Deadzone Terrain

I’ve been sticking with the terrain theme this week and rocking out with Mantic’s Deadzone plastic building kits. The inspiration for the palette is entirely down to Respawn’s Titanfall game for the XBox, which I make no apologies for being totally addicted to. As soon as I saw the in-game environments the first thought that occurred to me was “these would be fantastic as a Deadzone battlefield”. The whole frontier world colony feel to Titanfall meshes beautifully with the way Mantic have designed the plastic terrain. There is very much a re-purposed shipping crate look to the whole setup which works well not only with how the Deadzone rule mechanics work, but also the backstory. The terrain shown here is made only with what was included* in the Kickstarter and was easily enough to cover an entire 2′ x 2′ game zone. When you see it laid out like this and consider the Kickstarter also included the rubberised printed gaming mat shown, five full faction starters, plus the faction decks, dice, counters and extra characters before any add-ons are factored in, it’s a chunky amount of painting. As a result I’ve been a bit more pragmatic with Deadzone and adopted a much more efficient  painting approach that gets everything onto the table as quickly as possible whilst still achieving a basic standard. What you see here is what I like to refer to as ‘Stage One’: Game Ready. The idea being once I have everything to this stage it’s time to get some games in. The terrain can then go through additional painting stages such as detailing and weathering during downtime between games.

So what are the Stage One basics?

It’s basically a bit of a cheat using different colours of primer, airbrush stencils and brush to achieve a simple, but very fast base standard. This is then immediately weathered using dry-brushing, sponge chipping and a gouache wash. That’s literally all there is to it I promise you. There is no time consuming detailed brush work, no blending and no highlighting. All of those things can be added later along with additional paint effects in later stages should you wish, but for now what you see here is achieved entirely with those basic steps. So let me walk through them in a bit more detail.

All of the pieces were initially primed in a Tamiya light grey. Those I wanted to do as red were then put to one side to be airbrushed (more on that later). The pieces that were left were given an additional coat of GW white primer, but only in patches and as a very light zenithal highlight on upper surfaces. Once dry I used a mix of paper stencils and masking tape to create simple stripes and primitive block shapes. These were then filled in with a Modelmates dark grey spray primer. I then reverted to the airbrush to block paint the other sections in a dark red. Note, I left the interiors primed grey however so that I could return to them at a future stage to create some interior/exterior contrast. Once dry, the red exteriors were dry-brushed with a dark orange before adding more masking tape and stencils to create the white stripes and markings.

The weathering effect on the stripes is achieved using a method similar to salting, only using a hair lacquer. The process is actually very simple. Once you have masked off the area you want as the marking you give it a light coat from a can of firm hold hair spray. Working quickly whilst the lacquer is still wet and tacky sprinkle a few areas with sand and small gravel (or salt crystals). These will stick to the lacquer and create a mask. With the masking in place I then airbrushed the sections with Tamiya white and once dry removed the tape and brushed off the sand to reveal the base colour underneath. If you want to make it even more weathered warm water and a cotton bud can be used to wear away the paint to reveal the colour below as the lacquer remains soluble allowing the white to be removed. At this stage I also added a few letters and numbers here and there using a dry rub lettering similar to Letraset. The rather apt Deadzone and bio-hazard graffiti are also airbrush stencils which came from another Kickstarter by Anarchy HD. A happy coincidence no less. For the grey section I followed exactly the same masking and hairspray approach to add the yellow markings in Model Air Ochre and Iraqi Sand.

The only brushwork was to then block paint the metal frames, vent grills and hand rails as well as a few of the grill sections in dark metal or scaly green.

Finally, the two weathering steps. Firstly I liberally applied Charadon Granite chipping to all of the sections using pieces of torn up sponge. I then painted a thin wash of heavily watered down burnt umber artists gouache over everything and left it to fully dry. This was the only real time consuming task which if I’m being honest I speeded up anyway with the use of a hairdryer. The excess gouache was then wiped away from all of the flat surfaces using a damp cloth leaving behind a nicely weathered and shaded appearance. I love using gouache for terrain because it has such a nice matt finish, but also because it remains soluble meaning you can continue to work it in a similar way you can with oils. Ultimately all of these will be varnished once additional stages have been completed and that will fix the gouache in place permanently. At this stage however it can still be readily handled without any undesirable consequences to hands, miniatures or furniture!

Mantic also included some accessory frames along with the building sprues, which feature items such as storage containers, lights and ladders. Not all of them are included here as I still have a fair few spares which I plan on using on further terrain pieces from other manufacturers. All ultimately to bulk out the Deadzone selection available even further, especially when the Secret Weapon’s Tablescape urban tiles arrive later in the year. Some of them however I have already painted up as scatter terrain using pretty much the same methods detailed above along with a chipping highlight just to help the detail pop a bit more.

I may have a few reservations about just how fully modular Mantic’s new terrain is in a practical sense with the current connector design. However, as permanent sub-assemblies their hard plastic designs are absolutely top notch in my opinion. Not counting assembly time, getting all of the terrain you see here to this standard took a maximum of two relaxed evenings work. I anticipate to take them to the next stage and add a few spot details, the interiors and additional rust and environment weathering should take no more than one or two more evenings at a later point in time. For now however, this Deadzone is game ready and The Plague are waiting. Now all I need to do is paint some Enforcers and we should be ready to start rolling dice.

Hopefully you found this useful. If you have any questions then feel free to fire them into the comments below. Until next time, have a great week.


* For the pedantic or eagle-eyed you may have spotted there ‘is’ one non-Mantic terrain item in the mix. It’s so insignificantly small though I’m not counting it! No prizes if you spot it.


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