Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bocage hedgerows the easy way

Battlefields through the ages have always been criss-crossed with all kinds of obstacles. No matter how well the commander chose his battlefield, it rarely was as flat and empty as many of our tables. 

Since centuries many rural sites have been crossed by hedgerows to mark terrain borders or herd cattle. Hedges are therefore one of the most generic terrain types possible. I made some many years ago but they were too few (and too ugly, to be honest) so I decided to take a second stab at it. Quick and dirty was again the motto. I have seen some real works of modelling art used as bocage, but I had little time and limited resources, so what I had, had to do and be finished in a day. 

I based my design on the French bocages of Normandy fame. But they can be found all over Europe.  A low earthen wall, topped with sturdy hedge plants left relatively uncut forms the basis. The hedge plants are often woven back into the foliage, producing over the years a nearly impregnable organic wall, ideal for keeping cattle in its place. As Normandy proved, it worked relatively well for tanks too! 

I started with simple materials: Sorbo cleaning pads, glue, sand and grit and flocking materials.

I cut the bases from plastic sheet (some sign I had lying around) and made crude earthen walls from cut styrofoam. On top of those I places the cut cleaning pads, cut with an irregular top to represent the wild growth of the average rural hedgerow. I used a hot-glue gun for this part of the assembly.

As you can see below I made most of them the same length, which makes it easy to build up the table. I made some corners and shorter pieces to fit the odd ends. I equipped some of them with trees to break the monotony and one piece showing a gap to pass through.

For the next step I mixed several grains of sand and grit for the covering of the earthen base. Birdsand, playpen sand and aquarium bottom covering are perfect for this and can be had cheaply in large quantities. 

I covered the base thickly with glue (Heki flocking glue in this case) so the sand would stick well and would protect the styrofoam from the spray paint I planned to paint them with. Just drag the piece through the sand a few times and leave to dry. Left on the picture a finished example.

This step is essentially repeated with the flocking material. I dabbed big splotches of glue onto the cleaning pad hedges and just pushed them into the flocking stuff. This resulted in irregular sides that reinforced the wildly growing image of the tops. Once dry, I spray-painted the hedges olive camo green to get a uniform green color.  

The I painted the earthen base drab brown (cheap acrylic hobby stuff) and added highlight and some grass flock to blend the hedge parts in with the Battlemat I usually use for a playing surface. A acrylic matt varnish spray to finish and fixate everything and it was done!

Below some pictures of the final result, shown next to some Foundry Home Guard and a Warlord Matilda II.


  1. those do look really nice! i shall be making some.

  2. Great idea. I might steal this for my own table.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Very good ideas. Your work is also very inspirational.Keep on blogging! :)