BATTLETECH 3D Terrain Hills

BATTLETECH 3D Terrain: Hills

After having finished my Woods for BATTLETECH, I decided to tackle the next 3D Terrain feature: Hills.

I had enough leftover high-density XPS foam and decided to use it for BATTLETECH hills. This foam will allow for fine rock textures on the sides. The height of 2 cm to me is just about right for hills. I’ll have to experiment with textures in foam prior to producing lots and lots of hills. The  top should be covered in a mix of sand and fine, not too bright, turf. As mentioned earlier, I want the hex lines to be visible in the end.

First up, I’d like to mention that I was inspired by Drunkninja101’s excellent YouTube BATTLETECH 3D Terrain tutorial for making hills.

Check out Drunkninja101’s videos!

I did some things slightly differently, though. For example, I used other tracing and rock texturing methods, as you’ll see later on.


Before cutting, I tried some methods of tracing the outlines of my hills to the foam. What worked best for larger surfaces was a printed ou 3/4 Inch Hexagonal Graph paper on A4.

Cutting and stacking

On my Proxxon hotwire, I set the temperature to low (about 2 or 3 on the knob) and carefully cut out along the traced lines. All free hand. Try to be as neat as possible and take your time, but don’t stress out too much either. The next step will hide all these imperfections in your cuts.

Once I cut out my different levels, I sandwiched them together, using my trusty glue gun.


I first experimented with adding striation by cutting grooves along the sides of my hex blocks using a utility knife. However, that would prove to time consuming and dangerous. Then I remembered that I bought a wood burning engraving tool some time ago at our cheapo-store of choice. That was the perfect solution. I simply traced some grooves along the sides. Be careful though! I did it outside, since this generated a lot of nasty fumes.

I also cut along the lines on the top parts to highlight the hex shapes. I filled the grooves with watered down PVA glue and fine beach sand. I then left it to fully dry. In retrospect, I would skip that last step, though.


Next up, the fun part: Painting!

Before priming my hills, I applied a coat of Mod Podge and black paint mix to protect them for the following step: Priming and zenithal highlights with cheap rattle can spray paints (also from our local cheapo store).

I primed the pieces using a black spray paint and gave everything a zenithal highlight with a grey spray paint from a 45° angle.

The primed pieces, I then dry-brushed with a healthy coat of a sand/tan color. And, as as final step applied a dusty light drybrush of white over all the raised areas to bring our all the details in the texture.

BATTLETECH 3D Terrain: Hills

To further enhance the look of your rock faces,  I applied a heavily watered-down brown acrylic paint. And I mean, like water with some paint in it! Also, I’ll stick to one brown tone for the entire project series to guarantee uniformity throughout all my terrain pieces.

First, thoroughly wet your terrain pieces. I used a spray bottle from the garden section of our local cheapo store. Then, apply your watered-down paint sporadically on the rocks using a medium-sized brush.

The finished pieces will look similar to this:

BATTLETECH 3D Terrain: Hills

Once dry, this will yield a more natural and weathered look. Apply a second or third passage after each drying time if you think it needs more variation. Also, feel free to add other colors. I added my homemade dark wash here and there to add more depth/visual interest to the pieces.

Then, once completely dry, your bare hills are ready for the next step:



Before committing to a specific flocking scheme, I experimented with different colors, aggregates, and methods to get the right look. Feel free to use your basing technique of choice.

After choosing the right base for my grass flock, I applied a sand-bicarbonate-water-paint-PVA-mix to the bare top of the hills, leaving out the existing sand-filled groves as best as I could.

Artificial mud

I added some larger grit at the foot of the cliffs, then sprayed some water on the still wet earth mixture to finally sprinkle a liberal amount of bicarbonate over the hills. Then, I left everything to fully dry.

Once that’s dry, I drybrushed everything in beige. As a final dry brush, I only went with white paint lightly over the edges of the rocks.

BATTLETECH 3D Terrain: Hills

To tie everything together, I applied my homemade dark brown wash to the top surfaces, focussing mainly on the grooves and feet of the rock faces.

Let everything fully dry for at least 24 hours before applying the last layer, the actual grass flock.

If you’re opting for a desert look, consider yourself done at this point!


I sprayed some isopropyl alcohol on all the pieces before applying watered-down PVA glue to everything. Then, I sprinked some very fine grass turf from Woodland Scenics to the top of the hills. I used two green tones consecutively.

Don’t worry if your flock “spills over” to the rock faces. This adds to the realism.

Finishing touches (optional)

As for lots of my foam terrain, I wanted to add some weight to the bottom. That’s why I drilled in some regular wood screws.

You could add further features like vegetation and/or figures. Or you could use weathering powders or airbrushing to further enhance the look of your hills.

Lastly, as a final step, I varnished my BATTLETECH 3D hills terrain pieces using cheap matte varnish from the spray can.

Final result

This project, I have to admit, took me quite some time: more than a month … Due to a serious lack of hobby time, I could work on it only occasionally. You might have more time at your disposal, but make sure to plan enough of it for this project. It is a kind of lengthy, but also very rewarding terrain project!

The result speak for itself, I dare say.

BATTLETECH 3D Terrain: Hills

Now, my woods and hills need a place to stand on. It’s time for a proper BATTLETECH board! Stay tuned.