Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Green Stuff Sandbags!

Just a quick little tutorial on making some easy sandbags. I'm getting my army around for the paint and play at the local hobby shop and I have to finally paint my weapon teams since the point cost is so low AND there is no armor 14 allowed. Time for bullets!

Fix off, just as a warning, these eats up your green stuff. I did three teams and went through about a half to a quart of each color. A friend from the store pointed out that there are world war II kits of sand bags but they don't get the dynamic look I like. Plus, if green stuff is 20$ and that kit is 10$ish then its not really too much more. I'm ok with the more expensive yet more customized method. Here we go!

First off, mix your green stuff. Its not too important for this to let it sit since you're not doing much, if any, fine detail. Just mix and glob. Secondly, gloves, wear your gloves for this because you'll end up leaving big finger prints that you'll have to smooth out and remember our focus; Quick!

I grabbed up enough to roll it into a ball about half the size of a dime. Roll it up into a ball then squish it down into a rectangular pancake. This is going to be your basic form. To get a good idea of what scale you should come out to mine up up about the size of a guardsmen torso. I've never built a sandbag wall to hide behind while shooting lasguns at people, but I feel like that's a good size.

Next you'll select your location of your model to put the base of the wall and lay it down.

Side note: For my bases I use floor tiles from lowes. You can buy 12"x12" squares for .66$ I just break it up with a pair of pliers into random chunks then just glue it down. If you saw my bikes the effect comes out like that. After that I use a product that I found from when I first bought my Bearded Dragon called 'Lizard Liter." It's crushed walnut shells and looks really great as a rocky/sandy/fine rubble.

So, after you place your rounded rectangular chunk down press it into any rubble or any other sandbags you might have down and make it look sort of droopy like its been there for a while and the sand has settled in to make it look more realisting. After that, run your needle tool around the end to create a crease all the way around to look like a seem. Once you're done there go back to the top and push the droops back down that the seem might have pushed back up. This does two things: makes the seem irregular and thinner in areas and makes the top look evenly effected by gravity.

Then make tiny lines int he top portion to make it look like folds in the material. Over exaggerate them, it'll look good when you paint it and give some great dark/light contrast areas when you use washes or dry brush. I start out by making using the needle tool. Keep in mind that material bunches at where its being pulled so it'll form little V's with the point at the edge and the creases spidering towards the center.

After using the needle tool I then push the droops down with the larger silcon smoothing tool. Remember to go back through afterward, repeating your steps until you get it to look like its been hanging there. If you get any sharp edges in the the GS don't worry too much because it has a tendency to 'settle' out and smooth out the edges naturally.

After you get one just rinse and repeat, stuffing them into each other, over weird edges, ect. Heres this team, one bag at a time:

Ok, so there is the first layer. Pretty easy. I stopped here and add an all new technique for this tutorial as an experiment.
I was sitting around in class, day dreaming about 40k instead of focusing on how not to kill people via mixing certain IV meds and thought, how can I make my sand bags look even more real? Texture. To get it I decided the best thing to use was a cloth bandaid.

After you make your first row of bags, just wrap it around your finger and press the texture randomly into the bags. the GS doesn't generally stick to the bandaid but you can still get it wet just to make sure.

Continue stacking your bags until you get the look, stopping each row to texture them then continuing.
More stacking:

There's the first team finished and here are the other two. Too bad I don't get to have cover saves for the terrain on my base! I'd put sandbags on my whole army's bases its so easy!!

Thanks! As always, message me with any questions.


  1. I like what you've done, but I prefer the rolled GS be honest, yours look too round/oval shaped.

    Roll the GS like a snake, and then roll the grip portion of your hobby knife lengthwise with some pressure to flatten (but not too much) and to add the bag details. Then using the dull side of the hobby knife you section off your bags, and then cut where your sections are. This makes the bag look sealed at both ends. Then add your seam along the long edge of each, and voila, nice looking realistic sandbags.

  2. Missed you at the store tonight (in a totally plutonic way). Nice tut though, thanks for the outstanding peice.

  3. Justin-
    I like your idea, I'll totally give that a whirl next time. I agree there is something missing about them, either they're a little too big or something, but I can't quite put my finger on it. It'll work for me for now, but it's deffinitly not a mastered art. Me putting up things like this is to actually try to open a forum for discussion, maybe I should start adopting the BoLS theme of asking a question at the end. :)

    I actually just drove down there and came back, early night? It was about 11:30 when I went there and the parking lot was empty. I almost broke in like a crack addict though but then I just said my serenity prayer and drove away. Also, I did miss grabbing fistfuls of your chest hair while you were gone

  4. I like the idea, and they look ok. IMHO though they are a bit big and for the size that they are they should be thicker. I think I'd knock them down to about 3/4 of their current size but leave the thickness.

  5. Hi there CVinton. I just want to say that this a great blog and a really inspiring read. Some of the stuff you're doing is awesome. On the sandbags, I thought your work was really very nice and certainly finished off the IG heavy Weapons team nicely. The band-aid idea was excellent.

    I used to make my own sandbags out of green stuff but changed a while back to a 2 part putty available in the UK called "Milliput". The advantage of Milliput is that it's slightly grainy, and when you make the textured effect with the band-aid it really stands out. Milliput is far less pleasant to work with than Green stuff, but I'd certainly say its worth a try. It's also a lot cheaper than green stuff, espcially if you just buy the standard (not 'superfine') variety (not sure if it might be more in the US if you can't source it locally). I also made small shrapnel/ bullet indents in my sandbags as if they've been under enemy fire - I'm sure that would work with green stuff as well. Here's an example:

    All the best and huge thanks again for the blog.

  6. Thanks for the link Sydney. For those of you who haven't seen his terrain work, check it out at his blog by just clicking his photo in the followers section and then follow the link in his link column. His terrain board is awesome!

  7. Sydney-

    If you told me that playing in traffic would improve my terrain making I'd do it. I'll find that putty like I'm looking for mecca. Thanks for the advice and the positive words!

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  9. Oh, one more thing, Sydney, have you ever read All's Quiet on the Western Front? I bet you could do small base of the scene where the German just killed the American and is sort of stuck in the bomb crater with his body and starts looking through his wallet at pictures of his family. It was an amazingly powerful scene in the book and I bet you could do just as powerful diorama of it.

  10. CVinton,

    I am ashamed to say I have not read "All Quiet" yet, but I got a copy for Christmas from my wife. I think that's a great idea for a diorama - I shall certainly give that a go. One of the other things I am really keen on doing is to try and make a couple of trench board sections which can be interchanged for World War One and 40K - I think this can be done pretty easily with slotted inserts. "Slotted inserts....pardon, but what are they?", I hear you ask. Well, hopefully all to be revealed in the blog in the next few weeks.