For our Mars game, I wanted some dramatic, painted desert-like rock formations. I wanted ones that could also be used in cowboy games. I enlisted the help of my daughter, who enjoys helping with terrain but doesn’t care much for painting figures.
We cut 3/4″ insulation foam into irregular shapes. After gluing these together, we painted the “rock formations” with brown latex paint from the hardware store. We then dry-brushed the layers in different colors to give them that stratified look of the American west. I think the final result is pretty good.
While making the painted-desert hills, we also made felt-covered hills to match the copper canyon ground cloth we’ll use for the Mars game. You can sort of see these in the background of the previous two photos. I don’t like sculpted, flocked hills, because they don’t match the ground cloth. I don’t like sculpted hills under the ground cloth because it is hard to tell where the contours begin in rules in which there is a penalty for each elevation level. Figures also tend to topple over when placed on those hills, particularly if the figures are individually mounted. My technique is to make hills that have a slight slope on the edges, but too steep to tempt players to place figures on them. The result is “wedding cake” hills that match the terrain.