Wargaming Tradecraft: Flocking Terrain and Bases


Flocking Terrain and Bases

So I got to this point by painting with sponges on my Tin Can Tree project. But now, everything is brown and black and needs some perking up.

Whether you're creating terrain or just working on a base for a model, some form of flock will make it look more realistic.

What's flock you ask? Green powder, tea leaves, sand, small rocks, etc - in other words, stuff that looks like grass, forests, deserts, mountains and so on.

The actual process of flocking is pretty simple:
  1. Prep your work area so you don't make a mess.
    • For miniatures, a small box will do, as long as the miniature's base fits.
    • For terrain, lay out some newspaper.
  2. Mix up some white glue and water.
    • Use more glue than water, say 3 parts glue to 1 part water.
  3. Spread the glue on the surface you're flocking.
    • For small bases, you can spread the glue on with a toothpick.
    • For terrain, use a brush you don't care about. Still wash it out, but this is now your glue brush.
    • For large terrain, you can pour glue right on the base, then pour a little water onto the glue and mix / spread it right there.
  4. Now pour on your flock. Lots of it - cover the surface, be excessive.
  5. Once the glue dries, tap off all the extra flock.
    • You might need to use a light brush to remove any excess flock as it can be staticy and stick together.

* Another reason you thin glue with water is to reduce surface tension. Aka, it helps light flock sink into the glue and fit closer together.

Don't let that extra stuff go to waste - be sure to dump it back into whatever you keep your flock in. A funnel is especially useful for this.

Careful though, you might get clumps of glue, clumps of flock that's glued together, dust, other types of flock, etc. What you could do is keep another container just for a mix of random flock.

Once all the flock is on the base, things are looking much brighter!

Now's an appropriate time to go back and make some final touch ups to the paint on the wood when there's the grass to compare it to.

To add more realism, I'm gluing larger rocks around the river bank. I tried super glue in the first photo, which worked great, but no better than white glue. Since white glue's cheaper, lets go that route, but don't thin it when glueing heavy things like rocks.

Use tweezers for tricky to reach areas.

Before the glue dries, I've also spread dirt over the stones.

Then, I've spread thinned white glue around the river bank and flocked with dirt to build the transition between grass and river.

A couple things now - first, spreading some thinned glue over the "grass" and adding more flock of different colours. This just adds some variety. Look at any field around you - Grass isn't a perfect uniform mass of a single colour.

To finish up the flocking, there's a few things that need to happen.

  • First and foremost, that blend between grass and dirt is terrible.
    • Definitely going to need to add some more glue between the two and sprinkle more dirt on.
  • Add different types of grass.
  • I'm also going to toss a bunch of tea leaves all around to add to the effect of a forest.
    • Great for looking like leaves, twigs and such.
    • I DID NOT GLUE THESE DOWN, just sprinkled it about. As you continue to read, you'll see there's a method to my madness.

For the top of the smaller stump, I'm not doing anything different besides using some other materials. Bits of cork and tiny leaves from a hobby store and some other types of fake grass.

Notice a couple things on section on the right:
  • You can highlight flock.
  • White glue can leave residue.
    • If you use too much, you might have to paint over some of the areas that are left white.
    • If you test different brands, you'll find some will dry and stay clear.

What about varnishing flock?

This solves two things:

  • Solidify loose flock.
  • "Glue" down any flock that isn't already.

In addition to "gluing" down the tea leaves, flock can often be loose and can fall off as you touch or move terrain around and just make a mess. So, I use my standard Liquitex Matte Varnish and pour some into a spritz bottle (Which you can get from a dollar store) and liberally spritz all over the terrain.

You might ask a few things:

  • "Why varnish now? Why not wait until the project is done?"
    • A component of this project is water effects. Matte varnish will ruin the appearance, so the water needs to be glossed instead.
  • "Why aren't you varnishing with your airbrush like usual?"
    • An airbrush has way too much force behind it. It'll work for solidifying flock, but if you've spread loose flock around, it'll just blow the stuff all over.
  • "Could I just varnish with a brush?"
    • Sure, but if you have loose flock you'll end up pushing it around and have it stick to your brush.

And what about Flocking Bases?

Same deal, just on a smaller scale. Do try to make the feet interact with your terrain though. You don't want feet to look glued on top of flock. Bits should be sticking up beside their feet as if they're leaving footprints.

Using Tea Leaves as flock on Mulg the Ancient

As I mentioned above, you can paint flock as well. Washes, like I've done here, can darken things, but you could also highlight. Adding lots of little random things like moss, stone, leaves, etc.. will add to the "underbrush" appearance.


  1. I always thought flock was specifically the fuzzy stuff, that we generally had to buy from woodland scenics back in the day. There was the green fuzzy stuff, the yellow and the brown. Then they put out some 'clump folliage' that was bigger chunks of fuzzy stuff. All of this was in fact dyed sawdust. The sand and static grass and loose rocks I've never heard called flock. Just basing material if you are talking about all of it.

    Today I picked up some of that clumped grass stuff, the kind that you take off the odd plastic fly paper like sheet and attach to a base one clump at a time, and a bunch of poision ivy vine stuff. Found both at a great hobby shop in Etobecoke.

    1. Traditionally, yes.. but I think the term works when talking about using any material to cover bases with a natural look.


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