Learning to make good Groundwork templates is an essential skill in terrain making and building.
Begin your project with easy to find materials. I will be using thin plywood, Titebond white glue, green putty, vinyl spackling, and basing supplies (sand, flock, static grass, talus.) These templates can be used as generic groundwork templates in your games of HORDES and WARMACHINE. You can use them as sections of rough terrain, building and ruin bases, forest templates, and other generic terrain. For now, I’d recommend sticking to 5″ x 5″ or 4″ x 6″ templates.
Simply, the project goes like this: (1) Shape (2) Texture (3) Glue (4) Scatter (5) Flock (6) Paint (7) Accent (8) Seal
(1) SHAPE: Cut your template to the size you want it. Craft Stores often sell their craft wood in various sizes. You may be able to find a size that you need pre-cut however chances are you’ll need to use an hobby knife or dremel (with cutting disks) to give the template a little shape. (Using foam is easier here as you can just cut it to shape with a hot wire cutter.)
(2) TEXTURE: Apply your putty and spackling. These materials help to add texture to the template. You can also use a fine grit sand mixed with paint as a substitute. Also, Spectre Hobbies sells “Texture Gel” which does the same thing very well. Anyway, add the putty first followed by spackling. Leave empty space at the edges. Add the putty, spreading it thin and pressing a few medium sizes stones into it. Follow up by adding the spackling to the remaining empty spaces starting from the center. Allow the template to dry before going to step #3.
(3) GLUE: Coat the template with glue. I use Titebond straight from the bottle however if you wish you can use some water to create a 1:1 mixture. It’s really up to you. Spread a thin coat of white glue over the entire template including the empty space on the edges. While the glue is still wet, continue with step #4.
(4) SCATTER: Place a paper or cloth towel under the template. Gather at least three grades of stone-like flock. I recommend craft sand, fine talus, and coarse talus. Sprinkle the stone flock over the template beginning with the finest material and ending with the coarsest. Allow the template to dry. After it is dry, carefully shake the template over a container to remove any extra talus. I usually shake the excess talus right back into its original container as to not waste flocking materials.
(5) FLOCK: Same story as step #4 but this time with flock. Use at least two colors of flock, one dark and one light. Take a cup or sifter and mix the flock together. Now get the white glue. This time, use a 1:1 mix of water/white glue. If you have a scenic sprayer, use the regular mixture. Figure out where you want to add patches of grass on the template. Add your watered down glue to these areas, and then sprinkle with your flock mixture. If you have a scenic sprayer, mist the flock lightly to add an additional seal. Allow the template to dry before moving on to #6.
(6) PAINT: Using a black or brown spray paint, coat the entire template. After the template dries, use a large brush to paint the entire thing with a basecoat of dark brown or reddish brown. Don’t worry about getting fancy because this is a basecoat. Once the entire ground is painted, it’s time for drybrushing. Start with the rock outcropping, painting them with a dark grey. After finishing with the rocks, drybrush with a slightly lighter color. Remember to take a little care to maintain the level of “dryness” on the dry as to avoid ugly smudgy spots on your template. Afterwards, drybrush a second time with a even lighter highlight color to add contrast. Allow the template to dry before moving on to #7.
(7) ACCENT: Now is when you can add Undergrowth, Bushes, and Grasses. For undergrowth, use polyfiber. Separate the polyfiber be carefully tearing it into layer. Stretch the layer until thin and lacy. Apply white glue to areas of the template you undergrowth. Gently push the polyfiber into the glue, then sprinkle around the edges of the polyfiber to add volume and to fill gaps. Do the same with bulky moss or foam bushes. To add grasses, simply add small amounts of white glue to the surface, and add small pinches of grass to the glue. Allow glue to dry before moving to step #8.
(8) SEAL: When you are happy with your template, use a matte spray like Dull Coat to seal it. Lightly mist the entire template with the spray. It will protect your template while you’re moving models and tossing dice on the game table.