Earlier this year, I finished a commission for a gigantic 5' x 8' battlefield for the game Boot Hill that was featured at Gary Con in March. The battlefield was divided into four 2' x 5' sections. The two sections in the center contained the town of Blumville. On the two outer sections, one had a mesa with abandoned mine tunnels running underneath, and the section at the opposite opposite end had open pastures and a large manor house overlooking the town. In this post, we'll take a look at the construction of the mesa and tunnels of the Lost Kaye Mine...
It all started with a piece of pink insulation foam. I had been provided with a layout by the client, and worked with him to ensure that everything matched as closely as possible. On the foam, I traced out the mine, and then used a jigsaw to quickly cut out the tunnels.
The mines were build up in a few layers to reach the appropriate depth. The interior walls of the mines were roughed up and shaped with a surform shaver (a sort of handheld cheese-grater for rough planing wood). The exterior of the mesa was cut up with a snap-off knife to create stepped levels that would allow figures to move up and down the mesa. Copious amounts of wood filler putty was used to fill gaps and add to the texture, and wooden support beams were added to the walls of the mine.
The mesa had a removable top, cut to match the stepped surface. Magnets were added to help keep the top from sliding around during play and ensure that it lined up properly.
Atop the mesa was a series of balancing rocks. These were also magnetized, so they could be removed for storage and to prevent breakage if someone bumps into them during game play.
Everything was given a coat of waterproof wood glue to protect the foam, and sand and gravel was applied to all the upper surfaces.
To paint the mines and mesa, I first applied a base of brown latex paint and a thin wash to make sure it got into all the nooks and crannies. Then, I drybrushed the mines with lighter shades of brown, and painted the wooden supports.
All of the mine sections were painted separate from the board frame so I could easily reach the sides. Once they were finished, I glued them to the board and applied sand to the base and in all the tunnels. The mesa top was given a more reddish-brown basecoat.
Next, I began texturing the other boards, and added the hill for the manor house.
The roads were made by spreading wood filler putty and dragging my fingers through it to create divots and ruts that would have been made by wagon wheels. When I added the sand to the boards, I only used a very fine coating on the roads so the shape of the wood filler clumps would show through.
I laid down some railroad tracks and built a crossing with basswood planks and coarse ballast.
The ground was painted with drybrushed layers of reddish-brown and yellow ochre. The roads were drybrushed with medium browns, and then everything was brushed with a bone color to tie it all together.
For the mesas, I drybrushed up from the darker base color, keeping things closer to the ground color at the bottom, and taking the color up to a rusty orange at the tops. The rocks were originally grey, but later changed to match the orange color of the mesa.
Inside the mines, I added some smaller scale railroad tracks to represent mine car tracks.
I built up the entrances with some broken planks of wood, as though the mines were boarded up and then broken into.
The scenery was finished off with a few patches of green flock. Small plastic cacti, shrubs, and grass tufts were applied to create a variety of vegetation, along with a couple grass-tufted trees that made great pinyon pines.
Coming up, I'll cover the construction of the town...