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Mulsiphix
01-30-2008, 09:46 PM
I've built some pretty pathetic terrain in my day. I emphasis pathetic because it was built with dirt cheap materials that just didn't last all that long. For those of you who have built terrain before, with your budget in mind, please share some tips and recommendations of the trade.

Personally you can never have enough clay. I order the stuff online in powder format, mix in the water at my house, and mass build horrible looking trees, hills, buildings, etc... It cost me about $30 to do this but it provided me with gallons of moldable clay.

Poster board, the thick kind, is about $3-$4 for a 2'x4' sheet. With the right tool, I had a homeade hex cutter (like a cookie cutter for dough), and a hammer I was able to mass produce hexes. I would get several hundred individual hexes from a single sheet. I would stack them for different elevations. These with my clay made for some pretty horrible looking, but super functional terrain. Good stuff :cool:

Skunkape
01-31-2008, 07:31 AM
A really good material, fairly inexpensive, but works well for terrain is Owens Corning foam insulation (http://www.owenscorning.com/around/insulation/products/foamular.asp). This stuff is made differently than the white foam you get in Michaels. Instead of being made up of little beads, it's a solid foam. So when you cut it instead of it turning into this beaded mess, it keeps a smoother edge and can also be sanded.

Many model railroad builders use this because it keeps a good shape and is light weight. It's most often used in building insulation and can be purchased at most building centers. The only problem with it is they don't carry it in the south! So the only way I can get it is to either travel north where they do sell it and drive it home, or get it shipped in. Which by the way, makes it a little more expensive than I want to pay.

So you might want to look into that assuming you can get it easily enough.

Mulsiphix
01-31-2008, 08:03 AM
That sounds pretty sweet! Definitely might look into that. I plan to have my entire BattleTech/GURPS campaign using real 3D terrain, preferably higher quality than I've been able to afford in the past. I recently looked into resin casting and other ways of creating mini's and building structures but mixing chemicals and things like kilns, special ovens, and other fire hazardous "hardening" apparatus just aren't possible right now. Neither is mass collecting mini's. Even on eBay the price for a large collection makes my budget cry.

tesral
01-31-2008, 11:59 AM
Insulation foam is a great tool. It cuts even better with a hot knife. I use what ever is at hand. I am currently building a caravel (ship) from balsa.

Mulsiphix
02-01-2008, 01:01 AM
Growing up to be the wargamer that I am, I really wish I spent more time on school projects that required dioramas. My skills would be 733T yo!

ffclubhero
02-03-2008, 08:08 AM
"Foamcore" should be available in the south at any major box hardware store (Hell Depot, Lowes). Right now it's about $10 for a 4'X8' sheet, about 1" thick. Stuff is wicked durable. Make sure to coat it with a nonaerosal primer or glue before using ANY TYPE of spray material cuz that stuff will melt.

ffclubhero
02-03-2008, 10:24 AM
Once you start to build terrain, everything you lay your hands on becomes a possibility to put on the tabletop. You will throw NOTHING out. Seriously. Recycling means something entirely different to the terrain builder. If this milk carton can't be magically remanifested as a guard tower, it can be technologically transformed into a power converter for another game. Good times, good times.

Mulsiphix
02-03-2008, 06:52 PM
Once you start to build terrain, everything you lay your hands on becomes a possibility to put on the tabletop. You will throw NOTHING out. Seriously. Recycling means something entirely different to the terrain builder. If this milk carton can't be magically remanifested as a guard tower, it can be technologically transformed into a power converter for another game. Good times, good times.Well said. I've created numerous buildings and landscapes with nothing more than popsicle sticks and cheap markers for color.

Skunkape
02-04-2008, 11:04 AM
"Foamcore" should be available in the south at any major box hardware store (Hell Depot, Lowes). Right now it's about $10 for a 4'X8' sheet, about 1" thick. Stuff is wicked durable. Make sure to coat it with a nonaerosal primer or glue before using ANY TYPE of spray material cuz that stuff will melt.

Yeah, foamcore is available, but it's not the same as Owen's pink insulation foam! I do use foamcore by the way, you just have to be careful not to get it too wet the paper/cardstock on either side of the foam will warp and change the shape of your piece!

ffclubhero
02-04-2008, 05:52 PM
Foamcore, as I define it, is the pink, heavy duty insulation sheets. It's just a problem in wording between us, indeed, what I speak of has no paper sheet cover. I've seen the stuff you speak of at Hell Depot, but in VA it's white with silver paper (definetly not what you want, BTW!).

As far as experience goes, taking your time is more important then experience. Plus, with all the online resources, experience can be gotten second-hand and for FREE. I highly recommend Games Workshop for this, they have terrain articles out the wazoo, in addition to mini painting articles. If you follow any of their directions, even half-arsed, the results will be amazing....

Skunkape
02-05-2008, 07:11 AM
Foamcore, as I define it, is the pink, heavy duty insulation sheets. It's just a problem in wording between us, indeed, what I speak of has no paper sheet cover. I've seen the stuff you speak of at Hell Depot, but in VA it's white with silver paper (definetly not what you want, BTW!).

I can get the foamcore you're talking about down here, but they have to ship it in from other stores further north, so I get to pay shipping as well as the cost of the stuff, so it just drives the price up more! LOL!

tesral
02-05-2008, 11:14 AM
"Styrofoam packing spacers". The futuristic gamer's friend.

mrken
04-02-2008, 12:23 PM
If what you are looking for is cheap and light weight, try cardboard and spackling.

Some of you may have seen the photos I posted http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5689

Mostly I just cut the shape out of corragated cardboard, beveling the edges and filling them up with the spackling. Sometimes I will add a few more glueing them on the diagonal to give more rigidity. Then I sand it all down a bit to get rid of the lines the spackling gets as it is put down. When all is dry I will paint the bottom to aid in sealing the pieces. Then later I will add trees and rocks, and finally I will paint the top green and immeadiatly add the pile of flock over the paint.

Some of my pieces are six or seven years old. they are starting to fade a bit and showing some wear and tear from the handling they do get. Recently I learned to spray them with a matte finish or watered down glue to keep the flocking from wearing off.

For Colorado the pieces are remarkablely durable, don't know how the 287% humidity of the Northwest would affect it. One friend uses the linoleum tiles and I am starting to use hard board as a base for some items which should work for underwater use. One could also use the damaged ceiling tiles though they are quite heavy.

ffclubhero
07-15-2008, 11:39 AM
I've just "discovered" what any of us who drink good beer should know already-- the better the beer, the better the case the brewery packs it in. Thicker cardboard and cheap spray paint means instant ancient city of obsidian, glistening darkly in the quadruple suns of a far away world....:cool:

tesral
07-16-2008, 07:46 AM
I've just "discovered" what any of us who drink good beer should know already-- the better the beer, the better the case the brewery packs it in. Thicker cardboard and cheap spray paint means instant ancient city of obsidian, glistening darkly in the quadruple suns of a far away world....:cool:

Raw cardboard and vast amounts of CA. The kind of cardboard that they put behind shirts. You soak that in CA and you get a fiberous plastic that is very strong.

mrken
07-16-2008, 08:31 AM
I've just "discovered" what any of us who drink good beer should know already-- the better the beer, the better the case the brewery packs it in. Thicker cardboard and cheap spray paint means instant ancient city of obsidian, glistening darkly in the quadruple suns of a far away world....:cool:


In my experience, most cardboard used in packaging canned products will pick up the indentations of the cans packaged, mostly in the top and bottom sections. I tend to leave them alone and typically got for the appliance stores where they have large sheets of straight high quality cardboard. Another place I like to snag cardboard from is the boxes reams of paper come from. Back a few years ago I worked in a place that discarded about five boxes at a time and the uniform sizes in large quantities was very nice in making buildings of the same size.

mrken
07-16-2008, 08:33 AM
Raw cardboard and vast amounts of CA. The kind of cardboard that they put behind shirts. You soak that in CA and you get a fibrous plastic that is very strong.


This sounds interesting. My question is, what is CA? And, can you show any examples of this in some terrain you have made?

tesral
07-16-2008, 09:44 AM
This sounds interesting. My question is, what is CA? And, can you show any examples of this in some terrain you have made?

Cynoacrylic glue. Otherwise called super glue.

While familiar with the method I have nothing currently made with it. However this gentleman of my acquaintance does, and uses it almost exclusively.

William Wardrop (http://www.freewebs.com/steamnoir/index.htm)

mrken
07-16-2008, 11:13 AM
That guy is an artist. Still, I wonder how to work the stuff. If you are using super glue how do you keep from sticking to it while you manipulate it?

tesral
07-16-2008, 01:01 PM
That guy is an artist. Still, I wonder how to work the stuff. If you are using super glue how do you keep from sticking to it while you manipulate it?


First glue your seams. Then soak the part in the glue. Bill goes through buckets of the stuff. I've done the same thing with wood. Makes a tough model. Gaming models must be tough.

This was made with the wood and CA method. the fore and aft castles come off. Masts slip out for storage.

http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/SS_Modeler/tub1.jpg

mrken
07-17-2008, 08:57 AM
Does your friend make this stuff or does he buy it in bulk like resin, in one gallon cans. Buying it in little 4 gram bottles would I think get very expensive.

tesral
07-17-2008, 09:29 AM
Does your friend make this stuff or does he buy it in bulk like resin, in one gallon cans. Buying it in little 4 gram bottles would I think get very expensive.

I really have no idea. I would assue he gets larger bottles. I have seen them. Most hobby stores don't carry them.

mrken
07-17-2008, 09:46 AM
For some reason I don't think art supply stores would carry them either. Might be an industrial supply store or something. :confused:

Obah Bason
08-30-2008, 09:05 AM
White foam is free. People complain that the beads look stupid, but if you know how to work with it, you can do some amazing things. Plus, if no terrain is built with it, it winds up in some landfill somewhere, so by using white foam to build my terrain, I am doing my little part at saving the planet.;)

mrken
08-30-2008, 09:22 AM
If you use a hot wire cutter you can shape the pieces, to a point, and while the shapes can be futuristic (great for 40k and Battletech stuff) you are still limited to the original shapes minus the cut off portions. I have been storing some Styrofoam pieces for some pieces that I want to be walls. I think primed and painted the little balls will look like stacked stone walls.

peppermeister
06-20-2009, 10:07 AM
Once you start to build terrain, everything you lay your hands on becomes a possibility to put on the tabletop. You will throw NOTHING out.

You are not kidding! I have 10 5-gallon plastic kitty litter buckets by my workbench that are filled with all sorts of odds and ends. Any scraps from house projects (plumbing bits, countertop samples), plastic CD stack packages, plastic lunchmeat tubs (washed, of course!), refrigerator water filter cartridges, etc. have all found their way into a project at one time or another.