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"15mm Cardboard Terrain Build " Topic

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4,024 hits since 3 Aug 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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War Monkey04 Aug 2017 3:33 p.m. PST

Okay you could make this for any scale size but worked on this for my 15mm Gaming


I'm working on many more, basically working on it like a layer cake.


Covered in tissue glue sand and paint



More pictures here link

Thanks for looking

Redroom Inactive Member04 Aug 2017 3:37 p.m. PST

looks really nice

tkdguy04 Aug 2017 4:04 p.m. PST

Well done!

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2017 6:05 p.m. PST

WOW, WOW, WOW!!! I love it.

I made something like that years ago, and I wish I had kept it. My cardboard layers were glued in place with Liquid Nails, with a little bit of wall filler here and there.

But for the surface I used leftover rolls of white "crepe" tissue paper from a party we had. I brushed on a 50/50 mix of brown paint and Mod Podge to prime/seal it. Once everything was allowed to fully dry and shrink (very important), that's when I then hot glued it to thin mdf, and dry brushed it.

But the end result will depend on what "bones" the piece begins with. And you started with a fantastic and functional structure, with all kinds of interesting features. Amazing vision. Like I said, I really love what you did there!




War Monkey04 Aug 2017 6:14 p.m. PST

I like the idea that I can use this piece and the others when there done for so many games, pulp, sci-fi, westerns, and fantasy, just to name a few.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2017 6:24 p.m. PST

It looks like an extremely versatile piece.


War Monkey04 Aug 2017 6:26 p.m. PST

Thanks for the tip Dan, I just so happen to be using what ever we have laying around here, the tissue paper stained everything it touched when it was wet with the glue.

And what a struggle that paper is as well when it was wet I was poking holes in it like crazy because it was just to thin and rip apart when it was wet and would have to patch it up with another small piece.

So my next attempt I'm going to try some packing paper, it seems a little more heavy in weight then tissue, but just as ply able as the tissue if wet without ripping all the time plus it will not bleed all of it's color all over the place as well


Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2017 6:33 p.m. PST

You can also use newspaper or paper towels instead of tissue paper.


dragon604 Aug 2017 6:34 p.m. PST

I think that terrain piece is great for fantasy or SF.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2017 7:07 p.m. PST


I had that exact same problem too! Next time I try something like that I also plan to use something thicker.

For example, I've had great results using dried out sheets of baby wipes (plain, not embossed) for making small things like blankets and tarps, so that might be the route I take for a terrain piece. Because of the moisture issue, if you add more than a single layer of the sheets, you have allow each layer to to dry before adding a next one.

You must allow the terrain piece to dry out completely* and then mix PVA with water in a bowl, tear up each sheet with your hands into 3 or 4 pieces, dip them lightly into the mix, squeeze out the excess and then layer them on the cardboard substructure. After that is dry, give it a light brush with straight PVA. If you don't seal them well, the sheets will absorb a huge amount of water from the paint and expand, only to shrink and warp further.

Whenever working with "paper mache" methods and wet cardboard, you gotta make sure that you don't glue the painted terrain piece to the mdf base until the whole thing has had a chance to dry out (and shrink/warp) completely. And then you use hot glue to put it on the mdf, seal off the edge/border using non-shrinking caulk, add gravel/sand and finish up as usual.

* If you apply your sealing agent while there's still a lot of moisture below, the entire thing will continue to warp long after you thought it was done shrinking.

Moonbeast Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2017 7:14 p.m. PST

That looks fantastic. Gonna have to try it out myself when I get some time. Here's a useful tip for free cardboard: Ask your local grocery store if they could save you some boxes, tell them your moving if you want. They'll give you more cardboard than you'll know what to do with, and if you're moving you get free packing boxes.

War Monkey04 Aug 2017 10:04 p.m. PST

@ Dan,
Yes it warped but it warped very little, I will hot glue the edges when I glue down to MDF and then it will all get sealed to prevent moisture from getting in.

I first glued few layers down and let it dry for a few days then glued more and so on until it was all together then let that dry for days, next I did the tissue and glue using half an half next the let that all dry for about a week just to make sure it dried really well, then used full on glue and sand let that stand and dry for days, then I was able to paint it and let set as well, it's good and hard and warped again very little

@ Dragon6, yes it can be used for those things I even thought about it a terrain pieces in a cavern and well.

@ Moonbeast, nice tip for others out there, I just so happen to work in a place were I have plenty of opportunity for large amounts of cardboard and if you need moving boxes cost about 75 cent so under a dollar which it only took one box to make this piece.

Thank you all


Personal logo Zeelow Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 3:36 a.m. PST

Reminds me of the days when newspaper, cardboard, either Elmer's glue or a thin plaster goop made of Hydrocal were used to make Model Railroad scenery.

Nice modeling, and thanks for the memories.

Capt. Z (Thanks to Dan)

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 3:39 a.m. PST


Please let us know when you finally finish with this other one.

I'm already imagining it as the lair for some fantastic beast, or a prehistoric bear or an offworld creature.



War Monkey05 Aug 2017 6:44 a.m. PST

Or an entrance to some deep dark underground lair or a seemingly never ending cavern huh?

I hope to have that one done here very soon I have a few more layers to add to that one and I have a few others in the works as well.


War Monkey05 Aug 2017 6:51 a.m. PST

Glad I can spark the old memories there Jay, oh wait or should I say Capt. Z.

Personal logo Zeelow Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 9:25 a.m. PST

"Z" will you get you a dance with the Blue Spider Lady during any Happy Hour at Asteroids Mary's Bar and Grill. Just have dance and all shots put on my tab. BTW: don't waste your off planet time talking to the four eared Zort who is smoking stogies soaked in Nova Fire. He is deaf.

Capt. Z

Alan Lauder07 Aug 2017 5:37 a.m. PST


Great work you are doing there! Be interested to know how you cut the rounds.

I've had the same experience with tissue paper – tearing, sticking to everything when wet – I found using the stuff with a slightly shiny surface helped (I think it came from a florist). It was a lot stronger and still hugged the features OK.
Here it was under construction (temple): link

… and the finished product: link

Looking forward to seeing your progress.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa07 Aug 2017 7:05 a.m. PST

I played around with the technique – mainly doing stuff with the kids. I used any paper I could get my hands on so long as it was free. Till receipts I found to be good, junk mail is okay depending on what its printed on and wrapping paper as long as its not got any fancy plastic coatings. The only thing I learnt not to stint on was the quality of the glue – I used PVA wood glue (it has somewhat better water resistance than standard PVA). I had ago at some terrain using expanded polystyrene rather cardboard. I even tried making proper paper mashie and grinding to get super fine stuff, but it didn't really work. I'll revisit eventually.

War Monkey07 Aug 2017 7:59 a.m. PST

I used a box cutter/utility knife for cutting the larger pieces, the smaller ones I cut little squares of cardboard then use scissors to cut them down to a rounder shape as needed.

That temple looks great! That just proved to me that I'm on the right track in this approach to terrain building.

Wet patch
I'll have to try other papers, my next attempt is going to be with manila packing/moving paper seems heavy er then tissue but lighter then news print seems it should work very well.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 6:57 a.m. PST


So what will you be doing next with your terrain projects? I'm really curious.


War Monkey09 Aug 2017 9:09 a.m. PST

Okay so I have the cave piece to finish, I have a couple more natural stone bridge pieces I want to do as well.

Then I have a steam vent piece which will more or less look like some sort of miniature volcanos with a pathway winding through them, and small pools of bubbling mud.

I also have a larger piece planned as a volcano it's self with different paths from the base to the top with a lava flow and again natural stone bridges going over or around the lava flow.

All of these will be painted in a desert scheme, but then I want to do a whole different set in darker grays and added some kind of vegetation to them for rocky or mountain terrain.


War Monkey09 Aug 2017 9:15 a.m. PST

I'm really liking these piece because they can just be placed anywhere on the table terrain and look good doing so.

I have been playing around with them, and can't wait to have them finish, now I just need to find more time.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa09 Aug 2017 11:52 a.m. PST

I'll have to try other papers, my next attempt is going to be with manila packing/moving paper seems heavy er then tissue but lighter then news print seems it should work very well.

I've used that paper, the brown shiny type works well, and on the plus side didn't seem to tear so easily when wet. The more grainy thicker stuff I found will tear when too thoroughly soaked, but being thicker is quite good for smoothing out imperfections.

War Monkey10 Aug 2017 7:34 a.m. PST

Thanks for the tip will watch out for it.

War Monkey21 Aug 2017 7:27 p.m. PST

Okay so I tried to use packing/moving paper, the paper didn't work so well, so I peeled it off and used red tissue paper instead, right now it looks like some place on an angry red plant! So with a little luck and time I hope to cover it with sand this week and I have the cardboard cut down and getting ready to go for another terrain piece.

War Monkey24 Aug 2017 5:39 p.m. PST

Frosted layer cake!?


No! My testing of other papers went way wrong so I had to fall back to a large piece of RED tissue paper its an Angry RED Frosted Layer Cake Planet!

That's Okay in a day or two it will be covered in sand and then it will be painted.

I have more photos

arngrimson25 Aug 2017 7:59 a.m. PST

Try kitchen roll, soaks up glue & water, stronger than tissue paper.

War Monkey26 Aug 2017 12:58 p.m. PST

So I have been home suffering the passing of a Kidney stone and in so doing I have had a little more time to myself so along with passing a stone with passing the time I manage to construct my next terrain piece in "My Terrain" project.

Here is my Volcanic Steam Vents with Bubbling Mud Pool!


Now I have to do the rest of the work of course covering it in tissue and sand plus painting.

I'm sure this would draw interest in any gaming world more Pictures here link


Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2017 1:57 p.m. PST


Kidney stone? OUCH!!!

PS. Was this new piece your way of blowing some steam? :)

War Monkey26 Aug 2017 2:07 p.m. PST

Yup!! this one is a little one mostly just very uncomfortable pain, I have pass one that was 3mm! They had me on some serious drugs for that one! Brings a whole meaning to PEA SHOOTER! huh?


War Monkey26 Aug 2017 4:13 p.m. PST

By the way, I finished gluing and covering with sand "The Cave" aka "The Red Frosted Layer Cake" piece and as soon as it dries I can paint it.

zrunelord27 Aug 2017 12:46 p.m. PST

Lovely work WM
Great idea.
Have you considered using expanding foam & a spatula?
I used it on the green rock formations in the link below.

I will try some & show you the results.

Btw you can cure papier mache in the sun.just weigh it down on the edges as it can warp more with the accelerated drying & heat.


War Monkey27 Aug 2017 7:22 p.m. PST

Thank You

That is some great work there yourself, I will have to pinch a few ideas for my own wink

I really like the foam idea and the dark colors for it would make for a great lava flow field after it as cool down some.

With the sculptured plaster pillars did you press them through a tube first and cut to length then finish detail afterwards?

Plus I love the cactus! Those are great, did you use a wire frame for them to hold them up as you work with them? They just look great!

Those cactus would look great with my terrain pieces. thumbs up

zrunelord28 Aug 2017 10:47 a.m. PST

Welcome WM,
Thanks,knew you'd like them.Pinch away no problem.

EP Foam WILL give you a totally different way of making terrain.Look up my EPS sausage hills also.

Needs work but do able. Work using small quantities as it's very messy.Read & understand instructions before if you have never used it.

No ,Pressing Plaster of Paris through a tube would be nigh impossible as the material hardens & changes state ( from liquid to semi hard )quickly.I will try it with terracotta clay then sculpt the clay when leather hard & share the results.

No I moulded/cast a shape I found in Hot melt rubber,sculpted/modified etc, then re melted the rubber,moulded/cast again.Time consuming but isn't all art like that? Hope this is clear…

I love those Cacti :):):) also.
No , no wire frame .I used Sylmasta A+B putty.This cream coloured putty has different properties to GS & Milliput which I usually use.Sort of Pie Dough consistency. Hardens harder then Milliput.

I rolled them between my fingers & using a textured tool I made.It always makes sense to have something like this on the side for that extra bit of putty you may have left over.Making them yourself is easy, quick & above all cheap.

More Questions? mail me on zrunelordatgmaildotcom no prob , as some explanations might need pics/vids etc.

Hope this helps

zrunelord29 Aug 2017 10:35 a.m. PST

Hello WM
I forgot to add that that the bent cactus arms were bent when still pliable.then i pinned them & stuck them with superglue.
That way they are stronger & easier to make.
I cut the bottom flat so that they could easily be glued to the 3mm mdf or thick card bases i made( again you can never have enough bases for terrain )

Also try to get a cheap set of those artist spatulas used for paste painting.Ep foam can easily removed when dry from the steel blades.

Have you ever tried impregnating thick tissue paper or cloth with resin? I have used it successfully & it is one if the strongest for covering terrain. Unfortunately it is also the nasiet smelling & must never be done indoors.

This should help.


War Monkey29 Aug 2017 6:03 p.m. PST

I'll pass on the resin, stuck indoors half of the year up here during a Minnesota winter.

Thanks for the info.


War Monkey03 Sep 2017 1:36 p.m. PST

Just an update "The Cave" piece is finished.

Sorry about the photo focus I just couldn't keep my hands steady.


here's a better photo.


More about this project here link


Maxshadow18 Feb 2018 10:29 p.m. PST

Such an inspiring thread! Thanks for all the great ideas. And the trip down memory lane.

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