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Miniatures - Rough terrain rocks - Terrain making tutorial
Miniatures - Rough terrain rocks - Terrain making tutorial
The rough terrain rocky ground pieces

I have created a couple of rocky ground pieces of scenery to be used as rough terrain for wargames. This is a tutorial about how to make rocky scatter terrain from styrofoam.

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Basic concept

I wanted to make some dry, black, wasteland tree stands, so I cut out the shapes for them from foam, when I realized I couldn’t find my trees. After a while I gave up, and changed my plans to create rough terrain pieces from the prepared stands.

Choice of material

I had some leftover polystyrene foam from the red hills project, so I used them.


Due to my use of terrain pieces as tiles, the basic shapes should fit 25mm tiles. I made four 2x1 and one 1x1 piece.

As these are tiny pieces of foam, they are very light, and even breathing on them can move them away. To give them some weight, I’ve carved the bottom, and added a 18mm washer. I started to cut off parts of the foam, until I was satisfied with the result. Some parts of the rocks had hard edges, other parts looked like normal ground.

This was the time when I wanted to fit the trees on them. Not finding them was unfortunate, but watching the bases gave me an idea.

While I covered them with Pentart decoupage glue (it gives a better, rigid base to the foam), I pushed some small pieces of foam into the glue. The pieces already had some hard, rocky parts, but this gave them a more pronounced shape. I tried to make sure that while it shows how rough the terrain is, a miniature could still stand on it.

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Base coating

I covered everything with black acrylic paint. I painted even the bottoms, so when I put them over other terrain pieces, the bottom might show up white, as that could be distracting.

Miniatures - Rough terrain rocks - Terrain making tutorial
Bases painted black


Pentart acrylic paints brushed on.


The original idea was to make the ground black, the rocks grey, and the trees black and dried up, to make the pieces dark and brooding. When I had to change the plans, grey rocks on a black ground seemed boring. So I came up with the idea of painting the rocks lighter, almost white, with a shade of yellow or light brown.

I've painted the larger rocks with dark brown.

Miniatures - Rough terrain rocks - Terrain making tutorial
Rocks painted brown

As they were already black, I gave them a heavy grey drybrush to raise the highlights.

Then I drybrushed the rocks with light brown. I added more and more white with the subsequent layers, and used lighter and lighter drybrushing to pick the edges. I painted the layers until I ran out of the prepared white. Then I called it a day, and stopped painting.

It’s not the exact colour I wanted – I painted at night, I was tired, and I thought they will look good. While in the morning I still found the final results okay, I’m not fully satisfied with them.

Miniatures - Rough terrain rocks - Terrain making tutorialMiniatures - Rough terrain rocks - Terrain making tutorial
Final version

Finishing seal

Pentacolor Pentart acrylic matte varnish brushed on.


  • I still want to make those light brown rocks sometimes in the future.


  • None yet

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Materials used

  • Expanded polystyrene foam
  • Acrylic paints

Possible substitutes: If you don't want the hassle to build it yourself...

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How do you build your own rocky terrain pieces? What do you think of my way? Do you have suggestions for possible substitutes? Tell us in the comments!


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