Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Terrain Shelf

We all love game room and work space pics, so I thought I'd update one corner of my own game room here; the terrain shelf. In a strange fit of cleaning the other day, I unloaded everything on here, dusted away, wiped everything down for prints, and re-"stocked" it.

I am no terrain guru, master, or even expert. I do know this, with very little effort you can create effective (if not necessarily mind-blowing) terrain for the tabletop. I also know from experience that terrain makes as much of the gaming experience as do the rules, the painted figs, and the people you game with. Oddly enough, terrain is usually an after-thought.

Top shelf, the tall stuff

Here I've got 40k buildings from GW's plastic kits. These are awesome, simply put. You can assemble them in an almost infinite number of ways, and they are a snap to paint up. You can put them on elaborate bases, or not, and on the table they look fantastic. They are very gothic, and very high-tech at the same time, so they tend to be a bit niche-ey.

Next up, the homemade stuff

I can't take credit for the church, barn, or houses here; they all came from a "retired gamer" buddy of mine up north. Always be on the lookout for hand-me-downs, people getting out of the hobby, or just looking to upgrade their own collections. That barn has made an appearance in almost every game we've played lately. The rest of the stuff I did make, like the "flavor text" pieces such as giant mushrooms and basalt obelisks. There's a Hirst Arts blockhouse in there too. The Celtic cross was a craft store find, on clearance for $2 bucks. Always be on the lookout for ideas no matter from where, like my electrical box generator shown above.

More homemade pieces

I can take full credit for everything on this shelf however. Most of it has made appearances already, and I can also say, most of it wasn't too difficult to do, even for a novice like me.

Near the bottom, more homemade pieces

As I write this I realize just how much of my terrain is homemade after all. You've seen the electrical box generator post already, and the Pringles can complex debuted a while back. The rocks (which also make a *lot* of appearances on the table) are also hand-me-downs from my friend. They're basically large chunks of Styrofoam, covered in floor plaster, sanded, and painted with a couple of gray shades of dry-brush. Easy and they look great.

Homemade hills and rivers

The age is starting to show on the river. Over the years the plaster has cracked and chipped, the rails on the large bridge are gone, and the cardboard (which was used as the base) is starting to warp. Having said all that, they still hold their own and a little maintenance is order from time to time. Hills such as these are also a breeze (see a trend here?) and all you need are some sheets of Styrofoam, a hot wire cutter, white glue, and flock. Put them together in that order and you don't even need directions!

There are some great individuals and companies out there that offer all kinds of terrain, from pretty cheap to jaw-dropping expensive. These places are certainly an option, but if you need something specific, or a least expensive option, or just enjoy these kinds of projects, you'd be surprised what you can whip up in an afternoon.


  1. Awesome post - love it. Can't wait till I have space to suitably store all my terrain out where it is handy.

  2. I've got more in the garage, but it's definitely old and battered. I may toss some of it to be honest...

  3. Awesome!
    How do you keep your stuff from getting overly dusty? Or do you use it so much that that isn't an issue?

  4. We do use it quite a bit, but yeah it gets dusty from time to time. I just wait around 'til it gets really bad, then hit it one shelf at a time with the 'big brush'.

  5. Awww... you beat me to it! Now when I post my terrain shelf (more like terrain closet) it will be othing but a rip off. This must be what it's like for two chicks to go to a party and discover their wearing the same outfit.

    I'm afraid your just gonna have to go home and change Gyro :)

    Thanks for posting this. I've been wondering how to paint my own 40k Imperial Sector and this gives me some ideas.

    The best part of your pics is that they look like they have seen many battles. If only all our terrain was as lucky as your.

  6. @ 25mm Warrior- If I had a dollar for every time I've shown up at a party in a sleek new evening dress, only to find that Gyro wore the same dress....

  7. @25mmW, maybe I posted this to inspire others! I love these kind of posts, especially the painting desk posts, so please, do it up, yo. Now that I think about it, I'll whip up a painting desk post too!

    @T-Bone: Hahaha, I can't believe I'm calling you that now, it's taken you a dozen years for that to stick. Anyway, you and I have only ended up wearing the same evening dress to the same party like three, maybe four times. Nowhere near enough to count as a regular occurence!

  8. I like it. I think I'll do something with my painting desk. There are already terrain and garage room photos on my blog of all the terrain and goodies I keep in my man cave. :D Great work on the customs!