Saturday, 21 February 2015

Cheap Sunken Terrain Board - Dock/Canal/Lava Pit (10mm/15mm/28mm)

Here's my latest quick terrain project.  Again, the aim is:

-Cheap, quick and easy to make
-Convenient to set up and to store

This is not an elaborate modelling project - there are plenty of blogs that do amazing scenic diorama-like boards.  This is for those of us who want to make the whole table in an afternoon, not spend the entire weekend adding rust effects to a doorknob.

Inspired by some of the interesting and varied Dropzone Commander scenarios, I wanted a board with sunken features  that could do service in a range of roles/genres (canal, river, chasm, lava pit, trench).  I plan to use it for 10mm, 15mm and 28mm.

I started with my usual 120x90cm (4x3ft) 5mm MDF. It's glorified cardboard - but cheap, light and surprisingly durable (I've got 4+ year old MDF tables).  I always use glue to seal the sides in case I want to use it for a sand table.

I've got some cheap and nasty 3mm MDF which I've cut 120x40cm. I nail some pine strips to the underside to support it and serve as the canal "wall".  You can see the board on the right (which I've flipped upside down).  

There is now a 10cm wide canal down the middle of the table.  It's about 5cm deep.

I had plenty left over so I made some 55cm x 40cm sections for a T-junction.

Then a few jetties to make it useful as a dockyard.

Here it is, combined with the block terrain I made last weekend.  I'll make better bridges when I get around to making interior stuff like doors, tables and beds. I'll simply swap the green cloth for a red one (lava) or black (chasm) or blue (ocean) as needed.  

1 x Grey primer spray paint $3
2 x 2.7m pine strips (42x11mm) $10
1 x 5mm MDF 90x120cm $10
2 x 3mm MDF 90x120cm $10
Total Cost $33

Total Time 90 minutes (including breaks to safely redirect an interested toddler)

So why bother do a "how to" of such simple terrain?
I find the super-realistic terrain diorama blogs a tad intimidating - I look at them and go "I don't have 500 hours and $300 to make that - even if I had the skill"   It's a bit like looking at Angel Giraldez studio-painted Infinity models - though lovely it actually discourages me from getting my own paints out as it sets a 'benchmark' which I know I can never achieve. I admire, but it doesn't actually inspire.

I found the how-to articles of rough and ready terrain, and realistic paintjobs in the hobby magazine Battle Games of Middle Earth actually made me want to paint and make stuff.   That's kinda the niche I'm aiming for. By showing my speedy, el cheapo terrain I'm hoping I'll inspire someone to actually go out and do it better. 

2 comments:

  1. This is a good thing. Everyone has to start somewhere and this is achievable.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know that exact feeling of why bother when it's going to pale in comparison. But your "cheapo" set up looks good; and less breakable/damageable.

    ReplyDelete