Hobbyist Tactics Part 32: The Hills Have Eyes


Welcome Back Everyone!

Today our focus will be on making terrain for your game table, which fits wonderfully with Matt’s Molding Rocks Tutorial.
Specifically, we will be building some hills so your games aren’t all played on one plane, thus forcing you to adapt and develop new strategies!

To make you hills, you will need:
• a dust mask
• SM insulation foam (available at hardware and building supply stores)
• a utility knife
• a Styrofoam cutter or hot knife
• sandpaper
• white glue
• toothpicks
• sand
• paints of your choice (that match your flock)
• modeling flock

First, decide what kind of hills or landscapes you plan to make.

One nice way to get a lot out of your terrain, is to make it modular. If you make several pieces that can either fit on top of each other or be used on their own, you get a lot more variety in your games. I very much enjoy making elaborate pieces of scenery but the trap there is that sometimes your games tend to end up playing out the same way, as a static piece of scenery is used over and over…

In any case, I will be walking you through both ideas!

First, layered hills.

Take a piece of the foam, and roughly cut out the shape you want, with either your utility knife or hot knife. I find it easier to cut a block out, then use the Styrofoam cutter to shape it nicely.
Repeat this process, making smaller pieces as you go.

Three layers are probably a good start.

After you have your shapes, using the utility knife, start cutting off the top edge and smoothing out the foam. You want to be able to stand your models on the edges safely, or at least give it enough of an angle that is LOOKS like they could walk up it.

Sometimes I like to leave one edge of the hill impassible, to give it more tactical options.

Using the utility knife, carve away chunks or the rock, and “snap” pieces off with the knife. This creates a more natural looking rock texture.

Once you are satisfied with the rough shape of you hill, take the sand paper and begin sanding the foam smooth. This part you will likely want to do outside or somewhere that is easy to clean up, as the Styrofoam dust makes a brutal mess, and tends to gain a static charge which makes it hard to sweep up or vacuum.

When sanding be gentle and be careful not to snag the edges of the sandpaper into the foam as that can rip chucks of it off.

Once you have sanded it, check to see how well the miniatures can stand on your intended pathways. If you aren’t happy, you can go back with the knife and carve some more off, then sand it down again.

Once you are happy with you foam pieces, simply brush on a base coat of paint and let it dry. If you have carved any rock textures into the foam, paint them as you normally would as discussed in Hobbyist tactics: Part 17.

Once your paint apps are all dry, it’s time to add the flock!

I am using a green flock to match my grass gaming mat. To adhere the flock to the hill, I simply brush green paint all over the hill, and using a large tray to catch the extra, flake the modeling flock onto the wet paint. The paint acts like a glue and the flocks sticks to your hill!
IMG_4963IMG_4967 IMG_4966 IMG_4965 IMG_4964Above are some examples of the different ways you can set up your layered hill!

To make a static hill, the same basic principles are used. However, instead of keeping the pieces simple and able to be split up, the hill can be designed in a more complex fashion and all of the pieces are affixed.

To glue the layers of foam together, I give the flat surfaces a light sanding then stab pieces of toothpicks into the foam. Then, add a good coat of white glue on the surfaces that will be meeting, and press them together! White glue takes a while to set (usually over night) so the by using the toothpicks you are basically pinning the pieces of your hill together!!

On this more complicated hill, I have made some pieces over hang the layer underneath, added some small indents in the rock to hide models in, and it can be made taller as the pieces won’t run as large a risk of being knocked down in gaming.

Here are the completed hills, and some shots of some others I have made in the past to give you some inspiration!

Happy hobbying!

IMG_4984 IMG_4983
IMG_4981 IMG_4980 IMG_4979 IMG_4978 IMG_4976 IMG_4975IMG_4986 IMG_4987


    1. HikedayaNo Gravatar
      Posted February 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      Wo! that some escenography!
      keep them coming

    2. Bitz Store Warhammer 40kNo Gravatar
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:46 am | Permalink

      Still effective this type of small hill, why look complicated when with a little work done on beautiful thing :)
      good continuation.

    3. Matthew PetersenNo Gravatar
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      I found this useful, much faster then the way I normally made hills, and easier to keep minis on with the flat surfaces as opposed to rounded hills.

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