Wednesday, 5 September 2018

More Jungle Terrain

Since we've started playing the Chain of Command Malaya 1942 campaign I've quickly realised I don't have nearly as much jungle terrain as I imagined. The initial game was scenario 1 Winning the Encounter where most of the 6x4 table was jungle, which meant what terrain I did have was spread about as thinly as it will ever be. While it was certainly functional it all looked a bit sparse for my liking.

A rather sparse jungle
After my initial burst of enthusiasm last year for tropical terrain suitable for the Pacific theatre I still had material left over to make more terrain, it was just a matter of getting around to, well...actually making it. I need two elements specifically for the Malaya campaign that I don't have - patches of bamboo forest and paddy fields. However, I also realised I needed to fill the space between my trees to create a more dense jungle environment. To solve that I decided to go for scatter terrain pieces rather than more trees.

More scatter terrain needed to fill the gaps....
The bamboo was going to be easy enough as I had already bought a bag of miniature bamboo trees on eBay, so these just needed basing and painting. The paddy field would also be fairly straightforward and I had seen some that Mark Luther had made for his excellent tropical tables and these had given me an idea for what I needed to do to create my own.

For the scatter terrain I had bought a square of plastic plants meant for an aquarium and these would be the basis for clumps of thick foliage.

The campaign calls for secondary jungle. This is jungle close to human habitation where some trees have been cleared and as a result a lot of undergrowth was present, making a particularly dense area. These plants could work well to represent that.

I had some round wooden bases purchased from a craft shop but too thick for mounting miniatures.  These would work as bases for smaller clumps of plants. For larger clumps I cut random shapes from MDF sheet with my jigsaw. I used the sanding tool on my Dremel to rough up the edges of the MDF to remove that 'step' look and help the terrain to blend into the table better. With some holes drilled into the bases I glued in small posts to attach the plants.

Once done the bases were textured with PVA glue and sand.

The bamboo was straightforward enough. I primed the individual trees and then grouped them together onto MDF bases which I cut myself into random shapes using a jigsaw.

As before, the bases were then textured with PVA glue sprinkled with rough sand.

To add more life to the huts and villages in the campaign I wanted to use some banana trees from Pegasus to make small plantations.

To facilitate play and keep the table functional I like to base plants in orchards or plantations on strips of MDF so they can be moved in different directions to allow the placement of miniatures. So I've done the same with the banana trees.

The bases were then textured with sand and PVA.

The next job was to take to all of these with the airbrush and give them a green colour that will blend them all together. I used Tamiya acrylics, Flat Green and Yellow Green and this toned down a lot of the colour. The bases were painted using Dulux emulsion sample pots with my usual earth colour - a base of Deep Bamboo and a dry brush of Arava.

Next up was to provide some dead foliage and cover for the ground. A lot of jungle floor has little grass but seems thickly strewn with dead and dying foliage from the trees and large plants so I aimed to create this effect. I mixed together some Woodlands Scenic flock, some tea leaves and a mix of dried herbs.

This mix was then built up on the bases of the various trees. It took a while to get this right as you want a reasonably thick layer and this is one of those rare occasions when more really is more.

This worked well and was useful in covering up the wooden plugs that held the plastic plants in place for the scatter foliage.

Here's how it looks interspersed with trees.

The bamboo needed quite a bit of ground scatter and after some trial and error I was happy with the end result.

I was a little more sparing with the banana plantation as this was not really in the jungle and would be reasonably maintained.

I also wanted a few small vegetable gardens to add as scatter terrain in the villages.  These could be something I could use in almost any theatre of the war and so would be a good addition to the terrain collection. Here is the first one with rows of vegetation slowly being added.

I've tried to get some variety in the plants just using what mixes of flock and other elements I had in the terrain box - just don't ask me exactly what plants they are supposed to represent:

My first attempt at a paddy field was going to be kept simple and rather than opt for one full of water at the height of the season, this one would be out-of-season and dry, a bit like the ones in this picture.

A simple base of MDF received a paddy bank made out of insulation foam, cut to shape and then smoothed in using a standard filler. The field was also given a light texture with the filler. The banks were then given additional texture with PVA and sand.

Next up it received a coat of my normal ground colours.

I then used a mix of static grasses to try to capture the dry look in the photograph:

Finally I used my normal colour static grass for the banks around the paddy field for the finished result:

Now that I'm happy with the result I really want to try my hand at making a few wet paddy fields, which I suspect will prove more of a challenge.

This has got me all fired up again to make sure I have enough tropical terrain and so I hope to populate future games in the Malaya 1942 campaign and beyond with a lot more scenery. You can follow other terrain making projects for the Pacific in these posts Making palm plantations and Airfix Jungle Outposts.


  1. that is really great work on the terrain. I've been interested in gaming the Pacific theatre but have always held off due to the amount of jungle terrain needed.... but you've shown how to make a lot of good pieces!

    1. Thanks, I'm sure there are plenty of ways to make an effective table without creating a ton of terrain, but you know how it is, once you start it seems you can never have enough.

  2. Terrific stuff. I really like your CoC campaign AARs, and these scenic pieces are going to look fabulous on the table.

    1. Thanks Carole, I enjoy making terrain, it's often a nice diversion from painting figures, and it seems to me that if you've spent a lot of time painting your minis they do deserve a good looking table.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks John, as you know your Pacific tables have been part of my inspiration.

  4. Really nice looking results - plus I bet they smell great too given the ground cover that you used!
    Cheers, Peter

    1. LOL, when actually funnily enough they don't smell as much as I would have thought, which is a bit disappointing because I was hoping to be able to use the line 'I love the smell of Tarragon in the morning.....smells, like, like victory'.

  5. Inspired job, atmospheric and gorgeous terrain!

  6. Fantastic terrain additions, they really look the part. Great timing too as I have a Burma project in the planning stages: lots of tropical terrain is always a necessity and you've provided some excellent ideas here.


    1. Good luck with your project, I look forward to seeing it on your blog. I know the Lardies have a Kohima pint sized campaign somewhere in the works, perhaps it will appear in the Far East theatre handbook? I suppose I'll need to make a tennis court at some stage.....

  7. Lovely work Mark, you have made some excellent jungle terrain.
    Agree, you really need more terrain to set the atmosphere of fighting in a jungle.
    Mark Luther/s jungle terrain provides great inspiration.
    I am currently battling with building jungle terrain for Cancon next year.
    thanks for sharing
    cheers John

    1. What I've seen of your work for Cancon so far it's looking very good and I look forward to seeing it in person. I've no doubt it will be up there to your usual high standard.

  8. Very well done. I think these came out great! Your table is gonna look cool. Could you tell me how thick the MDF is? I’m sometimes tempted to get a jigsaw and try something like this. Your post is a big encouragement. 😀

    1. Thanks Stew. The MDF is 3mm thick, my jigsaw is a relatively inexpensive one and it does the trick nicely. If you make terrain you will find you will get a lot of use out of it.

  9. Exquisite! The bamboo is really impressive. So much so, that I cut mine off at the base and I'm now trying to copy yours! I've primed them and tried a couple different green colors but they just aren't the right color... what spray color did you use?

    1. Sorry to have caused you extra work! I sprayed the base colour with acrylic Tamiya Flat Green and then mixed it for highlights with Yellow Green and then gave a final highlighted with neat Yellow Green. I hope that helps.

  10. Brilliant stuff. The overall effect "blending in" is what impresses me the most. And the garden. :)

  11. Inspirational. I got my Eureka Aussies last week; just waiting for my Japs to arrive so Christmas will be a time for terrain building. I just ordered a couple of boxes of banana trees which I didn't know existed. ,Many thanks for the great article.