Is making your own terrain cost effective?   3 comments

I originally created this post back in 2011 and I am updating my thoughts as of January 2013.  I still believe creating your own terrain can be cost effective, but the caveat is that  I dont think it is time effective.  I also think the durability of much of my own terrain is less than what I could buy especially products made out of resin.  I will continue to make my own terrain such as hills, but I am going to defer more complex terrain features to the professionals especially buildings.

The first addition to my scenery collection was some road side trees.  These are made using:

  1. tongue depressor as the base
  2. Glue three 1.5-2.0″ nails
  3. Apply Spackle to the base
  4. Paint base with your favorite hobby paint.  Can even drybrush the nails to add more texture
  5. Add  flock
  6. Finallythen apply woodland scenics clump foilage to the nail as the canopy to finish off the tree.

I was inspired by another website that I cannot find at the moment.  They created whole forests using nails and then covering with foilage.

The second piece of terrain I really didnt make from scratch, but I did add the bases.  These are from the Heki range on Scenic Express

Bases are simply spackle over a 1.5″ washer from home depot.  Important to keep the balance of the tree.  The set was nice in that it provide a great variety of trees from one box,

The next section show my hills and gun pits that were inspired by BF terrain.

Above is the list of materials that I paid for to make this project.  Its doesnt include the costs I already paid for ballast, small stones, other colors of flock, and foam cutters.  If I would have bought premade terrain it would have cost me well over $100.00.  However, I will admit that premade terrain is significantly more rugged that home made terrain and over the very long term it might be more cost effective.  I just need to find a good varnish to seal them in.

Process for the hills is all the same:

  1. Cut particple board or some type of base out to form the base of the structure.  You can use other material such as plastic card, foam board, or even plywood.
  2. Cut first layer of insualtion foam
  3. Cut second layer of insulation and then shape with first layer
  4. Can keep cutting depending on how high you want to go.
  5. Continue to shape until final structure.
  6. Make sure to cut in little lines and recesses.
  7. Apply spackle to structure.  This is important to add the right texture.  It also protects the foam from external damage plus from exposure to spray paint which can lead to a chemcial reaction that creates a honey comb effect.  I learned the hard way.  Anything just to coat the foam works! From what I understand acryllic paint doesnt cause the effect.
  8. Once the spackle is dry cut in lines on the face of the mountains.
  9. I added sand in after the first coat of spray paint.  I then repainted the sand to hold it in and then I sprayed my diluted elemers glue mix.
  10. Spray paint or just use craft paint.  My son used our cheap airbrush after I completed mine.  Wish I would have thought of that.
  11. Once the color is finally doe I added in the woodland scenics blended static grass and then a number of different colors of flock.
  12. Then add in some ballast and smaller rocks
  13. I touched up the hills with the brown spray to blend the grass into the structure.  It really shows well on the large grassy hill.
  14. Final step is a varnish.  I did only one coat of my good army painted matte.  I need to get some cheap matte to add a thicker coat

The gun pits used only MDF board base spackle, wooden skewers, paint, static grass, and GF flock.  I did use some crayola air dry clay to form a rim for the spackle to go over.  The rest of the photos show the final results and the terrain in action!!!  Please send comments and suggestions for improving! 🙂  Total time to build took about 12 hours maybe a little bit more.  If I could afford the premade terrain, I would buyt it in a heartbeat.  However, my kids are getting older and cost more!

Bottomline! I think making your own terrain can save you some coin to that can be used to buy minis. It also creates a challenge that gives a sense of accomplishment when done. Some of the challenges to creating your own terrain is storage and durability. Durability can be a significant problem when the terrain is used alot.


Posted October 18, 2011 by shermon15 in Painting and modeling, Terrain

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3 responses to “Is making your own terrain cost effective?

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  1. awesome terrain. would love to get some of this for my garage battle table. Been playing mostly warhammer Fantasy. Like to have you up for a game some time soon

    Jim Morton
    Santa Barbara

    • Easy to build… just need the material which is pretty cheap at home depot. Foam cutting knife or hot blade works wonders when cutting the foam. My fantasy army hasnt seen the light of day since last year nor has my 40k army. Would like to get the 40k back out. I wouldnt even know where to start with the fantasy minis. Usually free on Sat/Sun only these days. I can head up there possibly on the weekend of the 29th.

  2. Making your own terrain is more than often not cost effective, but its yours and you have that individual crafted bit one off kit that is unique to your battle board. So its worth it.
    Nice terrain by the way:)

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