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Monday, 18 June 2012

Take Me To The River

Hi All!

The stalwart men of the Royal Navy rush ashore...

As threatened, I have devoted this weekend to making terrain for a change - which, after all, was how this whole blogging thing started in the first place.

I have always liked rivers on my gaming tables, so I decided I should create one as a start to my new VSF terrain project.

The river is gradually shaped from 25mm green foam board. The flood-plains are roughly carved, to be sculpted with DAS later.

Several years ago, while browsing the pages of the now-legendary Major General Tremorden Rederring, I came across the suggestion of using coloured cellophane as water - a tip that I have used to good effect on a number of occasions since.

Shaped riverbanks and islands loosely laid in place on a bare MDF board.

Those of you who are familiar with this blog and Leadwood in particular will have seen the beautiful results one can achieve using Woodland Scenics Water Effects. I am still a fan of this. However, it cannot be denied that such materials are expensive - hideously so if creating a whole table - and these days I don't have the budget. Also, they are not at all quick to work with.

Boulders are sculpted from DAS and a test sheet of green cellophane is laid down.

Cellophane, on the other hand, is really cheap and can look stunning, if you're a bit clever with it. (Notorious Greg and I used blue cellophane over a dark blanket to photograph my pirate ruins last year). So I set about designing a large set-piece river with cellophane in mind.

Boulders are undercoated dark grey, then highlighted, then a brown undercoat given to the rest of the riverbanks. Sergeant Tetley regards the barren riverside wasteland.

I had also mulled over one of the issues that model river banks often present - namely; that they tend to be rather steep. Notorious Greg and I had had a conversation some time ago in which he suggested a 'flood-plain' effect - i.e. a two-level riverbank with lush greenery near the water and lighter, dryer coverage higher up. I decided that this was a good plan and started carving...

Before applying static grass.

When the boulders are dry, a coat of goop is splodged on (technical term - look it up) and static grass is applied - lots of dark green near the water, with lighter tones further away. Shown here against bare MDF.

The board I am building is 900mm x 1200mm (3' x 4') and will be double-sided so that I can flip it over and just use plain ground. The riverbanks will be stuck down, but the various 'islands' will be loose, to give me a few options for change. I intend to build a couple more boards later, with rivers of different widths. These may - or may not - be planned to fit end-to-end with this one. I am considering whether one should be made with blue cellophane.

A riverbed effect is painted onto the MDF board using layered tones of greys, browns and greens. The banks are laid down to check the layout.
Boulders, grass and cellophane - starting to look finished.

The overall theme of this project will be a Lost Continent type affair, with jungles, arid grasslands, mysterious ruins, et al. Obviously, I'd like to get cracking on the detail pieces, but a table is sort of necessary to begin with, so I'm fighting my urges and doing the groundwork first.

There is still a bit to do on this piece - the depth-painting in the river needs more contrast to give clearer gradiation between shallow and deep, and once the banks are glued down, they will need to be properly blended in - but by and large, I think this is a promising start.

Keep watching - I promise things will get much more interesting soon!

Big Mike's wagon train and the Bazalgette Light Armoured Perambulatory Contrivance head into enemy terrain, not even stopping to admire their lovely reflections in the water...

All the Best!

18 comments:

  1. What an amazing result; the final photograph with the reflection is stunning! I would have had no idea that the cellophane would have looked so effective. Brilliant work.

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    1. Thanks, Michael. Yes - I've always loved the effects you can get with this stuff.

      Glad you like!

      Delete
  2. A drop-in ford would be a nice detail piece, like the islands. You could also make a bridge to cross at specific points.

    The cellophane does look amazing. What do you do for nicks and such after it is glued down, though?

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    Replies
    1. Mister Womack, Sir! Glad to hear from you...

      There will be a number of pieces that drop in onto the water's surface as required. Keep watching...

      If the cellophane gets nicked, I hope to be able to repair and disguise the damage with reeds, floating logs, etc. Fingers crossed.

      Delete
  3. Things will get more interesting soon? This is amazingly interesting already! I'm also a big fan of cellophane-as-water, believing it gives a much better impression of the subject than anything else. Your boards are off to an excellent start showing what can be done. Bravo!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, AJ, Old Chap!

      Much more to come... ruins, jungles, cliffs, you name it...

      Delete
  4. Nice work so far Joe, Roly and I used blue cellophane for a Pirate game demo a while ago and di work quite well for a 'temporary effect'. Must admit I wouldnt have thought of using it for a permanent board... I'll be watching this one develop...

    PS got half the 'Prussians' prep'd so far...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Scott! I actually did a modular river system with cellophane several years ago. It worked rather well.

      Just checked out your latest blog post. Get on with it!

      Delete
  5. Fantastic work - I really like that cellophane effect. Plus it appears that you've painted the river-bed a realistic deep green. Looks great!

    If you want to test the board before you've finished it, you could use it for Greg's and my New Zealand Wars game on July 15!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Roly. Nice blog today! Really good looking chap in that pic!

      I've spent some time painting the river bed tonight before finally gluing down the cellophane. I think I've got it right - lots of depth and contrast.

      NZ wars? Possibly...

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  6. Agree on all accounts - amazing effect and very clever. Much of the cellophane I see about comes in folded sheets - I assume you need a roll of the stuff to avoid those ridiculous creases? What color would work best for a swamp do you think?

    Frank
    http://adventuresinlead.blogspot.com.au/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I use rolls. As a matter of fact, the final river pieceas finished last night (pictures to be posted soon)has an annoying crease right on the deep section, where the roll got 'dinged'. I hope to be able to fix that with the careful application of a hairdryer...

      Green for swamps, definitely. It's important to get the colour underneath the cellophane right. Lots of murky tones and plenty of contrast to denote variations in depth.

      Nice blog, by the way - I've checked it out a number of times!

      Delete
  7. Really impressive, the effect is very nice! Thanks for sharing,
    Phil.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Phil. And you're welcome!

      All the Best!

      Delete
  8. THAT'S a pretty nice piece of scenery you've made there! Thanks for share it.

    Cheers

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  9. Wow Colonel, Sir! Simple materials used to such great effect! Testament to the vision and imagination you have - I would never have thought of carving gradated banks like that. And moveable islands too!
    The cellophane is genius - I love that last photo. Nicks may be a problem, but I like your solution of adding bits as it goes along. One suggestion is: nicks become white horses? Therefore the current is getting stronger and wilder as you go along?
    Beautifully detailed work already. Looking forward to seeing further progress...

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  10. Why thank you, GentlyBent!

    Some interesting suggestions. I'll ruminate on them...

    More to come very soon. Cliffs and waterfalls, for example...

    All the Best!

    ReplyDelete