Saturday 14 July 2012

Fast Cheap Terrain 28mm Infinity - Part I

Infinity needs terrain. Lots of it. When you think your table has too much terrain - add more.
I want Infinity terrain with a unified theme, not just a jumble of AT43 shipping crates and random buildings thrown together in a desperate attempt to block lethal fire lanes. 

There are three enemies of terrain - time, cost, and storage space.

Micro Art Studio, Sarissa Precision and Warmill have great mdf terrain but with baseline buildings around $30-40 each a good table with a dozen or so buildings could set you back $400+

Paper terrain can look great but can be a real pain to print and cut out. And considering colour toner cost, they aren't that cheap, especially combined with the man-hours to create them. 

My goals:
Terrain must be unified in theme
Terrain must cost under $100
Terrain must be able to be assembled in a weekend (presuming 4 x 3-hr sessions)

I really like my Middle Eastern 15mm terrain as it serves from ancient times to near-future sci fi.  After playing "Firefall" - which is very Infinity-esque, I was struck by the design asthetic of mud brick houses and sci fi tech.  It also gives me an excuse to use my sand table.

 Firefall (a free MMORPG) taps into the anime vibe of Infinity. It also mixes slum dwellings with hi-tech; a good source of design inspiration.

I am going to go with 5mm foamcore due to the fact it is so easily shaped with a hobby knife, and has natural thickness for walls. It is quite light and from experience I know it can get bumped a bit - I had resolved to build it on a mdf base but the weight this would introduce would preclude stacking.

Foamcore sheet 770 x 400mm (5mm) 6 sheets @ $4 = $24
Dressmaker's pins $6
PVA glue $6
Gap filler $8
Corrugated cardboard roll $2
Mocha spraypaint $7
Warm ochre spraypaint $7
Misc balsa (hobby bag) $12
Carpenter's square ruler (right angle ruler)

Total = $72
Basic Technique- Building
I am going for 10x10cm (4x4") "squares" - all by buildings are going to be based on this 10cm unit.
This allows for easy stacking and also aligns with the usual 4" short move in Infinity. This is a formula which has worked for me in the past.

I pumped out six 10cm x 20cm buildings, using the following formula for consistency:

Walls are 5cm high.
Doors are 3cm wide and 4cm high
Windows are located 2cm up the wall, and are 3cm wide by 2cm high. 

I made one building and assembled it as a template. The pins held it firmly in place.
I mass produced 20cm x 5cm wall strips which I trimmed down to 10x5cm sizes needed.
I then disassembled my 'prototype' and use it to trace the parts for another five buildings.  

20/20 Hindsight: I could have "flipped" the front on some of the buildings so the positions of the doors and windows were reversed, giving more variation. 

Building Note: You need to trim down the end walls to 9cm x 5cm in order to fit the walls "inside" the long walls and still fit on the base.

The first half dozen took me a while to build - but that included working out a common design
I use a sand table that took me $22 and 30 minutes to make

I then used gap filler (white sealant) to seal and smooth any cracks. It also gave a more 'organic' look and texture to the the foamboard.

I smeared PVA glue over any exposed foam.  (It is important to cover any exposed foam as the thinners in spraypaint will eat away at it, wrecking your building). I experimented with using paint but the PVA had the added benefit of bonding the pinned walls AND it filled gaps.

20/20 Hindsight:  After a few models I had abandoned the paint and was using gap filler for only the largest gaps, as PVA glue seemed to fulfill both roles as both foam sealant and gap filler - and it applies quicker and easier.

I have used this technique before on my 1:300 models.  A thorough undercoat of mocha with warm ochre sprayed lightly over the top from a distance so it falls onto the top of the building. Sort of a dry-brushing with spray paint if you will.

I am leaving this til later as I want to get more buildings done today.

Instead, I make four 10x10cm "attic" second story sections (or they could double as a very small hut) and another two 20x10cm buildings. These will be garages/small workshops with a roller door.

So far I am quite pleased with the amount of stuff I have - I'm steadily filling the board.  In addition, the "modularity" of them means they can be pushed together or used as 1 or 2 storey buildings. It's a bit rough looking but I have yet to detail them.  It's like a mini where you only have the primary colours.

Elapsed time: 3 hours

 I added roofs and a few 10x10cm "attic" rooms. The two new buildings will have corrugated cardboard garage doors

Off to the shops with the wife - may see if I can spend some more of my budget on "bits and pieces"

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