Saturday 30 June 2012

A Dark Deranged Structure: Modelling Guides

There is something very special about terrain.

Not the resin lumps you can by from trade fairs or the skull festooned 'kits' that are produced by GW these days that turn every battlefield into a generic waste ground.

I am talking about the home made stuff like this!

Home made, 'one of a kind' pieces that have been worked on just as much as the models set to game across it. Now as some of you may be aware, in the past I was the world's worst shield freehand painter! I have since overcome that little hurdle.

The next great leap from Orlyggkind is terrain.

I am crap at it!

Oh sure, I can cut out some buildings from Warhammer Townscape and plonk them down on a board and them scatter some flock or rubber lichen around but its not purpose built terrain full of character, is it?

As a young gamer, I dreamt of a gorgeous table (I am sure that we all do) spread out with detailed hedgerows, quaint buildings, rivers and woodlands. I don't know why, but I always imagined some kind of castle or fort at one end and ditches somewhere else.

Well 25 years later; its still a dream.

Whilst searching online I came across a publication that is not quite in our period but is packed full of modelling goodness. You may be aware of 'How to Make Wargames Terrain' by Nigel Stillman but I certainly wasn't.

Its packed full of excellent ideas to get anyone started building terrain cheaply and easily. No large plastic kits here; just toilet rolls, brillo pads and lots and lots of sand. Reading this has got me inspired to build 'something' from scratch this summer (hot weather is much easier on the drying of glue, I find!). I think I might begin with the generic fantasy/medieval house based on some of the buildings for Warhammer Townscape before moving on to some fences, hedgerows and the like.

Now as I was browsing through the pages I recalled the many guides that were publish during our era (1985-92) by modellers such as Tony Cottrell, Dave Andrews and Phil Lewis in White Dwarf. Flicking through my archive I uncovered a large number of them and intend to scan them up when I next have some lengthy free time and post them on Scribd for your use too.

Meanwhile, I found this rather grotty 'Coaching Inn' modelling guide online which I shall share with you until I get my act in gear.

Coaching Inn Photocopy

Oh, and here's a copy of Stillman's 'How to Make Wargames' Terrain too!

Wargames Terrain

If you have any tips or advice on building terrain please let me know. I'd be fascinated to hear.



  1. I used to have lots of fold-up cardboard design buildings. Takes some careful thinking and measuring etc to make sure you include tabs in right places, but once textured and painted even cereal box cardboard is surprisingly tough and looks OK. Nowadays I'd probably be flash and use plasticard.
    I also remember the days when White Dwarf used to print folding designs you could copy.

    Which is far cry from today sadly. Recently went into local GW to see if they wanted a load of polystyrene sheets I had.
    "nah, we only supposed to use our own stuff in shop" (i.e only GW catalogue terrain kits). depressing

  2. I have a few tips - use MDF to make terrain bases, it makes it so sturdy and is easy to cut and work with (I've tried styrene bases which warp horribly, avoid that). I recommend Amera stuff too as a base - - if you want original terrain, get some of their stuff and cut it up, customise it etc - very cheap and durable, useful. If you stock up on a nice selection of basing materials, different types of grasses, leaf litter, cork stones and so on, that makes a huge difference on the final effect.

  3. Thanks Orlygg,

    Nigel Stillman's book is a fantastic resource - I've used it for yours. £ for £ it's probably my most used/ referred to hobbying book. So much experience and knowledge was put into those pages. Years on and its as great a reference tool as it was in the 1990s. Super post, and a very fine blog - keep up the great work!

  4. I don't know how updated it is because I haven't checked it in a while, but you should definitely look at the Terragenesis web site for articles on building terrain.