Home Forums Terrain and Scenery Modular Terrain for 3mm/2mm Scale Gaming

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  • #15852
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Persuant to a New Year’s resolution I made to paint down some of the enormous stockpile of 3mm scale armor I have on the lot here, as well as trying to get a 1:1200 scale Aeronef fleet off the ground, I’ve decided to give myself an afternoon off this weekend (in between comics pages for the three, count ’em, THREE books I’m now working on) and try to finally put to rest the modular terrain boards I’ve been making lo these many months.  The big challenge, as always, is getting past the first five minutes where your sensible self tells you “this is a chore” and into the following six hours when your gamer self says “this is awesome and I love it!”  And the project had such a promising start that I feel an odd sense that I may actually convince some of the Anti-3mm and Anti-Sci Fi crowd down the club to join a game if I can give it a suitably impressive presentation.  Think of me as trying to pull the thing Angel Barracks did for 6mm on Oddzial Osmy’s 3mm Scale Sci Fi stuff with a load of gamers who won’t admit there were any battles fought on Planet Earth since the Bulge.

    My main medium is GHQ TerrainMaker hexes, cast in expanded polystyrene.  I admit I have always been deeply attracted to Kallistra’s Hexon-II system, but the cost to import to the United States has stopped me time and again, when faced with TerrainMaker, which is something like 1/10 the cost and available freely in the States.  Also, as I’ve seen as I go along, it gives a very natural-looking result, which is a great advantage.  I still fantasize about the Hexon-II set of my dreams, though… one day maybe I’ll have both.  I’d be open to a donation from Kallistra, of course… 😉

    My roads are 10mm wide, which is just too narrow for my 1/2″ game bases; that being the case (and not having made too many of them yet) I’m considering scrapping that and just making them narrower still, letting the tanks outscale them, as they already outscale the 2mm buildings from Brigade which will be the town hexes.  I’d be interested to hear feedback on that latter point, actually.

    A few points on TerrainMaker.  First, I’ve heard complaints about asymmetrical tiles causing problems with layout.  I have not had this issue, but maybe it’s just my forgiving nature.  Nevertheless, imperfections and failed alignments in terrain parts are very effectively fixed with a putty knife and a container of Lightweight Plaster Spackle, which dries to almost the exact consistency of expanded polystyrene.  VERY useful for making hill slopes match up one to the other, and for filling in the edges of hexes that are made of layered hexes, like rivers, coastlines, and the aforementioned hillsides.  Latex home paint is the best sealer material – I like to paint the bottom and sides first, then apply paint followed by flocking to the business end.  Once dry, a quick spray of dilute white glue or Woodland Scenics spray cement (which I prefer for its flat finish) holds the stuff on very well indeed.  And also, another point for those considering the same material is that paint adds an imperceptible thickness to the TerrainMaker tiles, which, when taken together across a whole board’s worth, makes them ever-so-slightly larger than the Skirmish Boards that GHQ sells with them.  Thus, my first board, which I assembled at the START of the project, had, by the end, been rendered too small to hold the hexes without crushing the corners, and they popped out the sides.  It was a real bummer.  So lesson learned: make the Skirmish Boards LAST, so that they fit the hexes when completed, instead of when they are blank.  That, or dispense with them entirely and instead use a high-friction backer like a felt cloth that will grip the hexes when laid out for play.

    In any event, this is an old shot of the pieces when last I handled the project.  If I can muster the gumption, this weekend will be the end of the making and the start of the gaming.  Here’s hoping that having a thread about it here will help me convince myself to get to it!

    Woods at this scale seem to me better represented by large clumps of trees instead of the typical “area terrain,” and at scale is very effective:

    So maybe this will be the weekend where the terrain finally hits the table!  Here’s hoping!

    #15855
    Norm S
    Participant

    That is looking very nice. I am a big fan of hex terrain and look forward to seeing your project unfold. The low woodland really does compliment the scale nicely.

    #15860

    Great stuff, as always, Matt! I am really looking forward to seeing this project done!

    Meanwhile, I finished my second (and final, until I can get more Plasmablast hulls) Ogre conversion this week: a MkIIIb. I will try to get some picture up later.

    Years ago, I did Terrain Maker hexes for a 6mm sci-fi layout and found them to work just fine. If they were readily available in Brazil, I would cheerfully use them. As they are not, I went with my current artist canvas pinned to PVA backing system.

    but I, too, never had any alignment problems to speak of.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #15977
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Not complete, but progress.  Forgive the dim view but it’s a dreary day, here.

    As you can see, although it takes some effort you can get very natural-looking features from TerrainMaker hexes.  Hills especially.

    To do list:

    1. Finish River Hexes and Hill Hexes
    2. Convert “Clear” to 6-8 more Forest Hexes
    3. Build some additional roads
    4. Build one of the Skirmish Boards to hold them all in place.  Though they do all fit well, they shift around a bit unless rimmed in, which is problematic.
    5. Consider half-hexes for the edges

    Longer term:

    1. Coastal and Wide River hexes
    2. Open Water, for a Bay or Cove
    3. One or more Town Hexes to fight over
    4. Cultivated land and farms
    #16000
    Norm S
    Participant

    Yes, a few months ago I was watching a ‘how to do video’ for the TerrainMaker stuff. Fascinating, the person made it look easy, but I reckon a lot of practice had got him to that points.

    #16007

    Actually, it IS pretty easy, Norm.

    I bought my first kit and was making really nice looking terrain that weekend.

    The most complicated part of it is getting your head around the cuts you need to make for geomorphic hills and rivers. But anyone who took industrial arts in middle school can manage that. GHQ gives you some very nice and clear instructions to follow, too.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #16028
    Spurious
    Participant

    Looking good. Are you going to glue together parts like hills? I’d bet it’d make reconfiguring the board a little quicker and easier. Also might I suggest using some partially wooded tiles to boarder woodlands, giving a more natural look and giving a clear delineation between light/heavy woodland. Ooh, and maybe a couple of shallow cuts into a river tile for a ford. Or some bridges, like deployed ones to throw down for extra crossing points. So much potential for easy details on this that you can keep changing up…

    #16047
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    You know, I’ve considered making unit-hills, but for the time being the modular hillsides have a certain appeal I’m going to try to work with. I want to make some wooded hillsides, though – this may help blend the edges where the connection isn’t quite perfect. And woods-edge hexes might be nice, too… I may do an overlay on thin wood or plastic to blend woods edges. And yes, river fords are in planning. It’so not really difficult to do all this, and well; it just takes effort. Again, if I had the money, I have long found Hexon tiles appealing, but for the fact that the rivers are too straight. But the real advantage of hand-working TerrainMaker tiles is the really random, natural look you get out of it, which gives a table aspect like an Osprey map, which I love.

    I’m curious – do the roads look too wide? I’m on the edge on that, and might narrow them down, but have to balance how that might effect play.

    #16048
    Mike
    Keymaster

    I’m curious – do the roads look too wide? I’m on the edge on that, and might narrow them down, but have to balance how that might effect play.

    Dunno, can you do a pic with a base on and near them?

    #16053

    I think the roads look fine. I go for a narrower, whiter look myself, but that’s just personal taste. What is nice with your set up is that you will be able to use it for 6mm and even 10mm. Mine is restricted to 3mm and I am beginning to see the problems with that.

     

    You might want to make the roads a shade or two lighter, however.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #16056
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    Think of me as trying to pull the thing Angel Barracks did for 6mm

    eh what, my ego is aroused, what was that?

    #16060

    Save those scurrilous comments for Frothers, Mike. 😉

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #16502
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Okay, after some fussing about, I’ve had to lay this one up again for a few days while I consider the next step.  The problem is not the hexes themselves, but the Skirmish Boards, which seem to me to be a rather important part of the system as they keep the hexes from shifting about.  However, in trying to lay out the second board (the first one was kind of a loss, as I mentioned), I simply cannot figure out how to make the things align properly.  The hexes simply don’t seem to fit no matter how I arrange it – there must be some very slight imperfection in the hexes in rotation such that they have to be oriented exactly correctly in order to fit properly.  Very frustrating and very strange.  I’m sure there must be something I’m missing.

    Right now, I’m this close to just going in on a Hexon-II set, expensive though it may be.  GHQ tiles seem to have a whole lot to recommend them, but something is going on geometrically that I just can’t figure out, and having properly-fitting hexes seems to me worth a whole heck of a lot.  It may be best to cut the loss of time on the GHQ stuff, which really galls me, but still.  When you have the urge to throw the whole thing out, it’s definitely at least time to step back from the process if nothing else.  On the other hand, as sad as it would be to have to scrap the whole project, if it came to that, I’ve learned a whole lot from it that I can apply to the next one, so I don’t consider it a loss, really.  I guess you just have to take things as they go.

    #16503
    Norm S
    Participant

    I have not used terrain maker, so I am slightly uncertain what part of the product is the obstacle here, but does this thread cover it?

    link http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=185366

    The stuff you have done so far looks lovely, I hope there is an easy solution. Norm

    #17421
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Wellp.  The bad news: I have never quite worked out what is going on geometrically with the TerrainMaker tiles I’ve been assembling.  The good news: I did determine that it might be possible to mount the hexes on felt backing which, when put on a felt mat underlay, will keep them more or less in place, by friction.  The process is an involved one, though, and while working it through, I was overtaken by events, to wit:

    A very (very) generous person gave me a Kallistra Hexon-II set.  Do I feel like a sell-out, now?  Maybe a little.  But I have to admit, the Hexon material is pretty superb, and the boards and overlays are an excellent fit.  My set is a single box of the board material, a selection of hills and escarpments roughly equivalent to what I had been preparing for the TerrainMaker set.  Also, I got a large set of single-hex rivers, for the “natural,” kinky look I prefer over the straight-line rivers more often seen, and a pile of overlay pieces, which seem to be laser or machine-cut out of 2mm plastic or composite, and will be used for roads, forests, towns, fields, and such and such.  So the flavor of this project remains very much the same: the goal is modular, versatile terrain for 2-3mm scale, and the set is going to be somewhat nearly identical to the GHQ skirmish board.  According to Kallistra, the composite they made this out of can be painted and glued with PVA glues; I’m not sure what the material is but it looks like sheet styrene to me, so I’ll just have to test it a little, follow instructions, and see what I can make of it.

    Pros: the pieces are precision made and fit perfectly.  The boards are of sufficient weight that they stay in place quite well, and clip together from behind.  Each hex is identical in size to a TerrainMaker hex, so there’s a smooth conversion.  The cons are mainly the cost and difficulty of getting them from the UK to the United States, which was less of a concern this time, but might become so if I expand the set later.  But that’s later.  Right now, I have to say that, this being a Christmas gift, it’s about as spectacular as a modest hobbyist like myself has any right to expect.  And it seems that the techniques and tactics I’ve been using on TerrainMaker material will apply here very well, and so the learning process from the project up to now should be exceptionally valuable.  I’m quite looking forward to it, I have to say.  Pictures, as I go, of course!

    #17424
    Norm S
    Participant

    Pleased to see you using Hexon. You probably already know, but on the Kallistra web site there are some ‘how to’ articles, which include using some blank modules upside down to sculpt sunken rivers into them.

    It will be worth your while ordering a few blank one, two or three FLAT hex templates to make your own terrain features to plonk down. Just as a quick example here are a few fields and things that I have done.

    http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/making-cheap-scenic-bases.html

     

     

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 7 months ago by Norm S.
    #17704
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    My Hexon tiles arrived, and I’m diving right in.  Here’s about half of the base units, flocked and set out to dry overnight.  They’ll require a little touch-up, and a good coating of sealer, and some cleaning around the edges.

    The tile on the right is an overlay test, a road through a forest.  Works pretty well for 3mm scale.

    #18193
    Norm S
    Participant

    They look good. I use the Kallistra pre-flocked, only because when I bought blanks and did it myself, the flock was too thin and needed a second flocking. On reflection i have no idea why that was. I have just sent off few a few more blanks and their flock to have another go at home brew boards, this time I will use a high grab glue …. is that what you used?

    #18194
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    I actually used flat brown interior latex paint, and flocked it with fine turf directly on the paint, and tapped off the excess.  Then I sealed it by spraying the whole top with dilute white glue.  Any placed which needed touch-up, I added flock to the sealer and sprayed a second time.

    #18198
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    By the way, for Sci Fi players, a potential wealth of science fiction structures is available from Spartan Games’ Firestorm Armada “Military Base” scenery pack.  It’s a tad pricey at +/-$25, but inside is a whole bunch of great military/industrial/Offworld Colony structures that scale VERY favorably to 3mm Sci Fi.  To wit:

    Top and bottom are two SOL Surface-to-Orbit Laser stations, to the left is going to be a Ukrainian Federal Air Force landing station and an IntereX Energy hydrogen power plant, and in the middle, a Eurocorp/AgrraCOM algae farm.  Forgive the junk mail beneath.  Lots of flash but a little cleanup will render a very nice set of objective hexes.

    #18209

    Arrrrrgh! Must have!

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #18211

    Can you give us a link where you got that base, Mathieu? I can’t seem to find it on the Spartan Games site.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #18212
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Weird.  It’s gone, now.  Maybe they’ve withdrawn it?  It was called a “Military Base” and I got it from a hobby shop in my neighborhood.  It may still be available online.  The War Store seems to have them in stock.

    #18215

    Also, is that one pack or two?

     

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #18216
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    One pack.  There’s a lot in it.

    #18226
    Norm S
    Participant

    Did the latex paint affect the colour of the flock at all?

    #18229

    Do you think those ribbed rectangular corridor pieces could double as shipping containers?

    I have a friend coming down from Canada in March, but shipping to Canada is 20 USD! 🙁 However, it seems there are E-bay sellers in the UK and I will be going there in April, so maybe I can snag one then.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #18233
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    @TB: They are superb as shipping containers – I’m using them for that very purpose.

    @Norm: The paint does change the color of the flocking, but only indirectly.  It doesn’t physically “soak” the turf, if that’s what you mean, but you do see the base color to some extent behind the flocking.  That’s always the case to some degree or another, I’ve found.  I recommend using the opposite color of what your turf is.  If you have brown turf, for example, using green paint will give it a kind of “high scrub” look.  I use dark green turf with flat, light brown paint, that looks like grass with dirt underneath.  It’s the same formulation I used in my Terrainmaker tiles, and looks identical.

    An example: this is brown turf with different paint colors as a base.  Brown with brown paint is to the left, brown with green paint is to the right.

    #20762
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Progress.  I’ve discovered that, once the main base boards are done, the heavy lifting is basically over.  You can do a few bits and pieces fifteen minutes at a time, which is nice for fitting in around the edges of “real life.”  This is a small segment of the board, with some units from the Zaporoskiye People’s Democratic Republic for scale.

    The forest templates are just clump foliage, which gives a good “mass” effect at the scale.  I’m working now on rivers, roads and fields, and some light forest to break up the edges of some of the denser bits.  However, I’m complete enough that I can begin thinking through some introductory games on the board.  I have to say that although the breakout investment for Hexon-II was high, the quality and ease of use is outstanding.  And the techniques I developed for TerrainMaker hexes apply absolutely one-to-one with Hexon-II, making the whole thing a very easy transition.  Exciting times!

    #20770
    Mike
    Keymaster

    oooh hills that look like hills!

    #20803
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Yeah, I definitely like the hills much more than I thought I would, the escarpments especially. I still like the natural slopes you can get with TerrainMaker, but the Hexon hills are a very good mix of playability, visual appeal and realism.

    #20806

    Now all I need is a white knight to buy me some Hexon and bring it to Brazil… 🙂

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #20814
    Norm S
    Participant

    Nice effect. I agree that with Hexon there is that initial outlay and prep and then you can game, while in the background you can just slow down and collect slowly. I am at the stage of just picking up a couple of items when I visit a show. It is nice now and then just to pick up a blank hex tile (6 hexes) and do a bespoke terrain feature like a farmstead. I also use the single hex thin templates to do the same.

    Here is a link to a blog entry that shows some terrain ideas being made from daily items – too large for your project, but it does show the flexibility of the hex tile. LINK – http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/making-cheap-scenic-bases.html

     

    #26657
    bishnak
    Participant

    I also love my Hexon – so much flexibility!! I’m always adding bits to it, which can be done at leisure, once you’ve got the base layout of tiles.

    Plenty of examples of terrain set ups for 3mm at my blog (see signature below)

    bish

    bish
    http://tinytanks3mm.blogspot.com.au/

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