Making heavy foliage
This article is provided by Col. Corbane . I thought I’d share with you a tutorial that I’ve posted recently over on From The Warp on making heavy foliage terrain pieces.I want to make it clear that this tutorial isn’t a masterclasses, more simple guide to making effective scenery both in looks and playability for the least amount of time, effort and money. If you’re looking for masterclasses, then the net has plenty to offer.
Much like collecting an army, building scenery requires you to build up a set of tools and materials. Quite a lot of these things, you’ll find that you already have as scenery building often requires some of the same tools and materials as building an army, some you’ll find around the house like tools and scratch building materials, and some you’re just going to have to buy.
Much like building an army, over time you’ll build up a collection of tools and materials, so don’t worry if you don’t have something right now, if you’re serious about building scenery, you’ll get these things over time. For this project, there a few things that are essential.
- Cake bases for the area terrain pieces.
- Small bases for the foliage pieces
- Modelling gravel for the bases
- Finally, your actual foliage. (We’ll be looking at the different types of foliage you can use later in the tutorial)
First off, we’re going to make up some area terrain bases. I have a ton of these as they make defining area terrain really easy. My main material I use for making these are cake bases. Yep, that’s right, those silver things you see wedding cakes on. Cake bases come in many different shapes and sizes, virtually all supermarkets stock them and they’re really easy to work with. They’re basically a rough fibre board, so it’s important you wear a mask when working with them.
First, peel off the silver foil, don’t worry about the odd bit of white paper left on, but it’s important to get all the silver off. If you get a stubborn bit, just use a bit of sand paper to sand it off. Once that’s done, mark out your basic shape with marker pen. For this project, I’m doing two corner pieces as I have quite a few round and oval shapes already.
Next, cut your pieces out, and remember to wear that mask as this stuff produces lots of little fibres that you don’t want in your lungs. I use a coping saw to cut mine but you can use a hobby saw or even a steak knife. You’ll see that cake bases are really easy to work with.
Then you need to bevel the edges so they look right on the tabletop and don’t end up looking like step. I actually use a steak knife to make the initial cuts and then sandpaper to smooth it down. Once you’re done, it should look like the one on the right.
Next, cover the whole top of the piece with pva glue and then modelling gravel. Leave it to dry for a couple of hours and once it is, shake off the excess.
Once you’re sure there’s no excess gravel, coat the piece in watered down pva. I use a mix of 1 pva to 4 water, which looks a bit like milk once it’s mixed. I find sitting the pieces on top of some paint pots on a piece of cardboard works well for stopping to pieces getting glued to your working surface as well as soaking up any excess watered down pva.
Leave it overnight to dry completely and once it is, paint it up. I normally paint my pieces with chaos black (best to use a spray can), then an overbrush of scorched brown, then a drybrush of graveyard earth and then a final drybrush of bleached bone.
Once you’ve got it painted up, flock it as you would your models making sure that you use a flock that’ll match your gaming table.
That’s the bases done, and as you can see, it’s really easy to tell where the borders of the area terrain are.
Next up, we’ve actually got to do the terrain pieces to put on our area bases. I tend to make lots of little round terrain pieces that I can move about as I need to rather than one big one. I find it gives me flexibility on the tabletop and makes it easier to store them after the game. In the rest of this tutorial, I’m going to show you how I make jungle, woodland and alien pieces.
There’s nothing more evocative than the image of soldiers moving through thick jungle, much like the photo at the start of this tutorial. You don’t really see much jungle terrain on the tabletop which is a shame as it’s really easy to put together.
First off, start with some 60mm flat bases, or any sort of base really, I’ve used large flying bases and even cut my own out of plasticard in the past. Avoid cardboard at all costs as it’s prone to warping. In this example, I’ve added some milliput so that my bases don’t look flat but this isn’t essential.
Next gravel and seal them in exactly the same way as the area terrain pieces and leave them to dry overnight.
Once they’re completely dry, paint them up in the same way as well.
Then, brush glue around the edges of the bases and then cover them in static grass. Make sure you put something underneath them to catch the overspill so you can put it back into the tub once they’re dry.
When they’ve completely dried, you’ll be left with something like these.
Next up, you’re going to need some jungle plants. You can buy these from GW but I highly suggest you head down to your local pet shop. Pet shops stock all sorts of handy stuff for hobbyists, from various types of gravel to plastic plants, which is what we need for this project. These are a few packets of plastic plants I picked up from my local pet shop, I got quite a lot for a lot less than the GW plants.
Get your plastic plants and then cut them up into individual plants.
Then, simply glue the individual plastic plants onto your bases and leave them to dry. Once dry, you’ll have something like this.
Once you’ve got your area terrain pieces and foliage bases together, throw them down on the table, add some models and you’re ready to go.
By far the most common foliage feature on the tabletop is the wood, whether it’s the GW plastic woods or ones made from various hobby trees, or even scratch built ones. I’ll be covering how to build your own trees in the future, for this tutorial we’ll look at how to base hobby trees as GW plastic ones already come with their own bases.
First off, simply glue the tree to a round base, in this case a 60mm sentinel base, using some pva glue.
Then simply cover the base in gravel and paint it up in the same way as we did the jungle bases.
Next, you’re going to need some scenic material such as static grass and clump foliage. Clump foliage comes in various colours and I find a mix of colours works best.
Glue the static grass around the edges of the bases like we did with the jungle pieces. Once it’s dry, add some clump foliage at the base of the trees using pva.
Once it’s dry, you’ll have some very simple but very effective tree bases to use to make woodland area terrain for your games. Once on the table, they’ll give you a great looking woodland scene.
It’s quite common to see woodlands on tabletops and even jungles but the one rarity is alien terrain which is quite strange considering 40k is a science fiction game. Making alien terrain pieces isn’t that hard, you just need to find the right materials.
As a starting point, I highly recommend pot pourri, yep, that smelly stuff the women folk like to scatter around the house, it’s perfect for alien terrain.
First, pick out some interesting pieces that you think would work well together. It’s best to get more than you need, so you’ve plenty to experiment with when putting together the terrain bases.
Once you’ve got a good selection, dip them in your watered down pva and then leave them to dry. This will give them a protective coating, stop them smelling and help with any painting you want to do.
Once they’re dry, gravel some bases as described with the jungle pieces and then glue them on.
Once they’re completely dry, paint up the bases and add some static grass. You’ll also find that since they were dipped in pva, you can quite easily paint the pot pourri if you like.
As you can see, even on the typical green grass tabletop, they do have a real alien feel to them.
And there you have it, a simple guide to creating heavy foliage terrain for your tabletop. I hope you’ve found this tutorial useful and I hope it inspires you to create some of your own.