Friday, May 11, 2018

Jungle Terrain - A New Project

I've been cleared to go back to the hobby bench, which is a great relief for me.  I decided my first project will be building some jungle terrain plates to use in my upcoming Historicon games (DAK & Dragons 2.0 and SOCOM & Sorcery 2.0).  The bases will be made out of a 2 foot x 4 foot sheet of hardboard, which I cut down to smaller sections with my table saw.  The hard board is 1/4 inch thick (6.4mm) and the reverse side is a blackboard style of backing.  Each sheet is a little more expensive ($12.24/sheet) but the blackboard materials resists warping and ensures a smooth finish so the sections don't snag the tabletop.

 I managed to get 24 sections out of the sheet in various sizes.  Once the rough outlines were drawn I cut out each section with my jig saw (which is on it's last legs) and then beveled the sides with my trusty dremel multi-tool.

Making the terrain plates is a bit tedious and messy so I suggest you make them in big batches and store the ones you don't use for later.

Speaking of tools, the two most used "power tools" for terrain making in my shop are my Proxxon hot wire cutter and my dremel.  I haven't really discussed the dremel and its uses on the blog so I'll do a post about it in the next few weeks.

You'll notice there are a number of sections with straight edges - thats to allow placement along table edges.  The straight edges are either 6 or 12 inches in length so they can also be butted up together to form larger sections.

 I didn't want perfectly flat terrain so added some EPS foam to create undulations in the terrain.  Each piece was rough cut with a box cutter and then sanded smooth.  EPS isn't the most friendly of materials health wise so when working with it I set up a wind tunnel with my shop vac by clamping suction hose to the workbench.  I also wore a protective mask.

Once the EPS piece have set, I textured the bases with my standard mix of flexible tile grout and PVA glue - roughly 3/4 Tile grout and 1/4 PVA.  The mixture dries rock hard and gives a real nice texture to the ground work.

Here in the states you can get the tile grout pre-colored.  I used the earth-tone color which is great for terrain work.  There's also a sandstone color which is perfect for desert terrain.

 Here's a shot of the sections all covered in tile grout.  It takes about 12 hours for this to dry but once set these things are virtually indestructible.

My first test section - I'm using a mixture of plastic plants and some scale trees for the vegetation.  The "plants" are hot glued in place and so far I like the look.  This is still a rough mock up as there isn't any ground cover (which hides the hot glue) and the plastic plants need to be toned down a bit with a wash but I'm really happy with where this project is going.

My inspiration for this project is a series of jungle terrain videos that were made by Mel the "Terrain Tutor".  I watched a lot of wood working and terrain making videos during my recovery and came to really enjoy Mel's work.  So much so I actually became a Patreon sponsor. Take a look at his stuff - it's well worth your time.


Lee Hadley said...

Glad to see you back in the 'workshop'.Hope your feeling more like yourself... Nice terrain project BTW, this looks really good. I'll have to check out the "Terrain Tutor" as I'm thinking about making some hills n'stuff later in the year.

TamsinP said...

I really need to work on my jungle terrain this summer - I might make a start once I've finished painting my Aussies. Mind you, I do need to paint a few regiments of SYW Russians and Cossacks before the end of August so they might come first :)

I also support Mel through Patreon - his is a very useful channel.

Peter Douglas said...

Great to see you back Miles. Great looking jungle terrain.

Matt Crump said...

Glad you are back at the bench.....nice terrain work 🙂

Ivor Evans said...

Great to see you back in the shop Miles :) Nice work on the plates - you can never have enough with how big your tables are!

legatus hedlius said...

Looking forward to more on this as I, too, and contemplating jungle terrain. Interested in the dremel piece as people keep talking about them and I have no idea what one is (thought it was a sort of hand drill).