Winter Terrain

With the planned WWII Flames of War Peiper’s Charge Bulge scenario set in the winter month of December 1944 and coming up at the local HMGS-PSW regional convention in Fullerton CA, WR took stock of his wintered terrain early last month. Other than an old white bed sheet there was limited suitable terrain to give that “cold” feeling on the tabletop. So it’s time to create, construct, paint, flock, and place in the freezer some terrain…. lots of surface area terrain for a 18′ x 6′ table worth in Peiper’s Charge. Time to call in labor reinforcements too…. aka Daniel, to assist on this winter project. Results of several weekends and after work evenings is written next.

First up is the background ground sheet tabletop cover. Two 5×9′ drop sheet are purchased from Lowes ($12) with a pale tan or buff cloth color. To these laid out sheets WR and Daniel sprays “spots” of light brown and dark brown scattered across the drop cloths. Once dry…. a few minutes in the hot sun did the trick, a light dusting spray of semi-gloss white spray paint applied to blend the spots, especially the dark brown ones. Then after locating an old semi-gloss white paint can, well season ancient paint no doubt, WR and Daniel apply a dry brush scatter effect across the drop cloth using old 2″ stiff brushes. Heavy or light, randomly across the cloth material in different directions. Used semi-gloss to give a “glimmer of ice water” effect. Gloss white paint works too but WR only had semi-gloss. WR already has some large clips to attach the drop cloth edge to the convention tables and smooth out the cloth wrinkles.

The 5′ x 9′ drop cloth given the mentioned texture paintwork.

Basic ground cover done…. time to create some fleece cloths with a similar treatment for the woods (outlining them on the tabletop) and ability to drop down heavy snow drifts or deep snow areas. Purchased some Blizzard white fleece cloth on sale at the local JoAnn store (a fabric and crafts store) during their 50% off sale. WR uses fleece cloth over common felt as it is flexible and more importantly, the loose fabric threads in fleece tend to attach themselves to the textured rough surface drop cloth, wood hills, large terrain tiles, or other terrain WR has in his collection. Helps keep the fleece cloth edge firmly flush on the tabletop and preventing the fleece cloth edge curling up.. Fleece cloth has two nap sides, a smooth nap side and the “rougher” nap side. It is the “rougher” side which is placed face down, to cling to my other terrain when hand pressed during game setup. The fleece smooth nap side is given the terrain paintwork.

First, a random spotting spray of the two brown shades, a lighter tan (off white) color and the dark brown shade on the wood underlay pieces. For the snow drifts or deep snow pieces only the light tan spotted spray effect is done. The darker brown gives effect of deep / shaded wood interior with limited sunlight hitting the ground. Drying in the sun again then WR lightly sprays the tan color against the cutting edge of each individual fleece cloth shape. Some light tan overspray is done on the top surface inwards for about an inch or so, to give the blending effect to the drop cloth and brilliant white fleece material interior thus defusing the brilliant white fleece cloth color to the tan / buff under color of the terrain drop cloths. In other words, avoids the stark hard white line look.

All the cut fleece shapes are laid out on the lawn and the spotted brown and edge paint applied. Note the snow drift or deep snow pieces don’t have the heavy or dark brown spotting effect.

Then more old white paint is dry brushed or “splashed” across the cloth surface in a random and irregular spotting. Heavy and light paint laden brush strokes. For the woods under cloth pieces some “green and brown” tuff like low texture is applied to represent the wood undergrowth and grasses. So before the bushed old white paint sets or dries, WR lightly scatters Woodland Scenics green blend flocking material mix in spots, finishing with another layer of the Woodlands Scenics brown blend mix. Then a key step…. press the Woodland Scenics material into the white paint using an old cardboard sheet. When dry, finish up with another dry bushing of old white paint to taste. Should note that WR’s Woodland Scenics Green and brown blends have additional small rocks, tuffs, coarse material etc. blended into the basic blend mixture sold by Woodland Scenics.

For the open area snow drifts or deep snow, the same basic process is done but omitting the green and brown blend flocking material. Instead a coat of Woodland Scenics “snow” material is applied, pressed into the old white paint, and if needed, a final dry brushing with more old white semi-gloss paint.

The three stages….(r to l): The clear white Blizzard fleece material at right, then edged with spray light tan and spotted browns (woods underlay piece this example). Then the flocking material applied, pressed into the white paint application, and then finished with dry bush old white paint.

The finished look. A woods underlay fleece piece on left. On right is the deep snow or snow drift fleece piece. Upon the woods underlay piece WR places his wintered free-standing trees.

Next up are the trees… lots of trees: WR gathers all his “autumn” seasonal trees stored in the terrain filing cabinets. Then Daniel and WR applies a mixture of thinned white PVC glue to the branches and flocked not once but twice the trees with Woodland Scenics “snow” material. Once dry another dusting of Woodland Scenics “snow” material was applied to tree crowns. This finishes off the “autumn” trees to make them “wintered” but more trees are required for the Peiper’s Charge WWII December 1944 Bulge scenario. Poking around internet and Ebay, WR finds a “bag of trees”….. cheap and ready to go. Already white flocked and sold in various heights (JTT / MRC models). Three bags of 24 trees each, with three tree heights from 4″ to 6” in each bag. They arrive via post at the warren for their basing. WR glues each tree to a painted steel washer to “weight their base” then applies the Woodland Scenics brown blend mixture treatment on the glued tree metal washer base. Finish off with small clumps of various green shade material to give effect of small bushes. Same work applied to the “autumn” tree bases. Last step… a dusting of Woodland Scenic “snow” material on each tree base.

Two types of “autumn” trees in foreground… basic brown and some with more color. All given the “snow texture” treatment. In background the purchased trees from JTT / MRC pending base work.

Photo of the JTT / MRC trees purchased. Comes in bag of 24 trees in three sizes. Each tree has a small base to glue on but any wargamer would wish to use a weighted base.

Continuing to the frozen water fleece pieces. Lengths of frozen rivers, streams, brooks, and some frozen ice sheet lake or ponds. The basic blue fleece material this time is produced by Blizzard and has a 60’s/70’s era blue tie dye effect as pictured below. Purchase from JoAnn’s with the white fleece material. WR likes this material for his water terrain as it doesn’t have a “solid look” to the material but waves of shaded blue color…. light to dark. After cutting out the required fleece cloth shapes….. long “strings” of blue for the waterways like river, streams and brooks, some 90 degrees waterway bend pieces, and larger surface area for the frozen ponds or lakes, it is time for the textured icy effect work.

The basic Blizzard blue “tie dye” effect material. Used for all WR’s water terrain, both the normal warmer weather water flow or lakes, and the frozen icy terrain being dicussed.

First step is to blend the sharp blue edge color to the underlying winter drop cloth color and avoid the stark blue color line effect hopefully. The surface area pieces are edged by direct spraying. For the long river, streams, and brooks fleece pieces (3, 2″, and 1″ widths) WR first rolls them up, then sprays the tan color to the exposed rolled edge.

The hand of WR shows the spray color can and the rolled river pieces. Two already have the tan color sprayed edge at right.

Stage two for the frozen water is the old white semi-gloss paint application. But to give a feathery texture to the fleece when dry brushed, WR first sprays some clear spray on the fleece nap surface first and let dry. The clear spray clung to the fleece, stiffing the material for the white paint dry brush effect later.

Like the wood underlay and snow drift pieces above, an old 2″ paint brush is placed into service. Dabbing the old white semi-gloss paint across the pieces, somewhat with a flow look on the waterways, the pieces are soon covered in white dab marks. Next dry brush more white paint to ensure every inch has a “white hairy” look and no solid blue fleece material left showing. The surface water is frozen but could be flowing under the ice layer thinking WR. Then ensure all edges have extra white paint to give the snow bank look along the waterway banks or the frozen lake / ponds shoreline. Lastly apply again the Woodland Scenics “snow” material on the surface and press with a sheet of cardboard firmly. Let dry all pieces overnight before placing into storage.

The frozen waterway and lakes production line. Paint, old 2″ stiff brush, the Woodland Scenic “snow” material, old wall board, and a piece of frozen river fleece near the cardboard press (upright showing the excess snow sticking to the cardboard for photo).

View of the frozen lake look. At right blue fleece treated with edging tan spray and clear coat. At left white semi-gloss  been dabbed and dry brushed. Note  extra white paint applied on lake edge.

This leaves some minor areas of terrain concern for WR. First; the building roofs should have some form of snow build up for a true winter look. Second; the low stone walls and hedges should show a layer of snow atop the exposed edge. Not too sure how these weather effects should be done while maintaining an ability for the same terrain piece to be used in warmer climate.  Maybe for the building roofs some form of “tent like” white fleece material or thick paper, cut to a wavy snow edge. Seems possible so some test examples need to be made. As for low stone wall and hedges WR is thinking about chalk…. the white chalkboard stick stuff. Rubbed on the solid terrain piece for the scenario then washed off to remove the white chalk powder.  Hmmmm…..

But for now WR has another project demanding his attention and creative painting skills……. like 200 miniatures (25 battalions of eight miniatures each) British infantry for the Battle of Vimiero 1808 in one week. At least the French infantry is ready.

Small project….. organize the British miniature army for both the Peninsular and Waterloo periods.

Another view of the pending British army. Just need 20 or so battalions from this mass of 25-28mm miniatures (20×8).

Cheers from the frozen warren.



2 thoughts on “Winter Terrain

    • Thank you again Peter. Will have to look about the internet for the proper Frostgrave sites. I know of that game system, seen gaming at the local miniature convention, but haven’t played a game.

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