Tuesday 17 May 2011

No Man's Land terrain and a few loose ends

Just a quick couple of updates of what I’ve been up to this week, and to start to tie up a couple of loose ends on this blog.

First, I’ve really being enjoying “Six Weeks”, which I mentioned in my post here. I’m about two-thirds through, and I shall let your have a proper review later this week. For a wargamer, there’s a great many insights and ideas which come from the book. It’s certainly worth the price for that reason alone. Perhaps far more importantly, though, in addition to being an excellent historical account of junior British officers in the Great War, the book is a deeply moving, sometimes harrowing and very respectful tribute to the sacrifice of those officers.

Second, and on a terrain making note, I’ve been finishing off the wooded terrain for No Man’s Land which I started in March. After a period of painting figures, it’s been great to come back to some terrain making.

You might remember I got to this point by late March ...

As always, I started with a plan of what needed to be done to carry the project forward. I always think that this helps me get over the “Oh Lord, it’s all too difficult stage” when going back to a half-finished project.

One of the first thing I wanted to do was to make the trees look a little more varied and less “stick-like”. I bought some plastic, bendy tree armatures a while back and these are great for bending into various shapes. They were perfect for the smaller branches which may not have been removed by the shelling, and made the trees slightly more varied.

I drilled the sticks with a fine hand drill and then glued in some small armature branches with epoxy resin (less brittle than superglue, as the trees may have a fair bit of handling at our local club).

Next, I wanted to make sure that the wood locating battens into which the wooded squares can be slotted were not too obvious and pronounced. I like using Milliput for this sort of thing - its pretty cheap, very hard when dry and easy to mould into shape. Although Milliput is a rough epoxy putty, as it was going to be covered in PVA and gravel scatter, that didn’t matter in this use of the material.

I wanted some variety on the “woodland” floor as well as in the trees. I cut some tufts from an old piece of rubber-backed floor matting and cut some suitable grass patches from an old set of towelling which I had dyed dark brown.

Then I rustled up a disgusting mixture of dark brown paint, polyfilla and PVA glue in an old contained which I spread onto the terrain board, wood sections and foam inserts with an old brush. I tend to do this pretty liberally, as the polyfilla adds a slight contour.

The, as with the other terrain boards, I scattered loose gravel and sand over, and pressed the brown towelling patches into, the brown PVA sludge. That got me to this point....

I was reasonably pleased with this interim step and felt that things were coming together. As you can see, the idea is to get a double use out of the woods – so they can be used on a normal non-modular terrain table, as well as each having a custom place slotted onto their home on the terrain board.

With the prototype shell-shattered woods I’ve made before, I’ve coated them liberally in PVA glue to prolong their lifespan and rough handling at the club. I did the same with the wood squares, mixing up some PVA, a little polyfilla and black paint in order to paint the trees. (For obvious reasons, this is best done after you have finished scattering gravel around!)

So, at this stage, things were coming together....

......which means that the last stage before painting is some detailing. I’d made a couple of interchangeable machine gun/ mortar/ command pits in the terrain board, and wanted these to have some sandbags around. There are loads of great tutorials on the internet telling you how to make these, so I won’t repeat the advice here. Suffice to say I made the sandbags with Miliput, pressing them out using a cloth (to indent a fabric pattern on the putty) and finished the detailing using a sculpting tool and a pin.....

OK, I’ll accept that the pin might have been going over the top a little ! That being said, I thought that adding the sandbag stitching was a fun thing to do on a couple of the sandbags. Finally, I wanted to have some of the trees with longer roots, again trying to make them seem more natural. I’d tried to do this on the Bourlon Wood test-piece I made a year or so back. Here’s where I got to this time....

So, there we are. Building done, with just the painting to do and then some micro-detailing. Hope you can join me for that this coming weekend.


  1. Nicely done. I've still got a bin full of Renegade early war minis to finish up. I've also planned my "rewards" for getting units done as being nice terrain bits. You've done a marvelous job here. Some day. Someday. Sigh.

  2. Sidney many thanks for sharing your (always) very useful terrain "teach-ins" (....specially for dummies like me). My pipeline of projects keep growing, and growing, and growing...

  3. Very informative post. Might even have a go at making some myself.


  4. Stunning work and detail again, you are gifted and patient sir.

  5. Great post, impressed already and it's not even finished. Being a relative new follower I searched the older post and noticed many other great terrain posts as well. That trench board you did I can still remember details from after i've seen it at crisis long time ago. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Most Excellent! Really like the detail you have added in and around the shell holes.

    Looking forward to seeing the completed pieces!

  7. Very informative and well executed. It's the little details that count.


  8. Impressive. As an advocate of little details bringing life to terrain pieces, really like the Boulon wood piece.


  9. Thanks for the comments everyone, they’re all very warmly welcomed - every single one. Glad you enjoyed the post - there's much more to come!

    @aw1 tim: Make sure you give it a go, Tim! It doesn’t take that long and once you’ve taken the plunge, it sort-of gets easier !

    @Benito: Mate, you’re anything but a dummy! Your projects are awesome!

    @Angry: I'm either patient, or I've just got too much time on my hands in the evenings!!

    @MiniMike: I never realised you were at Crisis!! Shhhhh…..rumour is that we may be coming back to Antwerp this year …

    @Furt: it IS the little details that count. You’re absolutely right there, Sir!

    Thanks again everyone.

  10. Awesome job!!! I can't wait to see the finished product. You must have the patience of a saint, using a pin to make the stitching on the sandbags, but it's spot on. Very well done!

  11. Muy buenas.
    De donde has sacado la alambrada?

  12. Fantastic work, I can't wait to see the finished model, your a very patient chap using a pin to mark the sandbags!!

  13. Hello Sidney,
    I just stumbled across your Blog. It's a pitty I haven't seen it earlier. Your work looks beautiful!
    I love it :)

    Carry on!


  14. Hi Sidney, Hope you don't mind, I've put a link up to your blog from mine, and nominated your blog for the stylish blogger award. Brilliant work on all your posts.

    All the best



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