Tuesday 10 November 2015

More Underdark Scatter Terrain

About a month ago, I posted a quick tutorial that explained how I made a few pieces of cavern/underdark terrain (i.e. stalegmites and the like) ...and since then I've been making a couple more pieces to take along to my bi-weekly D&D game.

So, as you can probably guess, I thought I'd post another basic tutorial to show how I've gone about making these new pieces (though, in truth, the pictures are pretty self explanatory).



I'm guessing that most of you have bits of white polystyrene packing lying around (I know I do) ...and so I thought I'd start putting some of this stuff to use. So, to begin with I cut the polystyrene into the desired shape with a sharp knife, and then made a base for it out of a piece of vinyl floor tile (i.e. the 1ft square tiles that are used in bathroom/kitchen flooring - I got a pack of 4 for £1 at the local 'bargain' shop some time ago).

However, the trouble with polystyrene is the fact that it's made from lots and lots of little white 'beads' - and these often become glaringly obvious when you take a knife to it. So, to hide these 'beads' (and give the piece more of a stone texture) I've soaked thin strips of kitchen towel in watered down white/PVA glue, and covered the entire piece. I've then used some cheap ready-mixed filler (again, just £1 from the local 'bargain' shop) to fill in any obvious holes/cracks/joins,  and to blend it into the base.

Once they've dried, it's a simple matter of adding some sand & gravel to the base...

...and painting it the desired colour(s)



After making the above rocks, I was left with lots of little off-cuts  ...and so I thought about different ways of putting the little white 'beads' of the polystyrene to use. So, for this piece I made and painted the base first (using some aquarium gravel on a piece of vinyl floor tile - with some sand/grit glued around the edges), and then used some of the polystyrene beads to represent spider eggs.

I then took a single baby-wipe (I've got a pack of the cheapest kind from ASDA), and let it dry out over night. Once it was dry, I took a small piece and pulled it apart to make a web-like texture (as you can see on the left of the above picture) and soaked it in some watered down white/PVA glue before draping it over the eggs.

(note that I've not painted the polystyrene or the baby-wipe - as I think they look fine as they are)


For these I've used a few different materials - but once again I started things off with a base cut out of a vinyl floor tile, and glued some sand/grit to it.

For the rib cage I've used pieces cut from a piece of 'oven mesh' (the same stuff I used to make some chainlink fences a while back) and glued them (in an offset position) two high (after bending them into a slight curve). For the skull, I've used another 'bead' of polystyrene, and the misc. bones are nothing more than a piece of twine*

*note that I've pulled the twine apart into two pieces (as shown on the very right of the photograph) and then soaked it in PVA/white glue while twisting it tight (shown to the left of the twine). It was then a simple matter of cutting these 'bones' to size (once the glue had dried), and adding a few small pieces of polystyrene and grit to act as bits of other bones.


To make a few basic weapons I've used cocktail sticks, some cotton (for the wraps), and some thin plastic card for the blades (in this instance I've used one of those pretend credit cards they send out as junk mail from time to time). And for the shields I've used drawing pins (thumb tacks) with the 'pin' clipped off.

Once they've been put onto a base and been painted, they don't look too bad at all :)

Note: Obviously, if you have some spare multi-part plastic skeleton miniatures and/or misc. weapon sprues lying around, they would be a better (and faster) option for some of these pieces - but if you don't, I think that making them this way is a viable option (especially if you want to make lots of 'em).


This next piece is fairly generic, and can be used to represent any of the above...

...and as you can see, it's just a matter of pulling a few 'beads' from a sheet of polystyrene, and basing/painting them.


These pots were made from a notice board pin and a plastic bead...

...and while these (and similar) pieces could be left empty, or filled with glitter & gems (i.e. treasure), etc., I've used the end of a cotton bud (formed into a wispy shape) to simulate smoke.


Unfortunately, I don't have any WIP pictures of this one - but, as you can (hopefully) see, I've taken a cheap battery-powered tea light apart, and built up an area around it (to hide the electronic gubbins)  in a similar way to how I made the rocks (above) and stalagmites (from a previous tutorial).

I've then added some mushrooms (made from 'brads'), and used a (dissolvable) packing peanut as the 'glowstone' itself.

And once it's turned on, the flickering LED from the tea light makes it look rather cool (much better than it looks in this picture).

* * *

So, if I take all the pieces I've made here, and combine them with the previous lot, I've got quite a collection started.

And because I'd already got most of the materials to hand, they haven't really cost anything to make (which is always a bonus) ...but even if you have to go out and buy a few things, most of this stuff is still super cheap & easy to make.

- an evil cultist awaits his next victim -