How to Build Terrain: Toppled/Fallen Terrain

In this tutorial, I give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to build your own toppled or fallen columns to go along with your tabletop board game. The following columns were modeled and built with Kingdom Death: Monster in mind. I used some inspiration for the theme, atmosphere, and colors based on the Terrain cards provided in the game.

These 3D models are easy to build, with many opportunities for you to add your own flavor and flair. Here is an example of what one of the columns might look like in the end.

column 04-2

Materials and Tools:

There are many ways you can substitute a couple of these materials or skip some of them. The most important part of this terrain building is the bottle cork, it has a pre-made column physical dimensions, which makes the rest of the project so much easier.

Setup and materials


Additional Information:

There are two types of columns here a short column and a longer, toppled column. Here are the dimensions for their bases:

  1. Short Column – 3.4 cm x 6.8 cm
  2. Long, Toppled Column – 3.4 cm x 13.6 cm

Assembly and Painting:

  1. Cut out the proper size for the base as well as a smaller square to serve as the foundation for the column.
  2. Use your Xacto Knife or Swiss Knife to gently and carefully carve out one end of the cork to make it uneven and create a crumbling stone look. Save the extra cork because we can use this as crumbled stone later on.
  3. Glue the cork to column to the base. Apply the glue with your cheap brush and be generous with it. Any excess glue that might seep out on the sides is completely fine. It will harden and look like part of the scenery later, and can be easily painted over.

step 01step 02Step 03

4. Cut up or rip up some cork and glue it to the base. This is where your creativity will shine. Imagine where you would like to see crumbled stone and parts of the pillar. Again, be generous with the glue.
5. Create the landscape by gluing it on to the base. This can be done with either more cork, as seen in the picture below, or some pebbles (as seen in other pictures). This will create uneven ground that you can paint to be grassy or hilly or sandy.
6. Apply Primer to the the entire terrain. Once you are satisfied with your base and the terrain, and all the glue has dried, you can apply primer to the entire terrain. I used Vallejo Surface Primer – Black. I chose this because the black will penetrate into the holes of the cork and will give the column more dimension and some shadows and textures.


7. Paint the column. I chose a 3:2:1 ratio of White, Yellow Ochre, and Burnt Umber to create my column. I used the pictures from the Terrain cards of the base game of Kingdom Death: Monster. You can certainly paint your column as you see fit. You can go for the marbled white, muted gray, or some other color. You will definitely have to use a couple of coats to make sure you can get the right color that you want.
8. Paint the terrain. I painted the crumbled “stone” (cork) as the same color as my column. It is to show that they are part, or once part, of the now-dilapidated column. I painted some of the rocks gray and some of the cork gray to give the rest of the terrain some contrast. I also dry-brushed the stone to bring up the highlights and give it more texture.
9. Paint the base. I painted my base brown to bring everything back to earth. I know that I will be using grass as well, so this is a good color as the soil for the grass.

step-06-2.jpgStep 06

Artistic Flair and Finishing Touches:

At this point, you have a pretty solid looking terrain, but something else can bring it all together: some texture, some color, some grass, etc. In the following steps, I will describe what I did. You are welcome to follow any and all of the steps, add your own flavor and color to the terrain.

10. Apply glue and sand/pebbles to the base. This will serve as the second layer of texture on top of the base/cork. Place your entire terrain on top of a plastic container, and brush on your glue where desired. Immediately sprinkle sand on top of the entire terrain. Sand will stick to the glue, and just roll off anything else. Wait for the glue to set.
11. Shake off excess sand from the base. Gently turn your terrain, holding it by the base, and tap it a few times to shake off any excess sand that did not stick to the glue.
12. Spray or brush on a PVA/Glue sealant. I found a cheap spray bottle and added 1:5 parts Elmer’s Glue and Water to it. It is essentially a diluted glue. I spray it on top of the sand. This seals the sand in so that no more grains will fall off your terrain later. If you do not have a sprayer, you can just mix glue and water in a small cup and gently brush it on top of your sand. Allow this to dry completely.
13. Apply glue and Static Grass Flock to the terrain. Apply glue to where you think grass might grow. Feel free to do little splotches or the entire lower part of the base. You may even put it on parts of the column that would show growth of grass over years of abandon. Again, place the terrain in your plastic container and then gently sprinkle the grass on top of the glued areas. Gently press the grass on the glue. Allow the glue and grass to set.
14. Shake off or brush off excess grass from the terrain using a cheap brush with soft bristles.
15. Glue on any additional grass or tufts of grass onto the terrain.


Other Ideas:

  1. This approach can be used to create the much longer toppled pillars as well. See the pictures below.
  2. Body parts, blood, guts or broken pieces of armor and weapons could be added to the terrain. This will certainly add to your atmosphere and setting.


Finished Products:

all columns final

column 04-2columns 04-1column 01-2column 01-1columns 05-1column 05-2colum 02-colum 02-2column 03-2column 03-1


Sneak preview of more terrain tutorials!


Thanks for checking out my tutorials!













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