Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Highway to the Apocalypse: 28mm Terrain

One of the projects that I've long put off, has been the construction of a post apocalypse highway.  While it may not be imperative for the conduct of the games, a collection of ruined buildings with no indication of the roads that once supported them just seems wrong.  So I finally got my butt in gear and got to work on this long delayed project.

I started off by designing the roadway, figuring what I needed at a minimum to cover my 9'x6' table, while still giving some variety and flexibility to possible terrain layouts.  I use modular tiles of 1" thick EPS foam, often called "blueboard" (or in this case "greenboard" as it was the Lowes brand product) for my terrain.  Depending on the need, I mostly use tiles measuring 1' square, with some 1'x2' and 2' square pieces as well. 

For this project, I settled on four 2 foot lengths, and five 1 foot lengths of straight highway, a "T" and one four-way intersection, an additional "T"  with a paved driveway, and a two foot section with two driveways to mate with an abandoned business as the core of my roadway.  I figure that after a few games, I'll see what else needs to be made, and add it then.

First I cut the sheet of foam into the appropriate sized tiles on a band saw; then, I laid out the basic roadway design with a straight-edge and black ball point pen.  Scale for this 28mm project is a bit of a hybrid, as the figures are loosely 1/56th and the vehicle models generally labeled 1/43 and varying to 1/50 scale.  Since neither the figs, nor the vehicles tend to maintain a consistent or accurate scale, and compromises need to be made to get sufficient terrain on the table, I sized the roadway as follows;  travel lanes are 2.25" wide, paved shoulders are 3/8" and there is a 3/4" right-of-way on either side of the pavement to accommodate ditches, sign posts, utility poles, etc.

The tiles where sanded to remove the smooth sheen to the surface of the foam allowing them to more readily accept paste and paint.Also, a little relief was given to the topography of the terrain, with subtle indications of drainage along the sides of the pavement, a slight crown to the yet to be paved road surfaces, etc.  Edges of pavement were re-indicated with a pen where needed, after sanding.

Next, the beginning of the pavement was applied.  I cut strips of masking tape to create an eroded, decayed pavement edge, and taped along the edge of pavement.  Also, some potholes were cut from the tape and applied to the travel lane portions of the roadway.  A coat of artist's matte medium was painted onto the road surfaces, and a layer of  fine Woodland scenic ballast was poured onto the tiles. The excess was quickly dumped off (and recollected), and then a spider web of pavement cracks were "drawn" into the ballast with a pencil, while the matte medium was still wet.  The tiles were then allowed to dry.


The dry ballast received a very fast, light sanding to remove unwanted"glops" left from the cracking process, and a second layer of ballast was applied to get a more uniform, though not perfect covering.  This coat was allowed to dry and given an light "glop" removal sanding.


Once the ballast was dry, a coat of acrylic paste was painted onto the ballast.  Additional applications of paste were added to create irregularities in the roadway, offering indications of patches, slurry seal, and other variations in the surface.  The differences in the color at this point were caused by using up different brands of paste that I had setting around.

Masking for "patched" areas.

When the acrylic paste was dry, the tiles were cleaned up, and a base coat of artists acrylic paint was applied.  Later, A touchup coat was applied, and then some variation in color of the patches,  weathering, and dust coats were applied to the pavement.
With unpainted patched areas.
With patched asphalt painted.

Another  layer of dust were added to the pavement, as was a hint of faded white edge lines and yellow center lines.

Last, flock was then applied, again using the artist's matte medium as a glue.  Once the first flock application was dry, a second application was made to dress up the rotting pavement a little more.

With 1/43 Isuzu Amigo and 28mm fig for scale.

And now I have a roadway to the apocalypse.


  1. Nice work. Some of the best I've seen, in fact.

    1. Thanks, I really appreciate that. To be honest, I've looked at it for so long, that when I was done, I was a little let down. Not sure what I expected, but your comment definitely helps push aside that feeling.

  2. That is really cool.



  3. Very nice... I have no plan for the Apocalypse, but the techniques you outlined for the paved roads I may steal... Thanks!

  4. Really nice work. Thanks for sharing your process. I love seeing walk-throughs. Have fun in the wasteland & keep an eye on your review mirror.

  5. Really impressive work. You definitely captured the look of long neglected roadways.