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weeveeship's avatar

How do I create a realistic miniature wargaming terrain scene?

Asked by weeveeship (4584points) November 6th, 2010

I have a bunch of Gundam (i.e robot, think Transformers but without the transforming) minifigs and I want to recreate some of the scenes from the movie.

One scene involves a quiet town with some forests around it.
Another scene involves a desert area in the Middle East.
A third scene involves a jungle in South America (think: Amazon)
A fourth scene is set in space, with some asteroids floating around

I’m not sure which of the scenes would be feasible for me to create the terrain for. I know that stores like Games Workshop sell premade terrain, but I prefer to make my own. It doesn’t have to be too realistic (i.e. I don’t really care if the trees have little detailed branches or if the asteroids have perfectly shaped craters).

I am hoping that someone with experience in miniature wargaming could help me with this, but any advice you can give me would be appreciated.

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4 Answers

BarnacleBill's avatar

Look at a model train hobby shop. There’s all sorts of cool terrain things available to use as a base, and you can build things out of recyclables.

Do you know how to use Sketch Up? It’s free software on google that you can use to draw up a scale plan before you create it.

downtide's avatar

You can make realistic looking rocks (asteroids?) or ruined buildings with chunks of pressed polystyrene, attacked with heated wire or other tools, and then painted. For neater buildings, glue panels of card onto the polystyrene. For science-fiction scenes you can use pretty much any kind of junk you can find: nuts and bolts, plastic boxes, wire mesh etc. For your desert scene, you can use real sand as a base, glued down with ordinary PVA glue. Another good base material is “flock” which is basically just sawdust, dyed in various colors: this can be obrained from most modelling shops. To make trees, use wire (covered in papier mache for the thicker parts) and use ripped-up bits of bath sponge for the leafy parts. Palm tree leaves can be easily made out of paper.

Painting technique: Use “dry-brushing” a lot. Paint the model in your basic darker colours (acrylic paint). For the highlights, use a thick, rough brush (kids jumbo paintbrushes are ideal) with just a little bit of paint on, and scrape it over the raised parts of the model. For sunken in areas, use really thin watered-down paint, or ink, and run it into the crevices.

(Can you tell I’ve played Warhammer? :-D )

Some tips on these pages:

woodcutter's avatar

it might be easier to get some store bought items from LHS and tweak them to fit the scene you want instead of scratching everything. It will probably depend if you have more time than money or more money that time. Doing that kind of art is cool but it can be expensive at times.

jerv's avatar

Model train shops do have the best stuff for that sort of project. I’ve played enough Warhammer and BattleTech to really appreciate that my old gaming place was a full-on hobby shop with RPGs, models, miniatures, and trains all in one store.

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