Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Nice an' easy terrain tips

Salutations plaguelings. As promised a few weeks back I have been working on some terrain and thought I would delay it slightly to allow my colleagues to update the blog for a change of pace. I have delayed this somewhat for a variety of reasons. One of the reason being that when I originally wrote this article, just before I was going to post it I saw a very similar post on Miniature Tim's blog on modelling tools here.

Now I think I will start off by giving some tips for those of you out there have no idea where to start and don't have a budget to buy terrain. Home terrain can be effective and cheap. It allows you to turn everyday items into whatever you can imagine. Don't get me wrong the Games Workshop terrain is brilliant, but not everyone can afford to pay the prices they ask for.

I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of the hobby, especially modelling. Whether its the latest release from Games Workshop or some terrain I'm all over it. Now the best advice I can give you if you're thinking of starting terrain building is to gather materials and some tools. Now I got a lot of my tools from Poundland or other pound shops. For some things I shop on eBay. These will be your friends, if I'm ever near one I always go in and see what I can use.

For the tools I would suggest...
  • Bread knife or hot foam cutter (for cutting high density Styrofoam)
  • Xacto Blade/Hobby Knife / Stanley Knife (every war gamer should already have one for cleaning their models from the sprue)
  • Modelling clips or Wire Cutters (again as above you should already have one of these)
  • Sandpaper and files (I would suggest getting a sanding block to save getting cramp in your hands!)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler (preferably metal and 1 metre in length)
  • Hand drill / pin vice (most hobbyists should have one of these)
  • Clamps or vices (handy to hold things together as the glue dries)
  • Various sizes of paint brushes (you definately should have these but I suggest decorating brushes)
Optional Tools include...
  • Hot Glue gun (optional, I find this is useful sometimes)
  • Saw for cutting masonite (optional, only if you want to base your terrain on hardboard)
  • Goggles and face mask (I only use goggles when I'm sanding or cleaning models with Dettol)
  • A multi tool (if your lazy like me these come in real handy)
  • Jigsaw Cutter Power Tool (I picked mine up for £10 from Argos!)
Now the bottom two options I would only suggest if you are either over the age of 18 or if you have a grown up to it for you. If anyone has any further suggestions drop them in the comments below and I will add them on.

Once you have a workplace sorted and all of the tools you require your going to need some materials.
  • Polystyrene or better yet high density Styrofoam
  • Sand (try and get a mix of grades)
  • Gravel/small stones (I managed to get some on my street outside my house)
  • Wire (I suggest getting some garden wire)
  • Corregated card (try and save some of this from boxes, I use the stuff that goes around your coffee at Starbucks)
  • Plasticard or if your really on a budget card (basically the stuff cereals come or even Games Workshop miniatures!)
  • Masonite (used for basing your terrain pieces, but you can use card, but its more prone to warping)
  • Sprue (you should definately have some of this ;) )
  • Straws
  • Plaster / Polyfill (ready mixed if your lazy)
  • Green Stuff / Kneadite
  • Foamboard (I suggest 5mm thick) or if you are really budgeting Cardboard
  • Lollipop sticks and coffee stirrers
  • Toilet/Kitchen rolls
  • Recyclables such as empty cans and bottles. Try and keep the lids as well!
  • 'Granny grating' (the stuff people use for needlework)
  • Toothpicks / Bamboo skewers (can be used as spiky bits or to hold sections of Styrofoam / polystyrene together)
  • Ear buds (snip off the wooly ends and you get nice and thin tubes!)
  • Random bits from your bitz box (you need to start one of these if you do not have one)
Now onto some terrain I have made. I've had this sat in the garage for weeks. It's really easy and quick, however long it take for the glue to dry plus painting it and most importantly it is rediculously cheap! The tutorial I followed can be found at and I am sure some of you may already be aware of this site :)

All I did was use a Starbucks mug and then for the 'roof' I used a very thin piece of plasticard cut to shape. Once this was glued on I added something from my bitz box, along with a lid from some shampoo bottle or something and tubing I collect from ear buds with the ends snipped off. Sprayed it black and then painted it. And tadaaaaaa...

It can also be seen in action in a picture of a game we had few weeks back (See below). You may notice some flaming, smoking wrecked vehicles. Well they will be on my next tutorial update on making more cheap terrain.


  1. It took me a while to work out what it was to be honest :) in the mini wargaming one they dont use a lid instead its a thinner thing to look like an antenna which might be why, looks cool, but more like a piece of industrial machinery that should be part of a power plant or something, looking good though!

    The smoke damaged vehicle templates look awesome I look forward to seeing their tutorial.

  2. Nice run down on useful tools. I hear that metal dental picks make good sculpting tools for green stuff with a huge variety of shapes and styles.

    They also come in a cheaper than the proper tools so nice for your budget.

  3. @ Dalinair yes the orginal intention of the tutorial is for a power plant, I decided to try this out. I have a couple more in my box that I think I'm gonna them dig out as a pair plasma fuel generators or something and have them as part of my manufactorum.

    @ O'Shashar I agree dental picks would be awesome I don't do a lot of green stuff work personally, but it is something I might look into as I'm not sure where to buy them from.


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