Saturday, 7 September 2013

Bespoke Hill

A couple of months ago my good friend and regular gaming chum Craig approached me to see if I would be able to make a bespoke hill for him. A few years ago I had made a couple for his Normandy '44 scenery, so I thought this would be along similar lines. How wrong could I be?

This time he wanted a very specific hill for use with his Star & Garter medieval rules, a variant of the excellent Dux Bellorum rules by Dan mersey. Not a problem, so I asked Craig to sketch up his ideas with some dimensions so that I had an idea exactly what he was after.

Well my first reaction was "F*ck me, that's big". I sat down and looked at the drawings again and my reaction hadn't changed one jot. Was Craig compensating for some inadequacy in his life? I wasn't sure but I certainly wasn't going to ask!

My first task was to take Craig's sketches and draw the hill to scale. Very quickly it became apparent that it would have to grow to achieve the look that Craig was after. The constraining feature was a central plateau that had to be 12" x 10" to accomodate buildings for use with S&G. The height of the plateau was to be around 2" so that it really dominated the table. In the end the length increased by around 3" and the width maringally so, to give an overall size of 27" x 18". I showed the drawings to Craig who was happy and so it was then onto construction.

The hill was based on a piece of 3mm mdf to give it stability with a piece of 2" foam stuck on top. They were then sculpted to shape by hand until the right look was achieved. The whole piece was then covered in pva glue in stages and covered in a mix of sand and grit. When this was dry it was given a base coat of paint, which was then locally highlighted to create the paths etc. After this clump foliage was glued in place, which when dry was followed by a coat of diluted pva and static grass flock.

The hill in itself was easy to make, the challenge came in the sheer size of it as it was hard to handle when gluing on the grit and flock. To give an idea of how long it took to make, I've broken it down into the following stages:
  • Taking Craig's sketches and turning them into a workable design: 2 hours.
  • Taking the scale drawings and sculpting the baseboard and foam hill: 4 hours.
  • Painting the hill to be ready for the static grass flock: 4 hours.
  • Applying the static grass flock: 2 hours.
So it turned into a real labour of love but I'm very happy with the result. So for anyone attending Colours this year you will be able to see the finished result on table S13 on the Sunday and you can judge for yourself whether it was worth the effort.

The view from the front with tape measure to give an idea of size.
The view from the rear.
Detail view of one of the hill 'corners'.
The path leading up to the summit.
With ploughed fields on it.
Wheatfield awaiting harvest.
Hedged summit to keep livestock in.
Woods or copse, which ever you prefer.

Craig collected the hill on Saturday and was very happy with the result which was nice. He planned to have a solo game of Chain of Command on Sunday to christen the hill and the results can be seen here. The hill really fits in nicely with his existing terrain and the other hills I made for him a few years ago.

My wife was very impressed with the look of Craig's table and her comment was" You guys are very talented but completely mad". Enough said...

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