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Modiphius > Fallout: Wasteland Warfare

Terrain Building: Tablescapes Scrapyard & Rolling Hills

posted Jul 11, 2017 14:13:16 by Jordan.Peacock
In anticipation of playing Fallout: Wasteland Warfare as soon as it comes out and I get the minis at least base-coated, I picked up some Secret Weapon Miniatures "Tablescapes" tiles (some on sale, some second-hand). I'm basing this mostly around the Scrapyard theme (I got the 16-tile set), but I also picked up a few "sidewalk" squares from the "Urban Streets - Clean" set and a few random "Rolling Hills" tiles second-hand. I got a decent deal on a Display Set (2x2) of the "Urban Streets - Clean" -- but in that pack I only got two sections of street, and two of sidewalk, so that's hardly enough to build a battleground around.

The tiles are all 1'x1' and built in durable HIPS (high impact polystyrene) with a reinforced under-structure, and a modular linking system that uses flexible plastic links that hook into the corners. I like this system over certain other "interlocking" systems, because I can theoretically just leave the link pieces OUT, and line my tiles up with any other boards I have that happen to line up nicely with multiples of 1' (such as a lot of my Hirst Arts collection).

I prefer the Tablescapes tiles over the Games & Gears Battle Boards in general for my intention of transporting these things to conventions and local game stores (Tablescapes are 1'x1' sections, whereas G&G Battle Boards are 2'x2'), but also for the level of detail.

There's a certain amount of "cut-and-paste" that's evident in certain Tablescapes tiles, and the "squash-and-distress" effects in the Scrapyard bug me at times (on some objects, it just doesn't look right), but that's the sort of thing I really only notice when I'm up close and personal and doing detail work. Overall, the effect is pretty impressive, and it's far more durable and portable than anything I would have come up with using my standard materials.

It holds up well to spray paint, so most of the pieces I did a basic treatment by painting in brown/rust Rustoleum primer, with a few spritzes of Walmart matte black, and then dry-brushing in Sandstone acrylic, and with a little bit of detail work on the "boulders" on the Rolling Hills tiles. But ... I can't leave well enough alone. I want this to be FALLOUT terrain, not just "generic wreckage and wasteland."

In my opinion, the quickest ways I can ramp up the Fallout factor for tabletop terrain would be:

1) Paper litter, fallen signs, etc., printed with recognizable Fallout or generally retro imagery. But that can come later.

2) Mix in some retro wreckage with that scrap in the Scrapyard.

3) Make a wasteland freeway that I can use to showcase my Nuka-Cola Delivery Truck on as a major fixture, and place roadside scavenger shacks, rusted-out hulks, billboards and such alongside.

Attending to #2 first, I dug out some 1:43 scale cars I picked up a while ago at my local hobby store. They're too pretty (and I paid too much) for me to have the heart to transform them into rusty roadside wreckage, so the pictured truck has been transformed into a "Red Rocket" truck that one presumes that someone actually bothered to maintain. (I know the Fallout games don't reflect this, but I'm of the opinion that 210+ years past the Great War, someone might actually take the effort to do some body work and apply PAINT to things as opposed to just leaving everything looking like it came right off the scrap heap.)

But more importantly, it can serve as a "master" for a bit of work with Instant Mold and epoxy putty.

Pictured, I've got a pack of Japanese "plastic clay." This is the same stuff that's marked up and sold state-side as "Instant Mold" and so forth. It comes in small ingots, and is little more than a plastic with a low melting temperature. I take a mug half-filled with water, nuke it in the microwave for 2.5 minutes, make sure I grab it by the handle when I take it out, then dunk plastic in the mug, hold it down and squash it a bit with some needle-nose pliers, then fish it out and smash it against something I want to replicate a texture of.

It's absolutely ideal for shallow textures, and I use it regularly for adding detail to plain-faced plastic bases, or to make "texture stamps" to mash against areas of putty I use to gap-fill around "broccoli bases" on figures. For larger and deeper items such as the hood of a 1:43 scale truck, flaws become evident pretty quickly: "folds" in the plastic form in the process of trying to squash the plastic around the shape before it cools, for instance.

Once the plastic cools (which can be hastened by, for instance, putting the whole thing in the freezer), I can then pry it off and I have myself a temporary push-mold for epoxy putty. It starts as a translucent-to-clear plastic, but it soon accumulates particles of paint, grit, or whatever, so it can't be relied upon to remain quite so pristine. Even when solid/cooled, the plastic is still somewhat soft, so it deforms easily with pressure and isn't ideal for trying to replicate smooth, flat, machined surfaces (warping will be all the more obvious in such forms), and instead works better with more "organic" forms (e.g., rocks, foliage, debris, stonework).

So basically, this is a really bad way to replicate a truck. But who cares? I'm just adding junk to the scrapyard and a few bits of debris beside the road, so if the result is warped, if there are some dings to the surface, or it comes out a bit rough, I'm fine with that. :)

The other thing that could use some explanation is the Apoxie Sculpt. Up above, I've got two tubs of "natural" gray Apoxie Sculpt. It's my preferred material for terrain work. It's far cheaper than "green stuff" epoxy putty, can be smoothed with water, hardens in a few hours, and can be safely sanded or filed in about half a day -- and works well with press-molds. It is, however, far more brittle than the green stuff, and tends to crack and break apart while still in putty form if I try to work it for too fine of a level of detail (e.g., sculpting figure faces) -- so there are still areas where green stuff's pliability is essential (i.e., fine detail work). For what I'm doing here, Apoxie Sculpt is the material of choice. (Note: Near as I can tell, "Magic Sculpt" and "Magic Sculp" {sic} are essentially the SAME THING as Apoxie Sculpt; I've worked with all three, and they seem to exhibit the same properties.)

I also had the remnants of some tubs of black-dyed Apoxie Sculpt that I picked up at Reynolds Materials locally. They have an assortment of Apoxie Sculpt with various dyes (only applied to the "A" part -- and somehow it still looks just as vibrant even when mixed with the gray "B" part), and I tried the black dye version out just because it was the same price and "why not?" However, what do you know? Black dye is MESSY. Gyah. It's a chore to clean out, stains anything it touches, and smells disagreeable. (I've worked with worse-smelling materials, but it's still a negative point.) I'd been holding off on using the rest of it just because of the hassle factor, but I think I've got a useful application for it this time around -- for converting a few random "Rolling Hills" tiles into a ruined freeway.
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7 replies
Jordan.Peacock said Jul 11, 2017 14:21:57

Okay, so here's the Plastic Clay in use where it's best used: grabbing nice, shallow textures to make quickie "texture stamps."

I started painting up my "Urban Streets (Clean)" tiles, and experimenting with bringing out the details with a bit of dry-brushing and lots of grungy washes (basically "stir the brush around on the bottom of the paintbrush-washing cup, then dribble that into the gutters and let it dry while you do something else, then repeat"). I used some pieces of Plastic Clay to get impressions of the "crack" networks on the streets, so I'd have something to texturize bits of broken pavement for an abandoned, badly eroded wasteland highway.

And here's where I find a use for the black-dyed epoxy putty remnant. I took a couple of "Rolling Hills" boards (fairly flat ones) that I base-coated in Rustoleum and dry-brushed in Sandstone, then started squashing down irregular shapes of black putty. I set the edges of the road at approximately the same width as the Urban Streets tiles, though I don't intend for the two to ever fit together. (The Urban Streets are opposing-traffic lanes. This highway is going to be double lanes going the same direction. Presumably to one side or the other -- probably off the table -- would be another two lanes going the other way.)

Here, I've mashed down each of the "pavement island" pieces with my makeshift texture stamp. I then went in with a hobby knife and cut "deltas" out of the sides of some of the pavement islands, based on where the "cracks" seemed to be lining up. The whole intent here is to get the impression of a long-neglected roadway in the wasteland where 200+ years of seasons changing, pavement cracking, and erosion have whittled away at any seams formed in the pavement, leaving little "islands" of what's left. It's still a natural place to follow for merchant caravans, since you can be reasonably sure it'll eventually head somewhere interesting, and also because the bits of pavement offer some respite from the mud in a rainstorm, but it's definitely no longer easy riding for someone traveling on a motorbike or a Highwayman.
Jordan.Peacock said Jul 11, 2017 14:26:10

Alas, the problem with using the remnant of something (there's no way I'm going to go and buy MORE of that black-dyed Apoxie Sculpt -- I'm sticking to "natural" gray from now on ;) ), is that I'm going to start to run out. One of my wasteland highway pieces is necessarily going to be a "transition" piece.

However, I managed to stretch it out a bit. I also used some Plastic Clay to get impressions of the hood, grill, and fenders of a few of my old-style cars. (The grill is from a 1:32 scale 1920s-era coupe, but since it's totally lacking in context, I figure it looks fine in the junk heap.)

I scoured out the very last of the epoxy from the black-dyed Apoxie Sculpt tubs, and then mixed in a bit of my gray putty to extend it some more. That black dye is so pervasive that I honestly couldn't tell the difference.

Jordan.Peacock said Jul 11, 2017 14:29:33

Now that the pavement is "based" in black, I started painting the road by sloppily applying (i.e., leaving gaps of black) a thin application of Graphite Gray, then going back and dry-brushing with Denim Blue. I tried painting the side lines in freehand, but they came out too thin and too irregular, so I'll be going back to redo those. (It's yellow on one side and white/grey on the other because the yellow side represents where the median would be, and the white side would be the edge of the roadway, assuming that both these lanes are going in the same direction, and that the oncoming traffic lanes are somewhere past the median, off the table.) Although casual observation of actual road markings in my area indicates that this wouldn't strictly be realistic, I decided to go with center line dashes that are 1/4" wide and 2" long, with 2" intervals between each dash. Time for masking tape!

Jordan.Peacock said Jul 11, 2017 14:41:07

Still a work in progress. For the scrapyard, and for a few pieces of wreckage beside the highway, I glued down some putty "casts" from temporary Plastic Clay "push-molds." The push-molds ended up tearing apart a bit each time I used them, so I only managed to get one or two "casts" out of each one; if I need more junk, I'll just have to nuke some more water and get some fresh impressions. Some of the parts I base-painted in black or graphite gray, and some I just left in the "natural" lighter gray, before I started slathering Pumpkin Orange in some places, and dry-brushing in others, to amp up the rust factor. Next, I intend to just experiment with going back and forth with some speckling of Golden Yellow on the rust, dark gray washes for grunge and weathering, dry-brushing to bring out highlights again, spackling random colors (for rusty items that are meant to still have a bit of paint on them), and so on, before I get into more serious detailing and clean-up work. Paper elements (wrecked signage, discarded boxes, labels on barrels, etc.) will wait until I have most of the messy painting done.

For the roadway, I was able to "recycle" my masking tape template for the three Rolling Hill/Highway sections. I'm tempted to reuse it again to paint stripes down the middle of my Urban Streets (but YELLOW instead of gray, to indicate opposing traffic directions), but I might go with solid yellow instead. (Unlike the tutorial on the Special Weapons Miniatures web site, however, for any crosswalks I'm going to go with gray/white instead of yellow.)

Another detail I need to add would be "reflective" markers in between the dashes. Fallout-universe roadways seem to have those, so I ought to at least give a tip of the hat to those here. It might end up just being some pieces of scrap plastic, but I want to make sure they're uniform in size and evenly-placed. So, I'll have to take a bit of care and do some measurement, rather than just eyeballing it.

Additional highway details will include some fallen road signs, some painting work on the random rusty car pieces on the roadway, some roadside litter, and maybe even some remains (e.g., a couple of cattle skulls and some ribs to suggest the remains of an ill-fated pack brahmin). I need to keep any such details especially SHALLOW, however, so I can still stack up the tiles. Eventually I'd like to add a few things such as a couple of car wrecks and maybe a road-side scavenger shack, etc., but those will be stand-alone scatter terrain pieces, not incorporated into the board itself. I might be able to manage something like an abandoned motorcycle on its side, but I'll have to check and see how much thickness that would add.
KimmoP said Jul 17, 2017 08:40:51
That plastic mold thing is great material with green stuff. I like your scrap yard idea. Very inspiring. Perhaps I'll make something similar some day. Right now I have a big ruin I'm crafting. Are you making modular table? It's great idea. You need one or two crossroads and you can make almost all possible road layouts you ever need :)

Some time ago, before the Fallout game I used same materials for something else. Let's see if I found the picture from somewhere... Just an example how easy it's to use. But that skull field took a lot of time to make. But now when I think again perhaps it fits also in Fallout theme.

Jordan.Peacock said Jul 17, 2017 12:26:44
@KimmoP: I'm going for a semi-modular table here, but I don't plan on making a "crossroads" for the freeway. I mean, I'm not even showing all four lanes past the divider, and on a freeway, if you've got an interchange, then I'd need on-ramps, off-ramps, an overpass -- that sort of thing. For my purposes, that's overkill.

Nice work with the field o' skulls! Feels very Warhammerish. (Seriously, based on their terrain boards, I assume that every Warhammer planet lacks a mantle, and is instead just PACKED FULL OF SKULLS, the way they peek through every crack and crevice on the terrain. ;) )

KimmoP said Jul 17, 2017 16:14:07
Thousands and thousands of slaves works in imperial skull factories all days and nights.
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