[HOW TO] Building a Trench Display Board

In this article, I break down every step to build a trench display board. Shovels at the ready!

For some reason, namely simplicity, trenches are not in the popular bracket of terrain available out there.  When they are, they are usually poorly made.

So let’s get this out of the way: I hate it when trenches are above ground.  You can call it whatever you like, but trenches are dug in, or not trenches at all.

So, the easiest way to do this dug in look is to build our display in height and leave a hole between boards where the trench should be.  This is much easier than actually digging through the foam and cutting away.

Start with a board and a foam board that will fill it, and cut out the space where the trench will be.    Then we glue the foam to the board.

Once it is glued in place, draw and place other scenic elements you want on your board – barbed wire, a bunker an a crater in this case.  The goal when adding elements is to create somewhat of a story, and finding pieces that showcase your models.  It’s also quite important to make sure you don’t cram the entire board with terrain, as you do want your models to fit in the board.

Making the trenches

Next, we want to detail the trench to make it look like an actual trench and not just a gaping hole.  Two walls and some sort of flooring, all made with craft store balsa wood.

You can find this in most craft store and dollar store that have an art section. Try to find some that is already the proper shape and size, because cutting through these is time consuming and quite boring.

This is already time consuming enough, and you could easily make a mold of each section and cast in in plaster.  Specially if you are building a table-wide trench.

It’s also a good time to lay some on your bases.  I chose to have trench work on only some bases, not every model in the army.

I also wanted a section of busted up walls, again, to get that ‘story’ look.

The floor section will be made later, because I want to bury it with the texture of the board.  Now is also a good time to fix your elements in the board, because you want to make them part of the board, not just sitting on top.

The actual basing is made with sand and gesso.  I mix both in a solo cup until it turns into some sort of paste.  I will add 2 coats of this mixture to make sure that the foam is entirely covered.  This will allow us to use spray cans and save a buttload of time.

While the first coat of the mix is still wet, lay down all the flooring boards.  They will stick in the gesso, and your second coat will seal them in place, burrowed in dirt.

Now is also the time to line up all your bases and apply the gesso and sand mix on them, as we will paint everything together.

Painting is quite straightforward.  I started with the bunker, then masked it off and pray painted the whole board with Fur brown from The Army Painter.  Drybrushed with Steel Legion Drab and Ushabti Bone;  the boards are the same color, but washed black to make them stand out.  And then adding black around the explosions.

And there you have it:  a display board every entrenching army would be proud to call home.

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