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The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction

 Post subject: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:01 pm 
Brood Brother
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Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2020 10:27 am
Posts: 94
I started this thread on a different forum, back in 2016, not too long after I discovered the first Polyversal Kickstarter. I don't post much on the other site anymore, and this forum is a lot more relevant, so I'm copying it all over to here.

***

So, this thread is going to be all about me making 6mm modern/sci-fi terrain. [Edit: I have also discovered, as I near the end of this post, that it will be me rambling on and on and on semi-coherently about the process.]

I recently stumbled across Polyversal while the first Kickstarter was under way, and since then I've decided to dive right back into 6mm sci-fi gaming. I had an absurdly massive Space Marine/Epic collection back in the day (I was able to field almost the entire Space Wolves chapter, plus Imperial Guard artillery and heavy/superheavy tank support and Adeptus Mechanicus titans and knights, plus an Eldar force large enough to oppose said Space Wolves, Imperial Guard and Adeptus Mechanicus forces). I sold the lot for next to nothing on a stupid impulse when I was feeling shitty with GW for releasing a new edition. I've regretted it ever since.

Anyway, I've got nothing at the moment -- no minis, no terrain, no table.

I don't currently have anywhere I can permanently set up a decent gaming table so, after hours of googling about I eventually found someone who can make me a 6' x 4' (180cm x 120cm) table with folding legs for easy storage. That will hopefully arrive next week.

Assuming Polyversal funds on their next Kickstarter, I won't actually have the game until late this year [Well, that was highly optimistic of me] at the earliest. In the meanwhile, I have 24 square feet to fill with terrain.

I've got a bit of GW flock and static grass, but not all that long ago I got rid of my other landscaping materials in a massive cleanup (along with a bunch of modern micro-armour that had been gathering dust and cobwebs for years). Also threw out my old microarmour terrain at the same time, which isn't a great loss since it was mostly just made out of cheap packaging styrofoam, but unfortunately quite a few trees went with it.

I have ordered new trees and flock on EBay, and some gravel direct from JTT Microscale (the shipping EBay was going to charge me for the gravel was insane). I also have a plethora of buildings just ordered from Game Craft Miniatures.

I'll also be grabbing some Phalanx Consortium buildings when their Kickstarter goes live.

Hills will most likely be done with extruded polystyrene, but for the moment I'm going to be focusing on the urban stuff. My current plan is to do a 4' x 2.5' area of built up urban terrain and a much smaller outlying village.

Initially, my plan was to use GCMini's road system, until I realised that with a heavily built up area and tall buildings, there wouldn't be room on some of the streets to actually get your hand down to street level to move stuff. Their largest roads are four lanes, and they're only 2.5" wide with a fairly limited range. The two lane roads come with a lot more variety, but then you're down to a 2" width. In both cases, those widths include the footpath (sidewalk, for you North Americans).

Instead, I've decided on a modular road/block system using heavy cardstock. Most of my streets are 3" wide, and there will be additional width once the buildings are set back to create room for pedestrian traffic. As an added bonus, 3" at 6mm scale works out to pretty close to 100', which is the official width originally laid down for the main streets in the Melbourne CBD (not that I have any plans to recreate Melbourne, but my terrain is representative of somewhere where people drive on the left, as God intended).

I spent a reasonable amount of the past weekend measuring, cutting, painting and detailing the cardstock for the streets. The unpainted areas between the roads are waiting the arrival of my GCMini city base blocks, which will provide kerbs for the streets. That's also why I haven't worried too much about straight edges with my paint.

The road surface was done with poster paint, a bit of white mixed into black. I made the roads look less pristine by using a stippling brush with some brown and concrete grey, leaving marks here and there showing discoloration, various particulates in the bitumen etc ... I'm finishing them with a black wash, which makes those brown and grey bits more subdued, and also makes the line markings look less like it's all fresh paint.

The line markings themselves were done with a white permanent marker. When you stick the road sections together, the concrete median strips and the intersection line markings don't always line up properly. I'm not too fussed, it still looks decent, and my mini and terrain standard is always "looks good when you're looking over the table, doesn't necessarily stand up to close inspection". I actually screwed up on one street and the lane dividing dashes didn't go straight. Oops.

Which is an important point I've been meaning to get to. I am not an artist by any stretch. To be honest, I don't especially enjoy the process of painting minis -- I just enjoy the outcome. I'm excited enough about this project to post here because I'm excited about the expected outcome. I expect to do work in mad dashes, with lulls between, as motivation comes and goes. Don't follow this thread if you're expecting rapid progress and daily updates.

I'm reasonably patient (although not patient enough to carefully ensure every single road section line marking will line up against every other possible line marking it might end up beside when two sections are placed on the table together), and I know the basic techniques that allow someone of low to moderate skill to occasionally paint a mini in a fashion that the average person, ignorant of the possibilities, will look at and go, "That's amazing!" So one of the things I'm hoping to achieve by posting here is to encourage other people that aren't particularly gifted and show them that you can still do some pretty cool shit.

I actually came across an art product yesterday that I'm planning to use a bit down the track to do something that I suspect will look gosh darned awesome, with basically zero actual talent required. Stay tuned for more updates on that.

There probably won't be a lot of movement on this project until my GCMini buildings arrive (which might be in next couple of weeks if I'm extremely lucky, but could well be longer). I'm getting a mix of resin, acrylic and mattboard buildings, mostly mattboard, about 50 in total. You're all welcome to have a go guessing at how many I end up destroying while attempting to paint/assemble them.

Now to pause my rambling for a moment and get back on topic ...

I've used four 56x76cm Art Studio Kraft Boards for my road/block bases. My ruler and reasonably trustworthy eyeballs tell me they're about 3.5mm thick. I was a little worried they would warp too much once painted, but the warping was quite minimal, and sticking them under something heavy for a good while after drying has kept them plenty flat for actual use in play.

The paint used was, of course, poster paint, not paint designed for minis. Mini paint is far too expensive and too thin for this sort of work. I did actually use some concrete grey Reaper for the median strips (with black wash) and the parking lot (with a very effective sepia wash, albeit I'll have to do a bit of a wash again because I put the line markings on after the wash, duh). At some point, I'm going to test some spot-use of black and/or brown washes for oil stains in the parking lot.

The most complicated part so far was actually designing the layout, ensuring that I will have room to put the larger Phalanx Consortium buildings somewhere and then making sure that I actaully measured, cut and painted to the right dimensions. As you can see, the line markings and some of the work is a bit slap-dash (and high res photos don't help -- they really make flaws stand out [I've been appalled at how bad some of my minis look in a high res photo]), but once this is down on the table and (eventually) covered with buildings, I'm confident it's going to look pretty good. And for anyone with more patience to use a ruler and a permanent marker, you could easily have pristine line markings without much in the way of talent.

And, if you've read this far, you deserve some pics. They're boring and reasonably shit at the moment, but it's a start and I hope the transformation into finished products will make for an interesting contrast.

Ooh look, it's a blank piece of cardboard! Art Studio 56 x 76 Kraft Board. Yippee!
Image

Two sections cut to final size, with some basic roads painted on. I went over the lines, but I DON"T CARE! (The outer edges of the roads are the edges of the pieces, btw. They're sitting on top of the blank sheet highlighted in exciting picture the first. The magic of the internet makes it look like it's just one big sheet).
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A close up of a 10.2" city section, near completion. Line markings close enough for government work. Note that I accidentally made two of parking bays at the top too large. I cunningly covered my mistake by declaring them Loading Zones. I also realised I was setting the parking bays too close to the the intersections. Luckily, I'll be driving tanks on these streets, and any civilian cars parked inconveniently will be flattened.
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Two 10.2" sections and a big section. Later, if you don't get bored and abandon this amazing thread, you will learn why I added a car park and lawn area. You may also see me endeavour to make kerbs and guttering around the parking area.
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To round out my first post, here are some relevant links:


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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:03 pm 
Brood Brother
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Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2020 10:27 am
Posts: 94
I came across an awesome tutorial on making a table-sized battlemat last night. This is now on my list of things to do. http://playingtheodds.com.au/battle-mat/

I'm hoping to have all my road tiles basically done by the end of the weekend, so that I can show them off laid out as they will be on the table.

I was also advised yesterday that my custom table had just had the top fitted and the first layer of lacquer added. It's expected to arrive at my door next Wednesday.

***

Not quite done, but about 90% there.

If these were for 25mm gaming, I wouldn't be happy with the quality, but for 6mm I think they'll do fine, as long as the buildings and actual city blocks are done well enough to be the features that draw the eye.

Image


Last edited by Sable Wyvern on Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:04 pm 
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Posts: 94
My table arrived today. As a big bonus, the packaging has solved a minor problem and created new opportunities.

When I get around to doing the terrain mat I mentioned above, I'll need something to fix the canvass to. I was planning to use an old cover for a 3/4 size pool table that's been lying around for years, but the base of the table packaging was a skid with an MDF base, which will work perfectly and not involve working with and damaging much heavier and higher quality pieces of timber.

The top of the packaging was another couple of sheets of MDF that will do an excellent job of forming bases for forests and possibly some other terrain features.

My trees and flock from EBay also arrived yesterday. Plus I ordered a bunch of additional flock, gravel and other bits and pieces from Woodland Scenics, and a big batch of Reaper paints (the latter mainly for the minis when they eventually arrive, since I don't have a great range of colours suitable for military cam at the moment).

JTT have yet to send me an an order acknowledgement or reply to my follow up email, so they will be getting an email from me tonight advising I'll be lodging a Paypal dispute if they don't get back to me.

In nearly very terrible news, I suffered some minor flooding over the weekend. No surface water, but a lot of carpet soaked through. My roads were sitting on the floor. Most of the water flowed in one direction where there wasn't much to damage, but there was an evil watery pseudopod heading directly for my roads. It reached my final small road section, that had only had the basic black paint added. If it had gone further and killed more of them, it would have been extremely demoralising.

Current flock and tree collection (will be about twice this size once my Woodland Scenics arrive):
Image

***

Bought a cheap jigsaw and started on a couple of forests tonight. Bases are MDF, painted brown and then flocked. The larger one is just flock and a little bit of foliage mixed up and then straight onto wet paint, for the smaller one I did the same, but also used some wood glue and added a bit more underbrush in spots with some foliage material.

They need some touch ups and the edges finished, then I'll drill out some holes and add the trees. They're still drying at the moment.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:17 pm 
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First forest is basically done. Going to pick up some matte sealer later this week so I can stop all the flock from rubbing away, other than that it's pretty much sorted. The trees fit quite snugly, so I'm not even going to bother gluing them in.

Image

Image

***

T72 added to terrain for scale purposes.

ImageImageImageImageImage


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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:17 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:17 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:17 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:17 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:17 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:19 pm 
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Received a box full of Reaper paints today, and some sheets of extruded polystyrene. The paints won't see much use until I have minis, but I spent some time carving, painting and flocking hills with the polystyrene. It's remarkably easy.

Cut the general shape. Carve some slopes. Sand away the rough edges. Paint, flock, seal.

My first one I also used a file to etch in some shallow gullies/re-entrants down one side, which I'll paint up and stick in some rocks to show some areas where the topsoil has washed away (those are the currently white parts, in case it isn't obvious).

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 12:20 pm 
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My buildings arrived yesterday ... got half-a-million different things on the go at once now.

Finished my small hill. In retrospect, three different wash-out areas is a bit busy, but I'm pretty happy with how the rock turned out. I found a rock tutorial online, semi-read it, then kinda-sorta did what I'd read. Rock is pretty easy anyway -- black or dark grey drybrushed with a lighter grey tends to turn out pretty well.

For these bits, I did a brown base, then adeptus battle-grey inside that, leaving some brown earth edges. Dry-brushed with deneb stone, then splashed on spots of wash in various random colours. A thin black wash over the top of that, then dry-brushed with deneb stone.

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Finished off a larger hill as well. Might chuck some bushes and shrubs on it at some point. Has a nice spot on it for tanks to take a hull-down position, too.

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And I have buildings on the go.

Round skyscraper, skeleton and one wall section (obviously, needs more paint and windows):
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Ruin sections being painted:
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Hotel in progress. I'm trying to get a rough concrete look, so I've been mixing a bit of really fine sand in with the paint. Looking good so far. As long as the sand doesn't all come off when I drybrush it, should turn out pretty well, I think. Sorry about the yellow on yellow pic, but I'm too lazy to go take another one with a better background at the moment.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 3:57 pm 
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Location: Columbus, Ohio USA
Looks cool

There seems to be, like, 6 copies of the same post in the middle of all this. The one that starts with “first forest done”

_________________
Thanks,
Troy


Once Upon a Midnight Dreary....


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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:16 am 
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Dupes eliminated.

***

Well ... the matte sealer didn't work so well ... it seems to have leached a lot of colour out of my cheap flock. Fortunately, I got heaps of new supplies today, so I was able to add a bit of the new, higher quality green flock to bring the colour back.

Image

The lighter coloured trees on the other forest have slightly larger trunks, and I couldn't get the holes large enough with the small drill bit I was using (I was trying to widen them out, but I was worried I was going to break the bit). The next drill bit up was too big -- not by a huge amount, but enough that they wouldn't sit in properly. The solution was some plastic wood in a tube, which I was able to squirt in quite easily before pushing each tree into it's spot. They're all sitting quite nicely now.

Image

And, here's another one of the previous forest, after matte-sealer-colour-leaching and then a bit of new flock added.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:21 am 
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So, the hotel is looking a little older and more run-down than I was planning, but overall I'm reasonably happy.

Windows are a clear blue plastic.

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The beginnings of a ruined church.

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***

Ok, now this is pretty cool.

I mentioned in my original post I came across a nifty art product I was going to try out. It's cracking medium, and it's pretty cool. For those who don't know, it works like this:

* Paint something with a base coat.
* Apply cracking medium over the top once it's dry. It's a clear, gluey sort of substance.
* When the cracking medium is dry (tacky, actually), you apply another coat of paint over the top, and the cracking medium then contracts and cracks, so that you can see the base coat in the cracks around the top coat.

I was planning to use this for the ruined areas of my city, with a dark brown base and a grey concrete top-coat. I ended up with a light beige topcoat instead, and I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, but after giving it a wash, I'm more than happy with the results.

Image

Would be absolutely perfect for doing a dried, muddy field.


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 Post subject: Re: The Epic Thread of 6mm Terrain Construction
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:22 am 
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Completed my first building.

ImageImageImage

And starting to build up some rubble for my city ruin block.

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I also discovered that doing too many different things at the same time can mean you continue something with the wrong shade of paint. Fortunately, the problem is fairly easily salvageable, just means my church now has a tower in a different shade than the main structure.

***

All rubbled up. Just need to finish up the buildings, and my first block is complete.

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Image

The building bits are the from the GCMinis building debris set -- they're based on some of the normal building plans, but cast in plaster so that they can be broken up into random bits of debris. Quite effective.


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