Scenery building is often low on the agenda of many a wargamer, playing second fiddle to the act of getting enough models painted. However, a lovely tabletop to play on is every wargamer’s dream – a dream I have been neglecting until recently. With my local game store closing it doors in a few weeks, I’ve started building some scenery pieces for my own collection so my friends can come round to my place instead. This article deals with a very simple project I’ve recently completed, and I hope you’ll find it helpful.
– Small pebbles, rocks or bits of brick, roughly 0,5 cm to 1cm in diameter
– Strips of mdf or plasticard, at least 2mm thick, about 2cm wide and as long as you like (has to be sturdy enough!)
– Coarse modelling sand or gravel
– PVA glue, preferably with a rather precise applicator
– Paint and some big brushes
– Other basing materials to suit your gaming table
Step 1: assembly
Take a base and squeeze a thick ‘sausage’ of PVA glue across the entire length of it. Then lay down the first layer of rocks one after the other. It looks better if you use the thicker rocks for this layer, and your wall will be sturdier as a result. Let this first layer dry, then add a second layer on top of it in the same fashion, making sure that the rocks from the second layer have a decent contact area with those underneath. Continuing adding layers until the wall is as high as you’d like it to be – though with the size of rocks I listed you need just two to reach a nice height for 28mm models to crouch behind.
Step 2: undercoat
Once all glue has dried completely, undercoat the walls. I used a black undercoat spray for this, but you can do this step with a brush as well.
Step 3: drybrushing
Use as big a brush as you can for this step. Choose the colours you’d like to have your walls in; they don’t have to be grey, you can do some sandstone walls, some chalky white ones etc., it really depends upon the theme you would like to have your tabletop display. For my own walls I used a drybrush of xv-88 followed by dawnstone, both applied rather heavily.
Step 4: the base
Now cover the base of your walls in some PVA and dunk it in coarse sand. Don’t worry if by accident you get some sand onto the walls, they’ll only look a bit more weathered if you do.
Step 5: basecoating the base
Using a dark brown paint and a measure of water, basecoat the sand once it’s dry. Again, don’t worry if you get some dark brown onto the walls, as it will look like a splash of mud.
Step 6: one more drybrush
Once everything is dry, give both the walls and the base a final drybrush in a very light colour. I used a bone colour for this. Make sure the paint on your brush is very dry, and it will pick out all the rough texture on those rocks.
Step 7: final touches
Afterwards, add static grass, tufts, meadow flowers, lichen etc. to your walls. You can take this as far as you’d like – you could add some weeds growing between rocks, some rock moss on top, even some bird droppings. I chose to leave it at static grass to tie the bases into my standard grass gaming mat.
There you go, some walls. Of course, they’re never going to be considered marvels of architecture, but this makes them fit with many periods of history, from Celtic settlements to rural farmsteads in occupied France. This project also costs next to nothing and it won’t take too much of your time. Good luck with it if you try your hand at this project!