Tag Archives: terrain board

Rifling Through

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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.


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.




Spring Break 2013 Wrap-up

I think I said something earlier in the week about finishing a terrain board for the Action at Galmanche scenario from the I Ain’t Been Shot Mum rulebook. Heh. Heh heh heh. Not even close. Part of this is due to the unseasonable weather we’ve had during this, the first week of spring (it’s snowing outside my window! I live in the south!), but, let’s face it, I’m slow and have the attention span of a gnat.

Anyway, here’s what I did get done.

Cards, Cards, Cards…

Progress towards building a card deck for IABSM 3-Action at Galmanche

Progress towards building a card deck for IABSM 3-Action at Galmanche

I’ve revised and added to my card deck for Action at Galmanche. I’m using actual unit insignia, where appropriate. I still have many more cards to generate, and there are some compositional issues with these things that are bugging me. I’m not sure how effective the silhouettes are when the subject is in perspective, either. The files of soldiers look pretty good, but some of the less iconic (for lack of a better word) images are harder to read.

No Huffing or Puffing Allowed…

Paper Buildings

I’ve also been making up some paper buildings to use in my scenery. I haven’t used the best of craft on these guys, and it shows. Not to mention, some of these buildings are Dutch in origin, and some appear to be invented from whole cloth. I’m gaming in Normandy. Oh well, they were free, and will serve until I can get my hands on some metal/resin/plastic/scratchbuilt models.

Forest, Trees, Etc.

I'm ok with these.

I’m ok with these.

Masking Tape Wrapped Trunk

Masking Tape Wrapped Trunk

And here are my wire armature tree making efforts so far. The blurry tree in the foreground is clad in masking tape, while the guy in the back is un-clad (though not naked!). The masking tape technique  certainly looks more like bark, but it’s a bit of a pain. I think I’ll be sticking with unadorned wire for the moment. Honestly, these things are a lot of work in bulk, and I’ll probably switch to cheap Chinese ebay trees when money is less tight. That said, they were fun to do. I need to get these guys based, and I’ll probably flock the foliage (sounds slightly dirty) as well. Expect a full tutorial when I have all that done. Probably in June.


Poor terrain board...

Poor terrain board…

Here we see the sorry state of my terrain board. It’s primed and has a couple of major roads shaped in the rigid insulation, but that’s about it. Oh, I did learn one new thing. I used tile adhesive to fill the gaps and smooth out the edges. That stuff is a serious pain to sand by hand (and you dare not use a power sander in the vicinity of foam insulation-one slip and it’s ruined!). I’ll use drywall spackle for this purpose from here on out.

When the weather improves, and assuming I’ll be able to find the time, I’ll start adding texture, paint, and flock to this fellow.

A Long Delayed Update

It turns out that the 10th and final semester of Architecture school is also the most intense and demanding of my time. So…very little time spent on miniatures, other than grabbing 30 minutes here or there. I’m also completely off-track on my schedule that I set up at the beginning of the year. That’s no surprise to me, but disappointing, nonetheless.

Napoleonic Digression

I have painted a few 1/72 plastic Napoleonic 95th rifles as well as some French Voltigeurs in the same scale and of the same material. My 95th Rifles have been shown before, and the Italeri sculpts remain a joy to paint. My Voltigeurs are by Zvezda, and have proved to be very unsatisfying to paint. The models look great in bare plastic, but the detail turns out to be quite shallow. I’m not the greatest painter in the world at the best of times, but these Voltigeurs have resisted even my most tender ministrations, and are sloppy and flat in appearance.

They’re certainly not worth breaking out the tripod and backdrop, and thus only get the crappy iPhone photo treatment.

Voltigeurs in Disarray

The Dragoon that has snuck in is by Italeri, and was quite fun to paint, though he turned out a good deal more dull than I had hoped.

Voltigeurs in Less Disarray

Back on Track

I have, at long last, started a terrain board for an initial game of I Ain’t Been Shot Mum III. A company of British infantry, supported by a platoon of Shermans will be facing off with a company of Heer infantry in a country village, who happen to have a bit of support in the form of a Pak 40. That’s a bit beside the point, though. Here’s the board.

Terrain Board

The board is 2’x4′ in total dimension, and is made up of part of a sheet of 3/8″ masonite (hardboard), 1×2’s, and 3/4″ blue rigid insulation. The 1×2’s shore up the masonite, which is dimensionally stable over time. The blue foam rigid insulation fits perfectly into the ‘reservoir’ created by the 1×2’s, the actual dimensions of which are 3/4″x1.5″. Do you have nominal vs. actual dimensions in Europe? If not, the previous sentence likely makes absolutely no sense. Here’s a shot of the ‘sandwich’ detail.

Terrain Board Construction Detail

The cool thing about the blue foam is that it’s extremely easy to sculpt and can quickly be formed into sunken roads, ponds, streams, and hills. It’s my intention to COMPLETE (yes, complete) my terrain board by the end of the week, seeing as how this is that most venerable of American collegiate traditions: Spring Break.

So, more later in the week.

0.10 Flocking Together: Terrain Boards the 3rd

We’re Going to Need Paint, Lots of Paint.

Burnt Sienna in Action

After the base coat of Burnt Umber, sand, and gravel has thoroughly dry it’s time to do some fun stuff. For these first boards I’ve constructed I’ve decided to paint in three stages. The second stage is a very heavy drybrush of Burnt Sienna. That sort of rich dark red is a very earthy color and mixes well with the Burnt Umber. Obviously. They both have Burnt in their name.


And this is what my coat of B.S. looks like. You’ll note the dishrag I’ve been using to dry my (cheap and practically disposable!) brush on. You’ll want to dedicate a rag or three to painting, otherwise you’ll go through paper towels at a prodigious rate, and that’s just not cool on many levels.

The third and final stage of painting the boards is to apply a lighter drybrush of Yellow Ochre to pick up some highlights. Honestly, I’m not 100% happy with this color. It contrasts a bit much with the darker brown and red of the Burnt Brothers. I’ll probably try another shade, next time.

I like ochre. Yellow ochre.

Then again, it really does bring out the gravel/sand texture. I didn’t get a good shot of it, but I laid on the Yellow Ochre on the road fairly thick, to simulate dried mud and dust (I followed up with a drybrush of Iraqi Sand, as well).

Dry, but not too dry.

Terrain Boards: The Flocking

Flocking can be made from sawdust and paint. If I had ever used the stuff before a few days ago, and had had any idea what it actually looked like, I would have tried to make my own right off the bat. As it was, I ordered some fairly healthy-sized canisters of Woodland Scenics flock. It’s not cheap, especially for what it is. In any case, I’ll be trying out the method detailed here next time I need flock. Which will be fairly soon, at this rate.

You’re going to need a good-sized brush, a small tub of some sort, some water, a drop cloth (or newspaper) of some sort, and a good amount of glue for this next step.

This could get messy...

Flocking involves spreading PVA glue all over your board(s). I water the glue down to a milky consistency with simple tap water. Apply the glue everywhere you want grass.

Here comes Santa Claus...

Shake flock all over your board. Do it up thick, as we’re going to harvest the excess later. Try to use a couple of shades of flock, so your battlefield doesn’t look like a manicured golf course.

The Flock Monster

I wanted to show that there was a little less wear in the center of the road and driveway. This may not be accurate in a time and place where horse drawn carts and wagons were still commonplace. Certainly, if you plan on using your boards for earlier periods, you shouldn’t have grass in the center of a road. In any case, I used a bit too much glue, and thus have a bit too much grass in the road.

Keep your excess.

So, there it is, a flocked terrain board. Note the excess flock, ready to be returned to its container? This particular board turned out quite well. But there are problems. Behold the next photograph:

The Ignominy of Defeat

Ok, so the problem. As a final step on my terrain boards, I’ve been going over them with another coat of watered down PVA glue. This makes them quite tough, and keeps them from shedding flock everywhere. I got this tip from a used Games Workshop book that I found.

Getting on to the problem, you’ll note that the board in the lower left-hand corner (the one we’ve followed through this little tutorial) looks quite a bit more…verdant than the other two boards. I have no idea why. I used the same methodology for all three boards. I can only guess that the milkiness of the other two boards is due to a) temperature during the curing time, b) humidity during the curing time, or c) a pva/water mix of thicker consistency than the one used on the final board. I really think it’s a mixture of a&b, as I used a space heater in the room where the final board cured, and a space heater makes for a very arid environment.

So, to recap, three things I want to experiment with next time:

  • Something a little less bright than Yellow Ochre for my highlights.
  • A thinner mixture of water & pva for the final protective coating.
  • Forgoing the protective coating altogether, in favor of some sort of spray lacquer.

As an aside, this last photograph shows the level of completion that I’m at as of 11/22/11.  I’m getting closer to being ready for that first game! I need to finish the little house, create a bunch of trees, some hedges, and a rock wall or two.