Bocage country at the Cotentin Peninsula, this is what I aim for. (Image: World War II Database)
This is one of my ongoing projects that involve terrain making, model building and painting of both vehicles and figures. I will show some techniques (grass, trees and hedges) that I have learned from reading tutorials by Alcal, a super talented terrain builder.
I am a huge fan of Skirmish Campaigns (don’t let the webdesign fool you to belive it is bad). They have made four good campaigns for Normandy:
– Normandy ’44-First Hours
– Normandy ’44-Heroes of Omaha and Panzer Lehr
– Normandy ’44-Monty’s EPSOM
– Normandy ’44-Red Devils of the Orne
As my interest is focused on the Germans against US I will start with the two first mentioned. I think when I am ready with building terrain for this two books I’ll probably have all the bocage terrain I ever need.
I never liked terrain that is a green piece of sheet with hills, houses and trees glued to a piece of cardboard, or roads and rivers also made out of cardboard. I have a big problem getting in the mood when playing on boards like this. For a couple of years ago I made small pieces of terrains on boards in the size of 30x30cm. This boards could have a house, a bunker, a hill or some trees on it – all fixed to the board. I also made a system for where road and rivers starts and ends on the boards so that they could be put together in lots of different ways. This worked quite well for a while. But the problem was that because of the small size of the pieces there would be many edges that disturbed my eye. Also a slight bump in to the table and all the boards moved around which was extremly irritating.
So later on when I started up painting and building for this Skirmish Campaigns Normandy books I also started on a new terrain board system. The idea is still the same but the pieces is much bigger – 60x120cm. Again I have made a system where roads, hedges and rivers starts. I have been using a great amount of time converting the maps of the campaign books to my terrain system. The size I choosed for my terrain pieces works well together with the map sizes in the books.
The first board (Ranger Relief)
I will show you pictures of my small pieces of maps that I use to make the terrain boards from. And also pictures from the first piece of terrain that is ready.
(Click to enlarge the pictures)
The blue areas is where I can place a hedge and the red is where to place roads. If a road on one board leads up to another board where there is no road, it will look funny, that’s why every place on every board, that can be placed up to a road on a different board, need to have some kind of natural ending of a road – some extra work for me, but by doing so I will be able to combine all my pieces as I want to. The system is not perfect, but after playing around with my small map sketches I guess it will work quite well.
Some of the maps.
Some test combinations.
The Ranger Relief map (second scenario in Normandy ’44-Heroes of the Omaha and Panzer Lehr).
The terrain pieces are made on polystyrene boards. The grass is fake fur (the same type of fabric that is used for making teddy bears), cut down with scissors and a beard trimmer. The stone walls will be the base for the hedges, I used cat litter, a product that when painted looks like big stones and that cost almost nothing. For the road, that is a bit “sunken” I used gravel and sand, when I had carved it out of the polystyrene I needed to make a base to where I could glue the gravel. I made that out of plaster with some sand mixed in it.
How high can the “grass” be? I later found out that when painting the grass it become quit thick and therefore hard to place figures in, so the shorter the better.
This is after the grass has been painted. I used acrylics and airbrush. The road, stonewalls and waterhole has got their base colour – acrylics painted on with a brush.
This is after the road and stonewalls has been drybrushed. To make the road I have first glued gravel on the board all the way upp to the stonewall, and then added sand in the middle of the road. The stonewall which later will have hedges on top of it, is cat litter (8 litre for only 1 euro).
I try “Realistic water” from Woodland Scenics in the waterhole. I hope it dries in a more yellowish colour, right now it is quit milky.
It’s hard not to take some test shots with vehicles and figures on the table. At this moment I’m quit happy with the result.
I made more trees than i need for this first terrain piece, some will be used in the bocage, and small trees will be used in the apple orchard. It is quit simple to make them actually. The tree-trunk is made of pieces of branches, the tree-top is made of horse hair mattress glued to the branch and dipped in flock.
Here’s some hedges made like I did with the tree tops.
The first board is (almost) ready, only thing missing is the house, and maybe some few small details onto it, plus a row of apple trees in the orhcard.