Terrain Essentials

Created by Dave Taylor Miniatures

An Essential Guide to Building Tabletop Terrain

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Water Section builds are complete, and a Competition.
4 months ago – Sat, May 09, 2020 at 02:30:12 AM

Thank you all for your continuing patience, and that you and your families are staying safe and well. 

Over the last couple of weeks, Mel has been able to get into the studio and work on the final builds for the Water section. He has completed a 6' long river, divided into smaller lengths to show a variety of flowing water techniques. He has used cork bark to line the river and create the rocky out crop of the waterfall piece, a resin pour for the whole thing, and various acrylic water effects pastes for the texturing. The final step was to grass it up with some tufts Mel made earlier in the Grasswork section.

Each step along the way had some drying time, during which he was able to plan out the Trees section, and get started on the basic build ideas for the Buildings & Kits section. All of these are noted on the progress tracker above!

We're all aware of Mel's knowledge and skills when it comes to terrain building, so it was heartening to hear Mel describe this build as the most nerve-wracking of the book. A resin pour certainly needs a good deal of precise preparation to ensure that the pieces aren't ruined. We're very excited about how they all look, so much so we thought we'd show you a shot from the waterfall section too. 

A Terrain Building Competition 

Following a comment by supporter Andrew Thorpe earlier this week, I lay awake that night pondering what we could do, then an idea hit me. Mel and I chatted about it the next day and thus this Terrain Building Competition was born. This "competition" is designed to be a bit of fun, for us to share a little bit of our hobby with each other and display our creativity. Here are the basic ideas:

Theme: "Lived In" - we're almost all finding ourselves spending some more time at "home" these days, wherever that "home" maybe. For this competition, we'd like to see pieces that represent some kind of home. This might be a modern home, a Dark Ages hovel, a bird's nest atop a tall tree, or even a bear's cave... anything that says "this thing is lived in". 

Sizes/Categories: There are two categories. The first is a piece with a footprint of 6"x6" or less (called the Small category) and the second is anything larger than 6"x6" (called the Large category). 

Submission: Email a photo of your submission to me (tanithtaylor@gmail.com) with the subject "Terrain Building Competition".  I'll work with Mel to determine a winner in each category. The piece can be built between now and the deadline, but we are also aware that many of you are essential workers and have less time for hobby right now, so we're also allowing entries of pieces that were built previously (at anytime, really). 

Deadline: The end of day on Sunday, May 31st. This gives you all about three weeks to send in your photos following the directions above. Once all submissions have been received, Mel and I will go through them and select a winner from each of the two categories (Small and Large). The winners will receive one of the small pieces from the Buildings section of the book. (Note: Mel will still be auctioning off the feature builds from the book for charity).

So, please join us and show off your hobby! 

Thank you all for your support and stay safe.



We hope you are all doing well.
5 months ago – Fri, Apr 17, 2020 at 01:19:49 AM

This last few weeks have certainly been a trying time for all of us, no matter where we are in the world. Nothing in our lives has prepared us for such unprecedented actions by our governments, both local and national, to try and curb the rapid advance of a global pandemic. We are all in this together, and we hope that you and yours are all staying safe during this, The Great Pause. 

My wife is fortunate enough to be able to work from home, and my daughters are both now "distance learning" with 12-16 video meetings/classes each week to continue their schooling and keep them in contact with their teachers and classmates. My wife and I are sharing the load of keeping them on track, often tag-teaming as we rush back and forth between our business requirements. No doubt like many of you, we're feeling the stress and strain and anxiety of this abnormal life, but we keep things as positive as we can. 

Mel is on his own, and in the early weeks of lockdown, wasn't able to see his kids. For those of us who have followed The Terrain Tutor from the start will know that he's a very devoted dad, so it's been rough on him. Thankfully he has had the chance to see them over the Easter weekend, so he's in a better place emotionally now, which is a great thing. Something else that he has been doing - the Isolation's Reach livestream each night - is all about Mel reconnecting with you guys, the Terrainiacs. I know that some folks might have seen Mel on his livestreams and felt that he shouldn't be doing anything other than writing, but no one's able to write every waking moment of the day. Mel has been writing and/or building each day, achieving each goal we set along the way, and we're still moving in the right direction. The after-hours livestream has definitely been beneficial, because as Mel reconnects and rebuilds his enthusiasm, his writing has improved along with his clarity about the wisdom he wants to impart.

So, I guess I wanted this update to be fairly brief, to let you know that the current situation has affected our anxiety levels (as it has no doubt affected yours too), and that we continue to move toward our goal of bringing you the best terrain-making book around. We also wanted to show you this double-page spread of the "glossary" for the book. With a lot of words like piece, set, feature, and element being thrown around on a regular basis, we felt it was important to clarify what Mel meant by each term. Our thanks to Tim Toolen for the illustrations of the tower and table, and Tanya Beeson for her classic illustrations of Mel in his many guises!

Stay safe, follow the CDC, WHO, and your local government guidelines, and we'll get through this together. 

Thank you all for you continuing support and patience.



Stay Safe, Everyone!
6 months ago – Sat, Mar 21, 2020 at 02:43:34 AM

Well, I think it is safe to say that it has been a rough month for everyone. With all this uncertainty about what is coming next, and situations many of us have never seen before in our lives, it has been incredibly difficult to concentrate.   

We wanted to give you a quick update to let you know where everything is at. By late February/early March, Mel had sorted out a solid schedule of writing, studio, and family time, and was spending time in the studio with Jase, wrapping up the photos that were outstanding from the Materials and Practicals sections so that we could cross them off our list (the photo above is using hairspray to fix flock to clump foliage). They worked a bit more on the Water section too, preparing for the final two builds (a modular river and a waterfall). However, with the rapidly changing situation around the world, we've tapped the brakes a little, and Mel has spent this week bringing things he'll need for builds in the Buildings & Kits section back to his place so that he'll be able to continue from home, particularly if there's a lockdown order issued at all.   

In the image above you can see where we were at our last update (on the left), and where we are now (on the right). Seven of eleven section are completed, with two more close to completed, and the Buildings & Kits section underway.   

Isolation's Reach  

As none of us are sure how long this crisis will continue to significantly impact our lives, Mel will be embarking on a hobby-at-home project that is tentatively titled Isolation's Reach. In this project, Mel will be livestreaming the construction of an Adeptus Mechanicus facility, in an effort to ensure that social distancing doesn't become digital distancing too. 

Over the next few days I think Mel will be releasing more details about this project, so head on over to The Terrain Tutor YouTube channel and make sure you're a subscriber. 

Thank You!

As always, thank you all for your patience! This last five months have been incredibly trying on Mel, and it has been your support that has kept him going and moving forward, steadily building confidence again and feeling good about creating again. Stay safe, everyone, follow the advice of public health officials, and we'll continue to keep you updated as we make more progress. 


Dave (and Mel and Jase)

Some Great News AND Progress on the Book.
7 months ago – Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 12:59:58 AM

Once again, Mel and I would like to thank you for your patience and support. 

Over the last few months, not only has Mel been going through a lot of personal issues, mental health strain, but there have been physical health concerns too. Here's a link to Mel's announcement video about the biggest of the concerns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZjmMlwPtDE

Last Friday Mel received the news that he was cancer free. This has been a considerable weight on his shoulders (and mine, to be honest) and the news that he's able to step out from under that cloud, which is  is just brilliant!

Over the last few weeks, Mel's also been back in the Studio, working on builds for the Water section, writing for the Water section, and planning the builds for the Buildings & Kits section too. We're able to advance the tracker from 50% to 75% for that section, and I think we'll start to see a more rapid progression for the outstanding chapters.

Mel and I have been messaging back and forth every day, video chatting every other day, and over he weekend he sent me these pics and this quick video. This is one of the latest builds for the Water section, and we wanted you to see it. 

In addition, Mel is back on his YouTube channel (The Terrain Tutor) every Sunday (9pm GMT) and will be getting back to filming in his Studio during the week too. In fact, when we video chatted today he was in the Studio with our mate Jase and just about to do a quick video tour of things to release in the next couple of days. So, make sure you keep up with Mel on YouTube HERE and/or Facebook HERE.

Things are definitely looking on the up for Mel, which means forward progress on The Book. As I've said before, we'll provide updates here as and when we have significant progress to report. It looks like that will be more often now, which is a great thing for all of us. 



Thank you all for your continuing patience.
8 months ago – Thu, Feb 06, 2020 at 01:45:43 AM

It has been about 6 weeks since our last update. Probably a little too long to go between updates, but we wanted to make sure we had news to deliver. Mel and I thank you for your patience and understanding.

December and January have been very tough months for Mel. Family concerns and health scares and getting settled in a new house have taken their toll. Mel and I have been chatting regularly, and our mate Jason Green has been spending quite a bit of time with Mel too. While he's not at 100% yet, things are looking up. 

Some of you may have seen Mel's recent Sunday Nighters, which are a welcome return to interaction with the Terrainiacs. Even this morning Mel told me he had definitely missed chatting with you wonderful bunch of people. Mel has also started writing again, and at the moment is focused on the Water section of Terrain Essentials. The photo above is an old one, that piece has since been painted and stands ready in the studio for Mel to start on three water pours tomorrow. 

While there isn't much change in the "progress chart", progress is being made. It is slow going at the moment, but it is happening. We don't have a revised ETA yet, sorry. We'll keep you updated as we move forward. 

Thank you again for your support.