Terrain Workshop: Abandoned Battlefield

There are many different aspects to the 40k hobby. Not only do we get to enjoy building and painting beautiful miniatures, but we also get to battle with them and let our imaginations run wild. After all, these aren’t just playing pieces on a board, they are Space Marines fighting off a Xeno invasion force on some distant Emperor forgotten world.

For a few hours we suspended our disbelief and immerse ourselves in the gritty grim dark future that knows only war. But a big part of that process is making sure the backdrop for our epic battles is suitably engaging. After all, it’s hard to suspended said disbelief when your Marines are fighting to protect a box of Jaffa Cakes your using as a bunker.

As a result, terrain is a big (if sometimes overlooked) part of the hobby. Luckily, there is no shortage of terrain kits on the market these days. From Games Workshops own kits, to part and pre-made sets from independent companies like Gale Force Nine, there is a lot of options to choose from. But there is also another option. One that can be a lot cheaper and allow you to scratch your own creative itch. Build your own.

In this series of articles, I’m going to take you step by step through a guide on how to create some terrain for your own gaming step up, that will allow you to add your own personal touch to your grim dark battlefields. Today, we are going to look at a way to turn old, damaged or unused vehicles you might have sitting at the bottom of your bits boxes into discarded and abandoned battlefield wrecks to litter the board and proved your units some area cover.

First up, you are going to need the following:

  • Some scrap pieces of Plywood.
  • Some damaged or unusable vehicle bits/models.
  • Super Glue.
  • PVA Glue.
  • Polyfilla.
  • Some dice or pieces of plastic.
  • Sand.
  • Paints and Washes.
  • Modelling Grass/Flock.

You will also need some tools like a saw and some sandpaper to prepare the plywood base. Most of these you should already have in some number, and other bits you can get for free or relatively cheap. Once you are all sort, you are ready to begin.

Step One; Prepare the Plywood.

Firstly, take your piece of Plywood and cut it to shape if necessary. You want it to be no bigger than a small plate (around 6 inch wide should be plenty big enough). Then, sand down the edges to make sure there are no shape points or splinters.

Step Two; Add Wreckage.

Next, take your old or damaged models and break them up into pieces. Try not to go too small, as we want them to be recognisable. Here I have used some old Space Marine Bikes I had left over from an old modelling project, but any medium to small vehicle would suffice. When you have done, glue them to the plywood, doing your best to create the appearance of an old wreck. You can also use some old dice or bits of plastic here to create the foundation of some rubble or rocks as demonstrated.

Step Three; Polyfilla.

Next up, take your Polyfilla and cover all the bits of plastic or dice you are using to create the foundation of any rocks or rubble, and then using your fingers smooth out the filler to give it a nature texture. Don’t worry if some goes on the wreckage, as this will add to the effect. Feel free to spread some around the base as well, as this will create some differing textures.

Step Four; Sand.

After the Polyfilla has dried completely, take a large brush and cover most of the base and Polyfilla in PVA, making sure to leave the wreckage mostly visible. Then cover the PVA in sand. After a few minutes pick up the base and tap of any excess.

Step Five; Undercoat.

When the PVA is fully dry, undercoat the entire piece with a black primer, then allow it to dry.

Step Six; Basecoat.

Next, basecoat the entire piece with a light brown. I have used Citadel’s Zandri Dust spray here, but feel free to use any light brown or khaki basecoat you want.

Step Seven; Wash.

Once the paint is fully dry, wash the entire piece in a brown wash or ink. I went with Citadel’s Agrax Earthshade myself.

Step Eight; Dry Bursh.

Once the wash has dried, take a medium dry brush and go over all the piece with a lighter khaki colour. I used Model Colour Arena Iraqui for this bit. Then take that same brush and go over the wreckage and any bit of exposed Polyfilla with a medium grey to give the terrain some contrast. Then mix a little bit of white into your khaki colour and lightly dry brush the whole model.

Step Nine; Second Wash.

Once all the paint in dry, cover the entire piece in a final wash of Nuln Oil.

Step Ten; Flock.

Finally, add some tufts of modelling grass or flock to give the piece some vegetation.

And there you go. Easy to make area terrain, ready for your next battle in the 40k universe. As you can see below, I did a few other pieces (including a dreadnought that had become damage while I was trying to strip it). All in all, all three of these pieces only took me around an hour of hands on time to complete. Sure, you are going to need them to dry which adds to that, but that is time you can use on other projects.

I’ll be using these as area obstructions in my games, but depending on how you want to build them you could easily create some barricades or ruins to protect your gun lines. The main thing is to have fun with it. 

I hope you have enjoyed this foray into terrain building. I’ll be tackling other similar projects in the future, so if you have something you would like me to cover in the future, please leave a comment below or contact me over on twitter @MTGTengu. If you have enjoyed todays article, please like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics. You want to support the site directly; you can join our Patreon for as little as a $1 a month. Until next time though remember, “Only in death does duty end.”

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