In my previous post I started the desert hill, now I'm going to show you what I did with the other one. My aim this time was to provide a small scenic piece that both would bring some "flavour" to the gaming table while at the same time providing some sort of cover or at least breaking up line of sight. The desert hill was aimed at 6mm games while this hill would be used with 20mm figures.
|Tools of the trade: model railroad flock, thistles and nettles.|
Doing terrain for the larger scales is a great opportunity to go overboard with different techniques, detailing and whatnot. I often get inspired by Model Railroad layouts and there is no reason why a wargames table shouldn't try to reach the same level of realism. Sure, there is a practical limit on how much stuff you can put on the gaming table itself, but independent terrain pieces can be small dioramas in themselves. As I wanted to try out some new materials I had "accumulated" (the stuff just materialise in my hobby room, I have no idea how it gets there, or so I tell my wife) I decided to make a small grassy knoll overgrown with thistles and nettles.
|Yeah I know it looks like a steaming pile of dog turd now...|
For grasslands I use the GW brown paint I got in their big terrain paint set; it covers well and virtually lasts forever. This time I mixed it with some Vallejo Pumice gel to thicken it a bit and give it some texture. As usual I just slabbed it on in a thick goo. Being mixed with paint this time the gel didn't hold any visible brushstrokes,but as I intended to cover most of it with flock that wouldn't have been a problem anway.
|Hornby Coarse Earth ground cover is sprinkled over the wet paint.|
I then added some dark green brown ground cover. This is finely chopped up flock. I made sure to push it down into the paint so it would stick down properly. Even if you are going to add green flock later it's always good to have some darker flock under it to simulate earth and moss and other scrubs. The idea is to give the eye a lot of different textures and colours that will blend into eachother and make the terrain look natural. If you only use, say, brown paint and green static grass it will look very ordered and unnatural. At best you will get something that looks like a landscaped park.
|Bits of the Thistle Field mat are glued down on the hill in a semi-random fashion.|
The next thing I did was to tear small chunks off the Thistle Field mat and stick them onto the hill. It's important not to cut the pieces out since they will be too regular. The field is really just a piece of self-adhesive paper which static grass and blobs of paint have been glued onto. The illusion of a blooming field of thistles is quite convincing though. I needed to cover the edges since the self-adhesive paper is a rather garish green, so I sprinkled a lot more earth flock over the hill. In retrospect I would have been better off sticking the thistles onto the hill as the first step, then painting the hill with brown and sprinkling flock over it. But as I didn't really have a plan I just made things up as I went.
|More flock, this time greener.|
I glued the thistles on mostly around the side as I wanted to be able to put some figures on the hill. I added green flock (Gale Forve 9 summer meadow) on top of the Coarse Earth to give the hill a bit more colour. It's supposed to be summer with all the blooming thistles.
|Nettles. Laser-cut even.|
The next item I wanted to try was Laser-cut Nettles from Noch. These come on a small sheet of green printed paper (there is a pattern on it, it's not plain green), with the laser having cut out each nettle from the paper. These are quite expensive at about £6.00 for ten nettles, but they go a long way.
|The leaves are insanely small.|
The individual plants are cut out of the sheet and bent into shape. The paper is quite sturdy and can be bent and twisted a bit without breaking. Putting a toothpick into the middle hole made it easier to fold them, and when you are satisfied with the shape just pull them off the toothpick, dab a drop of superglue underneath and press them down on your terrain piece.
|Close-up of a couple of Nettles.|
So now we have two kinds of flock, nettles and thistles on our small hill. I also glued on a couple of longer tufts among the greener flock to add some length here and there. It's just really a case of adding different things until you are satisfied with the look.
|Finished! Please excuse the blurry photo, I must be allergic to nettles...|
When I had gotten this far I decided it was enough. I had used seven of the ten nettles and tried to mix them into the thistles as well as putting them by themselves in a couple of places. Of the Thistle field mat I have about 90% left, so there will be plenty more patches of thistles on my gaming table. I'm thinking of taking a couple of old CD's and gluing thistles and some rocks onto them to represent rough ground.
|A PSC 1/72 scale hanomag demonstrates the "hull down" position.|
And there you have it. An attractive terrain piece that adds variety, can serve as a hull down position for tanks, some small cover for infantry, or just simply breaking up line of sight by removing the flatness of the gaming table.