Exploring the world of T9A in terrain

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    • Exploring the world of T9A in terrain

      Hello all!

      Please bear with me and read a short story.

      I found myself with a bit too much creativity lately and want to pour it all into helping shape the world of T9A. Unfortunately my talents at making image art of any kind are lacking. I do consider myself at least decent at making terrain, mostly because I can be very patient and love challenges.

      Let me start at the beginning, I was building a tower brick by brick and upon completion I had the idea to make 2 more for little girls as a true princess tower (pink, fluffy, blue cone roof). Problem: one took me pretty long to make. So I thought about making copies. Well, I am not patient enough for that. So I contacted the professionals at ZITERDES to see if I could get that tower into production. I will do updates on how I think being a potential creative for ZITERDES works out for me. I think that alone is an interesting subject for a thread.

      During the process of making a brochure of the tower, it occurred to me, that while I am building and painting some small armies for T9A, I felt a heavy lack of fluff was keeping me from fully investing. There are 3 ways to create fluff in my opinion: write background stories, create image art or build some terrain. I should be good at one of the three. That brought up an issue: I like the idea of getting terrain into production and it gets me a fee if something gets sold. I am also a great fan of the freedom of the T9A project and the nonprofit aspect.

      To solve this problem I contacted the T9A team with wild ideas and little direction. In order to further the stories of T9A with terrain I craved background information of which so far little is known. That contact has helped me think about what I really want and need.

      So here is what I hope to do and I want you all to join me on that journey. This is what you can expect in this blog:

      • Thoughts on how the world can work and then turn it into terrain
      • Follow along with DIY and upgrade bought terrain posts
      • Reviews on terrain you can buy, materials, tools
      • Stories of success and failure in making terrain
      • Stories embedded in terrain

      I want to keep it honest, open and straight forward, ask me anything anytime.

      To better show what I want to do in this plog, I prepared a few posts. I hope you will like it, here you go …
    • Still here for more?

      Thanks and welcome. Feel free to post questions or comments anytime.

      We have some catching up to do, so let me explain how I normally build terrain. Start small, go simple and work your way up. You can do a lot of this by spending some time with Google, even if you are experienced, go learn. Then I make a few small test pieces.

      Testing bricks with walls

      Of course my tests were way in the past and getting to my current technique was an iterative process. I want some wall sections to work on ideas for hedges. All of my current terrain building is very low tech so it should be easy to replicate.

      Materials: XPS foam, PVA (wood/white glue), clay (DAS).

      Tools: a knife with a long and sharp blade, a big ziplock bag (used to freeze food), texture tools, brushes and sandpaper.

      Stones are very easy to make with extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). You can get it in any DIY store as insulation foam sheets for walls. While thicker is more economical, thinner can be easier to. I used offcuts from a 2cm sheet (metric here, sorry). It comes in different colors depending on brand (green, pink, purple, yellow and blue). I must have bought at least 3 colors from one store as they seem to change stock. Any sheet you can buy will do and last you a long time in terrain making.

      When cutting XPS, use a long blade and make long strokes cutting, do not make a sawing motion. If the XPS is thicker, use a few cuts to get through.

      I like randomness in terrain and I have a hard time doing random. So I trick myself. I used a piece of wood as a ruler to cut strips from the sheet of XPS of 0.5cm to about 2cm. Then I proceeded to chop them up in small blocks of about 0.5x1x2cm and whatever left over sizes I got. Do this any way you see fit as long as you end up with many bricks that slightly vary in size. Put them all in a big ziplock bag and rub the content between your hands. Give your hands a nice massage and take off the sharp edges from cutting.

      You should have a bag full of bricks like this:

      Pour the bricks into an open container you can easily grab them out of. Then start gluing them together without a base:

      I do one layer and then let the glue set for about half an hour. This means you can’t build fast, but you can do things like painting miniatures in between. Or take care of things in life, building like this might seem slow, it allows me to not get stuck in endless sessions and it keeps it fresh. Once done you have something like this:

      I let it fully dry overnight and now the stones need a bit of structuring. The most commonly used tool is a ball of aluminum foil. The best way to make such a ball is to glue 3 layers of aluminum foil together with PVA and then roll it into a ball the size you want. I used the big ball and some Milliput to make more tools for those places a ball can’t go. The ball is the main tool you will use; roll it around with the palm of your hand. The tool for opening mobile phones is great to make seams more pronounced if desired.

      The grooves need to be filled and the surface sealed. I did this in one step with a mixture of clay (DAS), PVA and water in a 1:1:1 ratio. To mix this I cut the clay small, put it all I a jar with 2 agitator balls (I used marbles) and shook it. I shook it a lot before I got gloopy goo. DAS makes the goo thick, but it also adds something I can only describe as “fibers”. In a first go I apply this mixture to the whole surface. I simply use a cheap big brush to “paint” it on. A second and maybe third application with a small brush are needed to fill the big gaps and make corrections in the seams. Once all is dried, you can use the sandpaper to clean up some edges. This is a lot easier with the dry goo layer.

      To show surface texture, I will use greyscale images:

      Tools for rocky texturing

      Result of texturing

      This wall does not need a base, this is by design. Feel free to add a base if you want to better blend it into your gaming surface. Make the wall with a layer of bricks less to compensate. I do not need a base because my goal is a finely detailed wall in 2 parts that will sit just fine on the tabletop.

      What bothers me sometimes is walls in the middle of nowhere for no reason. So I have been thinking why people would build a relatively high wall at all that does not encircle anything. Some plants need stakes to grow high, maybe the world of T9A has a wall crawling vegetable plant (large enough for a bit of color) and bushes with big fruit. The reason I want to do this is to experiment with larger leaves on terrain. I do not just want blobs.

      Sketch of the KoE wall idea

      This of course needs a few more terrain building sessions and a lot of testing. All of which will be documented in this plog.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Little Joe: corrected order of images ().

    • With the wall done and having a bit of feeling for stacking bricks, you can try a building. I wanted to make a tower. You will see that the techniques on the walls of the tower are basically the same as before. So I will only point out the differences.

      The T9A project values a bit more realism as to how things can work and that is exactly what I wanted. For the shape of the tower I did a lot of research into how an actual lone tower worked in history. That brought me to towers of the Nakh people (pages 172-244) and those ticked all my boxes of being a proper defensible tower. History proved this until cannons became small enough to drag them into mountains. The door is up a floor with the need of a ladder for access. It has murder holes and defense oriels at the top for hot oil and rocks. It also serves as a lighthouse to transfer warnings. Because building these towers was hard work, they were used as houses as well. You won’t find cheaper and easier made buildings nearby. Since the Kingdom of Equitaine (KoE) alone was able to fend of the Vermin Swarm in the early ages, I think this will make for a perfect start to a KoE terrain set. It keeps farmers safe, allows them to store crops and is defensible long enough to signal for help if needed.

      Of course heroscale needs a few adjustments. The only thing you really need to watch out for is doors; they must look good with a base under miniatures. So make them a bit oversized. I did the same on the windows so you can see miniatures within.

      I made the bricks in batches as I needed them. I used a cardboard core to help me keep the walls a bit straight. I did not need the roof part, but it helped giving me an idea of the final height. The cardboard core is not needed for stiffness with walls going all around and also served as a first mockup:

      I started without a base, but added one to easier move the build around and keep the tower stiff. I use a small cutting mat to keep my table clean and mostly without cuts. For drying times I put the mat to the side under the table (to keep me from seeing and touching projects). And thus the stacking of bricks began. I did about 2 layers between breaks of an hour Let bricks stand out from the wall; you can always crop them with a knife later on. I tried different ways to connect the floors and I think it is just a matter of preference. The human eye is good at catching straight lines, I avoided these on purpose. I made sure the differences after a floor were within limits but that’s about it. I started with a single layer of bricks because this has a few advantages on a large build (easier, faster and stronger in the end).

      Day 1

      Day 2

      Day 4 and 5

      Day 5, modularity works!

      Day 7 and 8

      I did a first test of sealing on the roof because I wanted to protect it from damage. I used different foam (wall insulation for behind heaters, less dense) to get a different structure with the same methods. When this was done, I worked from the top down and added inner walls and floors. The reason I worked top down is to have a bottom and “lid” to each element of the tower. This helps to keep it all in shape during drying times. When stacking bricks for the inner wall, I made sure they were well glued to the outer wall. Because I work in layers, this builds up levels of tension and the end result is very rigid.

      For anything wooden I prefer plasticard in 2 or 3mm thick. Plasticard does not warp and it is very easy to scratch wood grain into. Just scratch it with 3 different knives, starting small and less as you go bigger. I use a sculpting tool with long needle on one side, a small sharp hobby knife and a blunt Swiss army knife. Since the type of floorboards is all very much up to preference, I will just show you how to make wood grain (see image).

      I had some textured balsawood left over and that was my first attempt. It was a short attempt due to warping. The reason I do not like using wood at all is because I made a big tavern with a wooden skeleton once. It took over a year for the inner tension to set and get the final structure.

      I made a trapdoor and a press mold to get copies faster. I still have a lot to learn on making copies.

      Roof and goo test

      Adding a floor and wood grain tutorial

      The floors level each element when put on the table, this leaves them sticking out a bit, which I used to get a tight fit on the inside. They are made from the same insulation foam I used on the roof. It comes with 2 reflecting paper layers. Think of it as very thick foamboard with a thickness of 1cm that saved work and I get a perfect surface. I did not go for a perfect fit, a plug and a small area touching on each wall is enough for a tight fit.

      I started this tower with 2 garbage bags full of offcuts from earlier projects and I still had to go get a new sheet of XPS, one sheet would have been enough. With a lot less clutter and after 20 days of evening sessions I had this:

      Brick building done!

      At this point I added surface details with my texturing tools to anything supposed to be rock. Before rolling the aluminum ball over the surface crop any stones that stand out too much. The aluminum ball and pressure make sure the wall gets a semi even surface. Whenever I find a spot I can’t texture, I just make a new tool. I liked thinking of new tools more than I should have and they are great.

      To texture along inner corners I made a tool from the plastic roll tape comes on and an old razor. I cut the tape roll in half and super glued it on top of the razor handle. Then I freely applied Milliput to connect them and on the outside of the tape roll. I used my aluminum ball (wet) to texture the Milliput on the tape roll. Just roll it over the side to get slightly rounded edges. For inner corners meeting the floor and hard to reach places I used a wooden stick (an old brush will do) and made a tapered end. On the other end I added a tool for small flat surfaces (inside windows) like the razor build. You can see the tools in the post on making walls.

      After texturing it took me another 10 days to apply the DAS/PVA goo for sealing and final texturing. Between the floorboards I used a small brush to apply the goo and a wet brush to clean up anything where it should not be. When done you have a very nice grainy texture that adds to the aluminum ball texture and a tower you can paint. I made a ladder to make it complete:

      Finished Nakh tower

      I hope you like this build; it took me a total of about 60 days with breaks to think on how to do things. It also greatly helped my painting speed of miniatures which was a great bonus. That should be considered as well if you plan to do this.

      It is still a crazy amount of time invested and I did not want to do it again. That is a story for another post. The final size is about 15x15x40cm and if you want more and larger images, check out this album.
    • When the tower was done, I wanted copies due to the time needed. I had planned for about 90 work hours, 3 hours an evening with some painting in between. That would have been 30 days. In the end I guess it was closer to 120 hours over 60 days with deciding how to do the floors and tool making. Still not bad as delays and results go.

      Was it worth it? I enjoyed making the tower and I got quite some painting done. The tower has very nice texture and I like the rugged way it was build. So yes, but it is not worth making more towers. So I looked at casting to make copies. With no initial knowledge beyond press casting, this was a bit too high for me. So I decided to make a brochure and send it to ZITERDES to see if they liked it enough to produce my tower.

      So why contact ZITERDES? I mentioned XPS and I think it is one of the best materials for making terrain. It is easy to work with, but once you are done, it can get dented. Anything you make should be based for sure. ZITERDES uses a denser XPS for casting. From what I learned from the internet, it works a lot like casting resin. The XPS expands within the mold and you get very nice copies that are delivered primed and with a basic paint job. I have held some of their terrain before, but never had some myself. I am a DIY fool that does not mind time; it is the main part of my hobby to make things.

      Most people I know do mind time and as such I think buying terrain is a valid alternative. Especially MDF kits are great for a building afternoon with kids. The problem I have with lasercut terrain is straight lines all over; they are not so useful in a fantasy setting. For some uses and sci-fi, it is very good. Resin is great and used a lot but I think XPS has two huge advantages: weight and toughness. It weighs nearly nothing so you can put it all into a box and due to the durability you can easily transport and store your terrain. The terrain won’t break, dent or shatter. Also consider that weight matters for shipping costs, most terrain you buy gets delivered. Resin can be cast thinner and has uses for sure.

      I have bought terrain myself when there is no way effort or skill relates to just buying it. I see this as saving time to have more to invest where it is needed more. I own terrain by Tabletop World, Games Workshop, Scibor Miniatures and Micro Art Studio. I recently added many companies to the terrain companies list here on theT9A project, go have a look.

      Right now the tower I made is being looked at for production at ZITERDES. It needs a quote from the toolmaker and possibly some work. I am looking forward to going through this process. It is rather exciting to be honest. Right now I am trying to work out other uses for parts so they become reusable to make other buildings. An alternative tower top to put troops on and something like a Kulla-type building (tower houses on the Balkan) are options for sure. I will keep you updated.

      At this point I want to repeat that if I get terrain into production I get a fee. The fee is 10% and paid monthly, which is quite similar to publishing a book. I do not think you can get rich, I will let you know. Making terrain this way has some more important advantages for me:

      • Challenge: make terrain that works out of the package due to the casting process. Preferably it comes from one mold and it still needs to meet a high standard.
      • Freedom: no actual need to store the terrain or to have an army to justify making terrain for it. I asked and fancy or weird is interesting to ZITERDES. That makes me very interested.
      • Conversions: for example, turn 2 parts of the tower into a ruin without ruining the tower.
      • Money: I can buy the materials needed and other terrain to show it off and compare. If I can earn money, I will save up and commission someone to paint a small Kingdom of Equitaine force in full Technicolor rainbow way beyond the level I could paint it.

      It does put me in a bit of a weird spot as I don’t want to join the T9A team with money involved. Yet I want to focus on the T9A project and feedback is what I need, so here we are. I hope you will be interested by now and join the terrain talk. If you used tutorials or ideas to make terrain yourself, please share the result and give me feedback to improve tutorials.
    • ZITERDES gave me 2 towers they currently produce to have a look at. I got these for free to get a better impression of what can be done with XPS. I did mention the word “blog”, it seems to be a magic word. Just to be clear, I have no intention to use this blog to try and get free stuff. The reason is that a review costs time and I want to do any terrain reviewed justice. I will buy what I am interested in and actually get it ready to play or enhance it if I want to.

      The towers do come very handy at this point because I will use them to show what I plan to do with anything I can get into production or review later on. Since it is the first post with XPS terrain, let’s start with a thorough review. A word of warning, my photography skills are not good, I try to improve and do my best. I try to get pictures with what I see for myself.

      This is what I received:



      Measurements of the 2 towers:

      8cm base and 25.5cm high

      10cm base and 28.5cm high, 7.9cmx7.9cm room for miniatures on top

      My first impression was a smile because I can see how the originals were made. I really like to see that, it means someone was proud of terrain he or she made. They look hand made because that is exactly what they copy. I like the design of both of the towers. The round tower has two air bubbles just over the door. Unlike resin bubbles, these have tough flash at the edges. The square tower has a few dents and nicks in some windows and ledges on the upper part. A few ledges have minor flash. The lower part is almost flawless. I will give a full overview of this in a painting and upgrading post for each tower in detail. I will keep track of time to paint and everything I did.

      While the round tower might look simple, it is not. It has nice details and a lot of texture in the stonework. Anyone that tried, knows the trouble of making a round tower. Not to mention making the roof look good. It is done at a level you can’t do in an afternoon on a can of Pringles (about the same size of the lower part). Without going out to buy materials I think you get a great product for what you pay, but no chips. For me it is too small for a defense tower, I can’t see how you defend it. Looking at it, I see opportunity as a wizard tower with magical lights in the top (hollow, easy to do).

      All bricks are rounded and vary in height, this results in a very nice texture.

      Close up of a window and the shingles

      The square tower is a very nice French gothic style city tower. I so hope I got the architecture style right. All sides are the same, just the door is only on one side. I really like the design; it is playful and looks dangerous to take. With a 7.9cmx7.9cm space on top, it fits a warmachine or a small unit of shooters. It is more truescale, that is due to the door and battlements. We use thick bases in T9A, with thin plastic bases this would look a lot better. In Europe old buildings and especially buildings for defense had terribly small doors. So let’s call it proper scale. A minor point of critique is the number of murder holes. They make the tower look huge on its own but don’t work with miniatures next to it. The stonework tells me scratches in a master will be visible in a cast. The top simply is amazing, undercuts have sharp edges. Details are build up in many thin layers. I think it is very cost effective to buy this as a cast. I will probably glue the parts together; I do not see an advantage to storing the tower in 2 parts. Please let me know if you do. I will brick up the lowest murder holes, because I think less is more and it would be a nice conversion subject. Also maybe some colorful paintings on the big window shaped indents.

      A very detailed door.

      Nice and sharp undercuts.

      A few small spots that need a fix, paint would probably do it.

      Battlements check.

      So what else did I learn? I can’t find a seam, so these are somehow pulled from a single mold with no cut along the length. I hope I am right because it gives me some ideas. Both are ready to play as they come from the package. These are silly lightweight (156g round, 266g square). This means you can carry a table full of terrain without breaking a sweat. When playing outside these might take off.

      Right after the first look I went to testing some limits of the material. I tried to dent the foam on the underside with my finger and a knuckle, no success. A nail can scratch the surface at the underside but not the primed surface. I can break off the doorstep (2mm) of the round tower if I apply quite a lot of force and grab it. Just pulling is not enough. I can’t damage the sloped rim of the roof without tools. On the square tower I tried grabbing and breaking off a battlement (11mm), I am not strong enough.

      I fixed the doorstep with PVA and with a base, it will never break off. The bond is actually surprisingly strong after gluing it back on. This would never work on normal XPS. You can use hot glue on this foam, personally I do not use hot glue at all, but I often see warnings of not using it on foam. Here it was used to level the upper part of the square tower. The fits between parts are tight, you can hold both upside down, shake them and nothing will drop.

      Where the tower connects.

      Holding them upside down.

      On the website of ZITERDES they say the following of XPS:

      • lightweight, yet extremely durable (video by ZITERDES, you might need subtitles)
      • easy to paint
      • edges can be beveled with sandpaper or a file
      • cuttable with a saw or knife
      • easy to shape, use hot water

      I verified that drop test; you get to see the black primer under the paint (black scratches on the top of the red roof and square tower base). I just had to test that myself, no damage whatsoever. I will test that again after painting them myself. I will test most other points on that list painting the towers. I am very curious about the hot water.
    • piteglio wrote:

      this is brilliant.
      i loved the report, the execution, the design, and the research that went into it.
      on this last point, can i suggest to you the youtube channel Shadiversity?
      you might want to start from this video.
      Thanks again! I had not seen that video yet, I am already subbed to the channel and listening to it all when making terrain. Also a video I can recommend to all that want to follow me on trees: Lindybeige on forests.

      jirga wrote:

      Such an inspiring blog. Hopefully you keep content coming in regularly. :)

      Have you looked into molds done by Hirts Arts? I'm personally not fond of using plaster as that is so heavy material but I recently stumbled on the subject of casting foam and that could be a good and light alternative for plaster when casting terrain.
      Much appreciated, yes, content will be very regular. I hope to get some terrain into production, that is a bit hard with those molds. I have never used them, they are a great addition for terrain builders. I find them too limiting for what I want to do.

      I will focus on how terrain works with the rules of T9A and how I can adapt making terrain to get a table full. Going with the basic rules you will always need a building/cliff, forest and a hill. Then you add 2D3 pieces of terrain and the theater for a game is set. I think this gives a perfect guide on how to tackle a terrain collection. My aim is to visit a realm for 2-3 months and then move on to the next. I will do as many terrain pieces as I can and you get the full build guide to it all. With 16 armies out there, it will take a while to make something for all of them. When I need a break, I will do a review, there are many awesome pieces of terrain available for sale. Or I might actually paint and make some terrain pretty. The main focus for me is making the terrain.
      My idea is not to redo anything already done, I want to go and take terrain a step further. Neither do I plan to do anything you could build. The T9A project has a list of companies that supply terrain and some army wikis have such a list as well. While working on terrain for a realm I will fill that list with options available. When there is enough to fill a table with choice by DIY guides or terrain for sale, I move on. The main difference is that I hope to get a discussion going here on any realm we visit. How do people live there, what strange things might you find? How to match that to the rules for terrain?

      With my tower being fairly low tech, human made and not really cannon proof, I will visit the Kingdom of Equitaine first. I have a building so that is a racing start. Forests are a thing I will talk about a lot. There are many solutions out there to make forests with trees work, I do not like how sparse forests look on the table. Forests made up of trees will be more of a long term product to get a workable solution I am happy with. That leaves the hill, which I will start and finish this week.

      The wall is a test piece for larger leaves which I hope to eventually upscale to forests. Planned so far: a field (walled pig or sheep pen), a lake and a cliff (Mount Rushmore style with a small chapel for the lady). Probably not a ruin since there are enough of those for sale, mixing styles on the ruin seems more appropriate.

      Any other sources I should check out, let me know. Rethinking terrain is the name of the game!
    • First a comment, I learned a new word from watching that video by Shadiversity: “Machicolations”. Awesome! Very interesting and if I make an alternative top for the tower with battlements, it will have them for sure.

      I had a small brainstorming session yesterday and today. This KoE terrain set starts with a defense tower used as a house. At this point I started to think as if I was playing a realtime strategy game (RTS). What else would I want next to my tower in a Kingdom of Equitaine setting?

      Time for some background reading for interesting bits (I may be wrong, correct me if I am):

      • Geography: mountains, rivers, ancient forests, port cities and farmsteads. The core land is old vermin controlled land, only the Kingdom of Equitaine was able to withstand them. In the end they even beat them and drove them off. More recently the Kingdom of Equitaine has been on crusades in Taphria where the landscape is very different (desert).
      • Economy: Trade ports selling grain, timber and cloth.
      • The devotion to the Lady, which has a symbol in the grail and is defined as a force of nature. This belief system is strong within the lands of Equitaine and is exported by crusades. It is a magical source of protection. Devotion is done everywhere a story tells of Her protection.
      • Story elements that stand out and I want to focus on: Gilles de Raux, he had a dark and long reign but was able to protect his people from the Vermin Swarm. Knights that follow his path are banished. There are hints of magic being involved and there is a struggle with the force of the Lady. Very little is actually known.
      I like stories that are open and mysterious as background material. I do not want to tell the story of the world of T9A, but within that setting there is room for telling stories yourself. Let’s turn the background information into a set of terrain to fill a table worthy of a story to be sung by a minstrel.

      In an RTS you start with your base and that is my tower. In our world towers like these were used for defense and living. So what are the inhabitants defending and what do they live off? I would first set up a supply chain of basic goods. Equitaine trades and thus produces grain, timber and cloth. Timber comes from forests, these should look like man made and maintained forests. Grain grows on fields and cloth can come from wool, so sheep. Skipping forests for now, food is easy enough; some ideas:

      Grain fields are simply fields in T9A. Commonly such grain fields are made of floor mats, which are a bit too low. Fields in T9A block line of sight, so they must be high enough. Adding a base with a stone wall should fix that. Using floor mats has a huge advantage; you can put a unit on top to show that it is in cover. Some terrain should just be simple. While I could go hide something in the middle of the field, sometimes simpler is better. Maybe you have an idea to spice this terrain up, let me know.

      Basically it is a walled enclosure with a well and sundial added to make it large and especially lengthy enough for T9A. If I make the walls, the well and the sundial about the same height, then it should be easy enough to put a unit with a unit tray in or on top this piece of terrain. Walls count as hard cover, so this could be a count as ruins. I am still working on this design, I do like the basic shape so far.

      Now a brief excursion to tabletop hills, many of us have made them and they look like a soup plate top down. The funny thing is that you can find man made hills exactly like that, if you use Google image search you will find “Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site Cartersville GA”. Here in the Netherlands we made hills like that called “Terp”, Germans call them “Warft”. Their purpose was to protect animals during a flood. Sometimes people even build whole farms or towns on top of such hills. That solves the question of why there would be a hill nearby and it gives freedom of shape.

      This hill has steep slopes to fend off the water better, this way waves have less effect. That gives a larger useful area to start with. One quarter gets a dock for boats in case there is actually a flooding. This helps to give it even more useful area. I will probably brick up under the dock, but that is not decided yet. There are 4 ramps so the hill at least looks like as if sheep could go up the “terp” while not impacting the top area. I think this allows for versatility. You can use it as a hill with no limitations or say one side has a cliff. It also adds a bit of visual extra.

      So what is the defensive purpose of the tower? Normally protecting your family should be enough reason for such a tower. In case of this terrain compilation I am thinking of a huge cliff. You need a house or a cliff for a table and so I want this to be at least as impressive as the tower. A while back when I was still thinking of making terrain this way, it occurred to me that if terrain is not made for actual use, I could use materials I would otherwise not consider. So I present to you, a rock:

      This should theoretically work well as a big cliff and force me to follow a pretty random shape. The first problem is the weight (about 3kg). How to fix the foam to it without it later on destroying the terrain? At least the weight does not seem to dent it much even after pushing hard for more contact surface. Initial ideas:

      I want to incorporate a story of a knight that followed Gilles de Raux. The frieze will give me the opportunity to add a story. But … someone (possibly with paws) destroyed most of it, only few clues remain. What is left is a strange grave that nature seems to repel. A nearby shrine to the Lady is in disarray. I think it will be something along those lines.

      Now that the inhabitants are fed and have a purpose to be there, they need to be happy. They need a place to worship the Lady without bad mojo. I am not sure if that still is a pond in T9A, something with nature for sure. I will go for a pond with some extra features and preferably a story as the Lady is strong where the songs are sung.

      I will leave the pond completely open for now. Feedback, constructive critique and questions on any of my ideas are welcome. Tell me what you think!
    • Ok this is seriously inspiring material. :)

      I'm off to outdoors and collect some suitable small stones and start constructing few fences.

      I don't have much other reference to terrain manufacturers. YouTube has good content providers which I've followed now and then. Terrain tutor and Lukes aps to be precise. Both provide easy to follow guides to us mortals. :)

      One thing I picked up from there was using clear resin when creating water effect. Way more wallet friendly option than buying water effects from Vallejo and such.

      Do you have preferred method when creating water elements?
    • jirga wrote:

      Ok this is seriously inspiring material. :)

      I'm off to outdoors and collect some suitable small stones and start constructing few fences.

      I don't have much other reference to terrain manufacturers. YouTube has good content providers which I've followed now and then. Terrain tutor and Lukes aps to be precise. Both provide easy to follow guides to us mortals. :)

      One thing I picked up from there was using clear resin when creating water effect. Way more wallet friendly option than buying water effects from Vallejo and such.

      Do you have preferred method when creating water elements?
      Mel The Terrain Tutor has a great library for any terrain builder to browse. I love his semi scientific videos on techniques and materials. He also offers many ways for people to get help such as his Sunday evenings live session and a Facebook group. I ignore Facebook but I hear that group is good.

      Luke's Affordable Paint Service has a very interesting go at terrain building. He approaches it as a business solution to sell ready made terrain, he is all about efficiency (and beer ^^ ). I don't need masses of materials, but I think his channel is the right place to learn to look elsewhere for materials. He needs to watch the fumes a bit. Recently he launched his own line of hobby products and I hope it does well.

      When I started making terrain, YouTube did not exist. I got a lot of inspiration from online tutorials from TerraGenisis, the forum seems to have moved, but at least it still exists.

      I usually make terrain with very limited tools or materials. I tried many over time and I tried some ways for water elements at some point. Most products you can buy are useless because we need too much. Some are great for effects on bases. I have not tried clear resin yet, that is maybe for the future. I would use resin when building full 3D tables.
      For water terrain pieces I have taken a short cut so far. I bought paper terrain in PDF format once and a bucket of heavy gel medium. A flat base, glue a printed pond on top, finish off the rims and you are done. Gel medium creates waves if needed. This gives you a very flat piece of terrain best suitable for wargaming. Here is one of them:

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Little Joe ().

    • Little Joe wrote:

      Mel The Terrain Tutor has a great library for any terrain builder to browse. I love his semi scientific videos on techniques and materials. He also offers many ways for people to get help such as his Sunday evenings live session and a Facebook group. I ignore Facebook but I hear that group is good.
      I'd definitely second this. His YouTube and live things are great and the Facebook group is friendly and helpful. It's great to see someone on here with the same infectious enthusiasm for terrain!
    • jirga wrote:

      I actually started to work on some terrain few days ago as I boasted. Few stone fences at first.

      Blogs like this do spark up the interest to start building terrain. :)

      Ongoing review ZITERDES tower “Wehrturm” Pt.1 (defense tower)

      First off and again: I got this one for free to get an idea of what the material can do. I think it is important to state that when doing a review. I actually already did a review, which is a few posts up.

      This is the close up and in depth review of adding to the tower myself. I went over everything twice to make sure nothing was missed and I did not take shortcuts. I needed about 40 minutes to prepare the tower for painting. This is what I did:
      • Cut out the windows on the top part of the tower. This was a bit harder than expected due to the depth I needed to cut. Once I had one window done, the other three went a lot faster and easier. I used a file to smooth the edges.
      • Fill holes left from casting, 2 big ones, 1 1mm hole (see image) and 8 small dots (I should have just flattened the material). Added to that I filled a few holes on the underside of the top tower (only holes filled on that part). I did an experiment and these would have been safe. The only reason to fill them is viability if someone lifts the tower.
      • For the same reason I extended the seams between rocks on the underside of the top part and added some lines to the roof edge.
      • I went up the tower checking all grooves and using my phone opening tool to make sure all were about equally defined. I really like the phone opening tool (blue thingy in the first image), the alternative would be a plastic knife.
      During this work and by looking at the tower quite often, I had with intentional violence dented the tongue for fitting the top part to the lower part in one fixed position. In the end I just removed the tongue. Removing the window had not cause a problem with the tongue; I just wanted to see what happened. And nothing happened, the connection is still very good and you can hold the tower upside down without the top part falling off. Actually it became a lot easier to put the tower together. Just add the top part and turn it a bit to align the windows. I could show all the work in one image but decided to add 2 clos ups:

      1mm bubble fixed, go find the green dot.

      Added details to the rim of the roof and cut out windows.

      The next thing I did was test a LED candle (link to video) in the top. I had 2 to test, blinking yellow and fading between red, purple and green. Both easily fit with no extra work, I liked the fading colors best, so the tower is doomed as a mage tower. Now I just needed the path of magic

      To make the base large enough for T9A I added this:

      This took me about 1 hour of work to cut, I was cutting out hills anyhow. The idea is taken from the color version for the paths of magic. Pyromancers believe in the fire within and the fire without. The fire within is the mage within his tower, the fire without will be a lava pool outside, kept going by 2 mini volcanoes.

      Alternatively if you want to use it as a watch tower, a small courtyard will help with the footprint and defensibility. The tower leaves enough room to add a stable, guard house or both.

      Time to go do some sanding. For this I will go outside and use machines and breathing protection.
    • Building the terp part 1

      Because I normally do not use sketches at all (I do it in my head), I cut the first hill to the wrong size. I was going to show any and all mistakes, so no hiding it. It is not a problem, I will just prepare it for future terrain.

      First cut of a hill.

      Mistakes aside, I did want to use this hill build to show how to get past some problems. The first problem was that I did not have foam in the right width, nor the right height. To solve that I just glued bits together. You don’t need the perfect piece of foam to work with, use what you have. I will show you how to hide the lines between parts later on.

      So I made a second hill and glued it together. Normally I just use small but many dots of glue. PVA dries outside inwards and on large surfaces it just seals itself airtight and won’t really dry. This material has a rough surface, some manufacturers have it some don’t. For terrain foam without this feature is better. I had to use large blobs and later found out, that I could use super glue. When using super glue, put it on one part and PVA on the other part, then join them.

      Second cut of a hill, this time bigger and with huge glue dots.

      I was outside to do some sanding, no need to get that dust inside. Using a machine also helped. I am a bit old-school in terrain building; I do not have any of the fancy tools just for terrain building. With a table wire cutter, getting the right height would have been easy.

      Sanded versus cut edges.

      Here is a trick to sand something down and keep it flush. The same trick works when using a knife. Do the sanding/cutting in sub sections. The reason to do that is because you get an extra edge to measure the height. In this case I used the middle part to see from above how deep I was getting. First I had to mark my grooves though. The final surface will be harder to take measurements on.

      Marking my grooves.

      Sand left, sand right and after this image I removed the middle.

      And here is a trick to see if the result is any good:

      Put it on a flat surface and look at the seam, if you can’t see light, it is flush and thus straight.

      When removing material always start small and work your way towards the desired result. I now have a hill shaped piece of foam to work with. Maybe an update later on, probably tomorrow because the sun is shining.
    • good stuff, as always

      little joe, are you coming to the Alliance Open in Schiphol next week?
      i'll be there with a Universal Battle demonstration, but i'm not a "2D-only" kind of person.
      actually, we might have some interesting collaboration ideas to explore ; )