7 Steps to building your first Wargame Terrain Rock Formation

 
If you are reading this article, I can only assume that you already enjoy, or wish to begin the satisfying hobby of building realistic, war game terrain and accessories.
 
The rock formation we ar building can be used for any popular Sci-Fi, historical, or fantasy related tabletop war game. They create an amazing visual view of your war board, and enhance the realistic feeling every wargamer enjoys when their armies are on the field.
 
Wargame Terrain Rock Formation WH40K Tau
 
Here, I will explain how to build a simple rock formation from start
to finish, including the tools and materials used to create it.
 
We will build a small foundation (about 3-1/2 in diameter)
with 2 oblong rocks jutting out in two directions and roughly 5 – 6
inches high.
 
Tools, Materials & Costs
 
The tools required for this small project are;
  1. Hot Wire Cutter.
  2. Hot Glue Gun
  3. Acrylic Paint. (Black, White, Grey)
  4. Assorted Brushes
 
The materials needed are:
  1. Insulation Foam (Blue ¾ in thick usually in a 4'x8' sheet)
  2. Mod Podge ©
  3. Lichen Material (Woodland Scenes)
  4. Grass (Woodland Scenes)
  5. Cat Litter
  6. Utility Knife
 
 
1. Insulation (Blue) Foam Board - This can be found at any home improvement store and usually comes in sizes of 4' x 8' x ¾". It costs around $12.00. But you can make many terrain pieces from one board.
 
2. Wire Foam Cutter – These range from simple battery operated ones found at any hobby or flower shop to plug in heavy duty ones found mainly at hobby shops. They range from $6.00 - $40.00 depending on the type you decide to buy.
 
3. Hot Glue Gun – These can be purchase at most department stores, home improvement and craft stores. (I use the mini gun) The cost range is again from $6.00 to $40.00 depending on what you want.
 
4. Acrylic Paint & Brushes – For this project, you will only need Black, White, and Grey. Each tube costs from $.75 - $3.00 depending on the brand. These too can be found at most popular department stores and craft shops.
 
5. Grass Flock and Lichen - These come in a verity of colors and are used to create a realistic look to your rock formation. They are usually found at Hobby Shops and online.
 
6. Cat Litter – Yes, that right Cat litter makes great realistic rocks and stones
 
7. Mod Podge© (Matte) – This is used to glue the grass and cat litter.
 
8. Utility Knife
 
Step 1.
Using the utility knife, cut an 8" x 8" square piece off of the blue insulation board.
Draw a circle about 2-1/2" in diameter towards one end of the square. Next, draw an oblong stone shape about 5 – 6" long, about 1-1/2" inches wide, flat on the bottom and tapered on the top. Next draw a smaller oblong shape tapered at the top and flat at the bottom about 3" high and 1" wide.
 
Step 2.
Using your foam cutter, first cut the 2 oblong stones, following the lines you drew. You will notice that they are rather squared on the edges. To round it off, simply cattycorner the cutter, and run it up the length of each stone, rounding them off. Next, holding your foam cutter at a 45 degree angle away from the circle you drew, cut it out so that there is a smooth taper, wider at the bottom. To trim the top, run your cutter along the edge of the small of the cone, rounding it off like you did with the stones.
 
Step 3.
Using your hot glue gun, position each stone on the round base, and glue them down. Wait a couple of seconds and check to make sure that they are secure.
 
Step 4.
Next, use a large pain brush (1/2" wide) and paint the entire piece black. After it is completely dry, we are ready to dry brush the entire piece. First, use an older brush with stiffer bristles. Using your grey paint first, dip your brush and wipe off most of the paint in a paper towel until it is dry looking. Lightly brush the piece with the brush. You will notice that the grey paint is adhering to the higher portions of the rocks and base. As it does, it begins to create the appearance of depth. The black paint creates the shadows, the grey creates a base highlight, and in turn a realistic piece is coming to life. After the grey dries, do the same with the white paint, only this time, focus on the edges of the rocks and the base. This step will really begin to bring out the highlights.
 
Step 5.
At this point, your jutting rocks are completed. In this step, using a brush spread the Mod Podge © over the base of the rock formation where you want the grass to be. To leave rock showing on the base, simply leave bare. Sprinkle the grass flock over the glue (Mod Podge© ), let set for about 10 minutes and shake off the excess grass.
 
Step 6.
After the grass has dried, use more Mod Podge© around the base of each jutting stone. Sprinkle the cat litter and let dry for about 10 minutes before your shake the excess off. In this step you will simply hot glue lichen along the base and over any gaps that may be showing.
 
Step 7.
Finally, LIGHTLY spay the entire piece with a matte clear coat protective spray. Remember, you painted the entire piece black in the beginning. That step had two functions, 1. Create depth. 2. Cover the foam so that it would not melt when you spay your clear coat.
 
Congratulations. You have created a great looking piece to add to your collection. One thing you must keep in mind is that not two pieces will ever come out the same. In nature, there are no straight lines.  In terrain building the same rules apply.
 
Until next time
John

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