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"A simple pond/lake with simple materials" Topic

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647 hits since 27 Jul 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Baranovich27 Jul 2017 10:16 a.m. PST

As I've talked about in other posts about my terrain projects, I do not have the luxury of having access to any kind of machine shop or power tools. I have resorted to cutting things like MDF board by hand for terrain bases, but it's a god awful amount of hard labor to cut that stuff by hand. I DID do it for a good amount of terrain because MDF is so useful, so resistant to warping and so universally used by modelers/gamers.

However, I've gotten better at finding alternative types of materials for bases that are pre-shaped that don't require any cutting of any kind.

Generic craft discs of various shapes are an obviously good choice since they come in all sizes of circles, ovals, squares and rectangles. Very resistant to warping. Cork board is also a good alternative, easily cut into any shape desired and can be supported by card underneath to resist warping.

However, the dilemma comes when you want a specifically shaped base for a specific terrain piece.

My example here is a pond/lake. I wanted a natural-looking shape for the base and avoid using a circle or oval which would look artificial.

The technique I've developed for myself is to take any kind of thin card, like from cereal boxes, shoe boxes, etc. or an easily cut matieral like foamcore/artist board, which you cut into the shape you desire. Then you use foam like pink or blue insulation foam to form a rough ring shape around the perimeter of the card shape.

The KEY to this technique is that at the first step of drying, you put a significant weight on top of the piece, like a stack of BOOKS or something similarly heavy.

What happens is that when you force two materials to dry while being kept flat by force of weight, once they are completely dry you are fairly guaranteed that the piece will not warp! You can go on to add texturing and paint knowing that it's warp resistant. The KEY is to make sure that during the initial gluing of the foam to the card that it is forced to dry FLAT.

Here's an example of the technique used on a larger scale with a castle keep I made. The very bottom layer of the terrain piece is a "sandwich" of a layer of foamcore board and a piece of pink insulation foam. I glued those two materials together to create the first layer, with wood glue and put a bunch of books on top of it. Once that bottom first layer of the project was dry, it ensured that anything glued on top of it was guaranteed that the piece would lie flat against the surface of the table.

Some pics of the castle keep project:


Pics showing the bottom layer and how it was glued together to make the entire base flat, and then other layers glued above it:


***Note: sometimes you may have to do a second or even third layer of thin card underneath to achieve enough rigidity to resist warpage. Different kinds of thin card have different levels of firmness, sometimes a single layer just isn't enough.

Anyway, enough about the proces, here's some pics. of what I'm getting at:


For this pond I did two layers of thin card underneath and did two separate gluing steps with PVA glue before it was rigid enough to resist warpage.

I will post pics. of the finished piece!

Codsticker27 Jul 2017 7:30 p.m. PST

Nice work! The pictures showing the construction of the castle base are especially helpful.

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