Over the last couple of weeks, I have been gathering materials and experimenting with several ideas for mass producing some cheap and easy terrain fields. During the Painting Challenge, I made a load of Boccage hedgerow suitable for 15mm Normandy games and quickly realised I needed fields to put between the hedges. Commercially produced wargames terrain can be quite expensive to buy and at a recent show, I looked at some simple ploughed fields that ranged in price from £7-12 depending on their size and complexity. I needed quite a lot of these and quickly came to the conclusion that I could replicate the commercial examples for a fraction of the cost. The following examples are the product of that lightbulb moment and have been produced for under £2.00 each.
So the technique is very simple and well within the ability of most modellers. The key to success I have discovered is using the right materials. I experimented with various products, including rubber matting and a range of sealants and pastes. In the end, I found some thin MDF for the baseboards and paintable exterior window sealant/caulk for the textured surface (details below). These can then be finished off with regular acrylic paints, flock, tufts etc to produce a range of effects. The best thing about these materials is the finished fields are very thin (not more than 2mm) and sit flush on the surface of your game mat or table.
|I sourced sheets of 1mm MDF online and cut it onto an assortment of different sizes. Then score the surface to give the plaster/caulk something to key into.|
|Everflex One Hour Caulk / Flexible Decorators Filler is a fast drying flexible decorators filler and sealant which can be overpainted with all paint types. Importantly it remains flexible when dry so it doesn't crack when bent. I bought a brown version but it also comes in white. Using a spatula I spread it across the board to a depth of no more than 1mm.|
The Caulk I used surface dries in an hour but I left it overnight to cure fully and then sprayed all over with my usual brown primer. The caulk remains flexible so it won't crack or crumble if the boards flex when handling them. Once dry a light coating of spray Matt Varnish sealed the surface and it is ready to add some greenery. This is the fun bit, turning this basic ploughed earth into a wide range of different fields with different crops in them. The main cost in making these - other than the MDF - is the greenery. So fields with lots of grass tufts, vines or other plants will be more expensive than simple ploughed earth but the level of detail is entirely up to you.
I have made sixteen fields with sizes ranging from 7"x10" down to 5"x7". Total material costs came in at less than £30 although I am sure that with a little more sleuthing online the MDF could be bought a lot cheaper. As with all things, there are economies of scale and I'm sure the 'per unit' cost could be brought down even further. Either way, my homemade fields look as good as the commercial ones I recently saw on sale, and most importantly at a fraction of the cost.