Scale:- work out a scale to suit your figure scale to ensure your figures will fit on the table
Contour map:- The key to an accurate contoured battlefield is to get as good a contoured map as possible and work out the scale to your table.
Working diagram:- Draw out a working diagram/map with a realistic representation of the battlefield, bearing in mind you need to move figures over the table terrain, so every small detail is best left out to allow for ease of play (artistic licence).
Foam insulation board:- I use construction insulation boards, which are 600mm x 2400mm and two thicknesses 25mm and 50mm.
Construction:- I usually use the 50mm thick board as the base and glue on the subsequent contours in 25mm thickness as per the working diagram with a foam friendly adhesive such as “No More Nails”.
Now the fun starts, when the adhesive is fully set, the contour steps can be pared and cut down and blended into the contour below. I use a variety of tools but as usual, the simple ones are best. Cut away the bulk of the step with (wife to be consulted) bread knife, I generally use a 12” metal cutting hacksaw blade (18TPI) with a bit of insulation tape on the first 3” to save the skin.
The next handy tool in the box is a Morticians knife (a scalpel on steroids) to shave away the high points. I finish off with a triangle sander with a 60 or 80 grit paper and smooth the contours out to the desired effect.
At this stage, I usually mark/cut in the positions of any roads, sculpt out rivers and boggy areas etc.
Decoration of the board: – I paint the entire board with PVA glue and dust it with a fine sand such as Gerbil dusting powder from the local pet store.
Paint the entire board with Sandtex Bitter Chocolate, I always buy the 5 litre tub as it is the paint you use the most off and will do quite a few battlefields.
The next step is to dry brush with various shades of grass green over the brown, starting with a darker green and working lighter with a couple of shades, being lighter with the touch as you go.
I paint the roads bitter chocolate and dry brush with a couple of shades of a light stone colour.
Stonewalls I paint a line of PVA clue where the wall should lay then cover the area of glue with a medium gravel from the local DIY store. When this is dry shake off the excess gravel and apply another layer of PVA glue over the first layer of stones and cover with more gravel. Continue this process until the desired height of the wall is achieved. The wall is then painted with a dark grey and dry brushed with a couple of lighter shades of grey. The wall can be dressed then with tufts of grass etc. depending on how rustic you want in to look.
Rivers and marshes, after they are carved out of the board and painted bitter chocolate I carefully pour in Woodland Scenic water solution, 2 or 3 mm at a time and allowing to dry between layers depending on the depth required. When dry the river or marsh area can be decorated with tufts of various grasses etc.