Building A Large Terrain Board

Building A Large Terrain Board
by George "Skyhigh" Blouin

Welcome, I have had numerous people ask me what techniques I use when I build the terrain that I use with my gaming group. So, when I took on my latest, greatest and LARGEST terrain project I decided to attempt to chronicle the experience so that other gamers out there who are interested in building their own terrain could see how it is that I do it and maybe gain some new ideas for themselves. Following is essentially a step-by-step description of how I have built a large 8' x 8' terrain board for use at GenCon 2003.

The Project:

For GenCon 2003 the Solaris7 Coalition is putting on a number of charity events including an event called "Ogre's Honor" to honor the passing of Tim "The Ogre" Watson's passing due to complications from colon cancer. "Ogre's Honor" calls for three separate forces, the Swords of Chaos
mercenary unit, Clan Ghost Bear, and a Comstar observing force. There is a potential for approximately 100 mechs to be on the board at one time.

To handle this large of a battle a terrain concept was drawn up by Mike "GuruMike" Stouffer. The original concept for the terrain board was 10' x 10' but I asked if I could downsize it to 8' x 8' for two reasons. First, I
personally can only reach 4' into a board and I am 6'2" and two, the materials I use come in 4' x 8' sheets which makes 8' x 8' easier to achieve then 10' x 10'

Figure 1 shows the original concept for the terrain board as drawn by GuruMike.

Using this as my guide I purchased my materials from Lowe's and began planning how I was going to go about
creating this large board.





 

Material List:

6 - 4' x 8' R-Gard White Expanded Foam Sheets

1 - Hot Wire Cutter

1 - Hot Knife Cutter

1 - 2' Level

1 - Sharpie Permanent Marker

1 - Bottle of Elmer's Glue All

 

The Beginning a.k.a. Cutting The Shapes:

Because the sheets are 8' tall I went ahead and stood them up next to each other to create the size of the board so that I could draw on the terrain features.

 

Foam Sheets
Standing Ready
Terrain Features
drawn onto sheets

 

It is not very clear but you can make out the drawn lines on the board in the right hand picture. This is the general shape of the hills and the first level of the river that I will be cutting into the terrain.

 

Following is a quick progression of photos that show the terrain taking shape.

Level 1 River Cut Level 2 River Cut
   


Level 3 River Cut Hills Added

 

Glue, Glue and More Glue:

Now that each individual level has been cut it is time to peel off the layers of plastic that are on top and bottom of each sheet. Once these
have been peeled off I begin glueing the pieces together. First I glue the top level and second level of the river and wait until those are dry so
that I can go over the edges again with my hot wire cutter and clean up the matching edges. This takes care of any overlap on the levels and melds the edges much closer together.

 

 





Left Side Glueing Glued Hills
   


Board Laid Out Another View
   


Third View Close Up of Hills
with Minis

 

 

 

Sectional: Reducing Board for Transport:

Since this board is so large I have to cut it down into 2' x 2' sections so that we can easily transport the board to GenCon. Using my Hot Knife
(wonderful tool worth its weight in gold!) and the 2' level I cut the boards down. Now, I am not a perfect cutter but luckily we are not trying for
modular pieces here...all sections go together only ONE way so that makes my job slightly easier.

 




First Half Cut Terrain Board
Completed

 

 

 

Painting, Flocking and Other
Time Consuming Details
:

Now that I've got the board cut into manageable 2' sections it is time to start the painting, flocking and detailing. First I decide to pull all
of the River sections from the stack and start with the painting of the river levels. I will be using three seperate colors of blue to represent the different depths of water.

 



North View of
River
South View of
River

 

 

 

After completing all of the blue sections of the river I get out the Brown color and start on the edges of the hill sections. Once the brown has dried on the hills I start by painting the top with a green paint and while the paint is still wet I shake on a generous cover of my flocking material (Woodland Scenics Green Blend) and then shake the hill piece from side to side to evenly distribute the flock across the piece...once I feel the piece is well covered I then shake the excess off onto a sheet of newspaper so that I can collect and re-use it.
 




Hill Edges Painted


Small Hill Flocked

   



Large Hill mostly
flocked.


Completed Board

 

 

 

The Details:

Ahh, flocking is now complete. This was the most time consuming part of this project mainly because of the size of the board and each of the
pieces. Something to keep in mind when you are painting and flocking a piece...you ARE going to get paint all over you. =)


Now on to the extra details. In this case I am going to be adding roads to my terrain board following the layout detailed in the original drawing. At my local HobbyTown USA store I found a package of HO gauge model railroad track bed that fit my idea of what I road should look like. The great thing about this stuff is that curves are fairly easy to make as all I had to do was use a pair of scissors to cut V's into the the side of the bed I wanted bent then bend the piece and glue in place.
 




Roads being glued


Another Section of
Road

 

 

 

The Cost:

I determined that I spent about $100 on the materials alone. I already owned the majority of the tools that I used...and those that I bought I will continue to use so I didn't include them in the cost. The breakdown is something like this: 

Foam: $40        R-Gard from Lowe's or Home Depot.  Pink or Blue would be the same price for 2'x8' versus 4'x8'
Paint: $20        Apple Barrel and Delta Ceramcoat from WalMart
Flock: $20        Woodland Scenics Green Blend (MicroMark Link)
Bridges: $10      Model Railroad plastics (don't have the brand anymore)
Road: $10         HO Gauge Track Bed (Link)

Hot Wire Cutter: Owned       Woodland Scenics Hot Wire cutter (MicroMark)
Hot Knife: Owned                Hot Wire Foam Factory (Site)

The Completed Work:

GuruMike was working on the building area to add to the board so I couldn't get a fully complete shot until GenCon but here are some shots of the completed board and also with the game in progress.


If you have questions about building terrain feel free to post a message on the Miniatures and Terrain board on Solaris7 and myself or others who build their own terrain would be happy to answer them.

George "Skyhigh" Blouin
 




Minis on Board


View of Bridges and
Minis

   



Table Setup


First Moves




Battle Joined


Battle Continuation

 

Assembling WoB Spectral Omnifighters

 I recently picked up the three miniatures for the three Word of Blake Spectral Omnifighters. When I sat down to assemble the models, I realized that they have a large number of pieces and that telling the difference between the various fins and wings could be challenging, especially for someone new to assembling and painting minis. In fact, it seemed like there were way more pieces than should reasonably fit on an aerospace fighter.

Use of Pigments

To players and hobbyists, the art of painting miniatures can feel overwhelming. There are so many choices to make - choosing the mini, the scheme, paint brands, paint brushes, and techniques. It seems never-ending, like there’s another whole world that you don’t understand each time you try a new project. Even once you have started to grow in the hobby and have some basics under your belt, the more advanced techniques can feel like an insurmountable wall. My aim here is to break down one of those walls and take some of the fear out of trying something new. My subject today is applying dry pigments.

 

Assembling the Tonbo

Assembling the Tonbo

As part of the CSO Team's effort to support Iron Wind Metals website updates, I recently received a copy of the Tonbo Superheavy Transport VTOL, as described in Catalyst Game Labs' Technical Readout 3085, pages 52-53.

I opened the baggie to find...

Assembling the Tonbo

As part of the CSO Team's effort to support Iron Wind Metals website updates, I recently received a copy of the Tonbo Superheavy Transport VTOL, as described in Catalyst Game Labs' Technical Readout 3085, pages 52-53.

I opened the baggie to find...

How-To: Weathering

 Battletech Miniature Weathering
 For me weathering is something that truly makes a Mech ‘come alive’. I just love it as it can add so much detail and character to a miniature. A couple of times I have tried to paint a clean Mech with a shiny ‘out-of-the-factory’ scheme, but I can’t. I always come back and add at least a little bit of wear and tear. Hey, even with Jamie Wolf as the pilot the paint scheme will suffer scratches and wear around the feet just moving out of the factory. 

Battletech Miniature Weathering

For me weathering is something that truly makes a Mech ‘come alive’. I just love it as it can add so much detail and character to a miniature. A couple of times I have tried to paint a clean Mech with a shiny ‘out-of-the-factory’ scheme, but I can’t. I always come back and add at least a little bit of wear and tear. Hey, even with Jamie Wolf as the pilot the paint scheme will suffer scratches and wear around the feet just moving out of the factory.

Painting a Clan Wolverine Scheme

A writeup on painting a Clan Wolverine Scheme

Painting a Clan Wolverine Scheme

A writeup on painting a Clan Wolverine Scheme

Painting a Not-Named Clan Mech

Painting a Not-Named Mech

Long awaited for practically decades, the paint schemes of the Not-Named Clan’s various units will soon be revealed.

Painting a Not-Named Clan Mech

Long awaited for practically decades, the paint schemes of the Not-Named Clan’s various units will soon be revealed.

IIkasur Shogunate Walkthrough

A tutorial for painting a Shogunate scheme.

Small Terrain Boards

A tutorial on how to make small terrain boards for mini photography

Paints, Lights, Cameras and Colors

 An overview of various techniques that you can use to improve each of the key areas mentioned.

Painting a Clan Coyote scheme

A brief writeup on how to paint a Clan Coyote scheme.

Painting a Clan Jade Falcon scheme

A brief writeup on how to paint a Clan Jade Falcon scheme.

Hastur! Hastur! Hastur!

A Painting Tutorial for Operation Klondike

The colors of the Nation of Hastur are yellow ochre and black, the latter usually being added as wavy lines. Many warriors place their interpretation of the Yellow Sign in a prominent place on their machines. The Yellow Sign consists of an irregular three-armed cross, with no two exactly alike.

Painting a Clan Hell's Horses scheme

A brief writeup on how to paint a Clan Hell's Horses scheme.

Painting a Clan Nova Cat Scheme

A brief writeup on how to paint a Clan Nova Cat scheme.

Painting a Clan Wolf Scheme

A brief writeup on how to paint a Clan Wolf scheme.

Painting a Clan Blood Spirit Scheme

A brief writeup on how to paint the Clan Blood Spirit Alpha Galaxy scheme.