Making Table Top Terrain from Foam
It’s been a period of experimentation, trying new ideas and making surprise discoveries. I played around with making walls, ruins, and other terrain with individual bricks. Rough cutting them to get an ancient, primitive look to them and seeing what that can lead to.
I really like what can be done with the bricks, but they’re so out of scale that they really lend a “cartoony” look, as was rightly pointed out by my lovely assistant Angiebanana. I’ll be working on the last experiment in that technique, pictured below, and returning to my more sculpted brick structures.
In experimenting with these terrain pieces, I’ve learned a few things. First of all, avoid the cartoony. (Thanks Angie.) Second, I don’t want to base these terrain pieces on anything like cardboard or even MDF. I want to create a piece that cam be taken from the Pathfinder or D&D battlemat to the Warhammer 40,0000 game table and look perfect in either place. I’ll be basing my terrain on foam pieces, so it should look like a hill or mound if there’s turf, or pieces of structure/ruins etc placed directly on the gaming surface.
You can see in the picture above that the bricks look great in their own right, but at 1″ scale they just don’t look right. I’m going to stick with sculpting the walls and bricks/stones from now on.
Another discovery, and this is a big “duh!” moment for me; I learned I can use a soldering iron as an engraving/cutting tool with foam. This simple light bulb moment means I don’t need to save up for a Hot Wire Foam Factory engraver. I already had 2 soldering irons, the older of which has a perfect long, pointed tip that works great for engraving/routing lines and shapes in polystyrene XPS/EPS foam.
Also on deck are more general rock/obstacle terrain pieces meant for your RPG or miniature Wargame table top. I plan to keep making these, getting them perfect and selling them here and possibly on eBay.
This piece started as a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ cube. I sculpted it with a hot wire cutter and covered it in gesso, as usual.