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advice request: general table-building, design + scenery tips

Discussion in 'Scenery' started by KGG, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. KGG

    KGG Member

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    So, now that I've played a handful of games and just finished painting my first, single Infinity mini with the help of some awesome forum users: https://forum.corvusbelli.com/threads/help-complementary-base-colours-for-yu-jing-nomads.35092/, the next logical step is to dream of building an extravagant board to play on... right?

    If diving in to Infinity and terrain/table building in the future, what are your experiences and advice on how to go about building something with replayability, good elevation and ease of set-up and storage in mind. (primarily for just at-home play between newbies, but who knows what next). What are the pit-falls and problems you have ran in to on a table-building project? Why did you choose a certain method or style? How much did you plan to spend (and how much did you actually spend)?

    Should I give up now and be happy with starter box scenery and a stack of VHS tapes on the dining-room table?

    Bonus: Any recommendations for specific terrain pieces I should build or buy that are 'fundamental' for a good game of Infinity? Several walkways and elevated bits seem like a good idea and I've heard there's no such thing as 'too much scatter'.

    I've seen a lot of amazing tables in the 'inspiration' and 'table layout' threads on here (far beyond my current crafting skills or hobby budget) and most seem to be based on a flat 4' x 4' board or gaming mat with plenty of individual terrain pieces to add the height and variety. I guess this makes for easy storage and means the terrain pieces can be re-used on other tables and moved about for certain objective-based missions that need a certain amount of space. Having played some Mordheim back in the day with borrowed models, dodgy cardboard buildings + a couple of books for elevation, we eventually resorted to making a very basic modular table from multiple 1' or 2' corkboard squares with buildings permanently glued in place, to save us building everything up each time only to have it collapse like a house of cards from a stray elbow or enthusiastic model placement. This worked pretty well for us and I was thinking of going down the 'modular' route for Infinity. Does anyone have experience of building modular boards for infinity? Does it offer any pros/cons over a 'gaming mat + separate scenery' design?

    My (pipe-)dream table would be what I imagine a police-state/Yu-Jing city might be like - mostly a dirty underbelly of run-down industrial / over-populated slums full of propaganda, fear-mongering and Imperial Service check points (the bits the majority of native citizens and 're-educated' masses exist in - low light, lots of dark colours, exposed brickwork, tin shacks, no plants, plenty of street litter and posters), juxtaposed with walled off, pristine, overly ornate, government-owned 'forbidden city' / 'zen garden' / temple type buildings, showing off the glory and wealth of the state-empire ( - the bits that wealthy visitors and foreign diplomats get to see (if they don't mysteriously vanish or undergo "voluntary" re-education, at least) - plenty of light, red + gold accents, varnished wood, statues, trees, no litter).
    TTcombat and a few other companies seem to have a few Yu-Jing inspired buildings that might fit the bill for the 'glory+wealth' side of things as well as some nice wall sections, although I'm not sure what footprint these would take up on a 4' x 4' table together with the 'industrial dystopia' parts. Having both together may be a bit optimistic.
     
  2. Section9

    Section9 Well-Known Member

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    Modular may be a bit of a pain.

    My standard table setup advice is 9+4+Scatter. 9 big buildings (~8-12" in any direction) laid out in a 3x3 grid. 4 smaller buildings/objects (4-6" in any direction) at the intersections of that grid, though you could also do large vehicles if the grid lines are roads. Then you need a crapton of scatter. You should be able to move from cover to cover every 4-6". This means potentially 80 pieces of scatter or more, but that's a combination of cars, planter boxes, vending machines, air conditioner boxes, signs, parking meters, etc.

    Buildings should be a variety of heights, but nothing more than 3 stories high if you're playing through the inside. You are also going to want rooftop scatter (air conditioners, ventilation ducts, more billboards, etc) so troops running across the rooftops like a good anime have something to hide behind.
     
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  3. Mob of Blondes

    Mob of Blondes Well-Known Member

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    As example of modular there was that family of boards in which 9 (10 with one unused) or 16 tiles where created. The tiles worked in pairs, stacked against each other, for storage. The classic example was a labyrinth of cubic rocks. Same thing would work with different heights, as long as you create them in pairs (or add some filler/support when packing them).
     
  4. Section9

    Section9 Well-Known Member

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    I've also seen that done with cargo containers.
     
  5. Pen-dragon

    Pen-dragon Deva

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    If you have the money, some MDF terrain pieces might be perfect for your 'Forbidden City'. I am too cheap/poor to have had any experience with the MDF, but a lot of them look really nice. Your 'Dirty Underbelly' terrain would be the perfect opportunity to practice your scratch-building techniques. Paper, glue, scavenged trash, rattlecan spray paint, and you can whip up some nice projects. Trawl through this very scenery forum, there are several good threads with ideas for building your own terrain. The best thing about scratch building 'Urban Blight' scenery, if you screw up, just claim you meant it to be screwed up, and slap another layer of paper/cardboard on it. If you plan well, you can make your scratch built terrain slightly bigger than your MDF pieces, so you can turn the scratchbuilt upside down and use them to store your MDF pieces for more compact storage.

    For my table, I build my buildings to be 3" tall per story. This is a little out of scale with the miniatures but works pretty good. If I had to redo my table I might go with 2.5" instead. I built my buildings to stack, so some large buildings, with some smaller buildings to sit on top. If I need to, I can set the second floors on ground level to create more ground level terrain. I rarely stack buildings more than 2 stories tall. With scatter terrain on rooftops, it is pretty rare for me to get elevations over 7". I made my buildings with usable interiors, but after a few fun games, I found that to me more trouble than it is generally worth. If I was to do it over again, I would leave the interiors empty, so I could store smaller buildings inside large ones.

    One of these days I will stop being lazy, and make my own thread titled 'Scenery Building, what not to do'. Here is the thing though, my projects are built from scavenged items, and cheap craft supplies. If I screw up, I am only out a few bucks and some time, and I count the time as well spent, because I learned something. Also, I have young kids. Failed projects are sacrificed to entertain them. (They don't last long in their 'enthusiastic' hands)

    CHEAP. I am a cheapskate. For most of my projects I picked up 20"x30" sheets of foamcore from my local cheapo-store for about a $1. Sometimes I wish I hand sprung for the more durable $3-$5 stuff, but I have some pieces that are almost 5 years old, and they still hold together just fine. (Not weekly play mind you, life to busy for that, but they have survived a 5 year old playing with them sometimes) Foamcore, card-stock paper, scavenged cardboard, and glue, the average cost of a 10"x10" one story building would be around $1.50, probably another $1 or $2 in cheap craft paints and/or rattlecan spray paint. However it does take time. I would estimate 5-10 hours to build a 10"x10" room (spread out over a week or two). But I enjoy the building process, so I don't resent that time spent. It is a bonus not a negative for me, I like to build. It has taken my slow butt years, but I have enough terrain to fill at least two or three tables, probably spent around $50. More if you include tool costs, like scissors, exacto-knives, steel ruler, good desk lamp, and the like. It is not as amazing as some peoples builds, but I think it looks pretty good.

    Not mine, but some resources I have found:
    https://h-archive.blogspot.com/2018/03/infinity-posters-and-ads.html
    https://forum.corvusbelli.com/threa...rcraft-objective-room-neat.34437/#post-278735
    https://forum.corvusbelli.com/threads/links-to-some-free-papercraft-terrain.3229/
    https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=5C08D02D0B309F29&id=5C08D02D0B309F29!429
     
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  6. Cannon Fodder

    Cannon Fodder Well-Known Member

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    If you are looking for a cheap table you can do in a weekend take a look at my first table. I"ve recently donated it to my LGS. It's mostly dollar store craft boxes, but you can can cover a table quickly with these. It lets you focus on making scatter terrain and accent pieces which I find are what adds the most style to your table. The time consuming part are the bridges and stairs. I've attached my old file with doors and windows I used. If anyone wants the word version message me.

    My other post has all my set up tips, but in summary, it depends a lot on the size of you buildings. On this table the building were 4-5 inches wise and you needed to have the building touching in order to make larger structures. I would suggest spacing between structures to be more than 6 inches apart. Keep that in mind when making bridges.
     

    Attached Files:

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  7. chromedog

    chromedog Less than significant minion

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    Most of my terrain comes from a variety of different makers and/or suppliers - or DIY - not usually enough of any of it to make one table on its own.
    Even the Shark Mounted Lasers MDF table set I bought needed scatter terrain to turn it into a "real" table. Holo signs, planters, vendo-mats, etc.
     
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  8. DrunkCorsair

    DrunkCorsair Well-Known Member

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    I am going for a asian themed table too.
    I always put some bucks on hold from my hobby budget and order some MDF buildings etc.
    Other stuff will be DIY and 3d printed (probably im going to get a second printer to do all terrain etc stuff).

    For MDF i am going for a mix of different makers most will be MAS Kyokko Buildings, the Forbidden Palace from Customeeple with added stuff from TT Combat and a nice MDF Train if i can find one.
     
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  9. smog

    smog Well-Known Member
    Warcor

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    Find out how you want to store your terrain and then build the terrain to match your storage solution. Make stuff stackable or able to pack in a box like a Tetris game.

    Don’t make it too time consuming to assemble and place on the table from the box. Sometimes smaller structures can be glued together to form “clumps” that are easier to take out and place on the table

    Some pics of the latest slum table I built:
    https://imgur.com/gallery/GyLhATQ

    It was literally boxes glued together:
    https://imgur.com/gallery/1BMgmBG

    Here are the interior tables I built. Not the sturdiest, but it packs down small! I have two tables like this in one box
    https://imgur.com/gallery/
    https://i.imgur.com/qw05pAQ.jpg

    This is my home table. Every building is built from foam core.
    https://i.imgur.com/Dgqi1Jk.jpg
    https://i.imgur.com/lCkx76x.jpg

    The last table I finished today. This is all built with XPS foam and an exacto knife.
    https://imgur.com/gallery/rPS34jk
     
    #9 smog, Oct 27, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
  10. Pen-dragon

    Pen-dragon Deva

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    I recently discovered 2 year olds make good scenery painters. I made some foam rocks. Nice pink foam, so they needed some paint. I got my kids involved. The 2 year old requested a bunch of colors, and ended up mixing up everything in a nice grayish-brown mess, and proceeded to cover every available surface. (including table, hands and face.) The end result was a surprisingly good looking mottled gray rock. My 5 year old on the other hand was much neater, carefully kept the colors separate and made the curious choice of a rainbow colored rock. I may have to use my 2 year old for more painting.
     
  11. KGG

    KGG Member

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    Hahaha! Brilliant! I'll have to try that next time we have family visiting.
    ___

    Great response from everyone, thanks!

    @smog - Really nice examples, especially the foam core. I don't think my crafting skills are up to your standard, but I am hoping for a combination of foam core buildings and some MDF parts once I find the time to start watching some tutorials and making buildings. Do you generally plan the buildings out in advance / pencil onto foam and go from there etc?
    ___

    I have been messing around with Blender recently and thought I'd have a go at at least planning a basic table. Its not so much the slums/Yu Jing sort of style but I thought it would give me an idea of sizes / number of buildings and terrain / basic layout without wasting any materials. Turns out you need A LOT!

    Please excuse my poor attempt at making something other than a doughnut and coffee cup in blender:

    I went for 16 tiles of 1' x 1' with a mix of road (black) & pavement (white). Roads are currently 4" wide. The pavement is approximately 3mm high. There are two elevated tiles, one at 1" high and the other at 2" high with an additional 0.5" raised wall around the corner sections of each. The 'roundabout/plinth' tile has a slight elevation to it too, up to about 0.5" in the centre.
    The basic tiles don't seem too difficult to build. Probably some 5mm MDF as a base/road with 3mm foam for the pavement. Elevation from a block of polystyrene or something and walls from cardboard? Does this seem like a suitable plan?
    Screenshot 2019-10-28 at 13.42.41.png

    I started to fill in the pavement sections with some buildings. My plan would be to have each building as a separate piece so that they can be rearranged and hopefully a combination of 'straight' and 'diagonally' placed buildings to break up LOS. Each storey was initially 3", but changed to 2.5" after reading this:
    I don't know about trying to build interiors. Im leaning towards just having solid buildings. I'm already feeling that it could get overwhelming and I haven't even started yet. I've already found its far more difficult to cut a simple square into foam core than I imagined. Note I haven't added bridges / stairs or ladders to my Blender sketch but would hope to make plenty of access routes if I get around to building it.
    What thickness of foam is good for a building? I'm aiming for 5mm to keep the rigidity, but happy for suggestions as I have no idea what I'm doing..
    Screenshot 2019-10-28 at 13.41.34.png

    Even with as many buildings as I could fit (be bothered to create), there were still far too many open lines of sight so I made a few bits of 'scatter' to get an idea of how a 'proper' table might look. @Section9 was right here. Even with 60-70 bits there are still some pretty open areas. I've sort of ran out of ideas for what additional scatter I could add though. Trash cans, Vending Machines, etc perhaps? Maybe something extra to fill in the roads?
    I can probably make the planters, billboards, standing ads, bus stops and road blocks from foam core and scrap, but I think I'd need to buy something suitable for large and small vehicles, some flying vehicles for the landing pads and at least the 'fan' part of air-ducts. Any suggestions for these, looks like I'd need a lot?
    Screenshot 2019-10-28 at 13.43.05.png
     
  12. Pen-dragon

    Pen-dragon Deva

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    Looks pretty good, but there are a lot of open spaces. Couple points of advice

    Vehicles are great for adding scatter terrain. You have three basic choices with vehicles. High quality kits, often meant as scenery for games. Look great, but can be expensive. Diecast cars. Look for things close to 1:40 scale. There are some high quality kits out there that look pretty good, but you can often go to the nearby dollar store and pick up some cheap ones for $3-$8. You really have to pick them up in person, because the cheapos are all over the place on scaling. The final choice is papercraft. If you google papercraft cars you can find tons of free patterns that you can print out and assemble. Papercraft is free, but what you save on money, you spend in time. They all look fine, but what I have discovered is you can't mix and match. One type will look fine with the others, but if you put them together the differences in quality will be glaringly obvious. So if you do vehicles, pick one type and stick with it.

    The second thing I would say, is privacy fences. They are easy to build, easy to store, break up line of sight really well, and don't look out of place in a city setting.
     
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  13. KGG

    KGG Member

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    Thanks! Yeah I need to think about how the tiles are arranged so that there are spaces for the larger buildings in the middle and smaller buildings/roads around the outside.

    I might try to add some sort of pedestrian overpasses across some of the roads too to provide more cover to those underneath and offer some extra height by climbing up. These combined with some fences might help reduce the width of some of the sidewalks too.

    Thanks for the tips on vehicles. I’ll keep an eye out for something around the right size.
     
  14. smog

    smog Well-Known Member
    Warcor

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    Thats a great start of point! Adding details and interesting textures can be done later after you get a playable board.

    I usually plan out the building in advance. First with sketches, then with blue prints (from online or my own) that I pin to the foam core at the corner of the pieces before I draw between the holes in the card before I cut it.

    I recommend looking at The Terrain Tutor’s videos on YouTube. This one was really helpful before I started building my first terrain:
     
  15. Section9

    Section9 Well-Known Member

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    I'm using 3mm foamed PVC, it's plenty strong.

    As far as cutting foamcore or foamed PVC, you need to get a couple carpenter's tools: A T-Square (or L-Square) and a triangle. Use those as straightedges. With the cheaper ones, you may need to run a file across the edges to knock down the bumps from the markings.



    billboards and traffic signs? I mean the big signs like on highways.
     
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  16. Mob of Blondes

    Mob of Blondes Well-Known Member

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    5 mm foam core should do for walls. It's the common thickness, with 3 and 10 also being normal. Edges will need to be covered with card for neat results and protection (it can be done with special cuts to reuse the sides themselves, but not always... think windows).

    You could also check foamed PVC, more rigid, less difference from face to side, and resistant to most paints and glues we use. Common foam core melts easily, being extruded polystyrene. Obviously FPVC is harder to cut than foam core. 3 mm one could work for the bases for example (way stronger curbs than 3 mm foam core), and also the walls. With a sharp tool you can engrave details.

    In between, you can look for extruded polystyrene foam (used for insulation, blue or pink in most countries, no card sides like foam core, but normally denser and stronger), or high end foam core that uses polyurethane instead of PS.

    Plain card (recycled biscuit boxes, grey or brown inside, printed outside) is also an option if you build in layers, with generous glue between them (or old paint you can find cheap). It can be very strong that way.
     
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  17. Section9

    Section9 Well-Known Member

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    Both foamcore and foamedPVC are murder on blade edges, do yourself a favor and buy either snap-blade boxcutters or better yet a big contractor's razor knife (and a couple boxes of blades, regardless of knife).
     
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  18. Biomckill

    Biomckill Active Member

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    My first time in this forum...

    Though I have played a lot with MDF and foam scenery from different vendors, I prefer very much to build my own scenery in plastic, using cheap or disposed plastic boxes (for example, the ABS cases of disposed UPS units), plasticard sheets and rods from Evergreen, Plastruct and Green Stuff and assorted bits from here and there.

    Three examples here:

    [​IMG]
    Chemistry Building 01



    [​IMG]
    Pipes with platform


    [​IMG]
    Chemistry Building 02


    The ABS is quite sturdy; you can use cutters and so, but to cut these pieces I needed the Dremel.

    The roofs are movable, so you can play inside. To simplify the construction, the doors are fixed, so we use small markers for open/close status.
     
  19. jherazob

    jherazob Well-Known Member

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    I love this!

    Suggestion for those who love to scratchbuild terrain: Can't link to it because of forum rules, but if you search for the Maelstrom's Edge webstore you can get there very cheap sprues of bits specifically designed to help scratchbuilding sci-fi terrain, this is necessary for them as they're so small they have no terrain partners and this is cheap to produce, but it's also great for us and anybody making sci-fi and maybe even modern boards.
     
  20. Biomckill

    Biomckill Active Member

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    Yes, I have seen the sprues around. In those pics you will see commercial resin bits (doors, lights, air conditioners, terminals...), ABS/PS railing for train modelling, LEGO pieces (they make great columns, grids...), caps of shaving razors, bits of sprue for piping, electronic components (they make great electrical boxes)... there is a long list.

    It would be interesting to see a thread with people making suggestions of bits you can use for scenery.
     
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