Pre-painted Wargaming Terrain Made in the U.S.A.
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Written by Ben Galbraith

I thought since we have a blog now, I’d start writing the odd post about what all goes into a new collection of terrain. And with us having just launched our War Zone Arabia collection this week, its the perfect chance to give you all a small insight into how we go about getting a product onto the store.

A lot of you would be shocked about how little planning actually goes into our products…. Not to say we don’t plan at all, we plan all the technical details, but the overall look and feel of a collection is entirely organic. Normally the process to design a new range for Black Site goes something like this:

1:  We start playing a new game/PC game/watching a movie and say “Hey…nobody makes cool kits for this, we should totally do it.”
This process is probably the most common why our kits start out, however in the case of War Zone: Arabia, it all came from a discussion with Jess and Steve from Spectre Miniatures when we were all chatting about what sort of kits they would love to see made for 28mm moderns. There is a ton of great “rural” MDF kits out there, but almost none are aimed at a more modern middle eastern setting.

2: Start blocking out rough ideas for kits and pulling some reference.
I will normally just jump in and start blocking out rough ideas and some important details. There’s a lot of amazing architectural detail work that goes into middle eastern building design. While a lot of buildings are built with cheaper materials and finishes, things like windows, doors and various detail work are all very intricate and beautiful.

Some references we pulled from google/streetview.

When I started blocking out the first two kits (the Temara Safe house and Baghdad hotel), I was focusing more on larger buildings that can be focal points for scenarios. The Baghdad hotel, while being a real building in Iraq, looks nothing like the real thing. It’s a heavy abstraction of the type of standard multi-story buildings you find all over the middle east.

This range was going to contain a mix of buildings of various sizes, some cool compound walls and a bunch of interesting details that people will really associate with a variety of middle eastern cities. We decided not to base it on any one location or era so people can use it for Iraq, Syria, Turkey or even places in North Africa.

3: Draw up the final designs and import them to 3D software for some pre-vis work.
Once the designs are more or less finished, we import them into sketchup and build them in 3D. This step is important to get a sense of scale and how the overall building looks…. basically if it looks cool enough, then we move on to the next process.

It also is the first test of making sure everything fits together correctly.

I’ve been using sketchup ever since artschool. I find it much easier and more intuitive to use than a lot of other CAD programs. It allows us not only to check geometry, but even mess around with some color combinations before we start burning anything on the laser.

4: Cut the first prototypes
After all that is done, we cut and assemble the first run prototypes. This is normally where we can make those final changes, decide on colors, and add any details we feel the kit needs. The end of this process is photographing the kits and getting them ready to show the world.

That’s more or less it. There’s no lengthy meetings or creative discussions, we just get an initial idea and see where it takes us. Its a fast process that we both enjoy keeping lean and simple. Generally when we preview any renders, we’ve already begun the cutting, test fitting and photographing processes.

Till next time,


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