Instead I've been tinkering with an idea that... I'm not entirely sure I can call it my own. We're all familiar with the classic "wargame hill" made up of stepped layers of foam or polystyrene. They may look unrealistic compared to properly sculpted and modelled hills, but the practical advantages mean they're ubiquitous in the wargaming world.
Well I was reading a fairly snarky blog post which decried the traditional stepped hill and offered an alternative method, involving layering bark chippings around a polystyrene core then filling in the gaps and building up with filler. The results are undeniably gorgeous, however I'd argue the results are much more like mountainous terrain than rolling countryside. Looking ate both the inspirational images of real terrain and the blogger's modelled results, it struck me that the main difference between his hills and the traditional hill is that the "flow" of the realistic hilly terrain runs vertically or diagonally. Our traditional stepped wargames hills are aligned horizontally, which kinda works for some "mesa" type terrains, but not western european rocky terrain.
So I thought "Why not use layers of polystyrene, but align them vertically instead of horizontally?"
|Picture shamelessly stolen from Bob's Colonial Wargaming site.|
So "my" idea was to use polystyrene sheets much as Bob had used balsa blocks, but to fill and blend them together with filler to try to get a balance between the aesthetics of the 3t Studios hills and the practicality of the stepped layers.
The separate bits of polystyrene were temporarily held together using cocktail sticks. Offcuts of polystyrene were used to fill large gaps and round out any large flat areas. Then the assembled hill was glued to the base board using PVA adhesive and left overnight to stick. This morning I started with the pre-mixed polyfilla, filling in all the gaps, rounding off joints and roughening up flat surfaces. At the time of writing, the two hills are completely filled and being left for a couple of days for the filler to dry completely. Once that's done, I'm going to sand the filler in places, give the whole lot a coat of PVA and sand as a nice tough protective shell, then it'll be a matter of painting & texturing.
Things are looking good so far. If these two test hills work out, I'm planning to produce a couple more of the same size, plus a few smaller "rocky outcrops" using the same method. Watch this space.