C’est Bocage

I decided to start a few test pieces of bocage this past weekend, and while I’m awaiting an order of ‘coarse turf’ to finish up the foilage, I thought I’d post a few progress shots. Before I forget, all this work is based off of a tutorial by another Tim.

The bocage banks are extruded polystyrene insulation board (3/4″ thickness) carved and shaped with an x-acto knife. The insulation sculpting takes the bulk of the construction time-A saw or hot wire might be a quicker/better/more expensive option. The trick to cutting this stuff cleanly, no matter how sharp your knife, is to go slowly with your cuts-otherwise, your knife will ‘drag’ and rip the insulation. Don’t sweat it too much, though, as you’ll have to sand the insulation pieces afterwards anyway, to smooth out harsh edges.

The polystyrene is based on sheet plastic, glued with white glue. I ‘feathered’ the banks into the plasticard with wood filler, which has a nice earthy texture to it and dries quite hard. Toothpicks are embedded in the banks and will help in attaching the foilage (which will be glued down with a hot glue gun).

There is a crazy person on TMP who, in a great example of how you can be right AND wrong at the same time, angrily types about how bocage NEVER EVER EVER EVER has rocks showing on the banks. Most of the photos I’ve seen back him up, but, in a pique, I threw in a few strategically placed kitty litter stones, anyway.

It turns out that my ACW roads can do double duty for Normandy. They'd look better with more relief, and less grass, though.

It turns out that my ACW roads can do double duty for Normandy. They’d look better with more relief, and less grass, though.

The growth on top of the banks is made up of a generic blue colored air filter. I cut jagged strips out of the filter of roughly the same length as the banks, then strategically hacked it up and teased it out. It’s painted with dark brown spraypaint and a highlight of a tannish color. Ultimately the filter material will be sprayed with watered down white glue and flocked with the ‘coarse turf’ material I mentioned earlier.

Reviewing these photos, I think the filter material could be hacked up and teased out quite a bit more to get that wild and unkempt look that you see in photos of the bocage. I’m also a little concerned that the base of the filter stuff is too coherent and narrow…seems like it should spill down the banks, at least a little. Also, you can make out a bit of the original blue color of the filter. I should probably re-spray the material, but I’m lazy and almost certainly won’t. Some flowers and greater variety of grasses might help them come alive.

What the bocage would have looked like, had the allies possessed agent orange in WW2?

What the bocage would have looked like, had the allies possessed agent orange in WW2?

A 'special' section of bocage with an (unpainted) field gate.

A ‘special’ section of bocage with an (unpainted) field gate. You get a better sense of the wood filler texture on these relatively bare banks.

I think I’ll need to do 15-20′ of bocage for my 4’x6′ gaming mat….quite an undertaking. I’ll need various corner angle pieces, and want to do a variety of  ‘special’ sections. I’ll need some man-gates, some penetrated areas (Shermans with cullen cutters, don’t you know!), and some sections with trees sticking out. I hope to find some images, descriptions, and/or diagrams of German defensive positions in the bocage, so I can replicate them. If anyone has any thoughts on other interesting bocage pieces, please chip in!

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  • Atelier-Robin  On 04/16/2014 at 9:35 am

    Those pics look great. Very evocative.

  • 40kterminatus  On 04/17/2014 at 12:55 am

    All you need is a Jagdpanther sticking its barrel out of a bush at the end of the lane and the scene is perfect.Good job on the scenery.

    • arkiegamer  On 04/17/2014 at 5:54 am

      Thanks! The Sherman can be thankful I haven’t painted any of those, yet.

  • 40kterminatus  On 04/23/2014 at 7:55 am

    Oh and yes you can have rocks on the banks. I have found quite a few pics of rocks on the banks. The rocks are usually covered but erosion mostly by farmers in the field shows them up. Also as the farmers work on the field they push the ploughed up rock/stone to the bocage banks at the side so your rocks are spot on.

    • arkiegamer  On 04/23/2014 at 12:41 pm

      Makes sense to me. I live in a rocky area, and the farmers always complain about how their fields ‘grow’ rocks every year.

      This is a hilly area, and the tops of the hills are pasture surrounded by wooded ravines. The farmers gather the rocks in the fields and use them to make low stone rubble walls, which are usually found 10-15 feet inside the woods that border the fields. I suppose if this area had been inhabited by farmers for a thousand years the walls would be quite impressive by now!

  • cama4actual  On 08/26/2015 at 9:54 am

    AB Figures? They look terrific!

    • arkiegamer  On 08/26/2015 at 11:20 am

      Yessir, they’re AB, thanks! Tank is an Italeri fast-build.

      • cama4actual  On 08/26/2015 at 12:40 pm

        Nicely done! If anything were to sway me away from 6mm, it would be AB.

      • arkiegamer  On 08/26/2015 at 12:41 pm

        Barton has been adding to the WWII range in recent months.


  • By A Tree Grows in Normandy | ArkieGamer on 05/11/2014 at 11:28 am

    […] taken Thomas’s suggestion and made trees out of found twigs and the air filter material I used to make my bocage. They’ve turned out nicely, I think. Which just goes to show, you should always take […]

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