Since reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy back when I was in high school, I was captivated by the world that Tolkien had created in his works of fiction. But it wouldn't be until later in life that I would be drawn into Middle Earth Strategy Battle Games (MESBG).
In case you missed the first two parts of this series of articles, you can find links to them here:
Caught up? Good, we shall continue.
So with the research done for this mammoth (or in this case Mumakil!) terrain project, I was able to start sourcing the materials I would need to make my vision come to life on the tabletop.
Thanks to my mate Tom, a set builder at one of London's premier theatre schools, I could source some 5mm MDF from their leftover materials at the school's workshop. Tom generously cut the 5mm MDF sheets into 12" x 12" squares (Oh we will be jumping between metric and imperial on this one, so buckle up!), these would form modular city block bases that I would be able to mount my buildings on.
As for the building themselves, I shopped around at various laser-cut MDF terrain manufacturers to see what adobe / Middle Eastern / North African buildings they had on offer. At the time of publication, I'm afraid to report that the choice of 28mm scale terrain in this genre is not all that generous but it is growing. I eventually decided to go with two kits from TTCombat.com: a set of Mexican Slums and a set of Ruined Mexican Slums, links below:
Construction of TTCombat Kits - Source: Dan Payne
With the kits ordered, posted and delivered, it was time to crack on with construction. First, I sub-assembled the buildings to make them easier to spray (we'll get to that later) and then placed them on the 12" x 12" base sections in different configurations.
Once I had decided on the layout of the buildings on each of the bases marked them out and with builder's tea on stand-by (as pictured above), began the lengthy process of cutting flagstones out of thin card and gluing them onto the boards to create a paving effect.
With that stage of construction complete, I decided I needed to paint up a test building to work out the scheme for the rest of my structures and ruins in Karna. One thing I noticed in my travels through Morocco, was that a lot of the traditional buildings' exterior walls were of a red / pink colour. I asked one of the guides in Marrakesh why this was the case and he informed me that it was done to keep both the exterior and interior of the structure cool during the hot summers as red is a colour that will naturally absorb heat, thus leaving those inside and those that pass by the outside cooler. He also mentioned that the local stone quarried to use in the slurry which was applied to the outside of the structure is naturally of that colour. So I figured I would incorporate this concept into my design.
With this in mind, I selected TTCombat.com 's Brawny Flesh spray paint for the exterior of the building's basecoat and Mummified Khaki spray paint for the interior's basecoat (thus the subassembly).
After the basecoat sprays were applied and dried, I drybrushed on two paints from the Citadel Paints range: Ushabti Bone and Corax White to help give the building that earthen texture and feel. I would also do a drybrush Rhinox Hide and then Steel Legion Drab on the bottom part of the structure to create the build-up of dirt and grime that would naturally form on a building in a once bustling city like Karna. This is a method I have used on a number of terrain pieces and vehicle models which is simple yet effective.
As for most of the timberwork on the house such as the doors and windows (you may notice I added a trap door on the roof, this was made using card and wooden coffee stirrers) I decided to paint these features up in the teal spot colour that I had used on my Serpent Horde models, this would help tie the buildings of Karna in with my army. For this I once again used colours from the Citadel Paints range: a basecoat of Stegadon Scale Green, a wash of Coelia Greenshade, then a drybrush of Sotek Green and finally a light drybrush of Temple Guard Blue.
Over all I am happy with the effect, it's pretty straightforward to replicate and will set it apart from the other Middle Earth buildings you see populating many gaming tables such as the white stone masonry of Minas Tirith or the wood and thatch of Rohan.
In the next part of my MESBG Terrain Project series, I will focus on one of the centrepiece buildings in my ruins of Karna terrain set.
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