I have had a number of comments and questions recently about terrain manufacturing and what you need to get started. Let me state that I enjoy making terrain as much if not more then I like painting minatures or even possibly playing a game. There is something just wholesome about making a terrain project in my mind that is just special. After all, unlike a miniature, a good terrain project is something that is unique and completely your own. Sure, there are molds out there and kits like the Games-Workshop ones (which are really cool I might add and I have a bunch of them in my collection as well), but if you want something special to play on then you need to be able to make it yourself.
Terrain can add huge flavor and fluff aspects to your games. Perhaps your playing your dwarfs and want to fight a battles where your dwarfs are defending their hold. Another idea could, could be that you feel your empire Arch Lector wants to take the battle to chaos and your battles take place in the far northern mutated chaos wastes. Making your own terrain can add so much to your games.
So, what do you need to make terrain?
First, I want you to know I put together a video to better explain and show what all of the tools are that you are going to need to work on terrain. Check it out over on You Tube:
So, in this blog post I wanted to list some of the products I use on a regular process. Let’s start with a list of tools:
- Paint Brushes – A good variety of sizes and shapes. From normal miniatures brushes to a brush as wide as one or two inches.
- Hobby Knife – You know, your standard Exacto brand or GW hobby knife you use for scraping mold lines and such.
- Foam Knife – Not strictly required, but I like having my foam knife with it’s 2 inch blade because it gets through anything I pretty much need it to.
- Scissors – All sorts of cutting can be done with a pair of scissors
- Pens and Pencils – Particularly a ball point pen which can be used for drawing patterns by pressing into a piece of foam, but for drawing straight lines on projects, sketching plans, and taking notes
- Notepad – You need something to write those notes on
- Newspaper – Protect your work surface. Your going to make a mess when working on terrain.
- Plastic Cups – Not only useful for paint cups, but also for mixing resin, sprinkling sand, and other useful tasks.
- Metal Ruler – Great for a straight edge and a quick measuring tool.
- Sandpaper – Smoothing out rough cuts of wood, foam, and other materials is important.
- Rubber bands – Useful, but not required for holding pieces together while waiting for glue to dry, particularly when gluing to foam.
Wow, that was a list. Now let’s talk materials that you will want to have on hand for building your custom terrain pieces out of. I want to note this is by no way a complete list. Feel free to experiment and try things out. Often times, the most obscure thing you wouldn’t think would work is ideal for the project your working on.
- Foam – The blue or the pink stuff. This generally can be used in almost any terrain project from the simple hill, to buildings, forests (rocks), tables, etc.
- Skulls – We’re talking Warhammer here, you can never have enough skulls!
- Paint – Craft paint and Latex paint are best. Miniature paints are just expensive for the volume you need to make.
- PVA Glue – Good all purpose glue that works well with foam and other materials like gluing flock and sand on the models.
- Tacky Glue – Basically PVA glue, but it tends to be a little more, well tacky. Great for sticking something and most of the time it just sticks while the glue sets up.
- Super Glue – Just a touch can help things bond that just won’t stick. Be careful and don’t use directly on foam or it will melt the foam instead of creating a bond.
- Sand – Fills in cracks and creates great textures on hills, rock formations, edges near buildings and that kind of thing.
- Flock – I like the stuff from Woodland Scenics in particular the big shaker bottles are great for terrain projects.
- Balsa Wood – Balconies, floors, platforms and all sorts of goodies can be made from a little balsa wood
- Plastic card – Good for defining patterns and shapes.
- Thick Cardboard – Cereal box cardboard as well as like the stuff on the back of notepads is really good too instead of plastic card.
- Ballast – Great for making a bit rougher ground then what sand permits.
- Cat Litter – Great for making rocky textures that have varying types of rocky grit.
- Twigs and Rocks – Explore the front yard and find some twigs and rocks to decorate the bases your terrain sits on. It’s the little details after all that make your finished piece look quite a bit better.
- Aquarium Plants – Not the live ones! The plastic plants work great for jungle terrain or perhaps hostile alien planet terrain (if you are into that round base stuff).
- Resin and Water Effects – Great for making far more realistic ponds, rivers and pools then you get with standard paint.
- Hard board – Made from basically sawdust bound together with sand, a 1/4 inch thick piece works great for giving your terrain a base. I strongly recommend this over products like cardboard, plastic card, or other materials.
- Cotton balls – I use this to pull off smoke effects, perhaps for a blazing barricade or some spoky misty swamp.
- And many, many more possibilities…..
Let us know what you keep in your terrain manufacturing kits. You can send your lists and thoughts to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or catch us on Twitter, Google+ and/or Facebook.