Terrain Project - New gaming table (Part 2)

This is the second part of my latest terrain project. It's picture heavy! and shows the actual build of my board for the most part. If you missed the first part, you can view that here: Terrain Project part 1  Just as a reminder from the last post, here's a picture of what I roughly planned out the board to look like. I used "space board" from wickes as the basis for the board. These boards are lightweight and durable, and they're pretty cheap too. Four of them laid next to each other make the perfect size for the average wargames table.
the plan

the plan

The first thing I tackled with this build was to translate the picture onto the actual board, I measured everything out so that each section could be placed into as many orientations as possible and everything would still go together. The measurements were then translated and drawn onto the pink foam. The main focus here was the roads, as these are the bits that would look daft on the board if they didn't match up. Once I got these sorted I drew on the rest and made it fit and look "right" with the other elements. Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of that particular stage, but you'll get the idea from the following pictures I did take.
river cut out

river cut out

After I drew everything on, I stood back and thought. "Great... now where the F*$% do I start?!" So, I dove straight in at the deep end and went for the river. The river was quite difficult to dig out, Initially I thought I could use a chisel. This was a dumb idea. The chisel just wouldn't work at all, all I managed to achieve was to make a mess and anger myself greatly. I quickly switched over to various scalpel and stanley knives. These cut very well, sometimes too well, easily slipping and cutting where I didn't want to cut. Not to worry though, this is just the base. It's quite a forgiving process. The other thing I was worried about was how deep to cut. The boards are 50-55mm thick, so I  wanted to get quite deep, as I had the ability. the 3D aspect of a detailed board is what can really make it look good, but cutting too thin would seriously compromise the structure of the board, So I took the decision to not cut out under where the bridges cross the river. This doesn't looks as good as it "could", but it helps keep the board strong, and also meant I could use less of the water solution which probably cost as much as the rest of the materials to make the board!!
cutout river

cutout river

As you can see from the above image, I left the bridge crossings intact, for strength, as well as economy. Also, at this point I still wasn't entirely sure what kind of bridges I was going to be using.
Board building round two

Board building round two

Cutting out the board with a scalpel knife was extremely time consuming, and also blunted a few blades pretty quickly. I ended up getting a little system going where I would cut out about 2" worth of board and hack all that out, then move onto the next 2" section, this made my progress a little quicker once I knew what I was doing. It doesn't matter at this stage if it's not entirely neat. at the end of the day, it's gonna get covered in filler.
Board building round two - filler'd river

Board building round two - filler'd river

The next stage was to fill the river with filler. This was cheap filler I get from my local poundland. It's brilliant stuff, and to be honest, it's just as good as the more expensive polyfiller, only a quarter of the price. The stuff I can normally get is "151 ready mix filler". This was just slapped on and smoothed out in the river bed, I didn't smooth it too much though, it's supposed to be a natural rock formation after all.
wireframe hedges

wireframe hedges

Once the river bed was laid, I started on marking the hedges. These were made with Bird feeders. The bird feeders come from Wilkinsons, I always seem to get the same girl on the tills whenever I go in too, every time with at least 5 birdfeeders. She probably thinks I'm crazy. I use birdfeeders because the gauge of the wire is pretty small, it's only about 5mm, where normal chicken wire that's readily available is usually about 10-15mm. If anyone local to cockermouth can find a roll of this stuff at 5mm gauge you'd quickly become my favourite person! The Hedges are made by bending over the wire and sticking it into the terrain board it's self, sticking it down and covering it in clump foliage (woodland scenics)
Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Shaping the hedges was pretty easy, just bend the wire to whatever shape you desire, if there's a big bend in the hedge, just cut the inside edge wire and fold it in on it'self.
Board building round two

Board building round two - staples

I held the wire down with staples from a staple gun. There was an open set at B&Q which they were selling cheap, so I didn't even pay full price for them, maybe £2 for about 1000 staples. These were pushed in at random angles to help hold down the wire.
Board building round two

Board building round two

glued wireframes

glued wireframes

As well as the staples, I ran hot glue round the bottom of each one, this really seals the wire into place and makes sure it isn't going anywhere!
Board building round two

Board building round two

Here's a photo of how the board looked at this point. Still pretty bare, but you can see all the drawn on lines at this point.
Board building round two

Board building round two

I used brown carpet tiles which I got again from poundland for my ploughed fields. These were a rare find, But normally I would use a cheapo doormat. I frequently see these types of doormat for about 80p in my local ASDA (walmart), The cornfields are just a regular doormat. They cost about £3 from Wilkinsons, and about £5 for a really big one. These look great as cornfields in most scales.
Board building round two

Board building round two

No, I haven't gone mad and put an aztec pyramid on my terrain board, What I did do though was weigh down the blue foam which I used to create some raised areas on the board. This blue foam was Donated from a friend at the club, and came from his board build which we used for last years game at albinach show in Dumfries. The blue foam was stuck down with PVA glue but even in July when I made the board, the garage was really cold, so it took bloody ages to set!
Board building round two

Board building round two

This photo shows the section which has the 12" square hole cut into it. The 12" hole is going to have lots of different pieces made which can interchange onto the board to keep it fresh.
staples for extra support

staples for extra support

I stuck a few extra staples into the blue foam for support when it looked like it might pop back up.
runny watered down filler

runny watered down filler

Next i watered down a bit of filler, so it was at the consistency of melty ice cream. I slopped this over all the places where boards met so there were no joins or seams.
Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

I also put some filler round the bottom of the hedges to hide the glue. This also gives a better foundation to for the stones to stick to later, and helps again lock down those hedges.
Board building round two

Board building round two

Here's how it's coming on so far!
Board building round two

Board building round two

Skip forward a bit and the board has evolved even further!! In the four recesses where I'll have interchangeable pieces, I laid some plasticard, just as it looks nicer than the bare foam. This was purely to make it look posh. I also had a bit of a brainwave about how to do my wooded areas. I stuck more blue foam down and stuck some drawing pins into the top foam. The plan then was to magnatise the trees, so they can be easily removed from the board when it's being transported and stored, and when moving troops through. So far though, a few months later, the trees are still on regular bases... I used some old flock I was never going to use for anything else and some large gauge modelling grit I found in a box somewhere to add some texture to the wooded areas, making it look a bit different to the rest of the board.
magnatised tree bases

magnatised tree bases

Foam board was then cut and stuck down where the roads are. This foamboard cost about 50p a sheet when I bought it. Cheap, lightweight and easy to work with. You'll see from the photos that these look like a total mess, but, it's only to raise the road, it'll get tidied up later on. You might also spot that I have added stones around the base of the hedges too. This was just fish tank gravel which cost £4 for a bag that I bought about 5 years ago. I've gave some away, I've used some for asteroids in space games, made countless feet of bocage hedges and I've still got boat loads of this stuff left!!
Board building round two

Board building round two

More roads.
Board building round two

Board building round two

The bridges were applied at the same time as the roads. The small one at the bottom of this image was a small bridge from warbases which I picked up at the Albinach show in march. The other two bridges were one kit from a 1/48(?) pontoon bridge kit I've had for many years that has stood doing absolutely nothing. I finally put it to good use. Some of the roads then had "will's kits" sections applied over the top of them. I used various kits but mainly the cobbled road type. I cut these in half down the middle. These look like large roads at 15mm scale, and small paved tracks in 28mm. Once I'd put the wills kits roads down I then built up the banks of the road with filler, mainly with a butter knife, again, poundland had some cheap crap knives in, I bought a pack of 5 which are great for spreading filler like it was butter on toast.
Board building round two

Board building round two

The other roads were then covered in lots of filler, this was smoothed out as much as possible, then over it I ran the edge of a lucozade bottle cap. The ridges in the bottle cap look a bit like tank tracks.
Board building round two

Board building round two

As you can see in the photo above, the bottle cap effect works pretty well! You have to be careful here though and soak the bottle cap in water, roll it a couple of times slowly, then remove it, wash it and repeat, if you keep rolling it along eventually you'll pull up the filler. The filler has to be quite dry for this effect to work. If it's too wet it won't hold the detail you want to leave in the terrain.
Board building round two

Board building round two

I ran the cap in different directions over the roads when I got to junctions to make it look like the roads were being used by multiple vehicles travelling in different directions.
Board building round two

Board building round two

Close up of the warbases small bridge. At 15mm this fits on a sherman quite nicely, and at 28mm is purely a small foot bridge.
Board building round two

Board building round two

It's starting to come together! Next up was to spray the roads and the bases for the interchangeable sections. I took this photo when i'd just finished spraying so it looks very patchy, but it dried very well!
Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

Board building round two

After I sprayed the roads black (i used my airbrush and vallejo primer) I painted the rest of the board brown. I bought the brown paint from Wilkinsons. They have tester pots for £1 which are BRILLIANT for terrain making. I used the "Java Bean" colour, and I think this table took about 3 pots. It might be worth me buying a proper jar of the stuff, but the tester pots come in very handy. I painted pretty much the whole board with this brown other than where I had just painted black.
Board building round two

Board building round two

Painted brown

Painted brown

Painted brown

Painted brown

Painted brown

Painted brown

Painted brown - bridges

Painted brown

Painted brown

Painted brown

Painted brown

Painted brown

Roads painted

Roads painted

The roads were then painted a darker shade, by mixing a little black paint into the java bean colour.
Roads painted

Roads painted

Roads painted

Roads painted

Now for the fun part. I had bought a large amount of static grass which I emptied into a large tub. I did each section separately, and used watered down PVA to paint the board, I then poured static grass over it, then shook it off and collected the excess back into my large container. By the end of this process I don't know what had the most static grass on it, the garage floor, the board or me!
static grass applied

static grass applied

Now I took my cut outs of the various fields and stuck them down to the board. Next was to go round and do highlighting on the various parts of the board. The stones round the bottom of the hedges were drybrushed grey, as were the roads. The mud roads were given a highlight of snakebite leather(?) paint to pick out the track details, and the wood sections were also highlighted like this.
static grass applied

static grass applied

static grass applied

static grass applied

static grass applied

static grass applied

the interchangable base

the interchangable base

As you can see, a 12" square piece sits very neatly in this hole. I'll be making a few of them in the same style as the board to make the features different for various games and scales.
river

river

The river was then painted, I started by painting the whole river light blue, then a medium blue, leaving some of the light blue showing at the top, then another darker blue leaving more showing, then finally a deep dark blue which ran down the centre of the deepest part of the river. I also at this stage stuck the woodland scenics clump foliage to the wireframe hedges. I tried to use the glue they recommend (and sell), but to be honest, I couldn't get away with it. I think it's designed more for railway layouts that don't get much action. A wargames board needs to be a little more robust, so I used hot glue to stick the foliage down. I used tow main colours for some variation.
river section

river section

river section

river section

I also did a soft highlight on the river with white, As you can see in the above image.
realistic water - milk pan

realistic water - milk pan

To make the water, I used woodland scenics "E-Z water" which comes in small beads. I bought a cheapo milk pan from the local bargain store to melt this stuff in. In heinsight, I wish I'd have bought one with a pouring spout. As this stuff is pretty sticky, so it dribbled down the side of the pan. In my old house this wasn't a problem as I had a gas hob. The excess that ran down the pan simply burned off. Now, I have a halogen hob, and it stuck to it. Eventually it burned off, but not before the wife got to see it. My advice. Save yourself some grief and get a pan with a spout! This stuff was pretty expensive, and with nearly two full packs i didn't really have enough. with a lot of things they say "less is more" but I can speak from experience here and say with woodland scenics e-z water. More is more. It's expensive (in comparison to everything else in this build), but it's worth it. Buy more than you need, you won't regret it.
finished water

finished water

It seems to show a little yellow in this image, but it actually dries crystal clear, it's fantastic stuff and the river really does look fantastic.
finished board

finished board

Here's the board pretty much complete before I've managed to make anything to sit in the interchangeable sections. I've also stood some trees on the wooded areas to show what they look like.    
bridges

bridges

trees applied

trees applied

finished board

finished board

finished board

finished board

finished board

finished board

finished board top view

finished board top view

Overall, I'm quite happy with how this board has turned out so far. It's still got gaps on it here, but I've got one complete set of interchangable parts already made up. One of them is a 28mm church, you can see how I made that here: 28mm scratch built church If I could have done anything differently, now I've built it, I would have made the hills a bit bigger. Even though I've got some extra foam on there, it still looks pretty flat, I'd also make the hills a bit more natural, I thought it would be better to keep them quite sharp, but now I'm regretting it a bit. More filler required next time!! I'm also experimenting with a better way to do the grass areas. The static grass doesn't look as good as it could do here. I'm still happy with the board, and I've learned an awful lot along the way, after all this was my first full board. But, I will be changing my methods in future builds. The beauty of this board is that it can be arranged into lots of different positions, so I can change it up from game to game, I can also build new sections bit by bit and swap them out. Over time I'll eventually replace/redo each of these sections. But for now I'm more than happy with my efforts. I hope you've enjoyed this post, If you have, please comment below, share on facebook, tweet about it, share on google+ and on your local forums and club websites, every like, tweet, share and link really help my blog. Thanks again for reading. Chris

3 Responses

  1. shaun

    inspiring! I do not have great terrain and posts like these inch me bit by bit to making my own. The odd bits and pieces I have done in the past I have enjoyed doing. So thanks for posting.

    Reply

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