Have you ever gone to a LFGS and seen a bunch of choppy, chunks of foam quickly slap-dashed with paint and called terrain? Has it ever made you dream of gaming on tables that are as detailed and as cool looking as what you would see in White Dwarf or in a Forge World Imperial Armour book?
Well if you want something done right you have to make it yourself...
Se here's the thing I love Terrain, LOVE IT. I love all the little details, I love the "atmosphere" it can provide in a game. I also honestly believe that more realistic terrain enhances the game experience. When I see terrible chunks of badly carved foam pawned off as a hill, or unevenly cut cardboard fragments spray painted grey and pawned off as city ruins, I cry a little inside. When my friends or I set out to make terrain we go for the gusto. Case in point the Imperial Fountain below.
Preplan The Design
No great piece of terrain was slap dashed together from a bunch of bits. Take the time to think about what you are building, what it's purpose will be, how gameplay will be effected by it, etc.
In this case I wanted the fountain to fit on a 12"x12" tile for my city fight board. I wanted a massive wall I could get a whole 10x man squad behind for cover, and I wanted something old, but regal looking to add to the atmosphere on the board.
Mix up your materials and think outside the box. The main core of the fountain were Cities of Death wall pieces, lots of pipes and various sheet plastic textures. A brick texture was used for the walls, a cobblestone texture for the floor and assorted styrene strip shapes for all the trim. 1x1" ceramic tiles from the craft store were used for the sidewalk pavement and the understructure was made out of foamcore.
The statue was a modified Chaos Knight repurposed to look like a local Imperial Hero of old and the benches were from Armorcast.
Add Layers of Realism
This is crucial to make a believable terrain piece. Pound some cracks in the side walk pavement. Add some rubble. Add some extra rivets and bolts instead of leaving smooth plastic sections. Especially in 40K, don't forget the skulls!
The more layers of detail you add the realer your terrain piece will look.
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 large turquoise pumping tube section. It really draws the eye to that area and breaks up the grey well. I also added various brown colors to the cobblestone floor to break up the pattern. It really adds an extra layer of realism.
Rust, Rust and More Rust.
Nothing Imperial is factory fresh, it's old as dirt, all of it. Which means heavy oxidation. In the case of the Bronze statues with a heavy green patina. The main building received some rust washes for around the rivets and the sidewalks got some dark brown washes to indicate layers of accumulated dirt in the concrete pores.
Add Environmental Effects
I wanted stagnant water in the fountain. Like a partially drained hotel pool that has been growing algae all winter long. (I grew up on an tourist island).
The algae in the water was created by dropping green foliage basing into layers of "wet" wet effects. After about 8 layers it started to look realistic and had depth. Super quick, super easy, super effective.