Monday 1 November 2010

Terrain is everything - modular hill overview part 2.

In much the same way that GW’s battle terrain can split and rotate I wanted a hill that did the same. A hill big enough to support my largest building but offer a split so it can be positioned as corner pieces or board side ridges.

I sourced some pink insulation foam from B&Q. It was about £7 and 50mm thick, twice what I wanted but the 25mm foam was out of stock. I think the sheet was about 5’ long and possibly 3’ wide, big enough for a table on it’s own and after producing all my hills I have half of it left.

Firstly I had to split the foam in two to get it down to 25mm. I used a normal wood saw to do this. It made a really rough surface but I figured that would be the base so wouldn’t matter. One down side to this is that the foam did start to warp a little so if you can get 25mm thick foam, get it! I then traced my hill, with split and a number of other hills, a roughly circular hill, oval and a long ridge. I think all of them can fit on the modular hill in some way to get that double height cover.

The hills were all cut out at an angle. I used a thin bread knife for this as the serrated edges were finer leaving a smoother finish on the slopes. This is really difficult to do and takes a lot of care so you don’t lose a limb. Cutting the hill on the edge/corner of a table allows the knife to cut through without destroying the furniture. I did mine vertically on the wall outside so I didn’t make a mess from the polystyrene.

The hills had bases made out of mounting card, less durable than MDF but I had loads to hand and it’s easier to cut/bevel edges. Obviously the downside is that the PVA used to mount the hills and board together warped them but eventually you can bend them back straight. Around the edges builder’s sharp sand from B&Q was stuck on with PVA.

The hills were painted with a black interior house paint, bulked out with Early Learning Centre art paint, some Polycel ready mix plaster, some fine sand and a good dollop of PVA glue. I wanted a nice impervious coating, like you get with surfboards, a foam core with a hard outer fibreglass shell.

Once this was dry I sprayed a red oxide primer paint [another advantage to red planet battlefields] onto the hill. I’d also managed to pick up some Vermillion artists acrylic paint from Quality Save for 99p. Amazingly this colour matches the base map perfectly. A series of successive drybrushes really picked up the sand and texture.

Below are all the hills I made in one go, as you can see there’s plenty of variety to their deployment which means we won’t get too bored with our terrain. Later on as I present more examples of my red planet terrain, once I've prepped all the .pdf templates to go with them I'll show how the terrain all fits together.


  1. Nice work man! I'm new and playing catch-up big time and really enjoy your simple and elegant terrain building! Will be using these techniques to build my terrain supply. Thanks!

  2. Cheers Jonny, like anything the more practice you get the better you get. MOre importantly when it comes to painting and modelling don't panic/worry in the early stages. There's loads of times I've looked at a model long before it's finished and feared it would turn out rubbish. In those early stages everything looks rubbish! It's only once the dust has settled you can truly decide if you need to strip it down/repaint it and start again and then you get twice the experience!

    Good luck with your efforts, thanks for leaving a comment.