MOTB: Tarpaulin-covered cargo

Finished product first!

As part of my “build a honking great 54mm warehouse” project I envisioned some large scatter pieces to fill the aisles and cargo holds of the far future, but weren’t scale-dependent like cargo containers.

I shamelessly stole this idea from a regular at my FLGS Asgard Wargames many moons ago and I’ve kept it in the memory bank ever since (Thank you Ben Cane!). Now I had the time and justification to give it a go.

Ghost boxes

What appealed to me most about this idea was how gosh darn cheap and simple it was to put together. Step one: assemble any old tat. I had some spare mdf cubes that were just taking up space, as well as some smaller cardboard boxes and leftover spray paint caps.

Everything was kept in place by judicious use of hot glue. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t neat – everything was going to get covered up by the ‘tarp’ later on anyway.

After exhausting all the tiny boxes I had in my recycling bin, I assembled a few extra cubes from scraps of foamboard from my STC hab project. I figure if I’m building scenery, it’s worth building a set.

Once dry, I got some heavy duty tissues (thick but unpatterned) and cut them roughly to size. Using some watered-down PVA, I placed the ‘tarp’ on top of each pile and carefully (but liberally) dabbed on the glue mix.

I let the natural absorbancy of the tissue and gravity do most of the work. I avoided doing any brushing motions, instead using the large brush to gently tease the wet tissue into the desired shape. I found the only encouraging I needed to get the best results was trying to minimise the number of smaller creases on flat surfaces, to help with the sense of scale.

Once it was fully dry, I gave it another gentle coat of watered-down PVA to help strengthen it, then it was on to the painting!

It’s a tarp!

Painting was super simple as well. Everything got a heavy undercoat of matt black (making sure the tissue was well saturated), followed by a zenithal blast of whatever other spray colour I had at the time. In this case, a blue and a light brown/yellow.

Once sprayed, everything was drybrushed a lighter colour, then a wash of Agrax, then another final light drybrush. Finished!

Given how little time and money was needed for these pieces, I’m over the moon with how well they’ve come out. I wanted some large, line-of-sight blocking pieces that were setting-agnostic to be used just about anywhere, and I’m blown away with how well the finished product looks.

And they’re huge! Even at 54mm scale they take up a sizeable chunk of the board, and at Necromunda scale they’re perfect for having a whole shootout inside a hangar bay or cargo hold.

This is a great recipe for easy scatter, and it’s completely adjustable to your particular taste. Perhaps you want to get some cheap dolls house furniture and paint the tarps white to look like dust sheets instead? Or get some old minis you aren’t using and have an army of spooky mannequins?

Over the moon with this project, and I can’t wait to get some photos of them in action.

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