Category Archives: Terrain

A Place to Call Home

col

Apples and ale

Not too much progress on the hobby front over the past couple of weeks, but I did make up this deployment point vignette for Sharp Practice II. It’s carved out of polyiso rigid insulation, which is something of a new material for me to work with. This was a practice piece. I think my texture work needs some…work, and the paint job got away from me a bit. I wanted it to look like a weathered ruin, but it’s kind of a muddy mess.

I thought about adding some stacked muskets to the vignette for extra ambience, but left them out for the moment, leaving the piece is period-neutral.

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Rubble filled stone wall.

The only figure I’ve painted since the last post is the colonel of the 1/52nd that you see in the pictures. It’s a Perry figure. He’s quite dashing, with his pelisse thrown carelessly over his shoulder, and bright orange mutton chops. I’ll call him Opie.

col-4

You’ll never fit through that door, Opie.

 

Tabletop Workshop

A NICE RESOURCE

workshop

Don’t bother clicking this image. I don’t have WordPress premium, so can’t embed video.

 

I think I might have found the best terrain building tutorial channel on YouTube. Unfortunately (for me), all the narration is in German, which means I need to pay close attention to the visuals. That said, the tutorials are very easy to follow even for a non-understander.

Here’s the link to Tabletop Workshop YouTube Channel. You’re more than welcome (nay, encouraged!!) to pass on your favorite terrain tutorial video links in the comments.

Rifling Through

Arise, arise, blog! Live!

goodmarch

95th Rifles on the Dusty Road. Some bossy fellow points the way.

 

Well, it’s been a minute or two, but I’ve been a-hobbying lately, and have managed to finish off the 95th Rifles for my long-suffering Lasalle Light Division project.

goodpano

95th Rifles in Line, 43rd Monmothshire advances along the road. Bossy fellows abound.

With this regiment out of the way, I only have to paint up the 1st Cacadores, and I’ll have my core force completed. The 1st is mounted up on tongue suppressors, and ready for priming, so perhaps early September will see the completion of the first, core, stage of this project (there are additional supporting forces to be painted).

The astute observer will notice that I’ve knocked together a miniature terrain board for photographic staging. I used this exercise to try out some new-to-me techniques, including using sifted dirt and tile grout for a ground base. I think the ground work looks pretty fantastic. The finished product is a good representation of an arid area, and the ‘scale’ of the dirt works well with the figure scale. One thing is certain: you can’t beat the price and availability of dirt!

I’ve borrowed/stolen some techniques from Luke Towan’s excellent model railroad YouTube channel. His tutorials are well worth a watch, and are sure to inspire some new ideas, even if the techniques aren’t directly applicable, without modification, to the rigors of a wargaming table.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Somewhere in France…

The hedges are in horrid shape. Obviously the gardener has been off with the Maquis...

The Sherman has totally got the drop on this poor Stug. The hedges are in horrid shape around the chateau. Obviously the gardener has been off with the Maquis…

This brief interlude is serving as a palette cleanser for my Napoleonics project. I picked up a copy of Spearhead a few weeks ago with a view to doing something (anything!) with some microarmor I painted up a long time ago for Normandy. I like the idea of gaming microarmor at the operational level (Spearhead can handle about a division per side, with each player commanding around a battalion). I haven’t totally committed to the rules so I haven’t based any troops or vehicles, yet, but I thought it would be fairly safe to develop some of Spearhead’s 3″x3″ abstracted built-up-areas using some buildings I painted last year.

German anti-tank column pushes through the village.

German column pushes through the village.

I’ve been using Vallejo fine pumice, mixed with paint, for all my basing needs, but it’s a little rough for this scale. I’m ok with the results I got on these two bases, but maybe there’s something more appropriate out there? Also, even the finest model railroad ballast is too chunky for 1/285 gravel, as I’ve used it at the circular drive in front of the chateau. I think play sand would be the thing to use for that sort of application.

Back side.

Back side.

Neat! David Neat.

David Neat’s blog is the best site on model making. Period.

David Neat is a teacher, designer, and maker for movie and theater set design. He builds incredible scale mock-ups, which range from the abstract (as seen below) to the hyper-realistic. Much of it is too fine of a level of detail for wargaming, but the methodology behind the work has broad application. The sections of materials and casting are particularly impressive. Neat also has a book, and I suspect it’s well worth the money.

A Question of Scale

I’ve had a couple of Airfix 1/76 buildings for a while and have finally got around to painting one up. My intention was to use these for my 1/72 Chain of Command games, but it turns out the buildings are on the small side for 1/76, and start to look absolutely tiny for 1/72.

Now, that’s not necessarily a problem-underscale buildings work well in lots of wargaming applications, but it DOES make them less that ideal for 1/72 skirmish gaming, where being able to fit an entire squad of panzergrenadiers in a building becomes important.

On the happy side of things, these buildings look absolutely perfect with my 18mm Napoleonics, which are, eventually, going to do double duty as skirmish figures for Sharp Practice, before moving on to proper unit basing for Neil Thomas’s Napoleonic rules set. The buildings are still small, but at 18mm (AKA swole-up 15mm), they just look like modestly sized structures, rather than something from a dwarf village.

Here are some shots to compare with. Modeling for you on the left are some AB British Peninsular Light Infantry, done up as the 52nd Oxfordshire. On the right are a couple of AB 20mm WWII US Infantry figures.

Airfix 1:76 European Country Cottage Ruin. I think this is meant to be Second Empire Style?

Airfix 1:76 European Country Cottage Ruin. I think it is meant to be in Second Empire Style? I still haven’t weathered this thing, and it definitely doesn’t belong in Normandy, but it will hit the table today for a game of Chain of Command, anyway! If I had it to do over again, I think I’d have left the photo-etched window mullions off of the model. They look a bit weird.

Airfix Italian Farmhouse. Definitely not getting any 20mm figures mounted on pennies on that front porch!

Airfix 1:76 Italian Farmhouse.  Definitely not getting any 20mm figures mounted on pennies on that front porch!

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All that out of the way, these buildings are extremely well sculpted, feature a lot of detail, and are cast in a high quality resin. Very little cleanup was required on the cottage, which made it a real delight to work up, compared to my previous efforts with a JR miniatures resin building. The Italian Farmhouse should be equally easy to prep for painting.

The backs of these buildings are knocked out, which makes it very easy to place figures inside, without having to fool with taking off a roof or 2nd floor.  A nice touch for the wargamer. Potentially bizarre for the dioramist. Looking at some of the damage patterns on the buildings, I question the sculptor’s knowledge of the way structure works, but that’s not really a problem, is it?

One potentially serious omission is that neither building has a first floor. This means you’re definitely going to need to base the houses, and scratch build a floor (with lots of rubble scatter), if you want them to look right. That’s not an insurmountable challenge, or anything, but it’s something to take into account, if you’re after a ready-to-go solution.

I think the buildings were $20-25, or thereabouts, which, even taking into account my quibbles, seems like a good price for the quality of product you receive.

 

Build Bocage, Buddy (Part II)

Part one of this bocage making tutorial is located here. In this part, we’re going to be working on foliage.

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • Your banks from Part I.
  • Generic air filter material. I got mine at Lowe’s. It won’t have a cardboard border, or anything fancy like that, on it.
  • Scissors
  • Fingers
  • Big piece of cardboard or posterboard
  • Brown spraypaint.
  • Tan spraypaint.
  • A garage.
  • Hot glue gun (and hot glue). Other glues may work, but I like the hot stuff because it’s super quick.
  • Spray bottle. I have a Woodland Scenics one, but an old window cleaner bottle would probably work just as well.
  • Warm water/white glue (70/30)
  • Coarse flock. At least two colors.
  • Fine flock (only for the discriminating terrain maker)
  • Box-o-flock
  • A back porch.
Ye olde generic air filter material. Notice the blobby little bits on the face of the material? I think this stuff is cut with heat, somehow (laser? heated saw?), and this melts/cauterizes the faces. This makes the faces a bit more structurally rigid, which you can use to your advantage.

Ye olde generic air filter material. Notice the blobby little bits on the face of the material? I think this stuff is cut with heat, somehow (laser? heated saw?), and this melts/cauterizes the faces. This makes the faces a bit more structurally rigid, which you can use to your advantage. I think this cost me +/- $6 at Lowe’s.

Cut a strip roughly the same size as the base the foilage will belong to.

Cut a strip roughly the same size as the base the foilage will belong to.

Give it some shape with your scissors. Eliminate all right angle edges.

Give it some shape with your scissors. Eliminate all right angle edges.

I think the air filter material works best with the cauterized nodules at the top and bottom of the filter mass. It withstands the weight of glue and flock better than the alternate orientation, which tends to lead to a 'scooped out' look to the top. In any case, it's time to use your hands. Tear, tease, rip, and otherwise cajole the air filter material into a vaguely hedge shaped 'cloud'. Test fit, and trim, tease, rip, and cajole until you're happy.

Time to use your hands. Tear, tease, rip, and otherwise cajole the air filter material into a vaguely hedge shaped ‘cloud’. Test fit, and trim, tease, rip, and cajole until you’re happy.

More foliage clouds.

More foliage cloud test fits. DON’T GLUE THEM DOWN YET.

Get some paint. The brown will be the primary color. The tan will be used for highlighting. This stuff doesn't need to be very high quality. It's more about quantity, really.

Get some paint. The brown will be the primary color. The tan will be used for highlighting. This stuff doesn’t need to be very high quality. It’s more about quantity, really.

This lovely photo is of a bunch of foilage pieces painted brown. You'll need to do this somewhere protected from the wind, as the filter material is extremely light. Which means a garage, most likely. Get a big piece of cardboard and a tarp to protect the floor.

This lovely photo is of a bunch of foilage pieces painted brown. You’ll need to do this somewhere protected from the wind, as the filter material is extremely light. Which means a garage, most likely. Get a big piece of cardboard and a tarp to protect the floor. Air filter material will take a LOT of spray paint to get good coverage. Expect to do multiple coats. Yes, I hate it too. Suck it up, buttercup.

Brown, oh brown. This is after three coats and an overnight drying. You can still see a bit of blue. Not a biggie. Proceed. Get your hot glue gun, and, working quickly apply it to the toothpicks. pull the foliage down on the toothpicks, snug with the tops of the dirt banks. If you're having trouble getting everything done on time, you can go one toothpick at a time with your hot glue gun, and sort of 'roll' the foliage on, until you're up to speed. Clean up the inevitable glue spiderwebs, then go back to the garage, this time with your tan paint.

Brown, oh brown. This is after three coats and an overnight drying. You can still see a bit of blue. Not a biggie. Proceed. Get your hot glue gun, and, working quickly apply it to the toothpicks. pull the foliage down on the toothpicks, snug with the tops of the dirt banks. If you’re having trouble getting everything done in good time, you can go one toothpick at a time with your hot glue gun, and sort of ‘roll’ the foliage on, until you’re up to speed. Clean up the inevitable glue spiderwebs, then go back to the garage, this time with your tan paint.

Lightly dust the tops of your bocage with the tan paint. This is just to give it some volume and light effects. Don't worry about your banks, it won't hurt them a bit. The figures are just for scale reference-don't paint them tan!

Lightly dust the tops of your bocage with the tan paint. This is just to give it some volume and light effects. Don’t worry about your banks, it won’t hurt them a bit. The figures are just for scale reference-don’t paint them tan!

Now on to the fun part. Mix together various colors of coarse turf together in a good sized box. I like burnt grass and medium green. Maybe add in some fine turf, too. Maybe a little yellow grass color. You get the point-mix up flock until you have a nice complicated mix of colors. DON’T USE A SINGLE COLOR. Please.

Grab your big piece of cardboard you used to paint on, your bocage-to-be, your box-o-flock, your spray bottle of water and glue (I like 70/30 using warm water. Seems to mix better), and go somewhere somewhat protected from the wind and where you won’t get in trouble making a mess. I like the back porch, myself.

Hold the bocage upside down over your big piece of cardboard and spray the heck out of it with your glue mix. You’ll probably get some drops on the bank. That’s not a bad thing. Maybe shake the bocage piece a couple of times, and then transfer it over to your box of flock. Guess what’s next? Yes, apply flock to the foliage. I tend to scoop it up and ‘pat’ it on to the filter material, in an effort to control how much drops onto the banks, but it’s not a big deal if some does get on the banks. You can scrape it off later, or leave it (which actually looks pretty good).

Let it dry, and then do any cleanup to banks, gates, ground, or whatever. Spray it again to help lock down the flock. Dry. Spray it a third time. Maybe spray it with a nice smelling hairspray after the glue fully dries for a third time. Realize that the bocage is STILL going to shed a bit of flock, and learn to accept it.

What? You expected me to get my camera out when a bunch of liquid glue and flock is flying through the air?! Phhhttt.

Kidding. Sorry about the lack of pictures of the flock step. If it’s confusing, please let me know and I’ll try to clarify.

Anyway, looks like this:

photo 1 photo 2 takingposition onthemove moveit leader combatphotography thefarmPlease excuse the ugly house and 15mm scaled rock walls. I need MANY more feet of bocage. I’m thinking around 30′ for a 6×4 table. I need to make corner pieces, as well. And more gates.

The pictures are from a test game of Chain of Command I played with a friend yesterday. Lots of moving parts to keep track of. But fun!

 

Build Bocage, Buddy! (Part I)

Prompted by the acknowledgement that I have an alarming tendency to forget how I did things, I thought it might be a good idea to put together a quick photo tutorial on how I make bocage for 1/72 scale gaming.

A sample of the finished product...

A sample of the finished product…

Closeup

Closeup

What I’m doing here is largely built on methods from Ad Machina Wargaming and Tim’s Toys. Both sites are well worth perusing!

Stuff You’ll Need

  1. Dense extruded polystyrene rigid insulation, 3/4″ thickness minimum (other sizes are available and suitable for other scales). They’ll have this stuff at the local DIY shop in 4×8 sheets. Bring a box cutter when you go shopping, so you can get it into the car.
  2. Sheet plastic for bases. Cut into 2″x6″ strips, if you want to follow along faithfully. Get plastic of a decent thickness. This stuff is available from multiple sources-you can even resort to Amazon, if you wish.
  3. A sharp blade. I use an X-acto knife. A scalpel would work well, too.
  4. A cheapo plastic sculpting tool. Or something similar. A tongue depressor or piece of plastic might work.
  5. Toothpicks. Round. Sharp. Cheap.
  6. Sandpaper. Some sort of medium-light grit, although it’s not really critical.
  7. White glue (other glues may interact with the insulation in extremely unhealthy ways)
  8. Wood Filler. Get it at the DIY shop, and try to find some with a tan or brown tint.
  9. Cheap craft paints (available at craft stores and Wal-mart) of the following flavors:
    1. Burnt Umber
    2. Burnt Sienna
    3. Yellow Ochre
    4. Coffee latte
    5. Linen

 

Here's the basic construction of the earthen bank. A shaped piece of 3/4" extruded polystyrene insulation by DOW. I make the shape with an X-acto knife, and then do a quick sanding to get rid of the angular edges left by carving with the knife. The foam is mounted to polystyrene card, and glued with white glue. Let dry overnight.

Here’s the basic construction of the earthen bank. The bank is a hand-formed piece of 3/4″ extruded polystyrene insulation by DOW. I make the shape with an X-acto knife, and then do a quick sanding (caution-breathing foam insulation probably isn’t good for you) to get rid of the angular edges left by carving with the knife. The foam is mounted to a 6″x2″ bit of polystyrene card. You could, and probably should, use other sizes and shapes, too, but 6×2 makes a nice basic straight section. I like to round and sand the edges of the plastic card, but it’s not necessary. Attach the foam to plastic with white glue.

These wooden sticks are toothpicks that have been cut in half, and inserted into the foam. They will serve as the structure for the foilage that goes on top of the earthen bank. I glop on some white glue to hold them in place. Vary the height of the toothpicks, either by cutting them to different lengths, or controlling the depth to which they are stuck into the foam.

These wooden sticks are toothpicks that have been cut in half, and inserted into the foam. You can see some of their impaling-ready brethren in the background.  The toothpicks will serve as the structure for the foilage that goes on top of the earthen bank. I glop on some white glue to hold them in place. Vary the height of the toothpicks, either by cutting them to different lengths, or controlling the depth to which they are stuck into the foam. Three toothpicks are enough for a piece this size, two are not enough, four is a little crazy, and five is nothing less than negligently wasteful! Let the whole concoction dry overnight.

I somehow completely forgot to take photos of the next part of the process, which is to slather tan colored wood filler onto the foam/plastic card construction, feathering it to create a slope from the piece of foam down onto the base. Wood filler has a nice texture all on its own, and is fairly easy to work. This is the filler I use-you can get a big tub of it fairly cheap and with a tan tint. If you let it dry for 24 hours it will cure to a very hard and durable finish.

This is the wood filler I use

I’ll take process pictures and update this post when I do my next batch of shrubberies.

The base coat consists of cheapo craft acrylic paint ($1 at Walmart) mixed with white glue at a ration of 70/30, or thereabouts. This gives a nice tough base layer. Paint the toothpicks, too, so that they're nice and dark. This way they'll be nigh-invisible when the foliage is added.

The base coat consists of cheapo burnt-umber craft acrylic paint ($1 at Walmart) mixed with white glue at a ration of 70/30, or thereabouts. This gives a nice tough base layer. Paint the toothpicks, too, so that they’re nice and dark. This way they’ll be nigh-invisible when the foliage is added. The glue/paint mixture will take some hours to dry-leaving it overnight would be a good idea.

Next is a fairly heavy coat of cheapo burnt sienna., because there's a lot of red in dirt! I put this on in  a dry-brushy kind of way, but I don't take anywhere near as much paint of the brush as you should when doing traditional drybrushing.

Next is a fairly heavy coat of cheapo burnt sienna, because there’s a lot of red in dirt! I think this bottle was $0.67. The burnt sienna is applied in a dry-brushy kind of way, but I don’t take anywhere near as much paint off the brush as I would for traditional drybrushing.

You could probably skip the yellow ochre, but it does give a nice tint to the end product. This paint is applied with a mediumish amount of drybrushing. It will look super bright, at first, but don't worry-it tones down as it dries. The paint in the picture isn't cheap, but you should be able to find craft paints of the same color.

You could probably skip the yellow ochre, but it does give a nice tint to the end product. This paint is applied with a mediumish amount of drybrushing. It will look super bright, at first, but don’t worry-it tones down as it dries. The paint in the picture isn’t particularly cheap, but you should be able to find craft paints of the same color that do just as well for this application.

Now I use this deliciously named color (coffee-latte), and apply another heavy drybrush over the previous coats. You could probably end your investment in the dirt painting business here, if you're pressed for time. Coffee-latte is a dark tan, just this side of medium brown. That should help.

Now I use the deliciously named color, coffee latte, and apply another heavy drybrush over the previous coats. You could probably end your investment in the dirt painting business here, if you’re pressed for time. If you can’t find this particular color, Coffee-latte is a dark tan, just this side of medium brown. Anything similar should work. In fact, if you find a better shade, let me know!

Finally, do a light drybrush of a light tan color. This one is called "Linen," and it's somewhat close to Vallejo's Iraqi Sand. When I say 'light" drybrush, remember we're painting terrain here, not some twelve dollar 32mm miniature. Do it quick and don't sweat if it's a little heavy (or light).

Finally, do a light drybrush of a light tan color. The one I’ve selected is called “Linen,” and it’s somewhat close to Vallejo’s Iraqi Sand. When I say ‘light” drybrush, remember we’re painting terrain here, not some twelve dollar 32mm miniature. Do it quick and don’t sweat if it’s a little heavy (or light). This particular piece of bocage is supposed to represent a penetration by a tank outfitted with Cullen Cutters, or maybe a bulldozer blade. The idea is that the tank busting through has revealed the rubble core that exists at the center of bocage. I probably need to make it more gnarly looking. The track marks were made with a piece of 1/72 halftrack track-the wood filler material washes off easily, before it’s cured, so no worries about messing up a model kit. The stones are kitty litter painted with a mixture of grey and some of the same colors I used in painting the earthen banks. Mixing the grey with the various browns, reds, tans, and whatever makes the stones fit with the general tones of the dirt. If you paint them straight grey they’re going to look crazy out of place. Mixing greys with browns is also the key to getting good ‘campaign’ greys on Confederates, but that’s a digression I won’t pursue further.

Ok, that’s it for the dirt painting. I’m going to do some experiments, but I think one could totally eliminate the burnt sienna and yellow ochre from this mix, and still have good looking dirt. It would save a bit of time and money, too.

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Update!

 

Three different color combinations....

Three different color combinations….

Here are the results of my painting experiments.

The nearest bank contains the whole panoply of colors

  • Burnt umber
  • burnt sienna
  • yellow ochre
  • coffee latte
  • linen.

The middle bank eliminates the yellow ochre step.

  • Burnt umber
  • burnt sienna
  • coffee latte
  • linen.

The far bank is a simple three color process.

  • Burnt umber
  • coffee latte
  • linen.

I think the full range of colors looks the most naturalistic, but it does add significant time and effort to the process. The three color process looks the worst (but still looks pretty good!), and truth is, most of the bank is going to be covered by flocking and/or foliage, anyway. The full color process could be considered as wasted effort. One strategy would be to use the simple three color process for the majority of your bocage, and reserve the full process for areas where lots of ground is revealed, such as gates, trails, cullen penetrations, and other ‘cuts’ through the bocage.

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Flocking Together

I was going to handle flocking the bases in another post, but then I thought it made sense to cover all the ground work together, so here it is.

List of materials needed:

  1. Cookie tin
  2. A good mixture of various colors of flock. I use Woodland Scenics fine turf for this. DON’T USE A SINGLE COLOR OF FLOCKING. Please.
  3. White glue
  4. Water. I prefer Fiji bottled water.
  5. Just kidding.
  6. A big old brush.
  7. Spray can of matte varnish.
This is messy. Get theeself a cookie tin, piece of tupperware, or other suitable container, and fill it with a goodly amount of your flock mixture. Mix up some white glue with water (I like a 70/30 mix) and dob it in an artistic-like manner all over your bocage. The top should have less flock on it, because it would be shaded by foliage above, but don't stress about it too much. Drop, scatter, smush, and otherwise apply the flock mixture to the bank, until you're satisfied with how it looks. Then repeat!

This is messy. Get theeself a cookie tin, piece of tupperware, or other suitable container, and fill it with a goodly amount of your flock mixture. Mix up some white glue with water (I like a 70/30 mix) and dob it in an artistic-like manner all over your bocage. The top should have less flock on it, because it would be shaded by foliage above, but don’t stress about it too much. Drop, scatter, smush, and otherwise apply the flock mixture to the bank, until you’re satisfied with how it looks. Then repeat!

Here are several feet of bocage all flocked and drying. Leave your work to dry overnight, and the next day turn your pieces upside down over your cookie tin of flock, and tap to knock off the excess material and preserve it for another day. Put your banks in a box, or other container, take it outside, and give the whole mess a good spraying with matte finish. Please don't waste good Dullcote on this. The big (relatively) cheap spray cans from the local DIY shop will do just fine. The matte spray will help fix the flocking to the banks and reduce shedding.

Here are several feet of bocage all flocked and drying. Leave your work to dry overnight, and the next day turn your pieces upside down over your cookie tin of flock, and tap to knock off the excess material and preserve it for another day. Put your banks in a box, or other container, take it outside, and give the whole mess a good spraying with matte finish. Please don’t waste good Dullcote on this. The big (relatively) cheap spray cans from the local DIY shop will do just fine. The matte spray will help fix the flocking to the banks and reduce shedding.

Foliage coming up!

Foliage coming up!

You can take the bocage banks to another level by adding static grass, clump foliage, flowers, leaf scatter, and other goodies to your heart’s content. I’m trying to get ready for a Normandy anniversary game of Chain of Command, and only have a few days left, so this is as far as I’m taking the banks for the moment. Also, I’m lazy.

I’ll cover the brush, shrubs, trees (maybe) and other foliage on top of the bocage banks in the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tree Grows in Normandy

I didn’t spend much time on wargaming stuff this week, but was somehow very productive. That’s a good equation, in my book!

I think it's pretty nice that this AB squad conveniently breaks down into a fire element and a maneuver element.

I think it’s pretty nice that this AB squad conveniently breaks down into a fire element and a maneuver element. (ignore the bridge-it’s only accidentally in the photo)

I’ve completed my third and final US infantry squad for playing Chain of Command. Now I can field a platoon of US infantry, and a platoon of Panzergrenadiers, with a few choice support elements on each side. I do have some vehicles to paint up, plus a ton of terrain yet to be done (accursed bocage!).

Trees, meet Bocage, Bocage, meet Trees.

Trees, meet Bocage, Bocage, meet Trees.

I have made some progress on the terrain front-I’ve 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 Thomas’s advice; I mean, just look at his blog!

These particular twigs are from the shrubs in front of the house. Conveniently, we were trimming off the dead stuff from the shrubs because it’s spring and time to work in the yard, and I very quickly had a ready supply of 20mm scale tree trunks and branches. And they were already dry!

Here’s the process:

  1. Gather twigs with multiple ‘branches,’ hopefully going in multiple directions so that the end product has lots of volume.
  2. Cut squares of air filter material for each tree, then shape, tease, tug, shear, and otherwise deform into a ragged mass.
  3. Test fit your ragged clumps of air filter material to the branches, adjust until you have a vaguely tree-looking mass.
  4. Take your clumps of air filter material out to the garage, or other place where you can spray paint without being disturbed by the wind (air filter material is VERY light).
  5. Spray the air filter clumps with a dark brown paint. This will take some doing, as the filter material is very porous. Just take your time and do multiple coats over a few days. You’ll need at least two coats, but three or four would be better.
  6. I mounted my trees on needles. This lets me use them freely with my foam play-mat backed gaming mats, and they also fit nicely into my bocage, which is constructed of polystyrene insulation. I used a 1/16″ drill bit to hollow out a place in the “tree trunks”, filled it with superglue, and shoved in a needle, pointy side sticking out. You can easily cut down the needles with a pair of wire snips, but shield your eyes when you do. Give the super glue time to fully cure before trying to stick the tree into anything.
  7. Now you can take your trees and stick them into a scrap piece of polystyrene insulation (or other stickable surface). Get a hot glue gun and glue your brown filter clumps to the branches. Let it dry (which will take about 2.5 seconds) and clean up the inevitable hot-glue spiderwebs.
  8. Go back out to the garage with your trees and mounted filter foilage. Lightly ‘dust’ the foilage with a light tan spray paint. This is just to give the filter mass a little volumetric definition (I just coined that term). It’s a subtle thing, but it does help.
  9. The next step is easy, but messy. Spray down your trees with watered-down white glue. I sugges holding the trees upside down by their trunks, and spraying them one at a time. You want to avoid wetting the trunks with the glue for reasons which should be obvious. Holding them upside down will let the glue pass through the filter material and give more surface for the flocking to adhere to.
  10. Speaking of flocking, hopefully you have some coarse flock in various colors, because now you’re going to sprinkle your soaking wet filter material with flock. I never use a single color of flock by itself. I always mix up at least two colors. I will vary the amount of each color I use to give individual trees their own character.  For instance, I might use 60% dark green, 40% burnt grass on one tree, and then reverse the proportions on the next. In any case, make them look like trees. Sprinkle, carefully place, dip, and smush the flock onto the filter material to suit your tastes.
  11. Spray the tree tops with watered down glue again.
  12. Let everything dry, then clean up the trunks, as you’ll have some random pieces of flock stuck to them. At this point the trees will still be shedding flock like crazy. Continue to spray with glue, and let dry, until you’re satisfied with the amount of shedding (I’m not sure it’s possible to get the things 100% stable).

The process sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually very quick, and uses materials that are either cheap or (probably) already in your arsenal of wargaming terrain making materials. Hopefully the narrative explains the process sufficiently, but if anyone wants me to, I could put together a photo tutorial without too much trouble.

Depending on how you plan to use your trees, there is one potential downside to this method-your trees won’t have roots. Of course, there are a multitude of ways to make tree roots, especially if you’re doing a more conventional type of basing that doesn’t involve poking things with inch long needles.

 

Bocage Finale

I finished up my test pieces of bocage. Looks like this.

I accidentally broke my gate. But, turns out that actually breaking your gate is a pretty good simulation of a broken gate!

I accidentally broke my gate. But, turns out that actually breaking your gate is a pretty good simulation of a broken gate!

You can't do much with 21" of bocage. (TWSS)

You can’t do much with 21″ of bocage. (TWSS)

My bocage is a little short, and could do with less flock, which would make it look a bit more spindly and wild. Also, more variety in height would be good. Actually, I swear it used to be taller. I guess the weight of the glue and flock compressed it. Oh well,thankfully, I’ll have PLENTY of opportunity to practice while building enough of this stuff for a 4’x6′ playing area.