Paint it Pink's Terrain & buildings

Show off your creative building skills, read how-to's and provide/receive construction help.

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Paint it Pink's Terrain & buildings

Post by Paint it Pink » Sat Aug 09, 2008 7:29 am

I thought I'd start a new thread about my much put aside and left to get dusty terrain that I started to build several years ago. I wanted to make a set of super light weight terrain boards, as previous experience of using my friend Glenn's chipboard terrain had was that even though it was as tough as old boots, it was very heavy to transport. However, I kinda of lost interest in this project, because after the first coat of tileing cement I applied caused the boards to warp. :cry:

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Here is an over all view of the terrain at this point in time. Gotta love river deltas for the problems they create. 8)

I made the boards using Kappa board, which is also known as poly board. It's dense foam that has card on each side, and is used to make displays in shops etc. It's very strong for its weight, which is why I chose it. What I have learnt since is that it will warp if made damp. Doh! As you can imagine, when one uses glue it has moisture in it, as does Polyfilla, or in this case tileing cement, the foam board warps.

After much gnashing of teeth, and wailing, I thought of a solution. :idea: A friend who is a professional model maker has agreed to cut me perspex tiles that will be the same size as my foam board ones. I plan to glue my terrain boards to these when I get them. In the mean time I've de-stressed the warped boards by gently cracking them across their width. :roll:
Last edited by Paint it Pink on Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by AVA MANGO TWO » Sat Aug 09, 2008 10:25 am

That there is the makings of a mighty fine looking terrain board table... i really like the flow of the recessed river and fixed mounds and hills it looks very natural indeed. 8)
Personally ive opted for the other route, and thats to have everything as free moving as possible for a couple of reasons, firstly all my hill, rocky outcrops, rivers, roads, buildings, trees and bridges can be moved around so every game i play the set up can be totally generic and changed around if needs be.(most of my buildings can also be rebuild to represent something totally different in a follow on game)
Secondly all my terrain can be packed away in reasonable sized boxs and taken with me if a piece of terrain is called for and if one of my mates does not have it i can just bring a level 5 hill or several rocky outcrops for example along with me to that game, i have to admitt though that fixed terrain does look better but its just not as practical or generic as ive grown accustomed to. I am pleased to see you dont play on hexs though i was going to ask you about that for the future game we have planned... :D zac
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Post by Paint it Pink » Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:39 pm

Well the squares are all movable and the contours of hills that cover more than one board are designed to fit in any combination. It's a bit tricky to work out, as you need to make a template that allows you to mark things consistently. Also, the terrain is designed with easy grades, so that mechs can stand on slopes without falling over. The disadvantage of that is that the terrain is therefore to the scale of the models, not the the ground scale of the rules. So everything get spread out more.

As for hexes, they are great for maps, can be okay on terrain, but I always ask myself why bother when there are easier solutions, like a ruler? Okay, it isn't quite as simple as that, but there are no problems that can't be solved.

BTW: I leave the game set up to you, but I had assumed hex based maps. Terrain works for me, as long as we agree on the assumptions that have to be made. :roll:
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Post by AVA MANGO TWO » Sat Aug 09, 2008 7:22 pm

I only play on terrain ive never used a hex map ever, i basically use the Miniature rules which are also in Total Warfare book. :)
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Post by Paint it Pink » Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:00 am

As I said these boards need some work to fixem up. So yesterday I spent some time using flexible wood filler on four of the river sections to see if it was good to use.

So far looking good. I may well put a coat of paint on them today. Pictures later.
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Post by Paint it Pink » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:39 pm

Pictures as promised.

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Still a lot of work to be done, but this should give you'll a better idea of the look I'm going for. What I plan to do now is more painting, to layer the colours. Then I'll add more texture using Woodland Scenic products. After that I'm thinking plush fabric grass tinted with dye. To finish off I will work up the water with multiple coats of gloss varnish to create the illusion of depth.
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Post by Barone » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:04 am

Good job!

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Post by AVA MANGO TWO » Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:10 am

Well the layer of wood filler seems to have solved the your worries about giving the tiles there first base coat of paint and has stopped them from warping and it looks as though your off to a good start, im looking forward to seeing the progressive stages and the transfomation when you start adding the woodland senics products... :D zac
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Post by Paint it Pink » Thu Aug 14, 2008 12:30 pm

Well what I did was cracked the boards so that I could bend the warp out. I then used PVA and kitchen roll, to strengthen the gap across the break. After this I then used wood filler. So far this appears to be a fix that works around the problems.

Today I've put wood filler on the six big hill squares that I have, and they are sitting on the dinner table drying as I type this now. Big hill is a bit of an exaggeration as they stand only two levels high (technically just over two levels, buts who's counting?).

I've been drawing out small thumbnail sketches for further boards. I had drawn up 24 pieces, but now that I have some confidence in the being able to manage any problems from warping, I've thought of another 11 scenic pieces. These will allow me to make my big hill bigger, and to be able to use the pieces to make a ravine. I've also drawn up some contoured hills that will allow me to turn a hill line through 90 to 180 degrees.

Obviously, I'll keep posting stuff, and if people express an interest I'll post some more work in progress boards, to show how to make the contours line up etc.
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Post by Paint it Pink » Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:42 am

Getting it on: Terrain Tutorial Part 1.

I'm a bit of a butterfly when it comes to doing things. I flit from one interesting thing to another. This is annoying habit to those who are more like ants; Ants being people who concentrate on one task until completion. I can only apologise to those who are waiting for my weathering tutorial.

Any way, here is a step-by-step account of how I'm building my terrain boards, and I hope some people will find it useful. First off, before I even began building these boards, I spent some time thinking about what terrain features I wanted to make?

The first picture shows my doodlings.

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Hopefully you can see that the lines that flick away from the contours indicate the direction of the slope i.e.: contour is at the top of the gradient? Anyway, use a system that you can read and understand. Keep it simple as when you are drawing the tiles up full size it can get a bit confusing as to which way the slope is going.

I wanted my terrain board to offer as many choices as possible when being laid out, yet I also wanted them to look as real as possible, all things considered. Those things that must be considered are of course being the relationship of the scale of the miniature versus the scale of the terrain, and trying to make the boards robust enough to stand up to repeated handling. In addition, one must also considered is how steep are you going to make the gradients on the hills? If you make them too steep your models will fall over, which is not much fun.

Now one could make the hill slopes with different levels of steepness, but I kinda of prefer to keep the gradient either shallow, and therefore traversable, or break the higher ground from the lower, so that one end up with a vertical bank that cannot be traversed. Very high banks can represent rock faces, or cuttings.

A useful tip here is to make a template tile that has the centre lines on it, so that you can match roads and rivers across the joints. In addition, I put contour line markings on mine too, so that it made it a bit easier to match them up on hill that I planned to cross-joints.

Here is a picture showing some contour line planning for a large hill, which I’m making that crosses the tile joins.

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The next picture shows one terrain tile with to make up a small single hill with the contour lines drawn out on it in pencil. Next to it you can see a the same tile with a piece of ceiling tile cut to the rough shape, and after that a picture showing how I trim it to the shape that I want. Repeat this process for each layer of ceiling tile to make the hill.

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At the end of some cutting you should end up with something that looks like the final picture. :)
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Post by Paint it Pink » Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:51 am

Getting it on: Terrain Tutorial Part 2.

I made up about six boards at a time, but this is because that is all the room I have to put them on and let them dry. I usually leave the tiles overnight to do so and find something else to be getting on with instead.

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Once you’ve made a few tiles up it is time to start applying some filler over the top of them. You really want to do this in two stages, because if you try and put on a thick coat all in one go it will shrink, and crack. Then you’ll end up having to put more filler on. So you might as well put on two thin coats in the first place.

Here is the picture that shows the hill starting to have some filler troweled on.

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Next is a picture showing the first stage of the filling done. Not neat or tidy, but it will do.

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Post by Paint it Pink » Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:55 am

Getting it on: Terrain Tutorial Part 3.

Now if the terrain boards warp, due to the filler shrinking, or whatever. Don’t panic. Take the tile and gently crack it so as to relieve the warp in it. This is one advantage of kappa board foam, as it may not be very rigid, but it sure is flexible. Once you done this to the tile you will notice that it is no longer as rigid as it once was, and might even be floppy, which is not good.

However, this is easily fixed. Using PVA draw a bead of glue along each crack on the tile. Get a piece of kitchen roll, the stuff that they advertise on TV, as being strong when wet is good. Tear strips of this into a shape that will cover the crack. Then place said strips over the crack that has the PVA on it.

Using a flat brush and some water, brush over the top of the kitchen roll piece so as to make it damp. This will make the PVA soak into the kitchen roll paper, which won’t tear because it’s designed to be strong when wet! For the edges of the scrap, put dabs of PVA down at the corners, and use the wet brush to seal the edges. Again allow this mess to dry overnight. When dry it will have restored the rigidity of the tile.

As you can see from this picture I have had to fix several boards in this manner.

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Once they are dry then you can go back and apply more filler and make the contours smooth and more even, hiding any cracks that are covered by PVA impregnated kitchen roll. I like to reduce the effect of the steps from the contours; as for me the whole point of having the terrain is to look like you are fighting over miniature terrain. However, some people like clearer contour steps and treat the terrain as a more abstract concept. This approach can be very effective, but it is not to everyone’s taste.

When the boards are dry it is time to start painting them. The easiest way is to spray them, and I use red primer for cars. It comes in big spray cans, and it is relatively cheap. For rock faces I use grey primer. Allow any primed board to dry thoroughly and then you can start painting and texturing them. Some people like to mix colour into the filler, so as to avoid painting later. I’d caution about colouring the filler, because this can affect the strength of the material. However, some people like to do this, and have made it work for them. Experimentation is the name of the game here.

Here is a picture of some primed boards showing red and grey paint applied.

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Post by Paint it Pink » Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:59 am

Getting it on: Terrain Tutorial Part 4

the top of the dull red primer. No real finesse needed here, as both of these colours will be covered later. This stage is just about protecting the end result from white chips and generally reducing the effects of wear and tear, which will happen as you use them. After this I roughly paint any water areas. I used a diluted blue as the base colour for the centre of the river, with a green wash to link to the bank. Allow the paint washes to mix of their own accord, as you get nice swirls, which look really good.

Next, I like to add texture pain to areas around rivers. Then I will get my trusty PVA and spread a thin layer on the board. You need to work reasonably quickly, so only do one board at a time. While the PVA is still wet you want to sprinkle ground foam texture on it using a sieve. I put down a mud colour to represent earth first. Allow this to dry overnight and remove any loose, or excess foam the next day for re-use.

Once your basic ground cover is down you can think about where you want some green to go? Mark out the field, rough ground as you think fit, apply PVA and sprinkle with the next layer of ground foam. Again allow this to dry overnight, and again remove excess, or loose foam.

This picture shows earth and burnt grass ground foam, with the river given a coat of acrylic gel.

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Post by AVA MANGO TWO » Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:46 pm

Again another very well written and explained tutorial full of useful ideas and techniques, good show Ashley. :D
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Post by Sarge » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:30 pm

Just a note to ease play:

Make each 'level' of hill at least an inch high, more an inch and an eight, to insure that level 2 terrain will completely conceal a mech. I have found that it greatly simplifies play.

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Post by Paint it Pink » Sat Sep 13, 2008 1:13 pm

I must admit to using half inch or so levels, and counting them as half levels, which only infantry and tanks can hide behind. Infantry being totally in cover, while tanks will get partial cover.

Okay, that is a house rule, but it adds tactical flavour to a miniature game. :wink:
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Post by Paint it Pink » Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:40 am

Okay, I've finished another 9 terrain boards, and in the process I've been experimenting with the texturing and colouring, as the originals weren't completely floating my boat. Unfortunately, these pictures are washed out by the flash, which makes them look a lot lighter than they are in the flesh. I will have to get the tripod out and do a long exposure under natural light at some time in the future. Don't hold your breaths though. :wink:

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Really must start working on finishing off my trees, and doing a whole lot more of them too. Hope you all enjoy seeing my progress, however slow it is.
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Post by MechRat » Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:58 am

Looks great! Please keep on posting as you progress. :thumleft:
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Post by Paint it Pink » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:01 pm

Getting it on: Terrain Tutorial Addendum

I've started working today on the next batch of terrain boards I have planned. I realised that on reflection my way of working has evolved. In the original tutorial I was refurbishing an old set of boards that I had made using ceiling tile cement, and commenting on the warping this caused. My second batch of boards didn't use ceiling tile cement, instead I glued the polystyrene tiles down with PVA and textures them using wood filler, which is flexible. I still had some warping and had to repair these too.

However, I have now started to glue the ceiling tile contours down with Gorilla glue, which has a tendency to expand, rather than contract. I did try a glue gun, but this melted the ceiling tiles. Also, I now put a thin smear of filler down and allow this to dry overnight, with the result that the kappa boards are no longer warping. Or at least the warp from the filler is counteracted by the expansion from the Gorilla glue. Serendipitous really. :roll:

Anyway, I've also been refurbishing the original ten boards that I made, as I was not pleased with the coarseness of the ground foam I had used. I now use the finest foam I can find, because while the coarser foam looks good for 25mm wargames, it is too coarse for 6 to 15mm, which is what I mostly game in nowadays. I'm also revisiting the second batch of 11 boards that I finished as the colouring was not looking good for the camera, and I realised that I had done the change in tones wrong. The grass green should be at the bottom of the hills and the red earth at the top. Live and learn eh?

So, here are the drawn out contour lines for the next batch of 12 terrain boards, which will be built with the changes that have come from my experience of making the previous boards. The plan will be to revisit and rework all the terrain board to a consistent standard and matching colour tones in due course.

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What you can see here, if you look closely, is a winding set of ridge line contour boards and some town boards. As always, all comments and opinions gratefully received.
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Post by Blackhawk01 » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:45 pm

Some nice work Pink. The smaller squares greatly aid in keeping things flexible. One thing I loved about the old "Geo-Hex" system.
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Post by AVA MANGO TWO » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:34 pm

Looking good Ash, but you need some sun on those legs.... :wink: :lol: zac
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Post by Paint it Pink » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:59 pm

Here is a quick picture of the repainted terrain with some of my mechs trying it out for size.

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Enjoy.
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Post by AVA MANGO TWO » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:45 pm

The photo is a bit yellowed out but the repaint does look far better, any chance of a full table shot or as much as you have managed to complete. :)
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Post by Paint it Pink » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:21 pm

Not as yellow as it was before I tweaked it, I can tell you. Anyways, I'll try and get some natural daylight shots done this weekend.

I've actually got a load of stuff finished, which I haven't photographed just because life got on top of me for a while. Still not at full speed either, but doing better than I was.

BTW: Meant to say that the flash version was a whole lot worse, which is why I went for the yellowish picture to post here. It takes time to take good pictures, and I don't always have the time.
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Post by AVA MANGO TWO » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:36 pm

I just hate taking big table top photos in general they never seem to come out as well as i thought i had taken them or quite as planned.
Im really hopeing my new camera will remedy this, but time will tell when i have to start taking some photos of my Grayheaven cityscape which has been one of my working project for a long time now and is nearing completion. :) zac
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