Desert Sand Tiles

For Warhammer or Dungeons & Dragons.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2021-10-08 | update: 2021-12-30


Three years ago I started building models again, because it can be quite relaxing during a pandemic. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to participate in tabletop rounds with friends, I could start building terrain or buildings and get more involved with my 3D printer. Since the overall interest in this topic has increased, I will also publish some articles here in the future. These will have different requirements. Some will be suitable for beginners, others more for professionals. To get you started, today we are building desert sand tiles that can be easily replicated by beginners.


I actually build everything myself out of Foam and other materials, but decided against it this time. Why not build some really generic sand tiles that I printed out from my 3D printer beforehand. I had never done that before and really wanted to try it out. This also allowed me to test the quality of the prints at the same time, as I have many other ideas for projects that are in the tabletop realm. I have downloaded the small rock cluster from daandruff and will adapt this to my needs.

Even though I like these models, they are a little too small for me. To change that we use chipboard. Chipboard is stronger than cardboard and weaker than wood. I use the material every now and then to build natural round tiles. So you can work chipboard with a modeling knife and small saws. We put the tiles on the chipboard and draw around the plastic models with a pencil. Try not to draw too neatly, because then the shapes will look more natural. We then saw out the shapes with a small hacksaw.

With a sharp modeling knife (or sanding paper, nail file etc.) we can then smooth the edges so that it does not look so unnatural. Please make sure that you do not cut your hand, because this can easily happen. Unfortunately, there is no other (good) way to round off the edge of the base. After that we glue the stone plastic models with hot glue on the tiles.

In the next step we will add some details to the tiles to make them look more interesting. As we can imagine, there are not only stones in a desert, but also sand, pebbles, formations and remains of people or animals. The skull set from Citadel is quite good for sticking human or animal skulls on the tiles. The set is expensive but will last a very long time. Sand is also a good way to customize the look of the base. To do this, we smear the bottom of the base with wood glue and pour sand and small stones over it. Again, you can use sand that you have ordered online or sandbox sand.This should then but then previously poured through a small sieve, so that really only sand is present and not any foreign material. I have also built small desert witches from old 3D printer material. These looked then later however rather like alien worm sausages. Nevertheless, you should try out a lot, because that’s what makes building sand desert tiles fun. We glue all components to the tiles with super glue.

Paint Job

Unfortunately, I noticed at this point that my black Chaos Black Primer is all and wanted to order new. Unfortunately there were some problems. If you want to have Chaos Black Primer delivered, you have to check your age. I don’t want to know why and I don’t want to give my age to buy a can of primer. Why do you have to be 18 years old to buy a can of primer? Ridiculous. At a German dealer the primers cost almost twice as much. So I decided to try another brand and tried the Montana Spray Primer in White. The result is really bad. Although the base was sealed, but not primed. Only the area with the super glue was primed and the rest was not. With this base, I applied two layers and also shook the can for a few minutes beforehand. The quality is really not what I expected from a quality brand like Montana. I had previously bought other primer from the same brand, which was really good but there was no longer in the store and to order something took me too long. So in the future I will have to look for a Chaos Black alternative whose brand does not come from a country that was so stupid to leave the EU.

So that my base has a good base color, I chose Army Painter Dirt Splatter. This I quickly applied and also not neatly worked, because that is not necessary. The other colors should only take over the base color of the base.

The first pass consists of the following layers. First, I primed everything with Wooden Deck Tan from Tamiya. This time I worked properly. Then I dry brushed everything with Averland Sunset to set accents. The last thing I did was to apply a strong tone wash for shades and
highlights. All layers need enough time to dry.

Now I apply a strong dry brush with Longbeard Grey. Almost all the colors underneath are painted over again. But only almost. This is a very interesting process, because a very small part of the colors will still be visible later and perceived by the viewer as a detail. Then I apply a finer dry brush with Praxeti White, but make sure not to use too much color. The skulls are also incorporated. Since I have no colors for bones and skeletons, I had to improvise a little at this point.

The last step is to apply a glaze of Wooden Deck Tan, which is very heavily mixed with a thinner. Then we use a soft tone washing and let the model dry well for a few hours.

Now we just need to take care of the details. I dry brushed the skulls once again very carefully with Praxeti White. At this point you can bring out much more with some colors, but that was not possible at the moment. What also always looks good on a homemade base are the Battlefields Highland Tuffs. However, you should not apply these on every base, but only in some special places. You don’t need extra glue for the tuffs, because they have little glue pads attached to the bottom. You just pull off a piece of tape and put them where you want them. After that our sand desert tiles are ready and we can use them in our next adventure.


Tips & Tricks

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