How to make heavy foliage terrrain, Part 1

Image from Games Workshop

This is a Guest Post by Col. Corbain

This week, it's tutorial time. Kicking off the series will be a two part post on making heavy foliage. For Part 1, we'll start with how to make the area terrain bases and then follow that up with making all the additional elements in Part 2. I want to make it clear that these tutorials aren't masterclasses, but more like simple guides to making effective scenery both in terms of looks and playability for the least amount of time, effort and money.


Much like collecting an army, building scenery requires you to build up a set of tools and materials. You'll find that you already have quite a lot of these things as scenery building often uses the same tools and materials as building an army, other things you'll find around the house and some stuff you're just going to have to buy.

Much like building an army, you'll build up a collection of tools and materials over time. So don't worry if you don't have something right now, if you're serious about building scenery, you'll collect these things over time.

For this project, there a few things that are essential.
1. Cake bases for the area terrain pieces
2. Small bases for the foliage pieces
3. Modelling gravel for the bases
4. Your actual foliage (we'll be looking at the different types of foliage you can use later in the tutorial)

Part 1: The Bases

First we're going to make up some area terrain bases to make defining the actual area terrain really easy. My main material I use for making the base are cake bases. Yep, that's right, those silver things you see wedding cakes on. Cake bases come in many different shapes and sizes, virtually all supermarkets stock them and they're really easy to work with. They're basically a rough fibre board, so it's important you wear a mask when working with them.

First, peel off the silver foil, don't worry about the odd bit of white paper left on, but it's important to get all the silver off. If you get a stubborn bit, just use a bit of sand paper to sand it off. Once that's done, mark out your basic shape with marker pen. For this project, I'm doing two corner pieces as I have quite a few round and oval shapes already.

Next, cut your pieces out, and remember to wear that mask as this stuff produces lots of little fibres that you don't want in your lungs. I use a coping saw to cut mine but you can use a hobby saw or even a steak knife. You'll see that cake bases are really easy to work with.

Then you need to bevel the edges so they look right on the tabletop and don't end up looking like step. I actually use a steak knife to make the initial cuts and then sandpaper to smooth it down. Once you're done, it should look like the one on the right.

Next, cover the whole top of the piece with pva glue and then modelling gravel. Leave it to dry for a couple of hours and once it is, shake off the excess.

Once you're sure there's no excess gravel, coat the piece in watered down PVA (white glue). I use a mix of 1 PVA to 4 water, which looks a bit like milk once it's mixed. I find sitting the pieces on top of some paint pots over a piece of cardboard works well for preventing the pieces from becoming glued to your work surface as well as soaking up any excess watered down PVA.

Leave it overnight to dry completely and once it is, paint it up. I normally paint my pieces with Chaos Black (best to use a spray can), then an overbrush of Scorched Brown, then a drybrush of Graveyard Earth and then a final drybrush of Bleached Bone.

Once you've got it painted up, flock it as you would your models making sure that you use a flock that'll match your gaming table.

That's the bases done, and as you can see, it's really easy to tell where the borders of the area terrain are.

Next week, we'll do the individual terrain elements to put on our area bases. I tend to make lots of little round terrain pieces that I can move about as I need to rather than making one big one. I find it gives me more flexibility on the tabletop and makes it easier to store them after the game.

Part 2: How to make Jungle, Basic Woodland and Alien elements.

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Nice start Col! Once you've done this would you mind doing one for urban bases?

  2. Nice tutorial. I like the colour of the gravel. I may use that. :)

  3. Very nice start. I can't wait to see the rest of the tutorial.

  4. I've done this for a lot of my store area terrain, though after reading about Gorilla Glue + water on wax paper I've started to use that method - it works great and requires less effort. (If you don't put any water on the glue will rise uniformly but not as high if you do.) It won't work too well for urban terrain however, but can make some awesome looking rubble piles.

  5. Looking forward to seeing more in this series. I've got some of the Woodland Scenic stuff waiting for a good how to.

  6. @Mercer - sure mate, what exactly were you thinking?

    @Oni - glad it's helped mate.

    @Magilla Gurilla - it's already written up mate, so it'll be going live next week.

    @Charles Feduke - What's this glue, water and wax paper method? I never come across it, any chance of some pics / tutorial?

    @the other Kevin - Plenty more to come mate, hope you find it useful.


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