Friday, August 31, 2012

Ponds, Rocks, Crags and Scree


by Gary James Pond (what did you think it was?) There are lots of ways of making ponds and water effects, and this little project describes just one.


Cut a hole in your base to give the pond some real depth. This is easier if you add a layer of corrugated cardboard to your base with the pond hole already cut out. Fashion the pond banks from air-drying clay. Make them overhanging here and there.
Pour a small amount of PVA glue into the pond. Allow it to dry. This is to get a smooth, water-like finish. Paint the pond green, with swirls and splashes of darker green. Paint it darker near the banks. Varnish, when dry, with a gloss varnish. Paint more washy green on top of the varnish, leaving some of your first layer green showing. When dry, varnish again. Repeat as many times as you can be bothered. The more layers, the better the water effect. Add rushes and grasses - see the grasses section for details.


by Gary James There are a few ways to make rocks. These are amongst the easiest - chunks of styrofoam drybrushed and based.


  1. Cut chunks of styrofoam (polystyrene) into suitably rocky shapes. Melt the surface of the styrofoam to get a rough finish with a soldering iron or a knife that has been heated in the gas-ring. Paint up grey and drybrush with light grey and white. Base on cardboard or plywood.
  2. You can use real rocks of course. I find it seems to look better if you smash up a large rock with a hammer to get interesting, craggy pieces. I invariably find that I have to paint and drybrush the rocks to get a realistic effect because the scale of the pattern and crystal size of most natural rocks is too large.

    Crags and Scree

    by Gary James A few craggy rockfaces will add great realism to your hills, especially the stepped styrofoam type. This large hill has one face that is a huge, impenetrable crag face.


    I usually add a few craggy faces to the stepped Styrofoam hills that I make and have some 'realistic' hills that have large cliff faces like the one in the photograph.
    I achieve this effect by melting the Styrofoam face with a hot soldering iron that has a flat pyrography blade inserted. You can get the same effect with a hot knife or by melting the styrofoam with liquid poly cement or a similar solvent.
    I then paint it dark grey and dry brush with light grey and finally white.
    The scree at the bottom of the photograph is just gravel and small stones glued on with PVA and painted grey, then drybrushed with light grey and white.

    Epic scale craggy hill by Andy Skinner

    Epic scale craggy hillAndy Skinner made this craggy hill in Epic scale using similar techniques. He says: this is a hill with steep cliffs, and a road winding around. It was made for use with Epic 40K. I'm not actually sure of its game effect yet, because I think it would take a couple of turns to make it up the road. But we'll see this Saturday. :)
    The hill is made from 4 levels of blue insulation foam. I drew the top layer on foam and cut it out. Then I used that as a template for the second layer, expanding along one side where I wanted the road to wind around the cliffs formed by the top layer. Then the second layer was a template for the third, and the third for the fourth.
    Although this allowed the layers to match up nicely, the general slope of each level was different. The edges of the layers match, but the foam cutter was angled differently for each piece. So I had to come up with a way to make the rocky face look good and cover the different layers. I originally planned to carve it the way I did the rocks on my dragon hill, but I decided that would take a long time and wouldn't cover the layer seams. So instead I coated the whole thing with joint compound. (I wish I mixed a lot of white glue into it, because I think that would have made it stronger--I'm a little worried about brittleness.) I put it on both the sides and the flat surfaces with a popsicle stick, and dabbed at it to get a rough look, very like the crag project above. I gave that a layer of spray primer, which also ate into places the foam was still exposed, giving some interesting holes and caves. I then painted it with gray wall paint (same used on dragon hill).
    My wife had given me a can of Ralph Lauren textured paint (ooooh! We are getting posh on TerraGenesis - Gary). This is normally too expensive to suggest on a site for cheap terrain, but it was a mis-tint (they made the wrong color), and it cost her 75 cents! It is _perfect_ for painting sand onto surfaces. I mixed some of my gray paint with some of the sand-texture paint, so I wouldn't get too much contrast in sand that is supposed to have come from this same hill, and applied that to roads and the top flat surface. I gave the sides a wash of black (it didn't really get into the details the way a wash should, and mostly just darkened the surface overall), and two drybrushings of successively lighter gray.
    I painted thinned glue onto part of the top surface, and onto various flat areas along the road or in little "pockets" on the cliff sides, and sprinkled flock onto those areas. I also used some Woodland Scenics foliage (that loose sheet of material) as vines.
    Finally, I sprayed it with a semi-gloss sealer to protect it. I've heard that Testor's flat will dull down a glossy coat, so I'll give another layer of that when I get some.

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