Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Cabbage Patch

by Tony Harwood

Originally posted on Barking Irons Online in May 2011

Re-posted here in reply to a query on The Miniatures Page - see this link for further details.

With this latest piece of terrain I am going to attempt to build a generic piece of Flintloque themed terrain using scraps and recycled material.  I will be building a small vegetable garden – or Cabbage Patch which will hopefully be used with my Sauerkraut Wars background, see my Blog for further details.

3mm thick plastic sign, used for the base, I have cut it to a rough oval and chamfered the edges.
Blue foam, a scrap piece which was about the size of a cigarette packet.
Wood strips, from a wooden tangerine packing case.
A broken twig (from the garden).
A couple of pieces of Balsawood, again a couple of scraps.
A resin cast barrel, the original of which was modelled by me and cast by Grand Manner.
A strip of corrugated cardboard.
A broken cork (from a bottle of wine).
DAS Modelling clay.
Green Stuff.
Filler (Spackle in the US).
Split peas.
Cocktail sticks.
Card decoration artificial paper roses.
uPVA glue.
Sieved sand.


The first couple of photos show the wall being constructed from the Blue Foam. I have cut the foam with a ‘snap-off’ bladed modelling knife, first into thin strips and then individual bricks about 4mm x 6mm x 10mm, the corner posts were cut a little bigger and the upright capping stones are about 6mm x 6mm.  Some variation is actually better than a uniform brick size.

I have used undiluted uPVA glue to glue the wall together, it’s a little fiddly as the glue takes time to fully dry, but once set the whole structure becomes very stable.  I have not worried too much about shaping the individual stones as I will be painting them with some textured paint later.

To the outside of the garden area, I have added a number of individual and loose stones, as if the wall is in disrepair.

The base is a piece of 3mm thick plastic which was originally used as an estate Agents For Sale sign, the walled area is 160mm long x 130mm wide and the wall is 25 – 28mm tall.

The wooden fence is made from one piece of scrap wood which initially came from a wooden box in which tangerines were sold.  This wood is ideal for modelling and can be picked up free of charge at any traditional greengrocers, the uprights are 26mm tall and the horizontal fencing is 90mm long.  I have used thick superglue to glue these pieces into position and detailed the joints with small slivers of sliced plastic rod to model rusty nails.

The cost so far has been minimal, the plastic sign was a road-side find, the blue foam, a free gift which was left over from a school project and the tangerine box (loads of modelling wood) given free of charge, by a greengrocer in Stourport-on-Severn, just tell them what you will be using it for and you will be surprised what they are willing to give.  In terms of time, this simple wall and fence has taken about one hour to complete.

One modelling hint that I have not used is;  when building model walls or fences, to construct them on to a thin foundation, for example a strip of card, the same length as the wall but slightly wider, say 3 – 4mm wider both sides, this has two advantages, the wall can be better blended in to the groundwork and as Flintloque miniatures are slightly taller than your average 28mm figure, the proportions look better.  As I said,  I have not used this technique on this section of wall.

In addition you can replace the blue foam with cork, try cork tiles or cork coasters.

The field was sculpted from strips of corrugated cardboard, where the top layer had been removed and the remaining ridges were modelled to look like a ploughed field or ridged field, the joins were built up with both filler and DAS modelling clay.  The random effect was caused by only having a small strip of corrugated card and therefore I had to stagger the ridges.

I have added a small twig, taken from the garden, which was cut flush on the base and superglued in the corner.  The roots were built up from Green Stuff while the top was left rough and broken.

The small wooden trough is modelled from a small scrap of Balsawood, literally a small piece about the size of a playing card, the design is a simple tapered box raised on two legs and further detailed with some slivers of plastic rod.  The barrel is a resin casting, however the original was sculpted by me and later cast by Grand Manner.  The modelling of a similar barrel is not difficult and should be within the skills of most modellers, however it is time consuming and I would suggest that a bought barrel is a better option.

In an attempt to add some texture I mixed up some filler, fine sand and uPVA glue.  The mixture is loosely painted on to the walls, the ploughed ridges and on top of the areas modelled with DAS, when dry I painted on a second coat to which I added some white acrylic paint, this helps to fill any small impressions and ‘tie’ everything together.

In an attempt to cram as many modelling hints and tips into just one terrain piece, I have added some broken cork (from a bottle of wine) to one corner of the field.  I will be adding more surface texture later, but for now you can see a number of different techniques on this build.

Prior to starting the painting, I once again made up a mix of uPVA Glue, Filler, fine sieved sand and Acrylic Paint then with a large brush, I once again painted the walls and ridged field area. The dry glue/filler/paint finish is very strong and a perfect base for painting.

Once this mix was fully dry, I painted on some diluted uPVA glue to the ground areas and then sprinkled on some sieved sand.  To seal this sand, I used a dropper to add some water to which I had added a tiny drop of washing up liquid.

I would hope that the wide variety of modelled features and the use of ‘scrap material’ would inspire others to try building their own terrain pieces.


Once the textured paint had fully dried, I basecoated the whole model with Inscribe Acrylic Paints Bark Brown.  This is a new approach for me – painting everything dark brown first and then building up with ‘scrubbing’ rather than building up layers or drybrushing over a black undercoat.  I’ve been reading about this style (and discussing it) for some time.  It will be interesting to see how it differs from my earlier terrain pieces.

From the dark brown base, I have started the process of ‘scrubbing’ a lighter brown mid layer.  The term ‘scrubbing’ is the best term I can come up with to describe the painting process, using a stiff hogs hair brush I am scrubbing or rubbing the loaded brush into the terrain and unlike dry brushing, I am actually building the layers of paint.  I am using an action that is very similar to the process used when stencilling, not too much paint and using an upright prodding action with a stiff brush.

Subsequent layers are build up with Games Workshop Snakebite Leather and Snakebite Leather and Skull White mix.  The final effect is much like my usual painting technique.  In fact my final highlight was a drybrush of Snakebite and White!

The next part was painting the stone wall and once again I have used the scrubbing technique.  I started with a mix of craft paint Black and some Mid Grey, then a mid layer of Dark Grey and a final third layer of Mid Grey.  As with the soil – I used a final drybrush of very light Grey.

The Fence was a mix of Brown and Green, highlighted with Grey and the tree trunk and water barrel were painted in the same colours.

Detail painting was limited to the barrel rings, the metal fixtures on the trough and the pale areas of the shattered tree.  I addition I picked out some of the larger stones with Grey paint and highlighted them first with lighter Grey and finally with White.

The whole painting process took less than a day – and most of this time was spent waiting for the paint to dry!

Once the painting was finished, I varnished the whole structure with water based acrylic varnish, I find that this helps to prolong the life of the terrain as well as ‘matting’ everything down.

All of my Flintloque terrain pieces are finished in the same way – a coat of uPVA glue to the outside of the base and then dipped in dyed sawdust.  My gaming board is finished in the same sawdust and using this technique on all pieces helps to give a uniform finish and ‘look’ which is more pleasing when displayed on the gaming table.

Now – you may be asking yourself – why a cabbage patch?  The answer is simple – I had seen an earlier modelling article showing how small paper roses which are used to decorate cards could be used to model cabbages or flowers and I wanted to try the same idea on a Sauerkraut Wars themed terrain piece.  I bought some pale blue paper roses (£1.00 for 27) and painted them green, then highlighted them with a lighter green, not worrying too much if the blue showed through - as everyone knows – Cabbages are in fact Blue/Green when fully grown.  The paper roses – from now on referred to as cabbages were cut from the backing card and glued in rows with uPVA White Glue.  I have used all 27 roses – sorry cabbages and planted them in neat and organised rows.

Before calling it a day – I have added some static grass tufts and two clumps of wild mushrooms which were made from split peas, superglued to cut off cocktail sticks and painted in the traditional (if not very accurate) red cups with white spots.  Once the paint was dry the mushrooms were cut off and superglued in to place.  I had modelled nine, but I lost two when cutting them to size and the third one broke.  The lesson when modelling mushrooms is to always make more than you need.

One Cabbage Patch – Finished and ready to be used in my Sauerkraut Wars background.  It was fun to build – but hopefully it will show how easy it is to build your own terrain. I have tried to show a number of simple terrain modelling techniques, that can be used to produce simple but effective terrain. The total cost for this piece of terrain which measures 11inches x 8inches was less than £4.00, £1.00  of which was the cost of the paper roses!  It also allowed me to test out a new painting technique; one that I think has worked well.

In gaming terms the Cabbage Patch can be used as rough terrain, with hard cover (the walls) or light cover (the fence).  It can also be used as a game objective having both food and water featured.  Finally, it can be used as a garden area and when situated behind one of my model houses.



Anonymous said...

Very nice work and a very useful article - Thanks!


Michael Awdry said...

What a tremendous build, I now feel the need for a cabbage patch - inspire use of materials.

Paul´s Bods said...

Paper roses as cabbages...brilliant idea!!

Ant Evans said...

brillaint stuff, do you have a link to where you got the roses from, I carn't tell the size on ebay!

Tony said...

The paper roses were bought in The Works - try searching in the Craft Section.

If you have difficulty finding them here - you can try The Range or Hobby Craft. They all sell similar.