Great Terrain with Inexpensive Materials

Following the success of the initial test cork tile I have been building up the base for my Basilica Adminstratum. I have a lot of polystyrene collected for just this purpose and I want to share with you my experiences and tips I have from using this readily available material.

Advice when using Polystyrene

Although it is a great material for modelling with I would be careful with over using it. Polystyrene packaging can often contain great shapes to act as buildings but lacks the surface detail to make really good scenery. I would not be satisfied with simply taking blocks of polystyrene, spraying chaos black and then dry brushing grey. It is still too obviously packaging.

However if you are not using it for full buildings it is absolutely fantastic for ruins. It is easy to break, and generally breaks with a jagged edges imitating the randomness of real life. You can dig into it with tools to show bullet holes or other damage and you can stick other materials directly into the surface easily enough too. It is a very versatile material. Make sure to coat the surface with PVA to make it more durable when painting, otherwise you may find bits flake off when dry brushing.

These are the general steps I follow:

  • Use polystyrene to block out the main areas
  • Break up more polystyrene into smaller parts for rubble
  • Add details with spare bits, sprue and anything you can find!
  • Add a layer of large sand
  • Add a layer of fine sand
  • Repeat above stages to keep building up details until satisfied.

  • It is important to break up large, bland surfaces with detail. I blocked out the area with large pieces to get the general shape before going in and adding as much detail as I could with smaller pieces and other materials. 

    You should work with cut up Sprue pieces with the same attitude. Just cutting up long lines of sprue and sticking them on in a pile will still end up with scenery the looks like it has sprue stuck on no matter how good the paint job. It won't look genuine. As with the polystyrene, break up the surface. Twist it, cut into the edges and make sure every piece looks different. It will take longer but it is worth it.

    A further way to cut the association with materials not looking convincing enough is to cover parts with sand and rubble. Sprue with it's ends partially hidden by piles of rubble look far more integrated into the scenery and therefore far more convincing.

    I'll probably go back in and some further details where appropriate. A few areas are still a bit bland and need breaking up a bit. Once I am satisfied I'll be ready to go in and get painting. I'll be using the same colour scheme as the previous tile which you can find here.

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