Real life can suck sometimes, especially when it gets in the way of your hobby, what with moving house and trying to survive a one-bed flat! However, I’ve done my best to do a few bits and pieces where I can and one of those things is working on my Terraformers modular terrain! Huzzah!
Purchased in bulk, I’ve been working on 1 river bend, 2 road over river sections, and 1 road. It wasn’t the smartest of starts, but hey ho. The very beginning was a slow walk in trying to figure out the best way to cut the required size of foam. I deliberately purchased 2 of the Terraformer cutting templates to help me get an even cut, but cutting with a knife wasn’t “cutting it” (pun intended) and I had to purchase a hot wire tool. I opt’d for this little device as I thought it might have other handy applications later on. It took a few minutes to get the hang of what I was meant to do but the result was relatively even squares that only needed mild trimming. The dissapointing thing about the Terraformer tiles is that they aren’t quite 50mm deep, which is the depth for insultating foam here in the UK. I think the Terraformer tiles measure at 47mm deep and so require some hot wire usage to bevel the edge between the insultating foam and the Terraformer tile’s edge. This will be an interesting challenge further down the line as it will make it difficult to seat builds between 2 Terraformers tiles, and more interesting when I want to do city tiles. But that’s a future me problem.
With the foam glued into place and bevelled, I set about trying to cut and dig out roads and rivers. This wasn’t easy and there must be an easier way, but I perserved with a stanley and bread knife. I dug out the river sections mostly by eye after having drawn on their edges. Roads were a tad tricky as they ideally need to remain the same width along their entire length. This is something to keep in mind if you want to do bendy roads. Since I’m creating terrain for 6mm and 15mm, modern and future era, my plan is to use thin sheets of plastic card, cut to fit what was dug out on the tiles, and painting a 6mm and 15mm scale road on either side.
Unfortunately, in the midsts of glueing and cutting the foam board, parts of ther Terraformer tiles that were cut to give you options for roads beginning/ending in different positions became damaged. I used a generic interior polyfiller to patch these up as best as I could and to fill in gaps between the foam board and the tile, leaving quite a nice finish actually.
Once all that was dry, it was on to the priming stage. Once you’re happy with the shape of your foam terrain and before you paint or glue anything to it, it’s always best to coat the surface in 3 or so layers of PVA glue mixed with some water (about 2 or 3 parts PVA to 1 part water). This took a little while as I was generous in my application. Whilst this dried, however, I took the opportunity to buy and test the paints I wanted to use on a piece of scrap foam, checking to see how the paints mixed, layered and dried. I used regular household matte paint and it seemed to work fairly well. I did try some blotting techniques using inks and watered down paint, but I think I did it wrong and clearly need more practice. I first painted the river sections in blue with the intention that the colour will help add depth, but I might revisit this and try something a bit darker or a bit of brown/green perhaps. Reference material is your best friend in these sort of matters. After the blue, I painted brown for the road dug outs and river banks. The idea here is that I can go back later and add small bits of scatter flock or sand to help with blending. Lastly, I painted dark green then dry brushed 2 lighter tones on top. My aim is to let the colour and type of scatter flock dictate what the terrain is, not the paint. More on that in another post hopefully.
Whilst that dried, I had a play around with Woodland Scenics realistic water effects product as I had purchased that a few years back. I added different colour inks and paint washes to see the results. I wasn’t happy at all with the drying time as it seemed adding pigmints increased the drying time by about 5-6 days, and that was on a small scale! So that product was quickly binned in favour of CFS’ 2-part epoxy water resin, something highly recommended by a chap named Luke (watch his YouTube videos, he’s a very talented terrain builder and his videos are very well put together and presented – I recommend this video for beginners in terrain building and water effects). This resin takes a lot more effort to get a decent pigment, but the drying time is excellent. The only downside is I needed to buy a heat gun (alternatively a small blow torch) which I’ll use to remove the bubbles that formed as I mixed the 2 parts together. Do be careful with this tool and test it out on foam offcuts. If you don’t concentrate you may end up melting your foam and still needing to remove bubbles.
Where I’m at right now is the flocking stage. Add this detail comes before the water effects as I feel it will generate a more natural look. I litterally painted the PVA glue onto the tiles straight out of the pot. don’t put it on too thickly, but also don’t feel the need to skimp either. Make sure to add some newspaper sheets underneath your tile as this next bit can get messy; speaking of which, try not to be messy with your glue! With your desired flock in hand, and a sieve (yes, a kitchen sieve – make sure you get permission from the other half) pour the flock into the siv and then go at your tile like you were adding chocolate powder to your favourite cake! If you’ve made your own mix of flock, like I have, remember that the smaller bits will empty from the sieve first, so try not to linger over one part of the tile for too long other wise it may end up looking odd. Note – Luke has a great range of terrain material I suggest you look at!
Once my intially flocking has dried, I’ll review and add more where needed. More updates and pictures to follow!