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Make Diorama terrain from Foam

One of the biggest challenges you can have when making a diorama or making gaming terrain is the terrain textures. I mean the grass, soil, bushes and stuff like that. Even making the leaves on trees. Well, you can buy this stuff. (It is called flocking). But it can be expensive.

In this tutorial I show you how to make it out of foam. Yup! And it looks great. Just some foam and some paint is all you need.

If you came here from youtube thanks! I am working on this tutorial. Give me a day!

I also have the video tutorial for this project at the bottom of this page.


Here is a little diorama we made using the foam terrain techniques.

The completed terrain


filing the foam

You change the foam into a granular or rough terrain by using a tool on it. You have a wide variety of tools that you can use. And each type of tool gives you a specific type of terrain. Here we are using a rat-tail rasp. It gives us some pretty fine texture.

Tools used

Here are three tools that are of use for this. A keyhole saw, a file and a rasp. Each gives a different granularity of texture. Keep that in mind and try some different tools to see how you like the texture it creates.


Closeup of a rasp

Here is a closeup look at the rasp. At first glance you would think it is a file. But there is a very rough tooth on a rasp. It makes rougher terrain.

Two different textures

Here is a look at two different textures, one fine and once coarse. These were created by different tools.



You can also use styrofoam, the pebbly stuff. Tear it apart, it is just tricky to get a more uniform and finer texture.


Painting it

Painting the texture is pretty easy. This foam takes to paint pretty well. It really just a matter of color selection and of drying it.

mix with paint

Use just about any type of paint and dilute it with an equal part of water. Then slowly add your foam to it, stirring it well. This way you can keep adding more foam to get it all colored nicely.

dry it

Lay the texture out on paper to let it dry. Spread it out evenly. This will absorb a lot of the moisture out of the texture. You can also tamp it down with paper towels to speed up the drying.

Add yellow

You can also experiment with colors and get some nice combinations. In this case I mixed a batch of green and got it nice. Then I added some more pink foam and some yellow paint to it. Then mixed that up.

You end up with a nice variegated color like this with some green pebbles and some yellow pebbles.


styrofoam flowers

Styrofoam is very pebbly and it is great for these red flowers.


NextLet's continue with this tutorial and attach the textures to our diorama




Bushes Bag, Light Green/25.2 cu. in.

Woodland Scenics makes lots of terrain textures.


Scene A Rama Mountain Making Kit

Scene-A-Rama Mountain Diorama Kit -  Use this kit to create mountains or hills on your project. It includes everything you need to build an erupting volcano (volcano tube and recipe included)! Use it for wind and water erosion examples, caves with limestone formations, cliffs, canyons, craters, dormant or active volcanoes and more.

Suggested tools for building: scissors, masking tape, hobby knife, newspapers, wax paper and a bowl for water.


Desert Oasis Diorama Kit

Scene-A-Rama Desert Oasis Diorama Kit - Use this kit to create a flat, sand surface for your diorama. It includes everything you need and is great for making prehistoric habitats, shorelines, wastelands, beaches, missions or desert projects where sand is your main focus.
Suggested tools for building: scissors


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