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Dragon’s Island 3-D Terrain from Recycled Material

Dragon’s Island 3-D Terrain from Recycled Material

Cragma CastleReina and Todd are at it again! They’re building 3-D terrains from recycled materials, and adding new enthusiastic players to the D&D rosters on Bainbridge Island. Take a look at what they have to say about their ongoing work, plus check out the gallery at the end!

The more we experiment with materials and techniques, the better the quality of the terrain. Certainly much better quality terrain is on the market, but this is a way to have what you want and need without tremendous costs. In fact, the cost is almost zero considering most of the materials are recycled and free. The only costs are hot glue, glue guns, box cutters, brushes, paint, and other very affordable materials.

One example of our learning has to do with outdoor terrain, both grassy and open soil. Regarding grassy terrains, we had originally bit the bullet and purchased shredded and/or powdered green material from hobby and craft stores. The same went for soil conditions. These materials quickly add up in cost if you’re interested in manufacturing multiple unique terrains. Regarding grassy areas, we found that green scrub pads are an excellent alternative, easily shaped, and very efficient. Soil was also supplemented by spending $5 on a huge bag of sand. In that case, you can simply spread Elmer’s glue (1 qt. brown wood glue) on the desired area. Then sprinkle sand on top, press into glue with hands, and wait 24 hours. Next shake and brush off excess sand, and paint to your desired color/s. Typically, we used browns, but on some occasions we used varying greens to simulate short grasses and mosses. This give some variability as opposed to using all scrubbing pads.

Applying stones and boulders can be accomplished simply with rocks, but if too many are placed, the weight of the terrain begins to grow. An alternative is to crumple aluminum foil into balls, spray paint black, and then paint over with various grey paints. Finally, I do recommend that for these kind of terrains that you hot glue 3-4 layers of cardboard together to provide a long-term rigidity, and therefore durability, to the work. You will see this and more in the gallery that’s part of this article.

I’ve also had the great fortune to have Roger Walco (Lifeform Entertainment) contribute to our efforts by providing painting tips and coaching for Reina. He also generously painted some minis I acquired from Gale Force 9 outright. Now, in addition to exposing more youth in our area to D&D roleplaying, we are considering offering coaching and experiences for them so they can start making their own terrain as well.

We really appreciate the consideration and exposure Kobold Press has provided us with these articles. It goes a long way toward inspiring interest for new players in our area.


Reina & Todd

Dragon’s Island


You can view the first blog post from this talented duo to see where they started!

3 thoughts on “Dragon’s Island 3-D Terrain from Recycled Material”

  1. Amazing. I hope we get to see what y’all have done more recently. Found these articles by looking for inspiration on Lost Mine of Phandelver maps. Thank you for sharing.

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