Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Building More Realistic Terrain - Ruined Hall of Judges

Much like my terrain article from last Wednesday, this weeks article will focus again on building terrain at a higher detail level than what is commonly seen around the average LFGS.

As you the reader can tell already I love terrain. I love building the worlds these little plastic dude men inhabit and I'm always striving to bring  a certain level of realism to the table. Case in point below, a bombed out Hall of Justice.

Preplaning The Design
Taking the time to think about what you are building and what it's purpose will be will make a more effective terrain piece.

In this case I wanted a 12"x12" ruined building tile for my city fight board. I wanted some height on it not only to block LOS, but also provide some cool vantage points. I also wanted to add a billboard to show some of the "civilization" that was there before which bring me to my next point.

Add a few unique sections
Adding a few visual focal points to each terrain piece is a must. In this case there was the billboard, staircase and dumpsters. 

The billboard was to show what the culture of the buildings former inhabitants might be like; to tell a little backstory. The stairs are basically just there cause they look cool and I wanted to build a staircase. The dumpsters are there to make the building feel "lived in"

The billboard and stairs were made from various sheet styrene textures mixed with GW terrain bits. The dumpster was made from scratch using sheet styrene.

Add The details the kits don't provide
The more layers of detail you add the realer your terrain piece will look. Most terrain kits don't have roofs, or ceilings for gameplay reasons. But that doesn't mean you can show the remnants of where they used to be. 

To make these roof sections I took chunks of foamcore, and spray mounted thin sheet styrene on top. I then scored and cracked the styrene and bended it down to get a collapsed in asphalt appearance. A few styrene tubes were inserted underneath to add another layer of texture.

Other detail sections added were the lower level window inserts. This building kit is from Pegasus Hobbies fantasy line; I needed to grimdark it with some pipes, skulls, and machinery.

I want to throw a disclaimer in here: This is not a finished piece. I still intend to add some more detail to the paint job and broken glass to the window frames.

Don't Paint It All Grey
The downfall of so much Imperial Terrain I see is that it's all grey. Granted Imperial Worlds are bleak… but add a dash of color in there some where. In this case it was the checker patterned floor pieces that really made the paintjob less monochromatic.

Create Custom Graphics
This is easier for me than most as I am a designer by day. I made the buildboard graphic y using a cool image I found floating around online and reformatting it for the billboards dimensions. I do plan to add more propaganda posters and leaflets to the side of the building before it's final.

Add Dirt
This a bombed out building, there's dirt and soot and ash everywhere. Make sure it's there. in a pice like this you can't really go too wrong by adding more and more washes, pigments, layers of grime, etc.

Well, there you have it. Until Next time!


  1. again, so solid... love the billboard :-) If you ever need inspiration, take a look at the stuff brandon does over at gmm studios -

  2. This is great. I love how compact it is and the great sign. Did you do this one recently? I feel like I have seen a very similar model before.

  3. Wow, that is fantastic. All the little additions truly add up to make a great piece, but of course the billboard steals the show. Really really great work!

  4. Super motivating - keep it up. I only wish my terrain looked half this good.

  5. The use of various left over bits from the GW buildings combined with the Pegasus hobby kits, combined with the plasticard - inspiring work. The simple combinations really work well. I too believe the building should tell a story - it brings the building to life. And I agree not all buildings should be a monochrome grey. Even in the old USSR, probably the nearest comparison I can think of, the use of color was present. Thus, I've grouped by color by function: dark red exterior - Mechanicus, Midnight Blue - Imperium related, Grey - local admin / infrastructure, light Grey religious related, Dark Yellow - manufacture buildings. My thought is the population is so uneducated by design over time that color association is the only way they can tell the difference in form and function. I am curious though - do you use resin castings of materials used repeatedly? Would you be willing to trade pieces?

  6. This is great, especially the dumpsters! Could you please provide some details on the dumpster sizes, etc.?

  7. I just want to knoat what battle mat that is :D