Tired of the same old cardboard dungeon tiles for your tabletop role-playing games? Want to add a touch of realism to your orc stronghold or barbarian encampment? In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create your very own orc palisade using simple materials and easy-to-follow steps. Let’s dive right in!
Materials You’ll Need
Before we get started, gather the following materials. The links are affiliate links, they cost you nothing but clicking on them helps a crafter out. 👍
- XPS Foam*
- Utility Knife or Proxxon Cutter
- Dowels (1/4″ works well)
- Modge Podge
- Acrylic Paint (black, white, and red) (Dollar Store works fine, but avoid Tempura brand)
- Hot Glue Gun and Glue
- Garden Secateurs (clippers)
- White or Tacky Glue
- Fake Grasses/Plants to Scale (optional)
*If you are not familiar with XPS foam, it is used in construction and comes in BIG sheets. A vehicle is recommended for pick up. If you have a little car (like me!) bring a utility knife with you and cut that sucker in half/thirds in the parking lot.
- Cut your XPS foam into strips about an inch thick and 2-3 inches long. Adjust the height according to your preference; I recommend around 1 inch for ease of use.
- To allow for modular walls to fit together seamlessly, make sure some of your end cuts have a 45-degree angle. Some of the angled cuts should remain parallel to the opposite end, and some face the opposite direction.
Mark Your Pieces
- Decide on the layout of your palisade and determine which direction should be forward. Mark the bottom and front of your foam pieces so you know which sides don’t require texturing and where to attach your dowels.
- Using a ballpoint pen, draw bricks, planks, or any design you prefer on the rear, top, and sides of your foam. Pressing the pen deeper will make your design stand out when dry brushing. Blank spaces can also look great, so don’t worry about covering every inch.
- Create additional texture by balling up a piece of aluminum foil and pressing it into the foam. This adds depth, especially for stonework. For a wooden look, drag a fine comb or wire brush along the planks instead of using foil to create a wood grain effect.
Seal Your Foam
- Mix black paint with Modge Podge until it turns black. Brush this mixture onto your foam to protect it from damage and provide a dark undercoat. Don’t fret about precise measurements; just mix until it feels right.
- While waiting for the Modge Podge to dry, cut your dowels. Use garden secateurs for a rough, varied look. Aim for heights around 2-2.5 inches, ensuring some areas are lower for defenders to shoot over and others higher for cover.
- Optionally, sharpen your dowels for added realism.
Color the Dowels
- You can use stain, paint, or leave the natural colour. I opted for this quick and dirty solution: Place the dowels in a ziplock bag with black and red paint, and a little water. After a good shake, you’ll have rugged, red-splattered logs, perfect for an orc fort.
- Paint your foam blocks with a dark base color (grey for stone, brown for wood). Always start with the darkest color and let it dry completely before moving on.
- Choose 2-3 colors for dry brushing (e.g., lighter grey, brown, and white). Ensure both your foam and brush are completely dry. Apply a small amount of paint to your brush, wipe off excess, and lightly brush the surface of your project. The paint should accentuate the texture without covering it entirely. When in doubt, opt for less paint. You can always add more, but it’s hard to take it off.
Gluing the Logs
- Using your hot glue gun, attach the dry dowel pieces to the forward face of your wall. Avoid adding dowels to the sides, as they will fit together later. Align the pieces at the bottom on a flat surface, staggering the heights for a more realistic appearance.
Add Detail (Optional)
- If you want to take it a step further, glue fake plants to the front and back of the wall for added texture. Apply a line of glue along the front and back, then pour sand over it to create the appearance of a wall built in dirt.
And there you have it—an impressive orc palisade for your tabletop adventures! Whether defending against marauding orcs or exploring ancient ruins, this terrain piece will enhance your gaming experience. Get creative with different paint schemes and extra details to suit your campaign’s setting. I’d love to see what you come up with! Happy crafting! 🙂