Tuesday 21 August 2012

Home made Bocage.

Continuing with my PBI project I felt I needed some Normandy Bocage. That being the case I thought I'd have a bash at making some. So I made a trial 9 pieces. I think I will need more, now that I have done them, but I thought I should try them out first before making loads, just in case it did not work.  Anyway what follows is a very basic guide should you decide you want to make some yourself.
You will need:
  1. Time, patience and a sense of humour.
  2. Stanley Knife.
  3. Steel edge.
  4. Hardboard.
  5. Polystyrene
  6. Water based paint. Emulsion or Acrylic
  7. PVA
  8. Sand
  9. Clump Foliage
  10. Somewhere you can make a mess.
That being the case I worked up the shed, I have (at present a small work bench which allows me to build things up to 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. Clutter realistically makes this 3 feet by 2 feet but on a good day I can always tidy up and get an extra foot of space.
  • Working with what I had I decided to cut the hardboard with a Stanley knife and the assistance of a steel edge (actually a roofers square bought at a market for £2). In PBI the battle board is divided into squares. With each square measuring 6 inches on a side. I therefore cut the hardboard into strips 5 inches long and 1 inch wide. This is by far the most tedious part of the whole process. There is nothing I can say to make this a joyous event, unless you want to use a power tool, which could work but I like my fingers attached to my hand, so a trusty Stanley knife will do for this task.
  • Once you have sufficient bases cut and you are happy with the size and shape, best to give then a light sanding to rough up the surface and to neaten them up.
  • The fun stage next. break small chunks of expanded polystyrene into pieces about as big as the nail of your little finger. These will become the wall that the hedge sits on. It is especially fun for me as my nephew does not like Polystyrene, and it's always fun to see him squirm.
  • Using PVA (white wood glue) Stick them in a line down the centre of the hardboard bases. You are using PVA as some glues will melt polystyrene and for this that is not the effect you are looking for. Do not worry about the line being straight, Your average medieval farm worker who needed to move large stones was more interested in getting it moved than making it perfectly straight. Close to straight is good enough.
  • Once the glue is dry "Seal" the polystyrene with a couple of coats of water based paint (emulsion or acrylic). I add some PVA glue to the mix as well. The glue dries clear but adds strength so in my book that's a winner.
  • Make sure everything is covered.
  • If you use a stone colour so much the better as you will not need a top coat them. As you can see from the pictures I used a grey.
  • Allow to dry overnight.
  • Using a paint and PVA mix paint the base, taking care not to get too much on what is now the wall of the hedge.
  • Using a sieve sprinkle sand on to the board. This will become the grass.
  • Allow to dry.
  • Once dry remove excess sand with a couple of shakes or taps. Then "seal" the sand with paint. As you can see I used BLACK acrylic for this. I would suggest a quick trip to "the WORKS" to get their big tube of acrylic paint (2 tubes for £5 currently) treat you self get a black and a green perhaps.
  • When sealed I painted the grass a selections of greens. A Basic green to begin with and then dry brushing on a lighter tome by adding yellow.

  • At this stage it starts to look like a piece of terrain. And you really are nearly there.

  • The next stage is to add the clump foliage. I find "Woodlands Scenics" to be the best clump foliage, I grant you that it is expensive, but a pack will go a long way. I would suggest I used about a handful in all to make these nine hedges. Break the clump foliage into small lumps about half the size of a sugar lump. I used 3 different colours but the lighter shade vary sparingly (mostly because I had used a lot on previous projects.) To attache the foliage I dip it in a pool of PVA, to make sure enough glue is involved. As mentioned above it dries clear so no need to be shy with it. Obviously don't overdo it because it takes longer to dry the more you use.  I picked the different colours out of a pile at random. And I did seem to get a nice mix. If you are not getting any variety then feel free to select which piece come next, it's your model terrain after all.

With luck it should come out a bit like mine. Overall if you take out drying time I would guess 3 hours was taken in total, with cutting the boards taking the longest single process, and also the dullest. But it needs to me done so what else can you do.
To Me the big question is having made these as a trial what would I do differently in order to improve them. Overall I am happy with them I do recognise that they are not perfect, but they will serve as Normandy Boacge in 15mm (or 20mm) for the present. However I would change the polystyrene wall section. Next time I will make the boulders wider so that I can better place the foliage on top. The thing about making things for the hobby is you can always improve things as you learn from your mistakes, which must mean I have learnt a LOT! I have yet to add some muddy areas near the two gaps to represent passing farm vehicles or animals, but other than that they are done.
That's today's post, I hope it was of some use to you at least in a "Ahh that's what he did, I would have done it like this...." kind o way. If so let me know I am happy to learn more.

Thanks for reading. I shall post again on Thursday. All the best Clint.


  1. Very cool bocage tutorial! Indeed it is a "Ahhh that's what he did" Moment indeed ;) Wonder if I can move it up into the 28mm range now ;)

    1. Thanks mate give it a try, in 28mm it could work. Build on what I have done 'cos I want to see if it can be scaled up. Looking forward to it already.

  2. They look great. Nice tutorial. That jeep passenger looks like hes looking for a lesser doppled fieseler storch!

  3. They look great. Nice tutorial. That jeep passenger looks like hes looking for a lesser doppled fieseler storch!

    Posted by Carl to Anything but a One at 21 August 2012 03:27

    Carls comment has for some reason failed to appear in the comments section. However that will not stop me replying.

    Thanks for the comment Carl, whatever the passenger is looking for lets hope he spots it before it spots him.

  4. What a very clever idea. I really like the look of the walls. I'm definately going to give these a go. Well done.

    1. Thanks mate give it a go. As long as you allow drying time it should work. (fingers crossed)

  5. They look very good Clint - nicelydone, and thanks for sharing your method. I'll certainly give this a go when (if!) i can tear myself away from LOTRO!

    1. Thanks mate. I would give it a go. I think it would work for all scales and quite a few settings.

      As for LOTRO Let me know (PM me on the Zombie Board) which server you are on and which character name.

      Cheers Mate.

    2. I've been meaning to do that for bloomin ages! (PM you on the board I mean!) I'll make sure to do it today


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