We have a very interesting tutorial from our good friend Nick Williams, the man behind Scenic Forge. Scenic Forge specializes in providing high quality hand made wargaming terrain at affordable prices.

Nick has very kindly provided us with a tutorial on how to create your own fantastic tapered hill out of relatively inexpensive materials. If you enjoy this tutorial why not head on over the Scenic Forge Facebook page to check out some more examples of Nicks work.

N.B Nick refers often to a store called Wilkos which is a general hardware store here in the UK.

Step 1: 

Cut out the first layer of the hill from 10mm thick Styrofoam (NOT POLYSTYRENE) using a retractable knife. I got a pack of 5 knifes from the poundshop/dollar store. This layer will be the largest one so measure out the size if it's necessary (often is for me if I'm building to a client specification. Bear in mind that cliff walls could add up to an inch.

Step 2: 

Cut out several more layers to get the height that you want, each layer slightly smaller than the last. If you want a cliff face (which I do at the top of this photo) then those sides must line up vertically, or as close to it as you can.

Step 3: 

Taper the edges by holding your retractable knife at an angle, with quite a considerable length extended and cutting the foam. Work on one layer at a time from the top working down.Keep restacking the layers up to make sure your tapered cuts line up. Keep cutting until the tapered edges are as close as possible (doesn't have to be exact.

Step 4: 

Cut a base out of 3mm MDF using a Stanley Knife, not retractable (they're too flimsy). Taper the edges again by holding the knife at an angle. Sand the entire base down, including where the hill will go.

SAFETY FIRST: Assume that any materials you sand while making terrain will be toxic - you definitely don't want to breathe in MDF. Wear a face mask and put your clothes in the wash as soon as you're finished.

Step 5: 

Cut chunks of cork bark up to serve as the cliff face. You can find sheets of cork bark at pet stores - look in the reptiles area.

Carve the edges and back of the chunks until you've got a reasonably close fit, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Try not to have any deep gaps bigger than about 5-10mm. Glue it all together. You could use specific Wood Glue, undiluted PVA or No-More-Nails (or the cheaper knock-off versions - I like the Wilko brand stuff). You need to let the glue dry completely afterwards - usually 24 hours for No More Nails.

For me, I wanted to save some time so used a glue gun which sets pretty much instantly. Not everyone has access to a glue gun, and depending on the properties of the styrofoam and glue gun then you might unfortunately find that the styrofoam melts. Mine doesn't, so I'm ok. Try it on an off-cut if you're worried.

Step 6: 

Sand the styrofoam down, getting the taper as smooth as possible. Again, doesn't have to be perfect but the more perfect the better. The glue MUST be dry before starting this step.

Step 7: 

Grab a bucket of Filler and go to town filling in those gaps. I use Wilkos pre-mixed lightweight or regular interior filler, with a table knife from the Poundshop / Dollar Store. Now you need to let this dry completely before starting the next step.

Step 8: 

After the filler dries, sand the entire thing down with sandpaper. As always, if you care about your lungs WEAR A FACEMASK.

Step 9: 

Start the ground cover by putting some large cork boulders at the face of the cliff. These are put into place with undiluted PVA - and a lot of it. Really press them into the PVA - don't just sprinkle them on top.

Step 10: 

Now I use a coarse gravel/sand mix for rocky ground. You don't need to complete this step if you just have the one bag of sand, but I do recommend it.

I apply this while the glue from the boulders is still wet. This means that sand settles into the gaps between the boulders easily.

Step 11: 

Next I use my medium sand. This still has some larger bits of gravel in it, but not as much.

When people base minis they often glue sand to the entire base, paint it, then glue flock on it patches. When it comes to terrain it's the opposite - glue sand on it patches and cover the bulk of the terrain in flock.

To be Continued:

Be sure to check back for part 2 where Nick will be showing us how to paint and flock the hill.

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