Thursday, 23 January 2020

Modular Terrain - Mountains and Rivers

Equipment and Materials:
1/4" thick board
2" thick polystyrene
2" wide black Duck Tape
PVA glue
EC Scenics Realistic Water
EC Scenics Water Effects
Scenic Sprayer
Static Grass Mat
Noch Wild Grass Mat
Cork Barking
Woodland Scenics Talus
Various Woodland Scenics Flocks
Various Woodland Scenics Static Grasses
Various Woodland Scenics Tall Grasses
Various Woodland Scenics Course Turf
Various Woodland Scenics Clump Foliage
Various Green Lichen


In this article we will look at modelling realistic mountains and water by making boards with a foot of a rocky mountain with a stream running throughout the middle of them.
Looking for inspiration for the project I turned to original Fellowship of the Ring rulebook pg 100-101, which is a gaming board I have always loved.

The Plan

With a project of this size it is always best to plan so I took some graph paper and drew a square that was divided up into quarters. Each square would represent two inches. I drew the design in pencil first so that I could rub out anything I was not happy with. Once I was pleased with the layout I went over it with black pen.

The boards will have two high mountain areas and a small stream running through the middle of the board. There will be two smaller hills and rocks scattered about the area.

The main reason for splitting it up into quarters is so that some of the boards can be arranged in a different order. Here is a mock up showing the bottom left board put with the top right board:

The Construction

I divided up each 2 by 2 polystyrene board into quarters (each being a foot square) and then using the plan drew it out on the boards full size.

I carved the stream area out. This is a messy job as bits of polystyrene go ever where. Once I had finished I cleaned and hovered up the mess.

The stream bed was then covered in modelling sand and the end that opens up wider (so that if can fit in with my other river boards) had rocks placed in it to act as a dam. At this stage I begun cutting out the hills out of polystyrene.

The remaining hill was constructed out of polystyrene. A path was molded into it going towards the stream. This would also match up to my existing pathway boards.

Paper Mache Contour Smoothing

I used some paper mache to smooth the contours out on the polystyrene hill. This will make playing on it easy as most models should be able to stand up without falling. One side of the hill I left steep as I wanted this side to be un-climbable.

I covered the rocky outcrop ridges in tissue paper and PVA glue to remove all the polystyrene features. When dry it will give it a nice rocky texture.

I also made small mounds out of paper mache and placed them on the board where there was a large flat area. In nature no surface is 100% flat so I wanted just to make all the surfaces uneven but not so that it is unplayable. Models will be able to stand anywhere on the ground without trouble.

The Start of the Mountains

The mountains were done using large chunks of polystyrene cut into basic shape and then I started carving the rock face. I added random blocks of polystyrene around to try and break up the smoothness, remember there are no straight lines in nature. I added a few cave entrance areas here and there that could well be inhabited by Goblins.

I added enough layers to give the mountains some height, of course these will only represent the foot of a mountain.

Completing The Mountains

Moving on to Mountain 2, I wanted the bottom left mountain section to match up to the top right hand one as well so I placed these boards together so I could match up the edges when I begun constructing the new mountain.

Once this was done I put the boards back to their proper places to construct the other side of the mountain matching it up with the one that was just made. By doing this I have given myself a few set up configurations.

I carried on carving away until I was happy with the basic look, remembering the golden rule: There are no straight lines in nature.

Now with the mountains carved I covered them in ModRock (or plaster on a roll). This is the same stuff that you get a leg or armed bandaged in when you break it. It sets rock hard and covers up any shapes unnatural angles and protects the polystyrene.

For extra detail where the surface of the mountain was a bit plain I added bits of cork barking, once painted this will give a nice rocky texture to the piece.

The bits of bark where glued on using PVA and then small strips of ModRock about 1inch by 2inches were used to smooth the bark into the rest of the mountain face.

I decided that whilst I need to use a Games Workshop grass mat in the places where it will connect with my other gaming boards, in places where they won't connect I  will use various different flocks as ground coverage. The ground on the mountain side of the stream will be flocked as this won't connect in with my other boards (except a small bit that will be matched in with GW static grass). The ground on the other side of the stream will be covered using a GW mat and then flocked like my existing boards.

Let the Painting Begin...

I began by painting the mountains a dark grey. Normally in projects involving rocks I tend not to use grey instead go for more sandstone colour, but for this project I wanted a nice slate grey colour to the mountains like these:

Obviously I did not use Games Workshop paints, I mixed black and white emulsion paint together until I got the colour I wanted. In GW paint terms it would be 50/50 mix of [b]Chaos Black[/b] and [b]Codex Grey[/b]. I then gave a heavy grey brushing of 25/75 mix of black and grey. It was then given a light drybrushing of [b]Codex Grey[/b] type colour. Finally as no rock is perfectly clean I gave all the rock areas a drybrushing of a [b]Graveyard Earth[/b] type colour.

The areas where I was going to totally flock I painted what would be equal to [b]Scorched Brown[/b] and then drybrushed with a [b]Graveyard Earth[/b]. The stream was painted black first then painted in the same way as the rock areas minus the final brown drybrushing. The areas that were to be covered in gaming mat where not painted.

Ground Cover

The gaming mat areas were now covered. A tip for covering areas with a gaming mat is to cover the area on the board with PVA glue and then soak the back of the mat with water for a while. This makes applying the mat very easy.

Covering the flocked areas in slightly watered down PVA I sprinkled on various turf mixes.

I flocked over the GW grass mat as I do with my other boards so to break up the perfect green. I added some course turf in various places and added some flocks to the mountain ledges in places. I also experimented placing some trees on the board.

Longer grasses where added in various places. This is called Wild Grass Mat and made by Noch. You can purchase it from [url=]Antenociti's Workshop[/url]. It comes in a small mat that you tear in to rough pieces and apply to the boards.

I also added some rubble around the mountain areas. This was made using two types of Woodland Scenics Talus.

Bushes and shrubs where then added using Woodland Scenics clump bushes and lichen.

The Stream

The stream was done but simply using Woodland Scenics Realistic Water but you could use any modelling water product such as Games Workshops. A tree trunk made from a left over tree kit trunk was painted and added before pouring the water. At first it looks milky but eventually dries clear.

In places where there was objects sticking out of the water such as the dam area and the tree trunk I used Woodland Scenics Water Effects. This creates the effect of churning water.

The Finished Board

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