Terrain: Build & Paint Wargame Walls
Previously in the terrain series we created a clear resin river. Terrain makes the 3D surface look good while providing realistic obstacles and tactical challenges. For our current WWII Africa campaign terrain is doubly important as arid landscape does not provide forest features the way a European setting might. This post is about creating and painting wargame walls for any Middle Eastern or African setting.
First, I want to mention the importance of taking two minutes to keep an accurate painting notebook. I want to be able to come back in six months, or two or ten years, and add to the scenery and models I’m creating and have the new additions fit right in. You may be gifted with a great memory but for me this means keeping an accurate painting notebook. Here’s an example using Wunderlist, a free app that is working for me currently, but any method electronic or otherwise will do.
It’s handy if the recording method allows for paint swatches or actual photos of the materials you use. Paint colours and ratios, types of brushes and painting methods: the more detail the better. Your future self will thank you!
I started buying a bunch of resin walls during one of the frequent sales by Warlord Games. Strictly speaking, these are more European than African or Middle Eastern but, painted correctly, only a dedicated rivet counter will spurn them. I wanted to hack up several sections to make ruined walls so I made a quick cast and knocked out a few extra resin sections using my vacuum chamber, RTV rubber, and Alumilite resin. One part moulds like this are pretty simple.
In the pictures below the tan coloured pieces are mine while the grey are original Warlord pieces. I based all the walls with thin styrene to make them less ‘tippy’ and give some room for extra details.
I measured the gap in the ruined wall sections using a large 1/56th scale tank to ensure it would fit. If wargames terrain is created properly it will look good and provide tactical challenges without creating disagreements. The ruined wall sections give vehicles a way to cross an otherwise long and impassable barrier.
Do everyone a favour and create terrain that eliminates ambiguity, and the resulting potential disagreements.
After washing everything with warm soapy water I primed it all with Games Workshop Chaos Black Primer. There’s cheaper stuff on the market to be sure; however, as long as the surface is thoroughly washed and dried, the spray can warmed and well shaken, and the humidity 45% or less, I’ve not once had an issue with GW primer in over 20 years of use. It sticks to everything underneath without obscuring surface detail, and everything sprayed or painted on top sticks to the primer. Unlike cheaper paints it also stops gassing off smelly fumes after a couple of hours. That’s important!
You don’t want the missus or kids able to identify that you’re knee-deep in hobby by the smell that’s permeated the house!
With a good base of primer you can cheap out on the paint put overtop. A simple Raw Sienna craft paint, well shaken, gave a warm base colour with a hint of orange that goes well with the Cigar Box Games desert play mat I have.
Next up, a liberal ‘wet brush’ of French Vanilla and a light drybrush of white. To tie it all together I finished with a wash of Army Painter: Soft Tone Ink mixed with a bit of Liquitex Flow Aid and water. Mouse over the pics below for more detailed notes if you’re interested.
Truth be told, I got into miniature wargaming because the straight up military plastic modelling scene is a lonely endeavor. If I’m going to spend hours on a model I want to do more with it than stick it on a shelf and admire it from a distance. Toys are for playing with, and for sharing with friends. That said, the military modelling guys know their stuff and I learned a lot from them. Tamiya XF-57 thinned about 50% with iso alcohol or Tamiya thinner gives a great dust effect on both vehicles and terrain. I dusted the bottom third of the walls with my airbrush, going heavier right at the bottom. To blend it all together I also spot sprayed areas with too much contrast or to correct mistakes or misplaced dots of paint. Overkill really, but any excuse to get out the airbrush works for me!
Last stop, the flock shop. When I started the WWII Africa theatre project I went to town and made a shed load of grass tufts in several colours with a focus on more muted colours. The plan is to have all the figures and terrain detailed with the same type of tufts and details. I also added some Woodland Scenics Fine Sand to add some variation. Hopefully, this will contribute to a unified look overall.
Here are some shots of the finished product. This was a fun project to do and will keep my Africa campaign (and any Middle East or African scenario) up to its ears in walls.
How about you? Is terrain making a chore or a nice diversion from painting minis? Any favourite projects?
Other posts in the terrain series include: Resin Runs Through It: Building a Wargames River