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Pimp Your Hedge

Since the Sharp Practice and Chain of Command videos have been running on Beasts of War we have had dozens of people asking where they can get hold of the hedge sections that we use for our games.   The simple answer is that Andy at The Last Valley make them for us, but they are not an off the peg product.

Andy has been known around the wargame show circuit for years and understandably so, the quality of the terrain he produces is excellent and very fairly priced.  As part of his normal catalogue, he produces 12″ and 6″ sections of “hedges” which, in fairness are much more than just hedges.  Each section is hand made and that allows for some really nice variation with hedges of horse hair interspersed with short sections of wall and the occasional tree.  Andy offers them on a European green base or a more arid  yellow one.

I had always gone for the green bases until we were preparing Sharp Practice for the printer and good chum of Lard and our official artist, Jim Ibbotson, sent me some photos featuring Last Valley terrain which he had enhanced with a few additions.  I decided to try to follow his example and pimp my trees.

For a start, I prefer slightly shorter sections of hedge, so Andy very kindly made me some 4″ and 8″ lengths.  Rather than go with the green base, I went with the yellow arid base as this gave me the base colour I wanted.  That looks like this, straight out of the box:

As you can see, this is a spanking bit of kit as it stands.  So why bugger about changing it?  Well, for me the difference between good terrain and great terrain is a very thin margin.  If I find a good product which can reward me by becoming really great with a minimal amount of work then that is a great return on time invested.  It’s always worth looking at any model or piece of terrain and thinking “Can I pimp this and make it look better?”  If the answer is yes, but it will take a great amount of time and effort then DO NOT BOTHER.  If the answer is yes, and it will be a quick fix then go for it.

I began by adding a few patches of rocky ground.  For this I used sharp sand with some cork model railway rocks in it.  Nice and simple, just a few dabs of PVA glue…

…and then chuck the sand on those area.

Fairly obviously, I am doing this on a some old news paper so that I can re-collect the surplus sand and rock mix and recycle it as I work through my sections of hedge.  Let that dry, then paint over each area with a 50% mix of water and PVA.  That then seals the rocks in place so they won’t fall off later.

I let that dry overnight and then sorted out some match pots of household paint to paint the sections with.  I got four pots out, but in the end, I only used two.  The yellow on the far left is Home of Colour Matt Warm Yellow and the second from the right is County Cream from the Homebase Weathercoat range of masonry paints.  Both of these were had from Homebase for a pound or so.  What you will also note is that I have a tube of Daler and Rowney Zinc White.  Unusually, this is an oil paint which I use for the final highlight.  Oil paints take longer to dry, but the final white highlight needs to really pop out and I find the density of the oil achieves that.  It’s the only thing I use oils for, but for a bright white this really works.  

So, armed with a decent flat-headed large brush, I slapped the Warm Yellow onto my paper and began to dry brush.

Please note, this is not painting, this is just a rough dry-brush to catch the main rocky bits.

With that done, I let that dry for fifteen minutes and went on to County Cream, repeating the process but with about 10% less pressure on the brush.  There is no need for accuracy here.  It covers where it touches and that gives a nice depth to the model.  Don’t forget to paint the stone wall sections in the same way.

The image below shows how the base colour on the original model combines nicely with my two colours to really make the rocks pop out.

Finally, dry-brush on the oil paint.  Allow that to dry, ideally for a couple of hours, and then add static grass by painting PVA onto the base.  Avoid the rocky areas and try to give an uneven coverage so some of the earth shows through.

On the pictures above and below, you can see how the hedges fit in well on my darker northern European table.  On a southern European table the match is perfect.

As can be seen, the mix of 4″ and 8″ sections allows us to create a really nice feeling for fields which are not entirely enclosed.  For WWII, a few sections of wire fences, made with matches and fuse wire and based the same way, can give a more 20th Century look.

Anyway, I do hope that short tutorial shows how with a little effort we can take an off-the-peg product and make it look unique.

Last Valley do not have a website, Andy is just too busy as it is.  However, he has a Facebook page here:
www.facebook.com/The-Last-Valley-156158031109215/

And can be emailed at andrewworsley@yahoo.com

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4 Responses

  1. William Stewart says:

    Beautifully done! Nice tutorial on how to make a really nice piece of terrain look even better while matching the rest of your table.

    For final highlights, have you considered using Acrylic Gesso instead of Titanium White? It has dense, eye popping, white pigment with out all that messy, toxic oil base clean up and storage.

  2. Richard W says:

    Very insightful – thanks!

  3. Richard says:

    What does he use for the tree trunks ?

  4. Big Rich says:

    I think they are bits if twig. They certainly look like it. He then “sculpts” the roots out of filler or similar

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