Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Badlands scatter terrain, aka: sticking sand to wargame terrain bases

If you ask me any good terrain set has a nice selection of scatter terrain to go with it. Just some smaller bases that make te table look interesting and give (AoS) units a +1 cover save if they all manage to fit in it. During my lunch break today I grabbed my power tools and a strip of MDF to make some bases for scatter terrain.

Bosch should consider sponsoring this blog, then again I seem to buy their tools without sponsorship...hmm going commercial is harder than I thought ;)
After sawing and sanding (beveling) the bases I plan to simply put sand on them, paint and flock them and finish off by adding some huge skeletons separately. That will give me a chance to get the bases painted as lightning speed. As for the skeletons I have a project box (of course (please don't have me committed!)).

Cheap plastic from China equals lots of bits to turn into terrain (add in thrift store visits to get even nearer to perfection).
The skull was sold as part of a 'collect your own skeleton' magazine rip-off with the bottom half of the skull (pictured) costing 1 euro and every other bone costing about five or six times as much (starting with the skull cap). The other skeletons are dinosaur skeletons I bought cheaply from China through Aliexpress. I always overdo the buying of cheap components for terrain, that's why I have slightly more then I will most likely need in my lifetime. On the other hand I can usually find something interesting to build terrain with...

Measure once, ignore lines, cut once, hide your utter lack of precision later.
Making scatter bases is not rocket science. Here is a quick check to see if I can fit the bones on the base. I actually did these before as well to draw the guidelines for cutting, but I forgot to take a picture. Also note the high precision I use when cutting along the lines for scatter terrain. Definitely not rocket science (as long as I hide my sloppy markings on the side that gets painted).

Maybe I should clean up my work area. The cardboard I'm working on is starting to look like a modern art masterpiece. 
I quickly picked out some bones (I'll make these ready for use later) and got ready for the hard part: sticking sand to the terrain base. First off I discovered I nearly used up my nice mix of beach sand with broken shells. I proceeded to grab a plastic container with generic beach sand and just tossed in anything that looked slightly different to break up the texture. It ended up as a mix of tiny rocks, very tiny rocks, fine sand and the coarse beach sand I started out with. Now onto the steps for sticking sand to a base. This being the internet I'll make this a five step program and I'll add a bulleted (numbered) list to make it look even more internet.

Sticking sand to a base in 5 steps:

  1. Stick base in box
  2. Pour on some glue
  3. Abuse a (cheap) brush
  4. Remove said brush
  5. Pour sand.

Step 1 - stick base in box

Stick the base into a box lid. This is helpful because around step 5 you will have a lot of excess sand and you can pour that back into your container using the box lid as a dustpan.

Step 2 - Pour on some glue

Grab your bottle of PVA, unscrew the (har har) precision top and just let a large glob of glue splash onto the base. Worry about using too much glue? Don't (or go out and buy cheaper PVA).

Step 3 - Abuse a (cheap) brush

Every once in a while I pick up a fresh pack of sad looking cheap brushes. Sometimes I use these to drybrush large terrain pieces (but only after checking over both shoulders too make sure no one watches). Officially I only use them to spread big globs of PVA glue around.

Step 4 - Remove said brush

After spreading the glue over the base, remove the brush from the box before pouring sand into it. If you don't you will have a brush covered in glue and sand (and that makes it slightly more difficult to spread the glue out). I, being a semi-professional* blog writer, would never forget to remove my brush so please disregards any photographic evidence to the contrary...

*semi-professional as in amateur.

Step 5 - Pour sand.

Pick up your container of sand and up-end it over your glued base. Wait a few minutes to let the sand settle in and then shake you box around until the base becomes visible. Take it out of the box (careful not to push too hard into the sand. Hold the base upside down and tap it gently to get rid of more excess sand. Then using the previously mentioned dustpan technique put the rest of your sand mix back into the container. Congratulations your bases are now covered in sand.

All finished up, now where can I find a cheap equivalent of Zandri Dust?
As with almost every piece of terrain I finish the pieces off by gluing a few bigger pebbles to the base. This helps break up the monotony as these bases will have bones added to them later I can't put the stones on the center bits so I stuck them to the sides. With this done I'll put these bases near a heater and let them dry for a day.

Next up: assembling some large skeletons.


  1. I like your comedic "semi-professional" writing style, very entertaining. Oh yeah, and informative too :P

  2. Cheers, thanks for the feedback :)