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"Battlefield Shell Holes (an Easy How-To)" Topic

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Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2023 6:17 a.m. PST

Hey Members,

Here's an illustrated how-to for adding some shell hole scatter to your game boards, which can be quickly made out of green stuff putty, painted, and then glued permanently (or not) onto your gaming surface.

Making round putty balls can't be an easier way of 'sculpting'. Smash them down onto a flexible/plastic sheet surface (I use plastic laminated sheet scrap for this), scribe/scallop furrow marks around the edges of each of the putty balls to pull the edges down onto the working surface, then press the end of a paintbrush into each piece to make the shell hole impression -

Gettin' the production line rolling here (reminds me of that old-fashioned Dots candy that came on paper strips) -

Paint, wash, and highlight each piece while they're still stuck to the plastic-surface sheeting -

When everything is dry, bend the sheet backing away from each shell hole piece to release it, and place them into your game scene like here, for a modern Ukrainian War scenario, these permanently glued to the fleece mat, with all the attached terrain that'll roll up together, and be ready and waiting for deployment on game day.

No battlefield should be without 'em the advertisement says! ;)

Thinking the same idea could be used on miniature figure stands too.

JMcCarroll03 Sep 2023 6:51 a.m. PST

Great idea! The hole should work for most scales.
Just say they are from 1/285 6" artillery hits to 28mm from a 60mm mortar.
I wonder if clay that hardens in the stove could be used as a cheaper alternative?

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2023 7:07 a.m. PST

JMC, clay could be tried thinking that when the finer/thinner parts of each piece is removed away from the surface backing/tray, these areas might have a propensity to crack and break off? (but I've not used the heat-hardening clay before).

I made at least 4 dozen of these little shell holes, and maybe used an inch and a half of green stuff (1" diameter tube-style putty) so for using with our smaller scale minis, pretty economical as far as scenic material goes.

Artilleryman03 Sep 2023 9:21 a.m. PST

That terrain looks good. It is just like the drone footage we keep getting from Ukraine.

Striker03 Sep 2023 1:59 p.m. PST

these areas might have a propensity to crack and break off?

What if you put them on parchment paper for baking? Or used a baking silicone mat?

Captain Pete03 Sep 2023 8:07 p.m. PST

Looks very good!

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2023 3:41 a.m. PST

Artilleryman, TY for your comment!

Striker, might be worth the try. Also, if someone is making these shell hole scenics for larger scale game boards, then their larger size would make them more durable, and bake-clays could be a good alternative choice……and much cheaper then than epoxy putties.

I'm using the fleece mat pictured above to be rolled up between games, but if any added shell hole pieces like these are planned for static game boards, which won't be bending, then bake-clay might be excellent!

Thanks Pete these little embellishments could work right on top your excellent Terrain Maker hexes.

JMcCarroll04 Sep 2023 1:02 p.m. PST

Forgot to say, they do look great!

"What if you put them on parchment paper for baking? Or used a baking silicone mat?"
I think the baking temp. is rather high. Need to ck the mat and parchment paper max. temperature.
I just noticed the nice trenchwork in the pic. Was that made with green stuff also?

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2023 2:50 p.m. PST

JMC, yes, also from an epoxy putty, though not green stuff.

Quite a few years ago I ran across a 2-part epoxy putty called Kwik Wood at Home Depot, from the JB Weld company (a long-time manufacturer of repair-type putties in the USA). This Kwik Wood was a tan-colored "twist-epoxy' that worked just like Green Stuff, but could be had off the rack at your local Big Box hardware stores. I used it to make lots of terrain pieces with, and it cured in an hour or less. Its only downside when being worked with awful smell, toxic fumes, and skin irritation effects (to long-time users). ;)

I can only surmise that these effects may have caused a change in the product's formula, because in the last years, I've not found any of the restocked Kwik Wood to consist of quite the same properties, and the working time has been well-short of 5-minutes (useless for more involved terrain pieces). So those entrenchments seen here were the last ones I made out of the original Kwik Wood putty formula (but they're finally going to be seeing some game action in a couple of weeks now).

I did have a long-time 'relationship' with Kwik Wood, starting with 20mm terrain made to play WW2 skirmish games with -

Some Normandy Hedgerow pieces -

Walls could be sculpted into the hedge sections, with any bushes and trees glued on. The stuff was an adhesive, so ammo boxes, sandbags just pressed on during the sculpting, and when cured strong enough to drill into for additional attachments like stakes, or for positioning trees on. For that road sign seen below, a rare-earth magnet was embedded into the putty for removable attachment.

I believe I may have had a bad habit with Kwik Wood over the years, but I'm better now….Green Stuff all the way!

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2023 4:02 p.m. PST

Nice tutorial! And a great idea.

I made shell holes out of brown Fimo many years ago. I did have to bake it hard, but there were advantages:

  • It's got a long working time;
  • It's a good base color, and doesn't need paint under the "dirt" colored sand;
  • It's super cheap.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2023 10:58 a.m. PST

Any polyforma clay can be used for this purpose. There are many formulas available -- some are rubber-like, when cured.

Any delicate armature may break off with use. It depends upon how delicate you sculpt them.

I play 54mm Army Men games, using CRT's not Tennis Balls, or dirt clumps. I applied concrete patch material, pre-mixed in a tub, from my local DIY stores. I slathered it onto the tops of AOL CD's I got from Wal-Mart, for free, 20 years ago, wearing nitrile gloves, shaping it into crater shapes, hollowed out in the center, forming a ridge around the outside perimeter.

Once it hardened, it was matte gray, and HEAVY, course textured, and incredibly durable. I painted them brown -- they looked like crater shaped, poo piles.

I ran a game on a 12-foot by 30-foot table, with 200+ figures per side, with Tanks shooting HE and AP rounds, Howitzers, and Heavy Mortars…

We ran out of craters, resorting to using blank CD's to litter the battlefield. I think we used 50+ blank CD's for craters! I would love to make up 50+ poo-craters, but storing them would be a challenge. Too bad, as they look sooo much better than naked CD's. Cheers!

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2023 11:26 a.m. PST

Yellow Admiral, and Sgt Slag, thanks for relating your crafting advice, and about materials that are less expensive for making these types of shell holes.

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