Monday 17 May 2010

Making 15mm Bocage

My Brother-in-law and I are currently building armies to fight a Normandy campaign using the Flames of War rules. One essential ingredient in any such battles is terrain and in particular the Bocage hedgerows which typified the area around the beachheads. I looked briefly at buying some pre made Bocage terrain but quickly dismissed this as an expensive option. Instead I decided to have a go at making my own Bocage, and this is how I did it.

First off I decided the dimensions to aim for. I referred to descriptions given in various first hand accounts of fighting in the Bocage, and some modeling guides from the FoW website. The Bocage typically consisted of an earthen bank topped with stones and rocks with tall hedges and trees along its crest. To recreate this in 15mm scale I decided the earth bank should be about 10mm high coming to 15mm with the stone top. The hedges would rise another 10-15mm on top of that with trees up to another 20mm above that. The overall average height would therefore be between 25-30mm with some tree filled sections rising to 50mm from ground level. Significant obstacles indeed.

For the earth bank I wanted a material that was durable and would form a strong base on which to put everything else. I opted for shaped wooden mouldings which came in 2.4m lengths. I chose two sizes which when glued together would create a wide bank with a central ridge. The topmost part would later have stones glued on and the lower slopes would eventually be covered in static grass.

With both sections firmly glued together I then cut the whole thing into sixteen 15mm sections. The upper ridge of each section was coated in PVA glue and dipped into a tray of gravel to create the rock covered crest for the bank. The whole section was then then spray primed in black and left to dry thoroughly.

The stony crest was then dry brushed in different shades of grey several times to accentuate the rocks. The grass covered earth bank either side of the crest was painted dark green and then covered with static grass. Now all that was needed was the vegetation on the top.

I purchased several types of clumpy 'brush' or hedge which could then be added to the crest of each section. I also found some excellent rubberised horse-hair hedges. These were painted green and covered in green flock. When all this had been glues into position and dried I then touched up the hedge sections with different colour green paint and flock. The purpose of this last stage was to create an uneven and patchwork look to these ancient hedgerows.

I'm quite happy with the finished pieces especially considering how quick and easy they were to build. However I will have to make more - corners and T sections for instance - and have several ideas for improvements on the next batch.

The cost of materials was relatively low. The wood cost about £7.50; Static Grass and Gravel I already had in stock but replacement material cost me £5.00; vegetation/hedge material came to a little under £10 and I still have plenty left for other projects. In total I spent about £22 to make 2.4 meters (94 inches) of bocage. I looked at various pre-made options for sale and the equivalent length would have cost between £70-100 depending on where I bought them.


  1. Lee, great stuff! I produce my own terrain as well and I think you feel a much greater sense of ownership and pride when your own hand-made scenery is on the table. Those peices look really good on the table and equally as good as many 'professional' pieces I've seen.

    I like this idea and will definitely pinch these ideas for my Napoleonics (albeit in a slightly smaller scale!).

  2. Great looking Bocage, and a great idea!

  3. Such a good idea, thanks for saving me some cash!

  4. I'll have to try this for 20mm


  5. Very nice - I don't need bocage but the technique is transferable to other projects. Thanks!

  6. *very* nice Bocage. I went with a very quick and easy approach but the end result is not nearly as nice. Though I made enough bocage to cover an entire 6x4 with about $12 (US) worth of materials. Still, it doesn't even look half as good as yours.

    Case in point:

    Anyways, very very nice looking stuff. We've played extensively in the bocage and it's a blast, but boy is it a whole different game of FOW. Make sure both players have read through and digested the bocage rules or you'll be surprised by some very weird things.

  7. Nice!! I will soon be doing some 15mm bocage of my own, and this is the best method I've seen so far.

  8. Excellent write-up. I like to make my own terrain also. You'll be surprised how much bocage material you'll need to fill up a tabletop - get ready to make some more!

  9. The stones are just wrong. Bocage is not like that, and was not like that in 1944, no matter what Battlefront says. There are stones in the banks, but you can't see them for earth and vegetation.


  10. Great, I would most likely use less stones and more mud or dirt, but its a great idea and looks very nice.

    Santa Cruz Warhammer

  11. Great article,i was looking to make some of this myself.thanks.


  12. Really nice tuto and a lot of good idea.

    Wonderful !

    Have a nice new year ;)

  13. Excellent terrain suggestions. I will definitely put these into practice once I finally get around to making some terrain (after I finish painting my mounds and mounds of minis...sigh).

    At any rate, a couple more pictures of the finished projects, if you have them, would be great. The one picture with panthers just doesn't do the project total justice (I'm mostly interested in seeing the mottled effect that you did but it's hard to see from the pics there.)

  14. nice work, i also like this period as well, you made yours a hell of a lot cheaper than than i did, but it looks great

  15. Awesome job. I would take this as reference for my bolt action table.


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