Friday, 9 March 2018

Hills and Templates

Hills are needed for wargames, and how to represent them is a dilemma.  The classic problem is that 'realistic' curved sloping hills are not great because figures tend to slide down them, or at least look odd leaning on funny angles. The way to avoid that is to have very shallow slopes, but then it ends up hardly being a 'hill' at all due to the reduced ground scale you use in wargames (i.e. where one figure represents 20 men or so). On the other hand flat-top or 'step' hills are great for figures to stand on, but don't look as natural.

After some consideration I decided to go with the latter flat-top hill idea, preferring this to having  hills with figures are sliding or leaning at odd angles on them. However, I still chose to give the hills some slope on the side and combined with the paint and flock finish they look more natural than some of the step hills you see used - at least to my eyes.

Here's one of my new hills below, with Austrian Hussars and Artillery for scale.

For these hills (and templates) I commissioned local wargaming buddy Clinton Whelan to make them all to specified dimensions, leaving me with only the flocking to do. Thanks Clinton! Time is precious, and Clinton is something of an expert at terrain making, managing to produce it efficiently and quickly in large quantities. Hence his products are popular with many local wargamers. Another local Napoleonic wargamer recently had some hills made by Clinton, and I knew I had to have some when I saw them!

These hills and templates all have a 3mm MDF wooden base (cut out irregularly with a jigsaw, and beveled with sand paper/sander), with polystyrene stuck on top with PVA. Clinton apparently just uses a standard craft knife to shape the edge of the polystyrene to make the slopes. Here's some work in progress shots Clinton sent me for review.


After they are shaped, Clinton coats the whole thing in thick mix of PVA and sand. This makes the whole structure very solid. He then paints them brown and drybrushes a a couple of lighter brown colours over the top. Normally Clinton adds his own choice of flock after that, but I wanted to use my own in this instance in order to better match my figures and table.

And here is the finished result. Many hills and templates! 2 x large plateau, 4 x long ridge, 2 x shorter ridge, 2 x medium hill, 2 x small hill, plus loads of templates for forests, rough ground etc. I may still do some more work with flock etc, adding more of the colour matching the ground mat, but they satisfactory at this stage I think.

Some closer shots.



Lots of scenery! Filling up a 6'x4' table, but a good amount for some of the 6'x12' and larger battle fields and scenarios I have planned.

12 comments:

  1. Very nice Mark. I am contemplating hills myself at present and trying to decide whether they will go underneath my table cloth or on top and then painted and shaded to match. All depends on how the cloth “sits” on the hills if they are indeed beneath them. Your ones look very, very good.

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    1. Cheers Carlo, yes there are many ways of doing it, I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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  2. Very nice hills. I have a variety of hill styles, none entirely satisfactory. i have a selections of new ones coming soon from the Hills of Iron Kickstarter.

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  3. Great looking hills, I need to make some and I think I'm going to copy Clinton ! What sort of size is your large and medium hills?
    Best Iain

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    1. Cheers Iain, large hills just over 50cm at widest, medium 30-40cm.

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  4. Mark, the hills are very necessary in the game. You made them very good.

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    1. Thanks Dmitry, yes very necessary!

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  5. Useful and very nice, we never have too many hills!

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    1. Thanks Phil, indeed already wondering if I need a few more :)

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