Thursday, 21 March 2013

Making Generic Earthworks

The Cerignola game stuff is nearing completion; even the last of the Gendarme types are almost finished. One job I was not looking forward to, was making 12" of earthworks to add to the ones I already have.

Making them is not a problem, as they are easy enough to construct. Howvevert, I'm adding to ones I've had for a while and I have to make the old and new blend in. This is never easy. I tend to use cheap (heavily discounted) artists acrylics and odds and sods of household emulsion for terrain. So when it's used up it gets replaced with something similar but not usually the same.

Anyway, I have taken a few shots of my 'generic earthworks' to show how I make them. They are easy to construct and they are also quite cheap - putting them into the scope of most gamers.

Firstly, making 12" of earthwork seemed a bit silly. Earthworks are so quick and simple to construct that you might as well make a batch of pieces. I had 16 resin gabions in the locker, so I laid them out next to a tape measure and worked out the length of earthwork& I could manufacture from them. It worked out at 36 inches (3 'long' sections). This is a lot of earthworks for 16 gabions - but it lowers the cost of construction.

After gluing the gabions back towards one edge (see pic above), singly and in pairs, to a strip of 2mm MDF (35mm wide), I lowered the cost by gluing a piece of card in the space between the gabions.

The wide side of the MDF strip is the front of the earthwork and the narrow side the back (defender's) side.  Each strip starts and ends with a gabion to make the section joins 'disappear'.

To the back (defender's) side of the card I added horizontal lengths of wooden barbecue skewers cut to length with wire snips. Then I add some vertical 'holding posts'. This is where the cost savings are made - wooden skewers and card are as cheap as chips and look perfectly acceptable as 'barricade' when finished. At this point I undercoated everything with dark brown artist's acrylic.

Next I added the 'earth' to the front of the breastwork. For this I used terracotta Daz modelling clay. It air drys; doesn't shrink much (well hardly at all); is strong and durable when set; and is cheap.  These peices used half a 500g pack that I bought from ebay for £3 including postage. Once dry I used PVA to texture the clay with sand and grit.

Then I painted the lot with acrylics, acrylic ink, and household emulsions. I added a few patches of flock for more texture and colour. End result: 3 feet of generic 16th to mid 19th Century earthworks.

Getting them to match with the old sections - 8 out of 10 perhaps? I'll leave you to be the judge: the mid section is the old stuff.

There is another difference between old and new that will not be immediately apparent. The basing uses a different material - the old basing material was perspex from an old shower screen, alas, now all used up. Old shower screen, now, those were the days ......

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