Project Spelunker: Forests

Next up are the “Forests” for our Cave Terrain project.  I wanted to keep all the traditional terrain pieces like hills, forests, linear obstacles, and ponds and just put a cave themed twist.  So for forests, I had to figure out what to do.  I initially thought of stalagmites but that seemed a little boring so I eventually decided on giant mushrooms.

When making forests, I prefer to have a base with movable trees.  That way, you know the bounds of the forest and there is no confusion when you’re playing.  The movable pieces adds a layer of abstraction and allows you to place your models wherever you would like.


  • 1″ Pink insulation Styrofoam
  • 1/8″ hardboard(optional for bases)
  • Long bladed box cutter
  • Jigsaw(optional for bases)
  • Sand paper(coarse for bases, fine for mushrooms)
  • Sand
  • Basecoat of latex paint(I got Baer paint from Home Depot)
  • Highlight of latex paint
  • Regular paintbrush for latex paint
  • Modeling paints for wash
  • Plastic cups
  • Wood Glue
  • Bases for mushrooms or foam core to make bases

Step 1:  Bases

After deciding on the size and shape of the forests you want, follow the guide here to make bases for your forests.  For mine, I made 6″x6″ squares with rounded corners.  Making the forests square keeps your table balanced so no one can complain that their opponents forest was bigger or more advantageously shaped than theirs, but it does remove some realism from the table.

I made 2 bases of forest.

Step 2: Mushroom Tops

Our mushrooms are being made out of 1″ insulation foam.  For the mushroom tops, cut yourself a 2″x2″ square.


Next, round off the corners with the box cutter so that you have a cylinder.


I will do the warning now, box cutters are sharp.  They can and will cut you.  My month of being a boy scout taught me to always cut away from yourself.  Be careful.

Now we will form this cylinder into a dome.  At an angle, trim off the top corners of the cylinder all the way around.


Continue to cut off the edges of the cylinder at increasingly sharp angles until you get to the bottom of the cylinder.  Trim off the sharper angles to make the piece more dome like until you are happy.



Next, using fine grain sandpaper, sand down the domes until they are smooth and round.


I went with 3 mushrooms per forest, totaling 6 mushroom tops.

Step 3: Mushroom Stems

Next, we need the stems, or stalks of the mushrooms.  From the 1″ foam, cut 1/2″ squares that are still 1″ tall.

Using the box cutter, round off the corners until you have a cylinder and use the sandpaper to make it smooth and round.



Step 4: Mushrooms Complete

Using a dalop of wood glue, glue the stem to the top.  That easy.


After they are dry, using the wood glue, glue the bottom of the stem to the base you are using.  I used 40mm round Games-Workshop bases, because I had them and they are easy.  If you don’t have something like this, you can cut them out of foam core with a hobby knife.

You now have complete, unpainted forests.


Step 5: Basecoating

Mix some sand into your basecoat color and basecoat the hardboard bases and the bases of the mushrooms.

We also want to basecoat the mushrooms themselves with latex paint to protect the foam.  It is up to you if you want to do it with the textured paint(with the sand in it) or with untextured paint.  I did it with the textured paint, but in retrospect, I don’t think I would have.  If you’re not basecoating the mushrooms with the textured paint, basecoat the mushrooms themselves with the highlight color and wait for it to dry before doing the textured basecoat.


Step 6: Highlighting

Using the highlight color, drybrush the bases to give them some texture.


Step 7: Washing

With a plastic cup, add about an inch of water. Mix in a few drops each of you modeling paint brown, black and dark green and mix it up. This should give you some gross looking water that looks like the cup you wash your brushes in after painting Circle. Wash the bases with this mix. It should tone down some of the messiness from the drybrushing and gross it up a little bit.

Step 8: Painting the Mushrooms

You can make the mushrooms whatever color you want.  For mine, I basecoated them with a dark green color, using my modeling paint.  When this is dry, I stippled on large spots of a bright green color to provide a suitably radioactive color.  I initially tried to do them all different colors but it just did not look right, so I did them all green.


And you’re done.  You can matte varnish the pieces if you want.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Also let me know if you follow my guide and tell me how it goes.

2 thoughts on “Project Spelunker: Forests

  1. Yeah, I don’t think the textured paint gives the effect you wanted. Mushrooms typically have VERY smooth tops to them and now they just look… off…

    I AM very inspired by your project, though! You have me thinking about doing something similar with crystals and glowing water features!

    1. I agree, if I do another batch, I won’t use the textured paint.

      I will be posting my tutorial for the crystal linear obstacles and you could easily scale those up and make crystal forests as well.

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