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"What's your favorite modern / sci-fi paper terrain & why?" Topic

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Grandviewroad07 Aug 2012 9:21 a.m. PST

trying to make decisions on what sci-fi stuff to keep and toss. While I like sci-fi skirmish, you really need terrain for it due to the firepower involved. Once you can hit and blow up nearly everything visible, terrain becomes critical.

So I'm reconsidering my aversion to paper terrain and wondering about cost, ease of assembly, variety, and what experiences the TMP'ers have had that they'd like to share, since I haven't done anythin with paper since I was a kid.

The terrain is buildings and obstacles in my mind, generally. While I'd also like to fight over man-made outdoor structures, I'm not particularly interested in terrain as detailed as you might need for an RPG – the rooms don't need to be furnished, etc.

The type of games I'm considering, if it helps with input, are skirmish / warband type games such as Rezolution, Gangs of Mega-City 1, 2-Hour Wargames (5150 et al), maybe even the old Starship Troopers by Mongoose, or using my STart Wars figs from Wizards of the Coast on 3-D terrain instead of on their 2-D maps.

No experience at all with paper terrain, welcome suggestions, sites, manufacturors, methods, etc.


Dynaman878907 Aug 2012 9:29 a.m. PST

Paper Terrain is worth a look. Not free but great stuff.


There are free models on the web and stuff you can buy as PDF for cheap as well – I'm sure someone will link to those soon.

For building.

1 – Get GOOD scissors, Xacto knife, and a cutting board. Tacky glue is recommended as well.

2 – If printing your own use 110 pound cardstock (staples carrys it – so does Sams club)

3 – Cut with the scissors and the xacto knife on any intricate parts. If any part is supposed to glue to another part give it as much extra room as possible (the PT stuff above is great – but I always leave as much extra room for each glue tab area as possible NOT just what is marked)

4 – score any folds before folding. I use the blunt (reverse) side of the xacto knife for this.

5 – TEST fit everything before gluing together (where possible)

Pijlie07 Aug 2012 9:40 a.m. PST

See here

TMP link

for more free paper terrain

laager5007 Aug 2012 9:41 a.m. PST

If your willing to spend sometime trawling, have a look through wargames vault and RPG now



Jemima Fawr07 Aug 2012 9:57 a.m. PST

And do you burnish it? If so, why and how?

(One of the great unanswered questions on TMP)

Muncehead07 Aug 2012 10:47 a.m. PST

Ok not free but do have a browse around I use it myself and your build is limited by your imagination and available space. Their forum is very helpful too.

Cherno07 Aug 2012 10:49 a.m. PST

+1 for World Works Games. Just the best-looking paper terrain around.

Grandviewroad07 Aug 2012 11:28 a.m. PST

It doesn't have to be free – looking for all and any, mainly interested in quality and ease of assembly. I assume it will be less expensive than solid pieces in any event.

Some of the graphics look pretty intricate – does anyone pass on using their own printer and go to Staples / Kinkos instead?

John Sowerby07 Aug 2012 1:33 p.m. PST

I used World Works for my Starship Troopers game at Recon this April, though I made it somewhat stronger by sticking it to form core. They get my vote as well.

Muncehead07 Aug 2012 1:54 p.m. PST

I have seen a site where he mounts his to mounting board (the worldworks print outs) looks very nice.

I have printed most of mine on the home printer but on the WWG forums people use the planning program available there to plan out exactly what they will need and do go to Staples/Kinkos.

EDIT: Vampifan does some amazing stuff: link

Grandviewroad07 Aug 2012 3:01 p.m. PST

Hey John, don't suppose you have any pics of the game, do you? I've heard of using foam core as a reinforcement before, it's a good idea – light, strong and cheap.

Grandviewroad07 Aug 2012 6:59 p.m. PST

Just checked out the worldworks site…WOW, just WOW is all I can say.

Totally makes me rethink my skirmish game possibilities.

kmfrye07 Aug 2012 7:31 p.m. PST

Worldworks is great stuff. That said, there are some false economies regarding paper terrain that sometimes get overlooked.

Your ink
Your printer (wear and tear – I burnt out an imager once building a space station).
Your time – it takes longer than you think.

That said, I do like paper buildings.

Keith F.

Pijlie07 Aug 2012 8:45 p.m. PST

I omitted my reaction as to the "why"


In this picture, all buildings visible are made from paper and all the tall buildings are foldable. They look good, weigh nothing (a boon if you organize demos on your own on a regular basis) and take up little space. And even counting ink cartridges relatively cheap.

On the downside, they are more fragile than wood or resin and the more elaborate buildings take up quite some time to build, although not nearly as much as scratchbuilding with wood and cardboard.

UshCha07 Aug 2012 10:00 p.m. PST

Of course I'm biased 'cause we make it. But it is the best at what it does ;-) (fold flat). And even with the bits that are out there its very flexible. It does require care to build. Its a bit of a faff to prnt onto the 280 to 300 grm card but its cheap and how else can you store a town in a box file! See the link


Ps our star rating is low. Why, becuase one guy bought the lot and then gave us 1 start without giving us a reason. One guy bought an early set found a faut (now fixed) but still gave us 3 stars! Motto buy a bit to try firts whoever you buy from.

Seriously decide why you want paper. It will never be as good individually as resin. If you take our stuff no contest with resin 1 for 1. However build a village for with 20 hoses and it looks real. At that quantity like the real thing mosstly you see roof tops.
Have fun whatever you decide.

Toaster09 Aug 2012 1:35 a.m. PST


Vehicles, buildings and a nice street map all free, what more could you want.


angelofmenoth17 Aug 2012 12:43 p.m. PST

The ink issue is not as much of a problem as some people make it out to be. If you're going to be building a lot of paper terrain, you'll want an inkjet, and there are more than a few continuous ink supply systems (essentially cartridges with hoses to external ink tanks) out there. It cost me $45 USD-50 to get new cartridges for my printer. My CISS cost me $50 USD from an eBay seller with free shipping, holds 10 cartridges' worth of ink, and still has the chips so I monitor my ink levels digitally and visually. Buying new ink for the 4 colors and the main black costs me about $50 USD as well, so it pretty much cuts my costs to 1/10 of what I would pay for regular cartirdges. Having the printer open the tiny bit that it needs to be for the hoses makes the printer a little bit noisier, but it's nothing major.

110# cardstock is good, but I got turned on to 80# cover stock when Ebbles Miniatures (back now as Genet Miniatures) was still doing the Supply Depot. Super bright, super stiff, super smooth. There's nothing wrong with 110# card, but if you build the same model with that and with 80# cover stock, you'll see the difference. It is a little more expensive, but not a lot. The biggest hurdle is finding a store with it in stock or willing to order it for you. I get mine online, and I don't mind the price increase because the quality improvement is worth it to me.

TOPO's stuff is great, and the Ikubes are brilliant. I have 2 layouts of the terrain mat printed and backed with some vinyl so I can roll them up and not worry about wear and tear on the seams. The World Works stuff is the gold standard, and their TerrainLinX system only served to raise the bar. The Swift Scenics line of collapsible buildings they have is great as well. There are even removable balconies with them.

If you end up really liking your new paper modeling addiction, ditch the #11 blades in you trusty exacto in favor of an Olfa SVR-2 (another Supply Depot find). Once you break the tip on the #11, it's pretty much useless and you should change blades. The longer angle can also make precise control in tight spaces more difficult than you'd think it would. (That's also a common place to snap tips.) The SVR-2 has snap-off blade sections, is retractable, and the angle is not where near as acute, so you don't put as much pressure on the blade. They blades are also really sharp, so you can score with almost no pressure at all. I still like hand-cutting the occasional model to relax, but I ended up picking up a Silhouette cutter this year. I have a large TerrainLinX project coming up, and being able to cut and score a whole sheet in under 2 minutes for even the most involved sheets (very crowded page with lots of cutting and scoring, plus mounting to the carrier and removing when finished) means I'm spending more time building than I am cutting. (Pick any of these up on Amazon. I think the knife is about $9 USD)

Since you want sci-fi, I'd start with TOPO's shipping crates and Ikubes. The crates are just basic cubes (stretched to rectangles, but same construction), and that's the basis for most models. The technique is the same, the shape of the pieces might vary. The Ikubes really can be cut in a minute like TOPO shows in that video, and they unfold when you're done playing. When you're comfortable with your knife and used to working with the models, you can freehand cut them in no time.

Farstar17 Aug 2012 3:21 p.m. PST

Looking at Topo's industrial street tiles, I'm thinking that they could be printed two per page and do well for 15mm.

badger2217 Aug 2012 6:40 p.m. PST

I have used a lot of the stuff from paper terrain, and it all has been great. One of the best parts about it is the two in one building. All of the buildings I have come with both inner and outer shells. Outer is the building in normal construction. the inner one is the same after it has been blown up. So you can get either look that you want. Or if you use a lot of firepower, you can convert mid game.

Scott is a great guy to work with. Never had any problems at all. easy to assemble even for my non-modeling self.

My 15mm toen I am working on runs about Thrree dollars a building. Not as cheap as free, but i dont have to mess about with the printer. And I am not so great at getting printed stuff to work right in mty printer, almost certainly my problem not the machines.

So give Paper terrain a look, lots of great stuff.


furgie27 Oct 2013 2:36 a.m. PST

My paper build in action



SouthernPhantom27 Oct 2013 11:02 a.m. PST

Check out Junior General; it's free and pretty decent quality.

Buildings are under the 'ACCESSORIES' subheading on this page.

foggybottom30 Oct 2013 12:50 p.m. PST

WorldWorks is, imho, the most extensive and colorful, especially if you want a rusted, dusty, future setting. Dave Graffam, while not involved as much in sci fi models as in medieval buildings and settings, does make a multistory sci fi watch station that is one of the most creative visions I've seen in a long time. And, if I remember correctly it has lots of layers for a variety of textures.


zircher30 Oct 2013 8:33 p.m. PST

I'll throw out a link to a budget Space Hulk project that I did. The zip contains the needed files and a tutorial.


Stalkey and Co Supporting Member of TMP08 Oct 2020 5:48 p.m. PST

Don't mind resuscitating this thread to see if people have more to say about it now.

I'm especially interested in modern american neighborhood small town houses, of anyone has some leads on those.

Just a normal town… until the zombies, Red Commies, gangs etc all move in!

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2020 7:34 a.m. PST

Oh My !!!! 😨😁 I personally like plastic, resin, etc., and some well done cardboard, e.g. GW's 6mm Epic structures. But plastic, resin, etc. can become very expensive … 💸 ☹

zircher09 Oct 2020 8:23 a.m. PST

I designed and built a full set of 'Space Hulk' tiles for my son and his friends back when they were in to WH40K. Saved a lot of money and it was a very satisfying project.

zircher10 Oct 2020 8:04 p.m. PST

Derp, I missed the necro-ness of the reply. :-D

WKeyser28 May 2021 1:35 a.m. PST

Battle Systems/Core space cardboard buildings. Great stuff with multiple add ons and scatter terrain. Fantastic Quality.

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