Making Desert Scenery – Fast, Cheap, and awesome.

Today Mark shows you how to make Desert scenery that not only looks great but is cheap and easy to boot.


What you will need to build 3 x hills and 9 x tree bases,

  • 1 x set of hill templates, I used these from Kallistra for £9.50 (brown non hex).
  • Some MDF tree bases.  You can find these online or make your own out of a bit of thin MDF (or hardboard, but this tends to warp over time) to any shape/size you want.
  • Palm trees – Search model palm trees on Ebay and you will have loads of very cheap options.  Make sure they are the right scale and accept that they will take time to arrive as they come from China. You will need approx 50.
  • Sand – I went to the beach and scoop a load into a container.  Sieved it and bingo, ready to go and free.
  • PVA glue
  • Old paint brush
  • An Ivory coloured spray – I used Rust-Oleum 400ml Painters’ Touch Spray Paint – Ivory Bisque
  • A drill
  • Flock, tufts and slate/small rocks for decoration (optional).

Notice there is no paint brushes or paint (other than the spray) that’s because using this spray and sand combo you can great natural highlights without dry-brushing.  This is very fast.


Take your hills and bases and drill holes in for the stems of the trees.  Make them tight so you can take them out for storage, but not so much that they wobble when they are in.  I used 5-6 trees on a base and added some to the hills for decoration and to tie the scenery together.

Spray the hills and MDF with the Ivory spray.

Cover the bases and hills in neat PVA  using an old wide paintbrush.

Sprinkle sand over the hills and bases ensuring they are fully covered and then shake of the excess.

Spray the bases and hills again (you cant actually do this before the paint is dry if you are impatient.  Don’t put it on thick, you want to just cover it gently so you get different coloured areas where the sand slightly shows darker and lighter (natural highlights).  Leave to fully dry.

At this stage you can plop in your trees and call it a day.  However there is a final step that really finishes them off.

Using a small brush, apply PVA to any patches where there may be sand missing and then in a few random areas.  Then add some tufts, slate and small rocks, using PVA to secure them.  This really makes the bases look more natural for very minimal effort.

Leave to dry and plug in the trees.

Enjoy your new terrain!

All in all this cost about £20 in material, but I now have 9 bases of trees and 3 hills; more than enough for a table.  Add some roads and a few buildings and you are ready to play.

This could also be used for making pacific jungle, maybe adding some more undergrowth to the tree bases.

One thought on “Making Desert Scenery – Fast, Cheap, and awesome.

Comments are closed.