Category Archives: Terrain

4Ground’s Middle Eastern house kit


The sleepy oasis of Sheesh-ki-Baab is disturbed by the rumbling of engines as a French motorised column passes through.

Painting of vehicles for my WW2 colonial French army has paused whilst I’ve concentrated on starting some desert scenery for them to fight over. First project off the blocks has been this 4Ground wooden kit of a Middle Eastern dwelling.


As with the 4Ground Japanese buildings that I’ve also built, this kit was an absolute joy to put together. The miniature engineering that goes into what appears on the outside a very simple building is surprisingly complex, but all the pieces fit superbly.

The front door and the trapdoor in the roof can open and shut.  The roof itself is removable so that figures can be placed inside the building.

The kit comes pre-coloured. The only thing I did was touch up some of the stones around the roof-line, and disguise the corner joints by painting any visible edges in matching colours.

The entire project took only a couple of hours max!

By the way, the palm-trees are cheap plastic cake decorations (!) from my previous Pirates project.



Filed under 4Ground, Terrain, Uncategorized, WW2

3D printable modular fantasy terrain Kickstarter

My friend Matt at Printable Scenery now has a Kickstarter site: Winterdale, a beautifully designed modular medieval fantasy citadel collection for 28mm gaming.

This is the same company that printed my beautiful Maori pa.


Each Winterdale model is delivered as a .stl file pack to be downloaded and printed on a home 3D printer.

For the last year Matt’s company has been perfecting the process of 3D printing modular gaming terrain, and has built up a great following selling their models through out the world. All their designs are modular so you can scale, customize and print buildings towers and walls. Each piece is individually sculpted for maximum detail, and configured and optimized to print on small home printers.

3D printers are perfect for tabletop wargame and RPG terrain. Each piece of scenery costs about as much as a cup of coffee to print, and you can get a good printer for as little as US$399. Everything shown here is printed at 200 microns, which is the optimum quality for scenery.

If you’re looking at getting a 3D printer in the near future, then getting this digital library now at this amazing price will be well worthwhile.

Pledge Level 1 THE HAMLET: US$10 (NZ$15)


Pledge Level 2 THE TOWER: $US 27 (NZ$40)


Pledge Level 3 THE CITADEL $US 44 (NZ$65):


Pledge Level 4 CASTLE: $US 50 (NZ$75)


Stretch Goals

Matt is also really excited about the stretch goals because this is where they get to develop a lot of new buildings and add-ons.  Their concept artist, Elwira Pawlikowska, is already getting ideas underway. You’ll be getting amazing value just from the pledges as they are, but when the stretch goals are reached you’ll be getting an unbelievable amount of models. Matt will be getting your feedback along the way as they develop some more really amazing scenery pieces.

Stretch goals

If you’re interested, why not drop by Matt’s Winterdale Kickstarter site.

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Filed under Terrain, Uncategorized

A simple way to paint a Maori pa and other scenery


I recently helped Printable Scenery to write and illustrate an article on how to paint their Maori pa palisade and buildings, using the ‘dry-brushing’ process.


This is a fairly quick way of painting large lots of scenery. The results look good despite being somewhat ‘rough and ready’ to do. This technique is particularly useful for things like rough wood and thatch – perfect for a pa, in other words!

See the full article here.

And here’s a little video of the fully painted pa:

Video #3dprintable #Maori pa printed on #makerbot for #wargamesterrain #wargames

A video posted by Printable (@printablescenery) on


Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Empress Miniatures, Terrain

World’s first 3D-printed Maori pa completed

Maori Pa001

Here’s some great pics of the final result of my enlistment of Printable Scenery to model a Maori pa and print it on a 3D printer. (Don’t forget to click on the photos to see them in their spectacular full-size glory!)

A Maori pa was a fortified settlement with palisades and defensive terraces. In the pre-European period, these were often built on prominent raised ground, especially volcanic hills. The natural slope of the hill was then terraced.

For years I’ve wanted to have a pa on my wargames table for my colonial New Zealand Wars games, but constructing the fencing from pieces of wood was too fiddly and time-consuming, and the results too fragile. Then I came across Printable Scenery …

Maori Pa002

I discussed with Printable Scenery’s Matt Barker how a model pa needed to work for wargaming.   The company was great – I just sent them some drawings and photos and they started showing me 3D prototypes almost the next day.

By producing the fences and buildings in a modular format, this scenery will be infinitely adaptable to put together any type of fortified structure required for wargaming a typical colonial New Zealand Wars battle or siege.

With over 30 pieces of fences and buildings now available, they can also be modified to form any other type of tribal village, not just Maori. You could even consider such forts for fantasy or pulp fiction games. And by reversing the fences so the posts go on the inside, they can become a generic northern European stockade.

Maori Pa033

The components were designed with pen and paper, and then drafted in 3DMax, where the overhangs and support tolerances for printing were tested. The mesh was exported to Z-Brush for detailing, then ‘decimated’ to provide a workable high-res file in a technique perfected at Printable Scenery. Each piece prints in just over an hour on a Makerbot.

The variety of walls provides an unlimited range of options that can also be scaled, as can the meeting house and huts. Even the statues and entrance-way can be configured in a variety of ways.

Maori Pa022

Once several batches of fences and buildings were printed out, we were keen to see how they would look assembled together to depict a typical Maori hill pa. In our trial layout, three layers of palisading encircle a small hill that has been shaped into defensive terraces. In the centre is the meeting house and huts. The outside circle has an ornate carved gateway. All around is the rugged New Zealand bush.

Maori Pa010

Our pa is populated by 28mm figures made by Empress Miniatures, which cover the New Zealand Wars of the 1840s. There’s even a British attack going in on one side.

The palisades and buildings of the model pa were painted using the ‘dry brushing’ technique. This entails dipping a flat brush into acrylic paint, wiping off most of the paint on a tissue, then sweeping the almost dry brush back and forth across the model to pick up all the raised areas.

Maori Pa028

For the wooden fences and thatch, I started with a medium grey dry-brushing. I then picked out the binding ropes and the sharpened ends of the poles with beige, and the carved tops of the posts and the frames of doors and windows with a rust-red colour. I used some Games Workshop dark washes to bring out the detail of the ropes. This was followed with a light grey dry-brush over everything, and finally the faintest almost white dry-brush.

The bases were covered in PVA glue, and then dipped into sand. I finished them with splotches of different types of model static grass and flock.

Printable Scenery do great custom creations, and it works out really cheap if you offer them copyright of the finished items. As Matt says, “Now anyone can download and print for less than a cup of coffee from”

PS:  The gnarly old trees you can see on either side of the meeting house in some of the photos are also Printable Scenery items!

[Photos in this article all by Matt Barker from Printable Scenery.]



Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Terrain

Maori meeting house, and other buildings


I had fun this morning painting these 3D print-outs from Printable Terrain.  This company produces computer files for printing these buildings on a 3D printer.

This impressive meeting house and its two accompanying huts will be perfect to populate a Maori pa for my colonial New Zealand Wars project.

I still have a lot more of Printable Terrain’s pa palisades to paint up (like the fencing in the background), and also a rather impressive gateway arch – so keep watching this space.

IMG_3527_a IMG_3528_a


Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Terrain

3D files for Maori pa fencing now for sale

maoripa-stockade-v01 (1) The Maori pa fence 3D printing files are now available for sale on Printable Scenery. You’ll need access to a 3D printer, or to a local 3D printing service, to print out these files.  But then you can churn them out to your heart’s content.  Imagine the size Maori pa (or pirate  stockade, or cannibal village, or orc fortress) you could make with unlimited pieces! After a wee bit of cleaning up to remove some supporting sprues, and a quick paint job, they come out really well, as you can see in the pictures. maoripa-stockade-v01 maoripa-stockade-v01 (2) maoripa-stockade-v01 (3) maoripa-stockade-v01 (4)


Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Terrain

I’ve seen the future of wargames terrain


Recently my wife told me that she had just found out that a colleague’s partner was into wargaming and making his own scenery.  This of course piqued my interest, so I contacted him and arranged a visit.  Arriving in his workshop, I found to my surprise that Matt Barker wasn’t scratch-building scenic items in the traditional manner, but was designing 3D files and marketing them through his website, a branch under his parent company Catalyst Creative.

Matt had plenty of printed out and painted examples of his terrain to show me, which took my breath away.  They included a variety buildings and structures for fantasy, future and historic genres.


You buy a Printable Scenery file from the website, print it at home if you’ve got a 3D printer (or use a 3D print service), paint the resulting print, and you end up with another excellent piece for your gaming table.  You can print out and paint any number of items, and put them together to form really impressive scenery, such as the above fantasy castle.


Watching the ‘MakerBot’ 3D printer in action was fascinating.  A filament of plastic ‘wire’ unwinds from a drum and is fed into a print head, which zips backwards and forwards (just like a paper printer’s head).  The head squeezes out the molten plastic filament, gradually building up layer after layer to form the structure from the bottom up.

Where there are big overhangs, the printer produces supports (like ‘sprues’) to hold them up during the printing process, which have to be cut away afterwards – you can see some of these in the arches in the above picture.

It is quite time-consuming to print out an item, but worth the wait.  As Matt told me, you press the ‘Print’ button, go to bed, and the next morning there’s a new model house waiting for you!


The real skill with 3D printing is the initial design work to create the file.  The designer needs to have both an artistic eye and the technical knowledge.  Matt and his team luckily have this ability through their experience in the TV industry.

I was really impressed with the design of the fantasy buildings.  To me, they have captured the quaint and quirky look of Terry Pratchett’s ‘DiscWorld’, though they would also fit in well with the more black and morbid look of Warhammer.  

The buildings are made up of modular pieces, so all sorts of variations are possible, as with the fortified cottage above. One of the advantages of 3D printing over more traditional mass production is that it’s easier for the designer to make any number of variations to a basic design, so that the modular elements can all look slightly different.

bendy wall

I especially liked a deceptively simple piece: bendy walls.  How often do we see wargames tales where everything is lined up straight and square?  But in real-life, nature has few straight lines, so fences often follow curving contours.  Printable Scenery’s curved fences come in short lengths that you can put together in any combination.  There are pieces with different radii, so you can even build circles within each other.


All in all, I think this is a very exciting concept.  OK, not that many people have 3D printers yet.  But Matt reckons we’re at a similar stage to where normal paper printing was a decade or so ago, when only a few houses had dot-matix printers.  So, just like with paper printing, it won’t be many years before 3D printers will become normal in most homes.

Matt and I talked about an idea for his next range of 3D printable scenery.  I’ll keep quiet for now about what this range will be until it is confirmed, but suffice to say it’ll fill a current gap in the historic gaming scene, and will also work well for fantasy and pulp fiction too.  You’ll just have to wait and see – all will be revealed in due course!

I’ll just leave you with this parting shot of Matt’s gaming table, showing off some of his printable structures.   You can visit Matt’s website if you would like to know more.



Filed under Terrain