Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Scenery tutorial - Making Eldar cityfight terrain

I get quite a few comments about my Eldar cityfight table, especially on how I made it. Most people can't believe that it's just a load of sweetie tubs, cardboard and cake bases. So, I thought I'd put together a simple tutorial to show you how you can make simple but great looking Eldar terrain. I want to make it clear that this isn't some sort of masterclass, more a very basic tutorial aimed at those who've never really made scenery before and don't have access to tons of tools and specialist materials. On the materials, this is what we're working with ....

  1. Sweetie tub
  2. Cake base
  3. Drinks tube
  4. Cardboard
  5. Newspaper
  6. Gravel or cat litter
  7. Static grass or flock
  8. Clump material (optional)
  9. Gems (optional)
See, I really did mean sweetie tubs, cardboard and cake bases. Cake bases are easy to get your hands on, just check your local supermarket. The only thing you might have trouble finding is the plastic drinks tube, I get mine from our local cinema but if you can't get your hands on one, just use a cardboard tube for a thinner tower. You'll be able to get the static grass and clump material from any hobby shop including GW. The gems came from a cheap kids craft set but if you can't find one then check out a knitting shop, they have loads of cheap plastic gems for buttons etc.

  1. Hobby saw
  2. Sand paper
  3. PVA glue
  4. Masking tape
  5. Large paint brush

All of the tools with the exception of the hobby saw are commonly available from most handy stores if you don't already have them. For the cutting of the base, tub and drinks tube, it's best to use a hobby saw, but you could use a steak knife if you can't get your hands on a hobby saw. Just remember to watch your fingers!

  1. Skull white
  2. Chaos black
  3. Bleached bone
  4. Scorched brown
I actually use Dulux matt emulsion for my scenery. You can get colour matched tester pots for less than a GW paint. With a little water, they work perfectly well and when you're doing lots of scenery, you'll find they save you a small fortune compared to GW paints. If you're not ready to get paints just for scenery, you can use GW paints, but expect to use a half a pot of skull white and a third of the other colours. You can use white primer for undercoating, but you'll still need the skull white for the drybrushing.

Right, let's get started, First peel the silver foil off the cake base, place the tub upside down on the base and draw around it making sure you leave at least two inches from the edges. Also include space for the tower at the side of the tub. Once you've got it marked out, cut off the excess and bevel the edges. If you've never worked with cake bases before, then checkout this Youtube Tutorial. Once you're done, you'll have something like this ...

Next, cut the rim of the sweetie tub so it sits flat on the base. If the tub has a extended rim, cut a notch out of it for the tower. In my example, I went a bit OTT with the notch, but it's not a major issue, I'll patch it up later in the project. Don't worry if you make little mistakes, terrain is very forgiving.

After that, cut your drink thingy in half making sure that the bottom bit has enough of the tube to stand clear of the top of the base building. You'll see what I mean in a moment. Remember if you can't get one of these, you can just use a cardboard tube.

Once you've got your pieces cut ready, glue them to the base with PVA glue. You might like to prop the tower against something to get it perfectly straight, just remember to dry fit it a couple of times to get it straight as possible.

As you can see, I left enough of the neck of the drinks tube to make sure the towel stands clear of the base building. Next cut a long strip of cardboard to go all the way around the tower. Make sure you make it wide enough so that when it's fitted, it stands 1/2 - 3/4 inch clear of top of the tower.


Remember to dry fit it a couple of times to get the right length and width. Once you're happy with it's position and it's dimensions, tape it with masking tape and then glue it with PVA glue.

Don't worry if it looks a bit flimsy, the glue and tape is only there to hold the cardboard in place for the papa mache stage. If you get any PVA running down the side of the tube, just clean it off with a damp cloth. Next cut another strip of cardboard, making sure that it's slightly longer than the rim of the base building top. As this one is going to sit on top of the tub, I've made it 1/2 inch thick.

Attach one end to the drink tube neck using masking tape, and then start running the cardboard around the top of the tub securing it with masking tape.

Once you've run it all the way around the top of the tub, secure it against the neck of the drinks tube by adding some masking tape on the inside and then run PVA all around the inside where the cardboard meets the tub.

Once again, don't worry about how flimsy it seems or the gap between tower and the base building, that will be sorted with papa mache next. Mix up some watered down PVA, I normally go for 1/3 PVA and 2/3 water, which ends up looking like milk. Then rip up some newspaper, dip it in the watered down PVA and then use it to fill the gaps around the tubs. Use papa mache to fill in the rim on the base building, the gap between the base building and the tower and then finally around the inside rim of the tower. Don't worry about it being a bit rough at this stage.

This is going to get a bit messy, just soak up any excess watered down PVA with a cloth or some kitchen towel. Once you've filled the gaps, start using small piece of newspaper to cover the entire piece with the exception of the base. Using small pieces is the key to keeping creases to a minimum, if you do get any big creases, just cover them over at the end with another small piece of paper. Use your damp clothe to soak up any excess PVA and to smooth any edges down. Once finished, leave it overnight in a warm place to completely dry out.

Once the papa mache is dry, or at least touch dry, it's time to gravel the base. I placed mine on top of a few paint tubs on a piece of paper to catch the overspilled gravel. First, give the base a neat coat of PVA.

Then liberally pour gravel all over the base and leave it to dry for at least 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, pour off the excess and use your paper to get it back in your tub. You'll be left with a neat base although it'll still have quite a bit of loose gravel on it. Wait until it's completely dry before shaking this off.

Finally, use your watered down PVA to seal the gravel in place and leave it for a day to completely dry out. Make sure that the gravel is completely dry before doing this otherwise you'll wash the gravel off when you add the watered down PVA. I've propped mine on some paint pots on a piece of cardboard to catch the excess drips and make sure that it doesn't stick to the cardboard while it's drying.

Once that's completely dry, it's ready for painting. Undercoat the gravel black and the building white. I normally undercoat everything in black but with the building being a very light bone colour, it made more sense to undercoat it white.

Don't worry if the paper bubbles a bit, that's the moisture in the paint, they'll disappear when the paint dries. Also, don't worry about getting it perfectly covered in white, any dark patches will be covered next. Paint the building in bleach bone, you'll need to do at least two coats to get a smooth finish. Then paint the base with slightly watered down scorched brown.

Once that's dry, give the building a heavy drybrush of skull white and the base a drybrush off bleached bone.

Done worry if it appears a bit over white or bleak if you get what I mean, the surface will get broken up in the next stages. First piece of decoration is the gems, remember this is optional but personally, I think they really compliment Eldar terrain. Just glue them on with a little PVA, there's no right or wrong way or amount, it's down to how 'blingy' you want your scenery.

Next up come the vines, simply run strands of PVA across the surface of the building starting at the base and branching upwards.

Next dab on some static grass and leave it to dry. I placed mine on top of some newspaper to catch the overspill so it can go back into the tub.

After five minutes, shake off the excess and you'll be something like this. Don't worry about the bare bits, you can just redab them while the PVA is still wet.

Once you've got your vines sorted, cover the base in PVA. Most of the time I leave a rim of gravel between the PVA and the buildings which is more realistic but with my Eldar terrain, I wanted to blend them into the table so I covered the entire base from edge to right up to the building.

After that, cover it in static grass or flock. I've got a bit OTT with the example, you don't need to put anywhere near as much on your base, just make sure it gets a good covering. It's fine to lightly shake of the excess as you go, so that you can gather it up if you're running short. Don't worry, the vast majority will be going back in the grass tub.

Once it's dry, shake off the excess onto your newspaper and then use the newspaper to get the static grass back into your tub. Next up, glue pieces of clump material and lichen around the base of the building, especially where your vines start from the ground.

Once that's done, you're done ;-)

There you have it, a nice looking bit of Eldar terrain made from recycled material with simple tools that easy to do for anyone who's new to scenery making. I hope you liked my 'little' tutorial, if you give it a go, drop me a line as I'd love to see what you've done.


Cawshis Clay said...

Spectacular tutorial, Corbania Prime! Simple and concise and totally delivers a great piece of terrain!

HuronBH said...

Nice tutorial. Very simple, easy, and some great terrain as a result. Keep up the good work.

Big Jim said...

Outstanding Tutorial! It's always nice to see some xenos scenery being made.


Mordian7th said...

Very cool stuff, Colonel! Since I've been dabbling in Eldar recently some terrain wouldn't go amiss, and I may have to give your method a whirl. Not that I *Need* more terrain of course...

Unknown said...

Very good! :)

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

Nice work. Good to see anything that is not gothic ruins.

How does the newspaper wrap hold up to the normal bumps of wargamming?

Zzzzzz said...

Fantastic. And a good excuse to buy sweeties too !

CylonDave said...

Excellent Tutorial, GW likes to put out lots of Imperial terrain and its rare we see any Xeno Terrain released.

Col. Corbane said...

Cheers guys, glad you liked it.

@CTF - It holds up really well mate, for the past year, I've been letting my 4yo use my Eldar scenery with his toys and other than a bit of lichen coming off, there's been no damage at all.

It easily handles wargaming bumps, model stacking and even stacking scenery pieces on it.

The only thing I'd add is that it's finish is a bit smooth, so for your stuff, I'd use filler, textured paint or rough coat to give it some texture.

Hope that answers your question mate.

Admiral Drax said...

Brilliant - of course.


Brother Vizlani said...

This is great! You should upload this to Terragenesis.

oni said...

Nice tutorial.

Forgotmytea said...

Excellent, thank you: I've got a tournament coming up soon which requires all players bring a terrain piece, so I've been madly scouring the internet for help in making Eldar terrain! Definitely going to give this a go =)

Col. Corbane said...

Glad it helped mate, just make sure you leave plenty of time for the papa mache to dry completely before painting it.

Brent said...

I guess I have to jump in with my shock and awe as well:

...very, very cool.

You've inspired me to try some of these ideas.


Col. Corbane said...

Cheers mate, if you give them a go, send me the pics. I'd love to see them.

Andrea said...