40k Terrain: Deluxe Craters Part 2
The previous 40k terrain post reviewed tools and materials you were going to need to upgrade Games Workshop’s moonscape craters. This post assembles most of those materials and prepares them for painting. The final post in this series will review painting and detailing.
Lots of texts and tutorials will suggest washing your plastics and resins prior to use. I think this is a really good idea on resin pieces; however, I’ve not done it on plastics and haven’t ever had a problem. I do suggest priming them as early as possible. Fingers are greasy. Really greasy. That can’t help paint stick. So, putting primer on early seems like a good idea.
The Games Workshop craters are solid pieces, but they are flat and big. They will most likely be a bit warped. And they are a bit light. Mounting them on some very flat, fairly resilient surface is a good idea and MDF is just the thing. You can alternatively try masonite or plywood. Either way, trace out the shape of each crater onto a surface. If you’re cutting anything more than an 1/8” thick, you probably should cut it at a 45° angle – it should slope down from the center of what you’re cutting (write some arrows on the board if you’re prone to lapses as I am). If you do make a beveled edge like this you’ll need a good ½” between your outlines or your bevels will overlap.
Cutting MDF should be done using a cordless jigsaw with at least 20 teeth per inch blades. Wear a dust mask and goggles, and make sure your cutting surface is stable and be mindful not to cut anything under your board. Sand the cut out shapes with finishing paper (you should still be wearing a dust mask) and it’s a good idea to put sanding sealer on it to preserve and make it hold paint better (I didn’t, but it’s still a good idea).
Once you’ve got you MDF bases prepared you can fasten the craters to them. There are several ways to do this – spray adhesive, two-part epoxy, liquid nails, glue gun, or even staples might work. I used 3M spray adhesive. A key thing with this kind of adhesive is that it doesn’t paint well. In fact, it’s likely to transfer to your brush and ruin it. My solution to this was to liberally spray the underside of the craters and then mount these on the MDF. Some adhesive will smear or squish onto the MDF – just use a damp paper towel to wipe this up. You’ll need to hold the edges of the crater down onto the MDF for a minute, maybe a little longer. This is one of the tasks you’ve been given 10 fingers for, so use them. Don’t press down from the center as that will lift up the edges. If you just can’t get a section to hold, don’t worry.
The edge of the crater on the MDF will create a ridge that will look decidedly artificial. This needs to be hidden or obscured. You can cover the edge with spackling paste (filler for English readers) or paintable caulking. I like the caulking because it is a bit flexible and so may be durable, but it is messy. Just run a bead along the edge, smooth it down with your fingers, and wipe up any mess with a damp paper towel.
Now it’s time to customize the craters and bring them up to the 40k terrain deluxe standards. After all, the goal is to have great 40k scenery. The basic idea here is to add material to the crater – additional sand or gravel, 40k battlefield debris, and larger items. If you have the money or bits, a few pieces of vehicle wrecks would be ideal; I made boulders.
You can make boulders out of polystyrene. Cut a few polystyrene blocks with a long-bladed Exacto knife or wire cutter. Depending on the size of boulders you want, you may find the wire cutter tricky and the knife easier. Use the tool of your choice safely and responsibly. I used the knife. I cut out blocks roughly 1 ½” square and 2-3” long. I then whittled these down to a generally rough boulder like shape, and added a few nicks to make it look more natural. Once done, mount the rocks to the craters in likely places using PVA glue.
Now its time to add gravel and sand to the craters. You may feel this is unnecessary as the craters are already nicely detailed; I found it really made a big difference and helped them be more unique. For the rocks and gravel, I used talus from Woodland Scenics. This is a little costly, but it’s sorted into sizes and relatively clean so easy to use. To mount larger rocks, I used PVA (white glue). You’ll probably have to place each individual rock (bummer). To mount smaller gravel, I just used paint and just sprinkled the fine grained talus right onto it.
Once you’ve got all your stuff securely glued onto the craters, it’s time to prime again. Note that you probably didn’t need to prime all the things separately as I have; however, I don’t like unprimed surfaces peaking through the finished product. It just seems to take something away. So, I overdo it instead.
This was a long post — hope I didn’t loose your interest. Next post will finish the craters with paint and details.
The final part of this project is posted at 40k Terrain: Deluxe Craters Part 3
The first post was 40k Terrain: Deluxe Craters Part 1