Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: Building Wargame Terrain by Tony Harwood

My copy of Building Wargame Terrain by Tony Harwood arrived the other day, so now let's take a closer look at it!

Building Wargame Terrain
by Tony Harwood
There are a couple talented hobbyists out there who create stunning fantasy/medieval wargaming terrain, such as Wolfgang Jädtke, Trull, Rob Hawkins, theomar pius or Thibo and X-Tine of CT-Scenery - to name just a few*. But when it comes to high quality resin terrain manufacturers the number shrinks drastically. The products from Tabletop World, Stronghold Terrain and GrandManner being my favourites**. With "Building Wargame Terrain", Tony Harwood, one of the top terrain model makers, has now published a book in which he describes his techniques and shows off some of his fine work. Some of his creations are available as resin models from GrandManner. Incidentally, one of them - the Wachau Meeting House from the 28mm Napoleonic Europe range - is currently sitting on my workbench. So naturally I was especially curious to take a look "behind the scenes" and learn about the making-of for these beautifully crafted pieces.

The Wachau Meeting House (WIP)
sculpted by Tony Harwood, produced by GrandManner

From the Outside: Production Value

BWT is a full-colour softcover book that counts 100 pages from front to back. The pages are thick and glossy and feel good in the hand. The book is chock-full of good quality photos showing the different projects in their various work-in-progress stages up to the finished product. The layout has a strong "Microsoft Word" look to me, though, especially with the black "double border" frames around some of the photos. A less common typeface would have also gone a long way in giving the layout a more professional appearance. This is where you realize that this is not some company's representative publication, like a Warhammer Historical rulebook or similar, but a self-published and -produced book by a fellow hobbyist. Considering this the quality is still surprisingly high and the book will feel right at home on my shelf, next to Legends of the High Seas and the Foundry Compendium.

Inner Values: The Articles and Tutorials

The table of contents page
The book starts with a "Tools and Materials" section which, while mandatory, will probably be most interesting only to novice model makers. The first tutorial "28mm Wall and Fence" picks up the beginner level, with each following tutorial introducing new materials and techniques. The overall order of the articles is very sensible, gradually increasing the difficulty level: While you're scratch-building stones from foam and building fences from balsawood in the beginning, you're creating more complex wooden structures from plastic card beams and building detailed roofings in the final massive 18-page article "28mm Raised Market Hall" in the end.

The book concludes with a 3,5-page gallery of earlier work and a list of published articles for further reading.


The book covers a wide range of techniques and materials. Depending on your experience and previous internet researches on the topic some of them will be familiar, such has how to apply a structured surface to foam. Still I think it is safe to say that there will be something for everyone in BWT. For those new to terrain making the book will be the ultimate guide on how to get involved in the hobby. For those with a bit of experience to them - I'll include myself here - they will get to learn from a professional how to bring their expertise to the next level. From the styrofoam level of terrain, which can look awesome on photos, to the perfect detail suitable (and neccessary) for recreation as resin casts - the book covers it all.

Personally, I am most interested in the high-end level of creating timber-framed buildings such as the ones available from GrandManner. The book goes by the subtitle of "Dampfpanzerwagon Guide No. 1" and Tony does mention it in his closing words: If the book proves to be a success he will do a follow-up. Now I very much hope that No. 2 will eventually see the light of day. For that one I hope to see a bigger gallery of his greatest creations, such as the medieval and Napoleonic buildings that you can find at GrandManner. I would love to see even more detailed tutorials on how to sculpt surfaces, accompanied with drawings and notes on timber-framed architecture and photos of the real-world models, considering some of his creations are inspired by real buildings.

If you have any interest in scratch-building terrain, this book is £16.00 well spent, and I recommend you head over to Tony's blog and order your copy right now.


*, **: Obviously these lists are highly subjective without any claim to comprehensiveness. My focus is on fantasy and medieval to napoleonic wargaming terrain. Your mileage may vary.


  1. Hi Christian,

    Thank you for the review.

    It is my intention to produce a second book which should include more adventurous terrain projects. But this is in the future - for now I'm relaxing after getting book one out.

    Thanks again.


  2. Very good review, Chris! Exactly what I thought about the book. :)


  3. Good, well balanced review and pretty much the same thoughts I had when I received my copy.


  4. @Tony: Ha, I totally understand that for now you need a rest. You can be really proud of this book and its contribution to the hobby. I think there's enough to learn from it to tide us over until the next release. :)

    @Joao & Matt: Glad you guys approve. I found it difficult to describe what you can expect from the book without giving too much away. I hope this will be useful for those interested but undecided yet.

  5. Nice Post very useful Thank You!!!


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