Hills 2.0

28 07 2012

Early on in my blogging I posted an article on hills. In this blog I featured my GeoHex hill system which is really neat modular hill system that can be used to not just create hilltops but a very realistic undulating topography.

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As cool as it is though, its a huge pain the butt to set up and tear down. It takes at least and hour to set up the hills and sometimes much longer to tear down. When returning them to their box they have to fit in just such a way. Ick. What I need is a set of hills I can just pull down of the shelf and plop on the table.

A more common hill solution involves making hill tops out of “blueboard”. Blueboard is a type of wall insolation that can be bought in 8” by 4” sheets at you your local handy dandy nifty neeto hardware store.

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A sheet of blueboard costs about $10 a pop. There are a couple of funny things about blueboard; The only people that need a single sheet of it are wargamers. If you were building a house you’d use this stuff by the pallet. I have had the funniest interactions with people in hardware store when they apologize for how expensive it is or when I ask them if I can borrow a knife so I can cut it up to put it in my car.

To make a hill I start with a piece of blueboard (BTW…my blueboard is pink)

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I then mark the shape of the hills on the blueboard using a sharpie. I want several hills to be of a manageable sizes ranging from about 1’ by 2’ down to small hills that are about 6” square.

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I then cut out the hills using a hot wire. Hot wires (or foam cutters) are used by crafty types for sculpting.

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First I cut the hills out making sure to leave a level edge.

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Next I trim the edges do create as flat a slope as possible.

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To create as gentle a slope for the hill as possible I continue slice off where the edge I cut intersects with top surface of the hill. This is a really inexact process. If it seems you are making a mess then relax… you are. The next set of steps are really forgiving and will make up for booboos you make here.

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Next coat the hill in mod podge.

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This is gooey and nasty. Do this in the garage.

Next I sprinkle Woodland Scenics blended grass everywhere and quickly. Once I get everything covered I shake off the excess. This makes a mess. Seriously. I do this over a box I keep on hand for this purpose. This is handy as it not only helps with the mess but it allows me to collect and reuse the droppings.

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I let this dry and then apply a second coat.  Two coats should be enough to coat everything completely.

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All this glue and grass creates a pretty thick layer and fills in the nicks and gaps I created when I haphazardly carved out the shape of the hill.

The next step is to coat the hills in a dilution of mod podge. If I don’t do this, the grass will come off to the touch.

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I have a spray bottle I grabbed at my local hardware store for this purpose. I mix mod podge with water at about 3:1 ratio and spray it onto my hills 3 or 4 times. This is a really important step that makes the hill nice and hard to the touch.

Here is a finished hill.  As its covered in the same grass as my tiles it’ blends really well

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3 responses

5 08 2012
Mazikainen

What is the difference between mod podge and PVA glue?

6 08 2012
Douglas G. King

Mod Podge is in fact a PVA glue that’s really common in the US. Any “white” glue will get it done here.

Thanks for reading!

6 08 2012
Mikko Asikainen

heh, ok. Kind of reminds me of the time when I was discussing with an american and was confused over what “cheetos” were. We didn’t have that brand over here but we definitely have the yellow-squiggly-cheese-snacks. I really enjoy your blog as I’m doing my own 6mm ACW set with baccus miniatures at the same time.

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