Tuesday, April 30, 2013

City Terrain Wrapup and beyond...

Hard to believe that its been almost three months. Back in early February of this year, Hyv3, Calypso2ts, and Crispy approached me about becoming a contributing author to the Mandulian Chapel. While I was honored that they asked me to contribute, I was both excited and nervous about the prospects of writing for this blog. I was excited that they all felt that I had something worth contributing to the greater community but at the same time I was nervous because I was not sure I would find enough stuff to talk about each week that would keep you, the reader, interested and engaged. Boy has that changed. These past three months have been a blast and due to the blog I have found myself taking on more hobby related projects and pushing myself to try new techniques in modeling and terrain building. With that being said, this week I will be wrapping up the “Creating City Terrain” series by showing you how to create unique terrain elements out of items that you can find relatively cheaply and easily. Hopefully my articles have inspired you to go out and build terrain pieces for your own collection, or for your gaming club or store.

Power Station or Water Processor:
This little building is simply a blue electrical box that you can pick up at a DIY shop for around $1.00. In this one I simply glued an elbow joint to the side to represent water being pumped into or out of the unit.
The pillar is a plastic wedding cake pillar that can be picked up in packs of 4 or so at any craft store. I topped mine with a chess piece from an old chess set that I had laying around but any spare models can be used as well to emulate a space marine hero, a knight, or any other person of honor (or dishonor for you chaos players).

Water Pipes:
Here I took sections of PVC pipe that can be picked up for a few dollars at any DIY store. Add in an elbow joint to create an interesting effect.

Water Towers/Chemical Storage:
These are made up of cylindrical tea tins. I removed the labeling and painted them up to fit into my terrain theme. Use in conjunction with the Water pipes and water processor to tie these elements together. Here I have the ruins of a processing station using all three elements.

These objectives were made from various pieces of my son's old toys. The power core was an old marble case and the gun looking thing was made from parts of a Gundam toy figure.

Exploded Vehicle Markers:
The top section is pretty much follows the same instructions as for building rubble bases but I added in bits of toys and left over vehicle kits to make it look like wreckage. But the thing I wanted to point out that the base is made of an old CD. In most of my articles I used particle/hard board but using old CD's is a great way to create small pieces of terrain. The only thing I would recommend is to score the surface of the CD with a dremel tool or sand paper to give the glue something to adhere to and create a strong bond. 

Feel free to add in elements such as left over or old, unused models or weapon bits. In here you can see I used an older Eldar guardian model as an unfortunate victim or here is a left over Kroot head mounted on a nail. I also tend to throw in unused weapons bits into the terrain to look like drop debris. 

The possibilities are endless so the next time you walk through a craft store, a garage sale, or are simply cleaning your house, look for the little odd n' end items that can add variety to your terrain.

Before I close out this article, I wanted to leave a little teaser for the next series of terrain articles. Originally I was going to work on a series for building Eldar terrain to coincide with the news of the new codex due out in June. However, I really wanted to challenge myself and try something outside of my comfort zone. Plus, many of you readers are fans of Tyranids so I decided I am going to write a series of articles on building pieces of terrain that will represent the latter stages of a Tyranid invasion. The reason this appeals to me is that I was always a fan of the Tyranid fluff and the Alien movies. I own the 3rd, 4th, and 5th edition codexs plus I have enjoyed any Tyranid fluff put out by the Black Library. The best by far is the short story “The Fall of Malvolion” by Dan Abnett, which appeared in the Let the Galalxy Burn collection of stories. This short story by far best illustrates the brutal efficiency and horror of a Tyranid invasion in all of its gory detail.

Part of the challenge that I am looking forward to is creating organic looking pieces. To date, almost all of my terrain pieces have been made to represent man made looking elements that we can all easily identify but with Tyranids, we are dealing with something that is totally alien. According to all Tyranid fluff, every single organism or construct created by the Hive Mind has one simple goal, to suppress and consume all matter. With that in mind, each piece of terrain I create is going to try and incorporate that theme. So expect to see lots of feeder tendrils, man-eating plants, and other nasty elements to consume any life forms unfortunate enough to cross its path.

 So with that out of the way, here are some sketches I have made up in anticipation of working on this series. 

If any of you bug players have any tips or ideas along the way that you would like to share please feel free to leave comments or you can post your own pictures and ideas over on our forum board, the Grand Strategery. http://thegrandstrategery.proboards.com/


  1. In the genestealer sprue you have these weird mounds that would look great on organic terrain. Other stuff could be dried mushrooms/organic decorations. Also, have you tried burning foam boards with a small gas burner? it can make for very interesting effects when making organic terrain.

    1. If you need some of those mounds, I have a bunch of them. I used them to test paint schemes, but otherwise I've never had a good use for them.

  2. This is a really exciting project. I've been wanting to make some tyranid themed terrain also, but several factors have prevented it.

    There's actually very little artwork and fluff depicting an invasion compared to some other armies and their various histories. My suggestion would be look for inspiration and references in our natural biological functions.

    Remember that the hive mind is one organism with each entity serving a specific function. The beasts of war do very little consuming themselves leaving that to the rippers. Maybe inorganic structures like buildings would be smashed open to get the biological morsels inside, similar to how a bird or otter would crush a snail or clam to get the meat out.

    In the end, everything is rendered down in a digestion pool and slurped up by a hive ship, even the tyranid beasts of war.

    I've been wondering if spray foam would look organic enough if painted properly. Another cool idea would be making a table look like the interior of a hive ship where one side is a strike force trying to kill the ship from the inside.

    Have fun with it. I'm sure Chris and I would be thrilled to shoot some batreps on the terrain with our Nid armies once it's finished. If it's good enough, it may be used to inspire an outbreak in tyranid themed terrain around the world. If the rumors prove true, we may see a new codex a the end of the year which may breathe some much needed life into the army. What better way to begin a new era than on an invasion table.

    1. Thanks for the ideas. Like hyv3 said, one source of inspiration has been looking at microscopic images of plants, dust, bacterias, etc... All of them look freaky and alien looking. I've made a trip to michaels for tropical looking plants and various other bits. One process i am really looking forward to try out is the microwave glue that hyv3 discussed a few articles back with his spawn. That process should lend itself well to creating an organic look and feel.

  3. I've got a few of those electrical boxes sitting around. The round ones are cool too. I have several feet of PVC too. Hopefully soon I will get around to using them...

    The terrain is looking great. Can't wait to see the tyranid stuff. It would be interesting if you had a set of pure tyranid stuff, then some with tyranid stuff growing through ruins, and then your urban terrain. You could set it up and have it as a progression across the table. Would make for awesome themed games if nothing else.