of my limited painting ability. I got them years ago as a freebie at Gen Con. They're not exactly to the right scale and you can't open them to move figures around inside, but they'll be useful for outdoor encounters.

On the right side ... well, ignore that for now. The sewers merit a post all to themselves.

1 comment:

  1. It's not easy doing something new. But what you've done turned out very nicely. I'm looking forward to the next installment. :-)