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1999-2003. All rights reserved.
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Arid Basics

This section deals with creating a variety of arid terrain. The core technique can be used with a variety of main features. There are also some suggestions for sci-fi features, a few of which can be used to give the basic set of terrain a distinctly alien feel.


The figures shown here are Schutztruppe from HLBSCo, facing assorted natives from Wargames Foundry.

1) Base Shape

Choosing Base Material
Your choice of base material will depend on what you are going to put on it. If it is a small base with a single rock or tree on it then mounting board is best. On the other hand if you are making for a larger base with lots of plants, particularly grass clumps, then foamboard is essential. This is because you will need to poke lots of holes in it to stick the grass into. The depth of foamboard will give a firmer mounting and the softness of the material will make it much easier to make the holes. As the holes should be made after the base has been textured, mounting board with a layer of sand & PVA over it is so unbelievably tough that this will be a problem.

Foam Board
Cut the foamboard roughly to shape. Now using a scalpel, chamfer off the upper edge, making quick slashing moments with the blade away from your hand and body as though you were whittling a stick to a point. A sharp blade is needed or it will tear the foam.

At this stage you can also fine tune the shape. I like to use an irregular rounded shape. Large round bases are best avoided because they have a large area compared to their overall dimension. This means that you will have to do a lot of work to get a reasonable number. It is also difficult to position miniatures on top of the terrain. With this in mind it is best to go for reasonably long thin pieces. (However if you have hundreds of very small pieces they will take a long time to set up on the table, so a little moderation is necessary).

Mounting Board
I generally cut mounting board with a pair of 'tough-cut' scissors, although you could get away with a good pair of ordinary scissors if the board is fairly thin.

2) Core Features

The next stage is to stick down large features, which go on before the base is textured. These include stones/rocks and trees.

Stones

'Acacia' Trees

Palm Trees

Pine Cone Palm Trees

Fallen Trees

Crab Skeleton

Oasis

Paint the whole base with a thick coat of slightly watered down PVA and put in a tray. Then pour coarse sand with small stones in it (cat litter makes good angular rocks) over the top. Leave this for half an hour or so to set.

3) Desert/Arid Base Texture and Painting

    1) Texture. Paint the whole base with a thick coat of slightly watered down PVA and put in a tray. Then pour coarse sand with small stones in it (cat litter makes good angular rocks) over the top. Leave this for half an hour or so to set.

    2) Base Coat. Once the PVA and sand is thoroughly dry, paint with brown emulsion. You could use acrylic, but emulsion is cheaper, and can be bought in small 'tester' pots.

    3) Blotchy Wash. The base is then given highly dilute washes of a very dark brown in irregular patches over the surface. (Although with small bases for figures or individual trees, this stage could easily be skipped).

    4) Drybrush. Next drybrush with a light beige colour. I use 'Beige' Sandtex masonry paint, although acrylic or emulsion would also be OK.

    5) Patches. Small irregular patches of brown are then dabbed on with an old brush. (With small areas, you could skip this stage too).

5) Flock

The final touch is to add irregular areas of flock. It is best to use at least two different colours of flock for a more realistic effect. Dab on small blobs of PVA with an old brush and then sprinkle it on. Tap the base over a box lid to collect up the bits that don't stick down. Make sure you use a 'foam' flock rather than chippings (if you don't understand what this means then here is an explanation).




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2001. All rights reserved.
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