Help support TMP

"Newbie to terrain and a bit overwhelmed" Topic

19 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.

Please remember that some of our members are children, and act appropriately.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Terrain and Scenics Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Current Poll

Featured Book Review

2,600 hits since 30 Jun 2016
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

TMP logo


Please sign in to your membership account, or, if you are not yet a member, please sign up for your free membership account.
captaincold6901 Jul 2016 12:50 p.m. PST

So….I'm not a very experienced miniature gamer and I'm wanting to jump into 6mm WW2.

I've seen tons of good pre-made terrain online, but I don't really have $300 USD-500 for a table, trees, roads, rivers, buildings, etc… So, I'm going to take a stab at it myself.

With that being said…I have NO idea where to start.

I have a folding craft table, but it's not big enough to use as is (meaning just placing a felt cloth over top of it). I think I'd need a board (thinking 4'x6')

But, beyond that I don't know where to do from there.

I was thinking of something modular. Maybe 1'x 1' plywood, paint/flock them (one side green the other side dessert…not sure).

I start to think about roads, rivers, bocage, buildings and how to make them and what materials to use. I know there are a TON of video tutorials and that there's more than enough material to view, but where do I start? Base boards first, but then….roads? rivers?

What was your progression in building your terrain?


Timbo W01 Jul 2016 1:02 p.m. PST

Purpose-made boards can be modular and look great but are not so flexible and take a fair but of time, effort and practice to get looking good. By all means have a go but I think a cloth is the simplest way to start.

A mate of mine had a very nice setup with a plain board and contoured step hills made out of chipboard (though easy enough to use books etc to make hills) then a really nice cloth over the top. Roads were just sand poured on the cloth, rivers were long strips of card with a little 'edging' terrain and buildings, vegetation etc placed on top.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian01 Jul 2016 1:02 p.m. PST

Slide some books or blocks of wood under the cloth for hills. Use strips of tan or grey felt to mark roads and cut outs of green for woods. Grey or brown squares and rectangles for built up areas. Place a few appropriate models on the cutouts. Did this for years and is very flexible and transportable.

If you want to have a more permanent board, look at using insulation boards (closed cell Styrofoam). I've used this to make the base table, paint with latex (emulsion) house paint and cover with flock (Woodland Scenics T49, Fine). once it dries knock off the excess. I have board that I made 15 years ago holding up well.

jeffreyw301 Jul 2016 1:10 p.m. PST

For starting up, why not just pick up a mat from someone like Cigar Box? Saves quite a bit of time and effort and you'll have something that's nice to look at and a great foundation for future adds like trees, hedges, etc.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2016 1:27 p.m. PST

There are many options. Try searching YouTube for "terrain making", and other key words. Also, here is another, simple, relatively inexpensive option to consider: sponge paint interlocking rubber floor mats, from either Wal-Mart, or Harbor Freight. Here is an example of some I painted up as rocky caverns for a fantasy game:


You can see that this is a corner where four sections are interlocked together. They can easily be painted in desert colors (yellow's, tans, lighter browns), forest/grassy plains colors (different shades of green, maybe some yellow, or purple, for flowers), or even sea colors (blue's, green's, with white's).


This photo shows 3D cavern pieces sitting on top of the rubber mats, to convey the caverns.

To paint the rubber mats, put the textured side down. Using a water wetted, natural sponge as your brush, squirt out some craft acrylic paint of your base color, onto a white wall tile (used as a palette). Repeatedly press the sponge into the paint, then lightly press it in random patterns onto the rubber mat section. Clean off the sponge and the white wall tile palette with water, and then repeat with the next color, while the first color is still wet (achieves nice blending of colors). Repeat the process with each color, until finished. Use less of the highlight colors -- less, is more!

This technique can also be used to create snow fields: use 2-3 different shades of white, and 2 shades of light blue, with one shade of medium blue, sparingly, as a highlight color. Finish with a fairly heavy application of Pearlescent paint.

Hills, and other terrain can be placed on top of the painted rubber mat sections. Cheers!

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2016 1:28 p.m. PST

Hey, I had started on some 2' x 2' terrain boards using interlocking foam tiles glued to 1/4" plywood. There are six of them, a couple with integrated hills. If you're interested, I'd cut you a good price on them, which would give you a head start on your table.

Drop me a line at javelin98 AT lycos DOT com.


Sigwald01 Jul 2016 2:34 p.m. PST

I also recommend cigar box for some awesome ground cloths but if you want to spend less that that a piece of material 5' wide and as long as you want from a fabric store won't set you back too much. You just have to browse for a natural looking color like greenish olive for example. Next I'd recommend getting a hobby foam cutter and a sheet of 1" foam insulation board from a lumber store to use to cut out hills from. You can throw the ground cloth over the hills or paint and flock them and pop them on top of the cloth. For 6mm, foliage chunks by woodland scenics glued onto brown painted tooth picks and stuck into foam, foam core or or glued to pennies make for decent trees. A lot of folks use green scrubby pads cut in strips for 6mm hedges. If you google 6mm terrain boards and the like you will probably get a lot of good ideas by checking out what others have done.

SgtGuinness01 Jul 2016 5:07 p.m. PST

1st off, what scale? That can make all the difference.
A ground cloth can be easily made from sheets, army blankets, drop clothes, or felt. It can be dyed, painted, etc. scatter, pebbles, and lichen sprinkled liberally on top. Roads can be made with silicone, card board, craft paper, painted masking tape, or sprinkled kitty litter. Houses can be bought or made with various materials. Hills can be styrofoam or card board under the ground cloth. Now you have a table for about $100 USD bucks. Then you can buy terrain items at con flea markets, eBay, hobby shops, train shops, here etc on sale when you can find them.

Mako1101 Jul 2016 5:24 p.m. PST

Buy a bag of some Woodland Scenics Clump Foliage at the railroad hobby (comes in several colors – I like the medium green one), or general hobby shop.

Buy some round toothpicks. Cut these in half and paint them a medium gray. Speckle with a little darker gray, if you wish, and have the time.

Put a drop of white glue on the pointy end of the toothpicks, and stick into a suitably sized piece of clump foliage you've found, or torn off from larger clumps.

Get some pennies, or small, 3/4" fender washers (seal the hole with cardboard, styrene, or something else. Let dry, then paint brown (you can also do this step after gluing on the trunks, if you prefer).

Glue the toothpick trunks (flat ends) to the middle of the pennies/washers, with a little more white glue. Again, let dry. Touch up glue with a little more brown paint, if it doesn't dry clear, or looks too glossy.

If desired, add more watered-down white glue (50%/50% mix) on top of the tree bases, and dip in fine green flocking (also sold at the RR hobby store). Shake off excess.

Seal flocking in place with your water-down, white glue mix, if desired, for increased durability.

Do the above steps assembly line fashion, and you'll be surprised how many deciduous trees you can crank out in an hour.

Dynaman878901 Jul 2016 6:15 p.m. PST

Don't be afraid of using felt at first – it works really well and is cheap. For trees I bought a bunch from we_honest on ebay, very cheap and look decent but you will need to base them (hot glue and a penny with some flock on top works wonders). The we_honest trees were cheaper than using woodland scenics clump foliage.

For buildings I went with paper, GHQ models website has some free ones in their free stuff section and there are others on the web. I also bought a good bit from Paper Terrain and wargamevault.

roads – start simple with black or tan felt or simply use masking tape.

Fields – make multiple trips to home depot and loews and take a handful of free carpet samples.

Hills, start out with foamcore.

Rivers and water – blue felt works well for a start, a guy at our club uses blue plastic report covers (they are a translucent blue) that are really effective and cheap. I use stiff felt (from the craft section of walmart or craft stores).

captaincold6901 Jul 2016 7:27 p.m. PST

Think I mentioned 6mm in my first sentence :)

and, thank you all for the suggestions!

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Jul 2016 8:06 p.m. PST

Start with a base cloth. The Monday Knight flocked cloths at 4x6 are super durable, look great and are incredibly flexible. I actually have one I need to sell if you're interested.

Next up trees. we_honest trees are perfect for 6mm and you can buy a forest worth pretty cheap.

Roads: for dirt roads use….dirt. Seriously. Dig up some nice fine clay from a baseball infield. Strain and keep in a tupperware. Spoon in place, when done take the mat outside and shake it off. Over time the excess dirt will actually weather the mat nicely.

There are loads of free paper buildings online, and loads of cheap ones at Wargame vault. Here's a nice village to get you started:


You'll need to resize for 6mm. Here's how I did it:

Screen grab the model and import into Powerpoint. Resize (print B&W on plain paper to test for scale). Put multiple models on one page after resizing and print on card stock. Cut and paste. I made a large village that looks very nice in an afternoon.

Hills: Use books etc. under the cloth or make your own. I bought mine from:

They match the green mat pretty well and are pretty cheap. So are a lot of their tree sets.

Rivers: Sorry, use anything but felt. In my opinion it ruins the whole visual appeal. You can easily make your own by simply painting pieces of cloth and then edging them with flock:


These are blue but you could go with brown/black if you like.

Lastly, fields. Lots and lots of fields. I like the Hotz fields but you can make your own by gluing flock down in rows on green cloth.

For $100 USD and some time and effort you could make a very nice looking table.

captaincold6901 Jul 2016 8:34 p.m. PST

wow, thanks a ton Extra Crispy

Martin Rapier01 Jul 2016 10:55 p.m. PST

Pretty much what Extra Crispy said.

For 6mm you don't even really need tree models, just a couple of bags of lichen.

Bellbottom02 Jul 2016 2:35 a.m. PST

In 6mm, green pan-scrubs cut into strips become hedges, brown corduroy cloth becomes ploughed fields. Quick roads/ tracks and rivers/streams can be cut from artists mounting board and edged with suitable flock/basetex etc.

Dynaman878902 Jul 2016 4:05 a.m. PST

Here is a shot of my table with a game setup, including the felt river. Only thing I did not list is some of the roads I bought that are latex.


Dynaman878902 Jul 2016 5:20 a.m. PST

Link for modern paper buildings on GHQ's website. Follow the thread up and down a couple pages to find them all. Kinda fiddly but the hospital is very nice when done and there are roads and such I used as well.


And there other paper buildings.


and dropzone commander paper buildings.

Making Bocage tutorial (I went cheaper and easier but not as nice. black foam core cut in strips with clump foliage glued to the top, can also use green scouring pads for a base).

Homemade flock can be made by taking sawdust (ask Homedepot for some – they will give you bags of it for free) and paint mixed together.
YouTube link

Home Made Clump Foliage. A blender, paint, and seat cushion foam will make more than you should ever need.
YouTube link

YouTube link

TheGaffer02 Jul 2016 12:57 p.m. PST

Here's another method of using foam floor mats and mdf.



robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2016 7:56 a.m. PST

Don't knock the 3x3 board. In microscale, I've done a 2x2 board with a friend whose eyes can't shift focus so well any more. At 1"=100 yards (about right for stand=platoon) a 3' board is suitable for a battalion in defense.

And some of the craft shops will sell you 3x3 green felts so cheap you can just paint on roads and rivers.

Many good suggestions already.

Trees. In this scale, the smallest of the bottle brush type Christmas trees work well. If you want to get fancy, hit with dark green spray paint, then spray adhesive, then dark green flock. For deciduous trees, buy the smallest two sizes of roofing nails you can find, and glue them to cardstock point end up. Impale a craft shop pom-pom on the nail using carpenter's glue. Once it dries, dip in a mix of water, cheap green paint and Elmer's, then toss into a bag of leaf-colored flock. Hit the final product with terrain cement. You can toss them in a bag and they're pretty much indestructible.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.