Introduction: Cheap and Easy Model Barricades
I recently Purchased Star Wars Legion to play with my brother, but there was a pitiful amount of terrain. The only thing they gave us was a pack of eight barricades! This simply would not do. I decided to use some spare foam to create my own barricades with more character. Please read on if you would like to learn how to create your own gritty cement barricades for your war game, tabletop roleplaying game, or diorama with cheap materials already in your house!
- Model for referencing size
- Thick packing foam (I got mine from an Xbox box)
- Cardboard (You want something thin so it sits as flush as possible with the ground)
- Black paint
- Light Grey paint
- Brown Paint
- Baking soda
- Elmers Glue
- Hot Glue
- Craft Knife
- Chip brush
- Paintbrush (I used a cheap half-inch brush)
- Thicker cardboard for faux tin roof material
- Silver paint
- Wooden Skewers
- Star Wars propaganda posters
- Junk that you would find on a battlefield (guns, helmets, or whatever fits your setting)
- Scrap foam for rubble
- Tufts of model grass
Step 1: Cut the Foam
First, you will cut out the foam in the design that you want. I went for a design that offers light protection from three angles, but you can do whatever you want. You could do a half-circle, a trapezoid, or even a portion of a destroyed building. Whatever floats your boat. Just keep a mini close by so that you can reference how tall and thick the wall needs to be.
To make the foam look battle damaged, cut out pieces of the foam. Use your creativity for this step! You can use a craft knife to cut out a chunk where an explosion knocked off the piece of the barricade, use a Dremel or pencil to create a bullet hole, whatever your heart desires. I lobbed off chunks and tried to make blaster holes with a pencil, but the holes were too small to be seen once the paint was added, so make them a bit bigger than you think you need.
Step 2: Draw and Cut the Base
Next, trace the outline on a thin piece of cardboard that you want to use as the base. Once you have traced the outline, create a squiggly outline of what you want as the base. If you want to add rubble or tufts of grass later, be sure to leave room for that in this step.
Step 3: Finalize Base
Now use the hot glue to attach the foam to the base. If it looks like the base needs to be trimmed, do that now.
To add the rocks, simply attach them with Elmer's glue or super glue. I do not recommend hot glue because you will likely see it oozing out from under the rocks once the whole thing is painted. Don't worry about the color of the rocks, they will be painted using the same techniques as the cement.
Step 4: Give It TEXTURE
We need to take care of the cardboard ridges in the ground. We will be creating a base coat that also textures the ground.
Combine baking soda and black paint together. You really need to eyeball the ratios. It's close to 50/50, but I would place the two ingredients in two separate piles so that you can incrementally combine them until you get the thickness you want. You want a thick mixture so that there is significant texture, but not so thick that you can't spread it at all. Once you have the optimal mixture, paint the base with it. This should hide the cardboard ridges, but the paintbrush strokes will still be visible. If you want to go the extra mile, dab the paint mixture onto the wet base. It really looks like dirt, and it won't fall off with use!
You can also paint the foam with this mixture to act as a basecoat. The texture isn't needed, but you do need a black base coat.
Step 5: Dry Brush Gray
Now you will dry brush the grey paint onto the foam and the rocks. Here are the steps to dry brush:
- First, get your paintbrush wet in non watered down paint
- Now wipe and "paint" all the paint onto a paper towel or something similar. You want nearly no paint coming off the paintbrush. Be sure the upper part of the brush is dry as well!
- Haphazardly brush the paint onto the foam and rocks. Be sure to get the edges. The nearly dry brush will highlight the raised parts and not paint the low parts which really shows off the texture.
- If no more paint is coming off the brush, you may need to "refill" the bristles. Just repeat the previous steps and you'll be good to go!
You could also use this technique on the dirt with light brown paint, but I only had one shade of brown.
Step 6: Add Extras!
Now you could paint the base brown and call it a day. You would still have a totally awesome piece of terrain! However, if you really want to immerse your piece in the universe of the game, you should add extra nick-nacks. This can include spare guns, pieces of in-universe trash, or posters.
I decided to add propaganda posters for the rebels and imperial. I simply Googled Star Wars Propaganda Posters and printed the images an inch tall. The app I used was Print To Size, but I'm sure there are tons of other options.
I also added tin roofing material. This was probably a mistake because it doesn't look very "Star Wars-y", but I wanted to try something new, and the piece really needed color.
- First I found some thicker cardboard. Amazon shipping boxes will work.
- Next, I carefully ripped off the top layer of cardboard to expose the middle ridges. I believe I've seen others rip off both layers, but it seemed too thin and weak. I decided to leave one side on the flat cardboard intact, which looked fine. Don't worry about the fuzzy threads, we'll take care of those in a minute.
- Now you will paint a couple of layers of Elmer's glue onto the cardboard. This will strengthen the cardboard, reduce the fuzzies, and help the paint from being absorbed into the cardboard. After each coat, wait until it is completely dry before painting the next layer.
- Now you will paint it in your desired color. I chose red, blue, and silver (not pictured). The silver was my favorite, but the colored ones helped the piece be more visually interesting.
- Use your dry brushing skills from earlier to make them look metallic. Dry brush just like before, but with silver paint. I recommend also painting the edges solid silver.
- Now attach them to the barricade. I used super glue and wooden skewers. The skewers are too bright and clean now, but when we dark wash the piece, the dark wash will darken it and bring out the natural wooden texture.
Step 7: Dark Wash
There are many different kinds of dark wash, and many model paint companies such as Citadel or Vallejo sell a more refined wash. However, these are more expensive than acrylic paints, and the high quality will likely be lost on a piece this size. Keep in mind that these washes are typically made for models smaller than your thumb! I made my own and it came out just fine. Dark wash is basically really thinned down (almost completely liquid) dark paint that is applied to the entire model, then wiped off with a paper towel.
When the paint is wiped off, the low parts keep the paint which contributes a feeling of depth and texture. I recommend using brown paint, black paint, or a combination of the two. If you want to be extra fancy, you can add a dash of soap to the mixture. I'm honestly not sure exactly what this does, but other creators have recommended it, so I'll pass it on to you.
The concrete is already very dark, so don't use too heavy of a hand on this step. I mostly applied it to the damaged areas to simulate the grime that would accumulate in the cracks and crevices, and on the tin sheets because they looked way too pristine.
Step 8: Bask in the Glory of Your Creation
You have now created your own tabletop or diorama ready barricade! Congratulations! You must have had an amazing teacher ;)
Jokes aside, thank you for reading all the way through. If you liked this please favorite it, or maybe even send it to someone who has a sad, empty game board. If you didn't like it, please comment below and tell me something I can improve on. Constructive criticism is always welcome here! Have a great day!