Monday, April 1, 2013

Craters Craters Craters

In my continuing drive to eventually game WWII Pacific, I again opted to do a quick terrain project, which ultimately will also be useful in numerous other games.  What’s a war without some craters, whether artillery, mortar, or maybe the occasional meteorite.  I liberated some ideas I’d seen some others do, and pushed forward.  I started with the thin brown Masonite board you can get at most any building supply stores for around $9 for a 4’x8’ sheet, as it’s nice and rigid, and won’t warp like cardboard (don’t get cheap and try to skimp, you’ll be sorry).  I cut it down to some manageable sizes I could easily manipulate on a band-saw (a jig-saw would also work), and cut a variety of circles ranging from approximately 2 inches to 5 inches in diameter.  Making the discs perfectly round is not a requirement, as you’ll be covering the Masonite up anyway.  I further used the band-saw blade to bevel the edge of the circles somewhat, on the side I would be working on, by holding and turning the Masonite disks at an angle by hand against the blade. 


Always good to be extra careful when working close to fast spinning blades, as spending evenings altering all my gloves to nine or less fingers would just be time I’d have to spend not working on my hobbies.  I digress…  anyway… after getting the discs ready, I moved onto the next step.  I used Liquitex Texture Gel

and mixed it with a cheap brown paint.  I applied the gel to the rough side of the Masonite (hoping for better adhesion), leaving barely any in the middle and forming a raised ring around the edge.  

I tried to leave room in the center of each crater for at least one figure base for small craters, to as many as three figure bases for the larger craters.  Having beveled the edge of the disc allowed the gel to go out to the edge without having either a visible lip of disc, or having a weak edge of gel exposed to possible damage.  The gel does get tacky and will stick to fingers etc.  It’s tough to get the gel smooth, and I intentionally left a lot of goopy texture overall to simulate heavily disturbed earth.  Another thing to remember is that when an explosion goes off, it’s pushing from the point of impact outward and depositing ejected material out around the edges, so I tapered the inner side of the crater walls outward.  I added in a few choice wood twigs in or around the crater to simulate small trees that were toppled in the blast, and some small pebble for rocks. 
I left the twigs pretty natural, and just snapped them off at desired lengths, leaving the ends a bit jagged.  Then I let the whole thing dry for a day.  When dry, the gel still has a bit of a glossy sheen.  I used a dark brown paint over the whole piece and crevices (except wood bits),
a blackish blast point with some radiating lines in the center of each crater (it’s ok to dry-brush some black onto some of the wood pieces to simulate charring from an explosion), then some of the original cheaper brown that I originally mixed with the gel to wet-brush upper edges of the surface inside and out to give a dirty/muddy effect, then finished with dry-brushing a white and brown mix on edges and highlights overall for contrast.  I was happy with the results, and ended up making several of each size so I could create one large or several smaller crater fields.

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