Saving Hobby Dollars – How To Make Cheap Terrain!

Cities Of Death, Terrain

You got your gaming table on the cheap, now come see some great tips for getting a table full of terrain on the cheap as well!

Your table is ready, the armies are painted up, there is a case of beer (or soda for you young bloods) in the fridge and you are ready to have some people over for a night of wargaming. Hold on cowboy (or cowgirl) you need some terrain complete the night. Lucky for you it is pretty easy to build some basic stuff.

Let’s start with the table mat, to protect your table, miniatures, and to make it feel like you are playing in whatever realm / world you need a base. I like to just go to the fabric store and buy whatever color I need (green for forest or plains, light brown for desert, etc.) There are all sorts of fabric stores out there (don’t forget to get a coupon) that if you go to the fabric section they have a large selection of different colors and patterns for you to choose from. Just ask the nice worker to cut the fabric 6 foot by 4 foot and you are good to go.


Another basic thing that is at home on any table top is hills, and they are super easy to make. You need some foam, which you can either get some from a home improvement store or sometimes a computer store will have some sitting around from computer parts they ordered. You then will want to cut it using a knife or if you can get one a foam cutter. You can give the hill edges, gradual slopes, etc basically look at a hill and think I can make that.

If you want to make them larger glue (basic Elmer’s glue is just fine) or pin two pieces of foam together and then cut it to the shape you want. Once that is done to give it texture, try gluing a piece of tissue paper to the hill. Before you do so though crumple it up into a ball and then unroll it so it will add a lot of tiny ridges and things to terrain. Once it is dried and glued to the hill you just need to paint it, which I like to use three colors.

The first being a dark grey with two coats all over the piece, then a watered down lighter grey over that to give the stone so different shades. Finally I dry brush a white over the terrain so that it picks up all those nice little ridges from the tissue paper. Note do not use expensive paints on this, get some cheap acrylics from your nearest craft store and use those on this.


The easiest piece of terrain to make is a crater, just be sure to this outside and wear a mask as it involves a chemical reaction between paint and foam.

First cut the foam so you have different sized circles, ovals etc. and then get a can of cheap spray primer. Spraying the middle of the cut out shapes start in the middle and go towards the sides but do not go all the way. What this is going to do is the primer eats away at the foam and eventually will go through it all the way (it might take multiple coats).

So spray it and walk away for 10-15 minutes and then come back and decide if you want to go deeper into the foam or if it is enough of a crater for you. By not spraying the sides if this creates a kind of impact site which you can put models down into or even an object token like a crashed satellite or something. SpikeyBits_Crater

Paint the crater however you want so for rocky do dark grey with lighter grey and white, or for dirt do a dark brown with some light tan and a dry brush of grey.  You can also put some modeling putty in the bottom and paint it like lava or toxic waste or really anything you want for your gaming table.



With a basic table mat and some terrain even basic, it really adds a nice touch to getting into the game. You can sometimes find some great houses and trees from storage and garage sales as well (see Christmas villages) that you can use. Nothing like having to blow up the Charles Dickens clock tower as your major victory scenario.



Checkout more money saving tips for the Hobby

podcast inset code View All of Our Shows

Adeptus Mechanicus Is Looking Strong 119

dark-imperium-pateron-sm-insert-code smallTake the $1 challenge and support our videos for just a buck. Get the new 8th Edition Dark Imperium minis your first month for signing up!

Get the Details On Your Monthly Miniatures Crate

About Travis Perkins

An avid homebrewer and Detroit sports fan (yes even the Lions). I am new to the world of wargamming and very much enjoying the journey. If you have any suggestions or comments feel free to comment on the article or email me at

You might also like: