Paper Mache Terrain – What I learned

Posted: October 2, 2010 in General, Terrain, Tutorials

So, after spending a few days and making my first pieces of paper mache terrain (the post can be found here), I figured I would write down some notes about the process.

What I would do differently:

  1. This is number one and single handedly the most important: make sure you drain the excess water from your paper pulp before adding glue. This changed the entire project for me. It caused slow dry times, warping, and excessive shrinking.
  2. After the glue / sand / rock layer dried, I should have re-coated the entire piece in another layer of water / glue. This would have added strength to the sand and rock that was there. What happened in my project is that certain rocks weren’t held tightly, and after painting, they came off and left unpainted spots. Another glue layer would have helped hold everything firm.
  3. The first layer of c0lor I painted (the dark brown) was put on over the black too sparingly. It made the base too dark. The result was that the whole piece was very dark, and if I added more highlight to it to brighten it, there was a stark contrast.
  4. In the future I will be more careful (aka, stingy) with the static grass. Too much of the stuff just does not look right, and it took my “woodland” piece from being my favorite, to my least liked instantly.
  5. I wish I would have built bigger. Considering how much everything shrank (probably because of #1), the finish product wasn’t big enough to be affective to scale.

What worked for me:

  1. I very much enjoyed my color choices, and while bare they looked odd, once I added the grass they really popped.
  2. Paper mache is cheap and very durable, I will definitely use it as a sculpting medium again.
  3. The pieces are very modular while also matching. They would look good alone, or with each other.

All in all, the project provided for a great learning experience. I can’t wait to make some more terrain and share it here.

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