A. Giraffe Builds a BIG Hill

A. Giraffe Builds a BIG Hill

A. Giraffe's hillside was featured with Jacksarge Painting's figures on our Persian Infantry box. Here he shows us how he built it:

 All four sections together

 

Firstly, and most importantly, the making of these hill quarters is quite messy and creates hazardous dust particles. Please wear appropriate safety gear including a dust mask and safety glasses. A vacuum cleaner is also very handy as static electricity build up causes particles of polystyrene to stick to everything! Pictured are most of the tools used to shape the polystyrene. Also, a jigsaw and a hand saw were used to cut the mdf and a speed sander to smooth the flatter parts of the hills (not pictured). Sandpaper is glued on various diameters of conduit to enable sanding curves and gullies.

 

We started with a large block of polystyrene (900 mm x 1200 mm x 150mm high) and after some careful planning cut the block into equal quarters, 600 mm x 450mm. We cut a template of 3mm mdf for 2 sides of each quarter for protection and so they could be used together or separately. These were glued on with liquid nails (water-based construction adhesive). A 6 mm mdf base was also glued to the bottom of each quarter for added strength and protection.

 

We wanted a road to the summit on one quarter and after an initial hiccup (piece missing) we settled on a plan and began carving.

 

The hill quarters were marked at 50 mm intervals, height wise, providing guide lines as it was shaped.

 

  This is the initial roughed out shape with a few bits of terrain and models to show scale and a road that was wide enough for most vehicles and with a gradient that still enabled models to stand without falling over. More detailed carving would finish it off.

 

Same piece from the opposite side showing the protective 3 mm mdf side that was the guide to ensure all quarters could be used together in various configurations.

 

As pictured the shaping of these pieces is very messy and creates potentially unhealthy polystyrene dust as you carve and sand. Again, please make sure you use a dust mask and work in a suitable area away from kids, pets and angry partners!

 

After carving and shaping, the quarters had fine sand and some gravel glued to them. For this process work in approximately 100mm square areas bit at a time. Add glue (watered down liquid nails) add larger gravel to gullies or screes and then sieve fine sand all over. Then repeat the process over each part. We found it was much easier to detail and handle the larger areas doing it this way.

 

 When shaping and sculpting the hill we always had a few models on hand to test the hill making sure it was a playable piece of terrain.

 

We aimed to have the various levels carved in such a way that the short cliff lines mixed with gently sloping levels would enable models to stand on them.

 

To give the hill quarters more strength, after letting them dry for 24hrs, we added a second layer of glue and fine sand.

 

Once it had dried completely an undercoat of cheap fence finish acrylic paint (Mission Brown) was painted on using a dabbing motion. Allowed to dry and 3 layers of dry brushing using a mid-brown, a light brown and a very pale beige were added.

 

This shows a final quarter with models and terrain set up. Two types of static grass were applied using pva glue and some tufts of wild grass.

 

Close up showing static grass and wild grass tufts. More could be added but its green enough and scant enough to be used to represent several different theatres/era’s.
Overview of the same quarter set up.
Here two quarters are joined to create a larger hill on a table edge.
Overview of the two quarters set up.
All 4 quarters together.
Overview of the entire hill with models and terrain added.
First outing at our Sudlicht event in August 2019. Here representing a valley in Italy with a river and farm buildings.

And the other two pieces were joined to represent a bombarded hill somewhere in the Pacific with accompanying river and jungle terrain at the same event. They passed with flying colours, as playable terrain, according to the feedback from the competitors, providing different perspectives and challenges to an otherwise 'flat' table.

 

Thanks to A. Giraffe for this great tutorial!

 

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