This is the typical scene from the First World War, but I wanted something slightly different from the accepted norms of churned up mud. Something more like this:
You'll notice in the second picture that there is quite a lot of foliage around the shell hole and this would be particularly true later in the war when some of the fighting was in reasonably undamaged areas during the Kaiser Schlact and the 100 Days campaign. Also, Cambrai in 1917 was chosen as an operational area due to the countryside being relatively undamaged unlike places like the Somme or the areas around Ypres. So with this in mind I set about making a new terrain board.
I recently bought a lot of MDF offcuts for this very purpose. These have already been cut into 12"x6" rectangles as indicated in the rules. I have also had some shell hole terrain pieces kicking about for a while which I rarely used in games (except the last SB game), I don't even remember where they came from (EBay, I think..). These would do the trick for this tile so I glued all three to the board:
The next stage was to add Pollyfilla to the board to bring the level up and merge the shell holes properly to the base.
Leaving that to dry over night, I then painted over the Pollyfilla with PVA glue and sprinkled the whole board with sand:
Again, this was left to dry and the excess sand shaken off, leaving this:
Slowly slowly, chatchee shell hole. The whole board was sprayed with Humbrol Matt 30 Dark Green, this seals the sand and gives me the base colour to work with:
The green is then ink-washed with thinned down Burnt Umber:
When this ink-wash had dried I gave the entire base a dry-brush with Yellow, a very quick process.
That was the grass finished with so it was time to start detailing the shell holes themselves. Each crater was painted with Flat Earth as a base colour, which is a bit garish at this stage, but will be fine as a starter.
It looked better when the paint was dry and in the sunlight:
But, as we all know, soil isn't really brown, it's a combination of hues depending on the underlying geology, so I started shading it with various greys and khaki and similar earthy tones.I didn't photo each and every stage of this as some were quite subtle, but I ended up with this:
This was all finished off with Grey Green heavily applied to the shell craters.
The penultimate stage was to add another layer of Burnt Umber ink-wash to the craters, to try and give them some depth and take away the chalky appearance that the dry-brushing had left.
And the final bit was to lightly dry-brush the craters with Buff, again just to pick out the details and blend the previous stages together. I thought about adding some more debris to the base, but decided against it as it would be brittle and prone to breakage in games. It looked good enough to me at this point to stop work on it:
Here is the tile with German infantry and a captured Mark IV attacking across the shell cratered landscape:
This last picture is with the camera flash on, just to give you another perspective of the colouring processes:
It took about four days in total, including drying times and was a reasonably easy process. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out and intend on making another as soon as I have located some more decent shell holes and I'll post that in it's various stages when I do.
I guess there is only one thing left to do and that is to leave the last word to Old Bill: