Tag Archives: terrain

Adjusting Terrain for Miniatures Bases

Antenocite’s Workshop’s post on how big should doors be, covered the sizes for 18mm, 15mm, 10mm, and 6mm miniatures. I wanted to do the same for 25mm, 28mm & 30mm miniatures, but to include buildings, windows, and other common objects as well. Adapting Figure Scale from Wikipedia I’ve built a reference table, but as I noted in a previous post this is not exact.

Scale Figure Ht mm/foot
1:61 30 mm 5 mm/ft
1:64 28 mm 4.76 mm/ft
1:73.2 25 mm 4.16 mm/ft
1:76 25 mm (old) 4 mm/ft

Now the only problem is the base the miniature is on. it’s a standard 3 mm addition to all the heights, the door article explains the why. So I’ll be adding 3 mm to all the heights , below,

Wall height

Most rooms tend to have an 8 foot (2438.4 mm), 10 foot (3048 mm), or 12 foot (3657. mm) ceiling.

Scale 8 ft Ceiling 10 ft Ceiling 12 ft Ceiling
1:61 43 mm 53 mm 63 mm
1:64 41 mm 51 mm 60 mm
1:73.2 36 mm 45 mm 53 mm
1:76 35 mm 43 mm 51 mm

Door sizes

Looking at the standard 2040 mm high by 820 mm wide door, the numbers boil down to.

Scale Height Width
1:61 36 mm 13 mm
1:64 35 mm 13 mm
1:73.2 31 mm 11 mm
1:76 30 mm 11 mm


Windows tend to align with the top of the doors, so use the number above. The common height above ground is 3 feet (914.4 mm). The widths vary a great deal, with windows range from 19¼ in (488 mm) wide up to 69¾ in (1770 mm) wide.

Scale Height Width
1:61 18 mm 8 mm - 29 mm
1:64 17 mm 8 mm - 28 mm
1:73.2 15 mm 7 mm - 24 mm
1:76 15 mm 7 mm - 23 mm

Tables & Workbenches

Scale Height
1:61 14 mm - 23 mm
1:64 13 mm - 22 mm
1:73.2 12 mm - 19 mm
1:76 12 mm - 19 mm


Scale Height
1:61 9 mm - 11 mm
1:64 8 mm - 11 mm
1:73.2 8 mm - 10 mm
1:76 8 mm - 10 mm

Above are common sizes for some other common wargames figures, but it’s not everything. For all of the tables of data, I’ve worked from modern Anthropometric and Ergonomic sources. Which is great of modern and near future terrain features. But when creating objects for medieval (or fantasy) you will need to consider historical references or to create the look right through educated guess work. And for Sci-fi, you will have to stick to the design principles by considering it’s function and form. (ie what it will be used for and how to make it look futuristic)

The principle is the calculate the scaled height of the object or feature and then add 3 mm for the miniature base to create the illusion of the correct scale. But do not add the 3 mm to the width of objects as it will distort the size when compared to the miniature.

Miniature Scale, Rescaling and design

What is scale and why is it important for miniatures? It seams like an obvious question, but with miniature gaming it is important to know the scale of what you are creating, how to best manipulate scale to your advantage and to know how much space the gaming table will take up.

With miniature gaming there are two numbers to consider, the scale and the figure height. The scale is the ratio the object is shrunk and the figure height is the approximate height of a 173 cm male (5′ 8” in the imperial system). Some of the common scales are 5 mm (1:300) or 6 mm (1:285) used for micro-armour games such as Battletech and Epic. Along with the 25 mm & 28 mm using in RPGS, like D&D or Pathfinder, and Wargames, like Warhammer40K, Warmachine, or Infinity.

However, this is where things can get complex. GW in their aim to make their minis more impressive made the 25 mm Heroic scale, which is slightly larger that 25 mm and then did the same with the 28 mm Heroic, has lead to some variations in scale. This has been common among miniature companies Even Wikipedia does not agree with it’s self with with 28 mm being 1:56 and 1:64.

There are two useful number to have when designing miniatures or terrain. The first is the figure height, which can be found by dividing the height of a average person (1730 mm) by the scale. And the second, is the scaled foot, which is found by dividing a foot (304.8 mm) by the scale.


It’s all about scale includes these two scale conversion charts (below), and covers why scale is important. In the end the only question should be does it look right and for 28mm anything between 1:56 up to 1:72 should be ok.

Converting between common miniature scales.

Converting between common miniature scales.

A simpler conversion chart with train and miniature scales.
A simpler conversion chart with train and miniature scales.

Designing to scale

Since we are designing miniatures and models for gaming. We need to look at Anthropometric, or the measurement of humans. There is a wealth of information in this field, although most of it is only useful in defining the common sizes of people or our miniatures. It’s the application of this idea, Ergonomics, that becomes very useful because it forms the foundations used in the design of products (industrial design), clothing design, houses (architecture), among any others design fields. So in a nut shell everything we use is designed for the human scale and changing scales by guess work can lead to time wasted on a modelling project.

it is also worth looking at the designs of the experts, such as Bauhaus, a German school of design founded in the 1920s that has influenced the modern world. The most well known item to come out of the school is the Bauhaus chair.

Of all the chairs to come out of the Bauhaus, this is the one that commonly comes to mind. Designed my Marcel Breuer, the Wasilly chair is a mix of steel and leather, using no more material than is absolutely needed, while providing maximum comfort. It's a design you'll still find in homes today.
The Bauhaus Chair

Scaling Vehicles

The next step up from everyday objects tend to be vehicle, and Antenociti’s Workshop covers the subject in such excellent design in If I base my figures how big should my vehicles be, that why would I try to do it here.

Also I’d be considering the rescaling tables above to hunt out die-cast kits for cars, and even scale model trains for terrain and buildings.

Scaling Building

Finally there are building, which are usually designed around people and sometimes vehicles. When working on architecture the placement of Windows & Door, and how big should they be.

And finally, if you add a base to your miniature is changes the look of everything.


The Process for Designing Terrain

How do you go about designing good miniature terrain to conduct battles on? Is there a process you can or should follow? When trying to answer these questions I tend to examine what others do and then apply it to my own design process.

Below is the design process that Battleboards.co.uk follows when creating their boards. The finished products are wonderful set pieces for miniature games, however, as I said earlier I’d prefer small tile-able terrain that is easily packed away. However, the design on paper, refine on computer, before committing to physical thing is a excellent fundamental practice.

I tend to start with sketches on paper, as I build up the idea. That way bad or ill considered ideas can be left, and any potential problems can be found before building a large expensive mistake.

It’s something I remember from Engineering, that for a $1000 product if you catch a defect after the sale stage it costs $2500 in product recall and such. But in the design stage it’s $0.03 

Design Considerations

So it pays well to deeply consider how to design anything, and in this case miniature terrain. They can be broadly split in to the two groups of form and function. Form or Aesthetics is the consideration of the look of an object, where Function is more focuses on it’s operation and use. A good place to start are Design elements and principles, and the Engineering Design Process.

There are a bunch of things you should think about before making or buying terrain. These questions should be focused on things like;

  • How you plan on using it?
  • What your budget it?
  • The time needed to make it or acquire the parts?
  • What scale of miniature is it designed for?
  • And others I can not think of at this point…

So for this project I’m setting out what I’m aiming for.

  1. Storage. Do to limited space I need to be able to easily store the parts
  2. Quality. I want have it look good and to make good stuff, because If I can help it, I don’t want to do it all again, or to spend time repairing it.
  3. Scale. I play Warmachine, Warhmmer40K, and Patherfinder/D&D amoung others. All of which tend to be 25-28mm scale.
  4. Variability. I like to be able to mix-up my terrain to suit the individual situation or scenario, because I get bored easily with the same tactical battle.

Designing Tiling Terrain

I’ve been reading Observations of the Fox’s posts about Hexagonal Geomorphs. I’ve looked in this direction before and have played games like Magic Realm (on Boardgamegeek), Battletech, and Star Fleet Battles. And I created a SFB Hex map a few year back, which is up on deviantArt. The Hex-map technique allows an easy simplification of the game map into discrete elements, while allowing more options than the square grid-map. However, with a shift in miniature war-gaming to the inch-based measuring system, using hexes just feels like old times, in both a good and a bad way.

Ultimate Table Top Terrain collection of Hexagonal Terrain does make me drool and shows a different way of using hexes. As large scale terrain pieces that interlock to allow the miniature battles to happen over them, without binding the game to the hex grid. It also allows the army to be set up on one hex for transport, and for the terrain to be (relativity) easily packeted away at the end of the game. Good for places where space is a premium.

So, here is a summary of Michael Wenman‘s series on Geomorphs and helps explore the idea of terrain design for miniature games;

It’s also worth examining ways of making interlocking Sci-Fi walls, which sit on flat cardboard floor tiles. This technique of using card pegs or wedges is one of the simplest I’ve seen. In my 3D Printed designs I’ve started with small pegs that clip into place, but found that they tended to break off, and I’ve moved onto a similar technique of using interlocking joints.

It is worth noting that what ever system you want to use that it fits you needs. For myself I will be looking for the following;

  • Multiple configurations to allow many scenarios to be created. Si I’ll be looking at pieces.
  • Can be easily packed away and transported. So it will most likely be 1 to 2 foot in size.