Monday 26 February 2024

The Final Hill

As mentioned in my last post about hills, I had enough materials on hand for one more hill, but I wanted something unique and multi-purposed. I wanted a basic 25mm (1") high hill with relatively gentle slopes on which I could mount three different tops:
  • A further gentle slope rising gently up to maybe another 25mm (1")
  • A wooded area on the crest
  • A rugged rocky crest with maybe two positions where troops could take post
The three tops could all used as stand alone pieces, but could also be 'plugged in'  to the main hill.

First thing to do was to cut the base of the what will be the main hill from a piece of 4.75mm (3/16") MDF that has been laying around for years. I cut it in a rough ellipse measuring 445mm (17.5") on the long axis and 350mm (14") on the short. 

I then sketched and cut the basic shape of the top area that is 240mm (9") by 200mm (8") from 3mm (1/8") MDF and then marked a line about 6mm (1/4") inside the outer edge. I bolted two more pieces of 3mm MDF to that piece so that they would not move and cut along the inner line with the jigsaw. The end result is a 6mm ring and three identical pieces that will be the top variants that will plug into the ring with a blade width tolerance.

I then cut three pieces of 25mm (1") polystyrene: one for the base and two for the tops. 

I then bevelled the edge of the base with a rasp to about 30 degrees as I had done with my other hills and glued the polystyrene to it. At the same time I positioned and glued the ring on top of the polystyrene of the base unit.

I also glued one of the smaller pieces of polystyrene to one of the tops.

Next I looked at the piece that will have the wood on it. With a hole saw I cut six irregularly spaced 35mm (1.5") holes from the plug, keeping the discs from each cut.

I cut and glued a piece of 0.5mm steel plate to the underside of the piece. Why? Well the trees will be fixed to the discs saved above and rare earth magnets will be embedded in the base of the disc so that they will lock into place, but can be removed for more easy storage.

This is a technique I have used before with woods (link).

All the glued items were then left over night to set.

The next day when all the glue was set I shaped the polystyrene of the base with a hot wire cutter. I also needed to apply some filler so that the slope extended evenly to the top of the ring. 

I shaped to rounded top and cut the irregular, rocky one.

To the edge of the base of the wooded top I fixed felt with an overlap of about 3mm (.25"), trimmed and drybrushed it. This will help it merge with the base when plugged in.

The floor of the wood was textured with sand, painted and various pieces of twigs and a mix of flock textures were added around the edge.

The trees were fixed to their discs, appropriately painted and textured, then their foliage was added, using the coconut matting and foam flock technique described here. Rare earth magnets were glued into their base. Finally I added a few stones and more foliage around the edges of the base.

For the rugged top I cut the polystyrene so that there were two added levels plus a gentle slope to access each level. A papier maché of toilet paper and PVA glue was added to some of the smaller near vertical areas, which were eventually painted in earth tones, and glued and drybrushed patches of felt on some of the flatter parts. Sand was added and painted in other areas that weren't going to be part of the rock face, which as usual was made of garden bark.

Finally the base and the round top were covered with felt and drybrushed.

I know that it makes placing figures on them easier, but I am not really a fan of flat topped hills, but just as I finished the three plugins I decided to make one more for variation - a plain flat top that creates a plateau.  This piece of the only one of the plugins that can't be used in isolation as an individual feature. 

Below are the various combinations of the modules plugged into the base.

The round top

Above and below the rugged top

Above and below the wooded top

The flat or plateau top

I did briefly think of extending the flexibility of this piece one more step by hollowing out the centre of the main hill and making it into a volcano, but that would have been silly...or is it? Were there any active volcanoes in Europe, on the east coast of North America or in Paraguay in the 18th and 19th century? Etna and Vesuvius are the only ones I can think of...


  1. What a great idea. The garden bark always comes up beautifully as rocks. Perhaps a volcano would be a good idea, something into which you can tip misbehaving dice.

    1. In our games there would be an awful lot of dice in that volcano...most from one player who I am sure has worse dice luck than Aly.

    2. And the beauty of using bark is that you can carve it with a Stanley knife to make it fit specific areas.

  2. Another lovely piece of work mark and some clever ideas on how to construct terrain for those who want to replicate it!

    1. And the best thing is that it is not overly technical and only minimal tools are required.

  3. Multiple themed hill, great idea. The tree ringed version is evocative, almost see standing stones in there.

    1. It would be easy enough to make a group of stones on some discs that could replace the trees...worth thinking about...

  4. came out really well and I appreciate the tutorial. I really get a kick out of seeing / reading how others make terrain. Gonna keep some of those ideas for later. 😁

    Yes, a volcano would of been silly. We're serious wargamers here. 😁

    1. I quite enjoy doing the tutorials. They also serve as a reference source to remind me to do it again after a two or three year gap. I may just do the volcano thing just to surprise people...

  5. Now that is a great idea Mark and brilliantly executed! I might have a go at something similar for my terrain...

  6. An impressive piece of terrain Mark…
    I am way to lazy to go to all that mental effort … I would/ will probably make three/or more hills 😁

    All the best Aly

    1. I don't know if I would have had the energy to make three more hills...

  7. Realistic, clever and gorgeous Mark...Thumbs up!!

    1. Thank you Phil. It was a fun little project.