Step #1 - Overview
A good base for the terrain boards is Styrofoam Cladmate/Wallmate. Each piece comes in 24" (or 24.5") x 96" sections and is blue or pink in colour. The thickness varies from 0.5" to 2". I recommend 3 thicknesses: 0.5" for large lakes, rivers, canals or low lands, 2" for hills, and the standard terrain board of 1" thick.

The boards should be cut into 23.5" x 30" sections. The odd size is because the 1" boards have a 0.5" groove on either side that must be cut off. Optionally, you could leave the groove and use it to secure the boards together on the gaming table (preferably with pins or tooth-picks). Therefore it is best to match the 0.5" and 2" thick boards to the same width. The 23.5" x 30" board is an ideal size as most gaming tables are 30" wide and 72" or 96" long. I have experimented with numerous terrain sizes and table configurations, and have determined that this is the best size. The 23.5" x 30" boards can easily cover 2, 3 or 4 standard 30" x 72" tables. I have found that a total of 12 to 20 boards is sufficient.

The method used to cut the boards can be an x-acto knife, a hobby saw, or a commercial Styrofoam cutter. A Styrofoam cutter is available from a hobby shop. The x-acto knife has a limitation when cutting thicker boards. It is important to cut as square as possible to prevent gaps when pushing the boards together.


Tools of the trade...



Step #2 - Texturing
Before the Styrofoam is painted, decide on the type of terrain and the amount of texturing to perform. If the terrain is rough, then a lot of texturing is needed. If the terrain board is a roadway, start the road at the centre of the long or short edge. This way it will line up with other road sections. Rivers and gullies will require much texturing. Like roads, if a stream or gully reaches the edge of the board, it is best to place it in the centre of the edge to allow for geomorphic terrain boards. To texture the Styrofoam, use a drill or belt sander. There are grinding bits for drills that give a variety of texturing styles. Always wear safety glasses while grinding away the Styrofoam.


Step #3 - First Coat
The boards are painted with a base coat of Latex Flat paint. The colour I use is Saddlewood mixed in a Clear Accent Base. A 1 litre can covers 6 boards with two coats. To add texture, mix dirt into the paint in a separate container. The amount of dirt depends on personal tastes and the texture desired. If you find the dirt too clumpy, you can dry it in an oven prior to mixing with the paint.


Step #4 - Second Coat and Flocking
Once the second coat is applied, the flocking can be added. For standard ‘grass' use a mixture of Woodland Scenics Coarse Turf - Dark Green and Blended Turf - Green Blend. The Coarse Turf comes in a 295 cubic cm package and the Blended Turf in a 795 cubic cm package. This should do 6 boards. I also use Coarse Turf - Burnt Grass to add variety. For roads I use a mix of Woodlands Scenics Dark Brown Fine Ballast and Turf - Earth. This could also be used for additional ground cover. For lighter ground cover or dessert effects, I use a mix of Ballast - Buff and Turf - Yellow Grass.

After the paint has dried, I knock the terrain piece above newspaper to catch and re-use the flocking. If additional flocking is needed, contact cement or diluted white glue could be brushed on and flocking re-applied. Once I am satisfied with the flocking, and the paint or glue has thoroughly dried, I spray the terrain board with Woodland Scenics Matte Scenic Cement. A separate atomizer attachment is required.


Step #5 - Making Water
For large water a use a variety of acrylic blue paints. To add texture to the water use Liquitex Acrylic Texture Gel - Natural Sand. You can apply this with a brush or sponge. Use glossy paints for streams and rivers. Another method of creating swamps or rivers to texture the terrain board by making a pond. In the pond ‘bowl' pour Shellac or Behr Clear Lac is generous amounts. You may have to repeat this a few times but the final effect is very nice. Before the Shellac has completely dried, add grass and other ‘swamp' details. This method also works well for creeks or rivers.


Step #6 - A Final Note
I completed 12 boards in about 3 days work. I allowed a day drying between each major painting and flocking. If the boards are made geomorphic, they can be arranged in a variety of configurations to meet your personal gaming needs. If the -.5" groove is kept on the boards, they boards can be secured together with pins.


Some Finished Boards