Wargamers of a certain vintage may remember a dark time. Before printed battle mats, before laser-cut MDF buildings, before modular plastic kits for every kind of ruin imaginable, there were piles of books and CD cases secreted underneath a green baize sheet, or, worse, just a flat green table. Beautifully sculpted scenic tables were few and far between, often locked behind glass in model railway stores, with the art of making terrain seeming a great and terrible secret, guarded by a chosen few. Luckily, times have changed, and there’s an abundance of fantastic tables and scenery pieces to be found in hobby shops and gaming clubs all over the world. Creating it, however, is still a real art form, and might seem incredibly daunting to get into, but thankfully there are some learned shepherds who can help guide the way – such as Mel Bose, AKA ‘The Terrain Tutor’!
Since 2014, Mel has run a highly successful Youtube channel, teaching people how to produce fantastic terrain and scenery (although he’s been making terrain since he was a small boy), and in 2020 he released a book that goes into even more detail. This wonderful tome covers everything terrain-building; from the basic theory of terrain for various uses (for example, the difference between tournament and scenic diorama use), to the best materials for every step of the process, through to the nitty-gritty of actually getting it done. Terrain Essentials contains quite literally all the knowledge you’ll ever need to create fantastic scenery of your own. You’ll just need to supply the raw materials and some hobby time!
Mel’s passion and expertise shines through on every page of Terrain Essentials, and there really is something for everyone, regardless of their level of hobby experience. Personally, I particularly like the four-page section on colour science and theory (which has never been my strong suit, but Mel’s explanation breaks it down so that even I can understand it!), as well as the chapter on planning and building ruined buildings – perfect for my Bolt Action Germans to fight over! Even subjects as supposedly simple as applying static grass get the ‘Terrain Tutor treatment’, with the best methods, products, and theories discussed in detail. Huge numbers of gorgeous full-colour photographs show you exactly how it’s done, and serve as a fantastic appetiser to get your hobby juices flowing.
Terrain Essentials is more or less a bible on creating fantastic scenery and terrain for wargaming – so much so that I’m considering building a little shelf above my hobby desk solely to be able to keep it to hand at all times! There’s absolutely nothing more satisfying to a wargamer than seeing your lovingly painted miniatures on a similarly beautiful board, and terrain-making is a great ‘palate-cleanser’ project if you’re starting to get a bit tired of painting standard figures. Plus, if you’re the guy with all the terrain, you can guarantee you’ll be popular at your local gaming club when it’s time to run a tournament!
Terrain Essentials Covers:
- Planning: The most important step is thinking it through before you start.
- Tools & Materials: Learn what you should be using and when you should be using it.
- Techniques: How to get the results you want across a wide variety of terrain pieces.
- Bases & Boards: Give your terrain the foundations it deserves.
- Groundwork: Understand the importance of texture in creating realistic pieces.
- Grasswork: Bring life to your pieces by adding the flora you would expect to see around it.
- Putting It All Together! Combine all this information to build both natural and man-made features for all scales and settings.