Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Making forest hexes out of aquarium plants

The finished jungle hexes with an undercoated US Special Forces model by The Scene for scale.
Sometimes when I don't have much time to paint, I work on terrain as it's more suited to doing in small stages and leaving for a while. when I'm doing a figure, I like to keep momentum on it until it's done.
Here is how I made my "LOS blocking" jungle hexes.

I used some single-hex Heroscape terrain tiles and some inexpensive aquarium plants I got from ebay for about £5. There are tons in the bag and this will probably last me as long as I want to keep making them.

I began by cutting off some plant sections so they would be of tree like height rather than scrub or undergrowth. These sections would not be accepting figure bases inside so I wanted pieces that would block lines of sight entirely.

While cutting and positioning them I noticed how flexible they were. I think in future, making some forest sections that figures can be placed in will be quite easy. The down side is that they can't be painted conventionally, but I will get to that further down the post.

The next step was drilling some small holes into the top of the Heroscape hexes and inserting the stems of the plants. This was easy and gave a much faster easier result than trying to glue them to a flat base. I began with a triangle pattern, but put a central hole in for some of them for variety. (A quick note: If you make the holes snug, you will not need to glue the plants in. This is good if maybe you want to change the plants at a later date)

 I then pulled all the plants out again and set about using PVA glue to put rocks, sand and kitty litter on top of the hexes.I made sure that I didn't put any large rocks too close to the holes, so the plant bases would fit.

Once dry, I gave them a coat of watered down PVA to keep everything solid. Then allowed to dry.

I used citadel foundation black undercoat to paint the sand and rocks. I left the sides of the hexes because I am afraid of getting too thick a layer of paint that could prevent them fitting together.
I then painted GW Foundation Calthan brown directly onto the plastic sides.

I washed the sides of the hex with my own homemade devlan mud future wax mixture, then drybrushed the piece with lighter shades of brown as I would with any of my bases.
The plants looked good, but as they are semi-transparent and brightly coloured, to my eye they didn't quite look right. I washed them with a mix of future wax and ink and was a little surprised to find that it stuck and didn't flake off. When this had dried I drybrushed (rather messily) them whole plant bits with Vallejo lime green. They don't look as good as a hard plastic model would if painted this way, but I'm happy with the result.


  1. They look fantastic, nice work.

  2. These look great! Up to now I was reluctant to use aquarium plants as they look much too clean used as they are or even repainted - but your wash and lime green drybrush method seems to work. Will try it with one of my next projects for sure.

  3. Outstanding article on making Heroscape hexes more useful.

    There will probably be a spike in Heroscape hex prices on eBay now! :)

  4. I am very impressed by your results.

    I own quite a lot of Heroscape terrrain, and I am always looking for new ideas like yours.

    Many thanks for the inspiration you have given me to try something similar.

    All the best,

    Bob Cordery

  5. Thanks for the encouragement guys!

    If you have a go at his make note that I used a wash made of Future floor wax (Kleer in the UK) and acrylic ink. I don't know how well other types of wash would work.