Bamboo groves

Stylised scenic set dressing for heroic, poignant and honourable duelling and philosophising.

Considering that its essentially just large bits of grass, bamboo is quite romantic and exotic, bringing all sorts of Far Eastern thoughts to my temperate, primarily deciduous Northern European mind.
Its much more romantic to me than plain old cow-dinner grass anyway, as I’m surrounded by such grassy fields (and to a lesser extent, cows.  And sometimes horses). YMMV.

See? Isn’t that lovely?

Of course, not only is bamboo suggestive of the Far East, it is also part of the visual character of a lot of martial arts and samurai culture and media, whether its chopping the stuff up…

…running unconvincingly across the top of it…

…climbing unexpectedly down it…

… or resting casually on it.

From the perspective of a combat game with miniature samurai, the main purpose of bamboo is for dramatically duelling in and around.

“Bamboo Showdown” by jimgun.

To get a miniature approximation of bamboo on my gaming table the first step in the process was to look at what other people had done.  The Sarcophagi blog features a lot of good terrain ideas for skirmishing samurai, including a tutorial for making bamboo groves.
While I decided to anchor my bamboo in sheets of cork tile rather than the gorilla glue technique used there, I did get a lot of inspiration from that post, so its well worth a look if you are interested in putting some 28mm bamboo forestry together.

The process was straightforward. Hot glue bits of cork tile of descending size on each other.  Roughly apply patterns of colours that suit your tabletop to the bases, almost like a camouflage pattern.  Use drybrushing and inks to bring them together a bit.

Note the statuary pieces on the bases in the WIP photos.  They came from Ristuls Extraordinary Market and add a little bit of thematic visual to the bases.

I stuck various bits of flock, sand, tufts and gravel to the bases to further break them up

I then drilled holes into the cork where I wanted to add bamboo later.

The bamboo (bought from a forgotten Ebay vendor) is supplied in green plastic.  Its not the sort of plastic that takes paint well, but I figured that it would hold a little bit of a brown drybrush, followed by a bone colour.  They took at least some of the flatness from the green plastic.

The effect is subtle but worth it I think.

The bamboo was glued into the holes in the cork.  Some more tufts and other bits and pieces were added to blend some of the bamboo into the base a little better.

That was it.  All ready for gaming with.

While I was at it I rebased a load of green trees from my early days as a wargamer, back in the early 90s I think.

Im almost finished with my pseudo feudal Japanese plantlife now, although there is one more iconic type of foliage to add in addition to bamboo and cherry blossom.


27 Responses

  1. Very good mate. I like bamboo apart from one day when I had to remove it from my houses fence line. It was a tough old bastard to get rid of!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks imperialrebelork.

      I have a similar bamboo related tale, as yet not sorted out.
      At least my miniature bamboo situation has been resolved 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh, blog posts ending in cliffhangers, why??

    Your mossy clefts look wonderful, as do your woody growths and springy… erm… pines. Inspirational stuff really. I think you should hang a few kung-fu masters in the upper boughs for added visual interest but that’s about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Because it isnt finished yet Captain, so the nailbiting end of the post helps me to remember to do it, but without publicly displaying my failure in too much detail if I do not.

      I do plan to put together a few shrines and a small graveyard and some other things to make the undergrowth a bit more interesting en masse, but they will be independent pieces. A few light footed ninja in the branches would be nifty though.


  3. Lovely stuff. Although since you forgot where you got the bamboo… not so useful for us copycats.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks fantastic, it’ll make for a really atmospheric Asian style gaming environment. I wish I could find nice plants like this locally, but I’m generally out of luck, they’re always some garish colour. And you’re not wrong that they take paint poorly. I tried to make evergreen trees with aquarium plants and the spray primer didn’t even stick! Welp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried spraying aquarium plants a very long time ago, back in 1990 or so I think. The lesson that I learned then – “Dont spray aquarium plants with paint” – has stuck with me since.

      I tried local suppliers for the various aquarium plants that I have used over the years, but going straight to Ebay has been the simplest option I have found. Oddly, the only aquarium plants that I have come across locally have been too pedestrian for my garish toy soldier tastes.

      Atmospheric is what I am aiming for. Any old models will do to block LOS and movement, but tying them to the setting is important for the world building vibe. Im glad that you like them Al 🙂


  5. Lovely! Definitely a genre staple, so nice to see bamboo groves in Kuripu Jima.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love them great job mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very nice mate, perfect for the tabletop! Bamboo always brings a smile to my face – I planted a ‘small’ screen of the stuff in the garden of my first house… My wife and I then moved out as the kids started appearing, but we are still fiends with next door so we sometimes pop back and take a look at the old place over the fence… 10 years later, and the bamboo has turned into a berserk forest – I swear, you could get lost in there!

    Turns out that you’re best off planting bamboo in pots :-/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Has it reached the point where you have had to contact your neighbours in writing about their out of control bamboo yet 😀

      We also planted a small bamboo screen a decade ago, but we didnt subsequently move. Its invasive stuff, thats for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Very nice indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent work. The bamboo looks convincing and the drybrush really adds to it. The scenic shots are overall beautiful and very evocative. The first one reminds me a bit of a theatre stage or kabuki theater.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks daggerandbrush.

      I have been having a bit of trouble with photography recently, which combined with a couple of other unexpected things meant that this was a second, rushed set of photos of the terrain. Im glad that they look at least adequate.

      For now it was more important to get them photographed and posted here, so that I can get on with the other bits and pieces.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What problems did you encounter? I think the photos look good as they are.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have trouble controlling light in wider shots, often leading to washed out elements in the foreground. I find that currently I am more comfortable photographing single miniatures in front of a plain background.

          Trial and error will sort it out, not to worry D&B 🙂


          • I think that is hard to eliminate if you don’t have an environment where you can control the light and its intensity/direction. I struggle with this a lot using natural daylight. What helps a bit is using white foam core to reflect light and black foam core to reduce reflections. It can turn into an acrobatic endeavor at times.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, that’s a hell of a work, but it certainly paid off!! :O

    Liked by 1 person

    • Its certainly an enjoyable bit of themed terrain to have ticked off the bucket list Suber 🙂

      Thanks for the feeedback!


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