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Battle Boards and Scatter Terrain

Battle Boards and Scatter Terrain

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Battle Boards and Scatter Terrain

Tutoring 7
Skill 8
Idea 9
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Copse Prototype

I’m back with another piece for the battle boards and scatter terrain project I got roped into.

The idea behind the copse was to put a bunch of trees on a 1½” thick base that was smaller than the hill features, and could actually be stacked on them (with the exception of the fountain hill already described) to make a more dramatic elevated bit of terrain. From experience I also know that multiple trees on a larger base are less tippy.

I decided to go with two deciduous and two coniferous trees on each base. Coniferous trees take up a lot of real estate so I didn’t want to squeeze in more than that, or there wouldn’t have been any room for models to interact, or room for other features that could be used as cover.

Every Christmas I stock up on pine trees at the dollar store. They are trimmed bottle brushes, more or less, and are often covered in some kind of white flock… but the price is right. I scrub off the ‘snow’ as best I can with soap and hot water, and then prime them black with a rattle can (vigilance alert. It takes a lot of spray to get rid of that ridiculous light green colour). I then get down about halfway into the bristles with a fat brush loaded with dark green paint. That way the ‘trunk’ stays black/shadowed.

Bottle brush trees. Cheap as chips at Christmas . I stock up every year.Bottle brush trees. Cheap as chips at Christmas . I stock up every year.

At this point you can brush PVA glue on the outer boughs, like a drybrush, and then throw green flock at it to get a better pine tree texture, but it’s optional. I didn’t on any trees in this project and they still look fine, but may try it next time. The final step is to drybrush a lighter blue/green on the boughs to give them that ‘blue spruce’ look.

Deciduous trees are more work, and to make them out of wire requires dedication and two pairs of plyers. I cut four pairs of wire about 7-8” long, with one pair being longer than the others. This became the ‘root’ that was jammed into the base and stuck in with a glue gun — part of my robust build strategy. It would take considerable incompetence or wilful malice to pull one out.

Deciduous tree build. The longer pair will form the root that gets stuck into the polystyrene and held in place with a glue gun.Deciduous tree build. The longer pair will form the root that gets stuck into the polystyrene and held in place with a glue gun.

I twisted the pairs together, leaving an inch or so of wire separated at the top. This was the final fork where I glued on foliage. The two pairs were wound together but l left room at the top for the pairs to branch out… literally. I twisted the long pair of wires with the remaining shorter one so that the two longer strands stuck out of the bottom. All four pairs went together, leaving the two long strands at the bottom, and a split trunk further up.

Putty: as stated previously, I used Milliput to fill out the trees but you can use any two-part epoxy, or even an air-dry compound like DAS. The idea, when applying the putty, is to preserve the twisted look of the wires, so it becomes part of the sculpt, and not just part of the frame.

I primed the trees black and applied a grey/brown base colour, washed with Agrax Earthshade – or ‘Artist in a Jar’ – as it is more commonly known, and then drybrushed with a lighter grey. Finally, I added green flock to the trunk, to mimic the moss that coats trees in a temperate forest.

Foliage: I used lichen but you can also use the shredded green foam. It’s a matter of personal preference in the end. The client preferred lichen, and so do I, but it does require some care and feeding. Glycerin, available at most drug stores, will keep the lichen moist and pliable; I mixed it 1:1 with water so it could be applied with a spray bottle; it is quite viscous otherwise. I stuck the lichen on with a glue gun, and in some instances, drybrushed a light green on it, as the colour can fade if it’s been in the bag for a while.

DAS is a cheap alternative to Green Stuff or Milliput. I've used it here with a Green Stuff rolling pin to make steps and a walkway, but it can also be used to make custom bases.DAS is a cheap alternative to Green Stuff or Milliput. I've used it here with a Green Stuff rolling pin to make steps and a walkway, but it can also be used to make custom bases.

For this piece I used DAS and a Green Stuff Celtic rolling pin to make the stairs and paved area before the statue. I just rolled it out till it was about 3/16” thick, waited for it to dry (1-2 days), and then cut it as needed (it will distort if you try to cut it when it’s wet). The pieces were stuck in place with wood glue and the gaps sealed up with wall filler. You’ll see them better after a wash and drybrush.

The pillar was made with a toilet paper roll, minus the bum wad of course. I used the same brick technique I fiddled with on the fountain, and put in a bit of a wall ruin on one edge as well. The statue was an old AD&D golem I had lying around, but it didn’t come across dramatic enough, or large enough for the plinth, so I replaced it with a Bones model.

The trees were placed so that models could still interact between them and under them. I angled the deciduous trees outward so they wouldn’t take up space on the terrain piece, but at the same time there was still enough room for models underneath them on the table… the whole game table vs. diorama thing once again.

Note the 1/16” plasticard edge on the base (I couldn’t fit the image in here. See the gallery in the first post). I put a layer of wall filler there as a buffer against accidental bumps and bruises. Wood glue stiffened up the edge further, and will keep the wall filler from crumbling if it takes a hit.

Front view showing angled trees and available space for models both on the piece and beneath the boughs on the tabletop.Front view showing angled trees and available space for models both on the piece and beneath the boughs on the tabletop.
Forest floor made from assorted Woodland Scenics turf, Spanish moss, gravel, and leaves made with a Green Stuff leaf cutter. I used painted paper but actual leaves work better. Unfortunately all ours were buried under three feet of snow when I made this piece.Forest floor made from assorted Woodland Scenics turf, Spanish moss, gravel, and leaves made with a Green Stuff leaf cutter. I used painted paper but actual leaves work better. Unfortunately all ours were buried under three feet of snow when I made this piece.

Gravel, grass and foliage were added. I painted up a Reaper Bones sphinx as a statue, with the same marble effect I used on the previous fountain board. I magnetized the platform and model for two reasons: first, in case someone wanted to animate the statue in a fantasy game, and second, so that it could be replaced with a statue of a space marine, Napoleon, or even an ACW general (only a Northern one, apparently). Pics in next entry.

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