Help support TMP

"Terrain modules for 3mm scale figures, tutorial, part 1" Topic

12 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the WWII Painting Guides Message Board

Back to the 19th Century Painting Guides Message Board

Back to the 18th Century Painting Guides Message Board

Back to the Scale Message Board

Back to the Terrain and Scenics Message Board

1,181 hits since 27 Dec 2012
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Macunaima Inactive Member27 Dec 2012 10:20 a.m. PST

You can find the first part of a tutorial on how to make terrain modules for 3mm scale figures out of pre-stretched and framed artists' canvases on my blog, here:


I'm on a bit of a roll with my blog's content this week!


Personal logo elsyrsyn Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2012 10:43 a.m. PST

That's a really interesting idea, and the resulting terrain looks great. I'm not sure I really see the advantage of stretched canvas over foam, though.


Macunaima Inactive Member27 Dec 2012 10:59 a.m. PST

Well, the frames are all a uniform size, Doug, so I don't have to cut them.

Also, I fill in the back with styrofoam or carcdboard. I then make lots of little trees and bushes by glueing flocking around stick-pins. All of my moveable terrain features have tiny holes drilled into them where these stick-pins go, pinning them down to the styrofoam backing. This is necessary because 2-3mm terrain is often very small and very light.

Finally, the frames don't warp… unlike the composite wood terrain tiles I did a couple years ago.

If I lived the States, I'd probably make my modules from that high density blue and pink foam used in insulation. I'd still have to seal the sides, however. But being as I live in Brazil, that stuff just isn't available. The frames, however, are and they are very cheap.

But the big advantage to frames are availability, cost (2 bucks a shot) and the absolute lack of prep work needed to use them. This is a big advantage for people like me who can't get dense insulation foam or for folks who don't have access to cutting tools. Just buy your frame and away you go! I'm fairly certain, too, that the costs for this aren't too much greater than the price you'd pay for foam.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian27 Dec 2012 11:00 a.m. PST

You could probably use paintable caulk for sloping the hills.

Who asked this joker27 Dec 2012 11:00 a.m. PST

I'm not sure I really see the advantage of stretched canvas over foam, though.

The fact that you don't have to prep canvas before you start doing stuff to it (paint/plaster etc). That's about the only thing I could think of. Not sure how cost effective it is.

Macunaima Inactive Member27 Dec 2012 11:03 a.m. PST

I've done some terrain modules (the Smade's world sci-fi stuff) with sloped hills, Editor, but for these modules, which will be for black powder gaming, I wanted very precise elevation lines.

These hills, by the way, represent small swells just high enough to block line of sight.

If I ever get sick of the clean elevation lines'look, however, I'll probably use PVC paste to smooth out their edges.

Personal logo elsyrsyn Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2012 11:04 a.m. PST

But being as I live in Brazil, that stuff just isn't available.

I think that explains it – thanks!


Steve W Inactive Member27 Dec 2012 11:05 a.m. PST

I'll be giving that a go

Usrivoy327 Dec 2012 11:10 a.m. PST

I like this idea. I may have to try it for a modular town or city board. The frames are always on sale at Michaels. Easy to paint roads and walkways on. Use some 1" foam for the underneath to pin buildings in place.

Hmmm. You have me thinking….


Macunaima Inactive Member27 Dec 2012 11:10 a.m. PST

Another advantage: this stuff is much tougher than foam. In fact, my modules have fallen from shelves, been kicked, been stepped on and, aside from shedding some flocking here and there, are no worse for the wear.

morrigan Inactive Member27 Dec 2012 2:16 p.m. PST

Thanks for the tutorial. Bookmarked for later use!

Macunaima Inactive Member27 Dec 2012 3:06 p.m. PST

Here's a quick post to show you what a completed module looks like. This one's sandwiched between two blank frames…


This is a board with a swamp and a hill built into it. The swamp came about as a bit of serendipity. I left it out over night to dry and found, the next morning, that one of our cats had been walking about on it.

After I finished cursing the cat, I noticed that he had pushed up bits in complete rolls. The stuff was still a bit wet, so I took a brush handle and pushed up even more. I then painted it dark, shiny black for water. I flocked the area again with a darker green flock, put in some bushes and some red fall foliage. I made sure to make a few water areas in the region where my other modules' rivers can connect to. This thing can thus be dropped into a stretch of river as a marshy bend or spings.

Of course, depending on the scenario, you can call the dark green flocked area marsh, forest or just plain old clear terrain.

The hills, again, are done up wedding cake style in order to clearly show where the elevation lines are.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.