I remember when laser-cut MDF terrain began to appear on the hobby scene a few years back. I wasn’t a fan — mainly because it all looked too neat and crisp. But it’s certainly a low-cost way to generate a lot of terrain, fast.
So when I started looking for a cheap MDF kit to use for some cityfight terrain, I knew I’d need to do some work. Here’s a look at my process. Keep in mind that my overall goal was to do this FAST and CHEAP. The kit I bought cost me $30 and included 8 individual models (3 different types). The largest buildings in the kit were quite good sized, so I knew they would provide a lot of versatility on the tabletop.
The first thing I did after assembling them was to add some foamcore strips running vertically. This serves to cover up some of the seams and slots, and it breaks up the smooth surface of the buildings and adds some visual interest. Vertical facades also give an impression of height, perhaps making these buildings “feel” taller on the battlefield. I chopped and gouged some of the foamcore pieces to show battle damage.
Up next was a liberal application of sand and gravel. Again, these are ruined buildings, so they’ll have plenty of debris scattered around (while still leaving plenty of “game room” for placing figures and objectives). I also added some chopped-up pieces of plasticard, plastic mesh and cork tiles to various areas. I made sure to put some sand on the walls, too.
After that, I sprayed the buildings with black and gray primer, then slopped some lighter gray onto the rubble patches to make drybrushing easier later on in the process.
Painting was a fast and simple process. I picked one or two bold colors to use on the recessed portions of the building walls, and then mostly just drybrushed gray everywhere else, then splashed some brown wash here and there. Again, the goal was to get these pieces complete and onto the battlefield ASAP! I’ll be going back soon to add in some nifty posters and warning signs provided by my good buddy Josh.
Overall I’m pleased with how these buildings turned out — particularly when you consider the price point of the kit! They’ve got a bit of “heft” now, which will help them fit into my existing collection of city ruins. I’ve still got a couple of these buildings yet to complete, and I’m planning on investing a bit more effort into adding little details and effects, such as fortified windows, wall panels, maybe even some stairs or ladders. Stay tuned!
Looks really nice! I’ve got an MDF kit that I’ve been sitting on for a while partly because of it’s simplicity. I think I’ll be stealing the exterior strips idea to give break up the flat facade.
If you want other ways to make the next set of ruins pop, a few bits of wire, rebar, I-beam, etc poking out from the ruined floor edges will go a long way. Rounding or gouging the strait edges on the ruined parts helps too.
Keep up the good work!