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Cracked Desert Board

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Never tried it, but I have to admit that I did consider the same idea for doing desert bases.

In the end I didn't think it was worthwhile getting the paint just to try it out for a few bases - it seemed wasteful in the best case scenario anyway. But I'd definitely be interested to see if it worked, as I might re-consider it if the results were good enough and if I could find a cheapish additive for my existing paints.

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You can get a similar effect by painting your base color, letting it dry fully and then covering with watered down glue. You have to apply the topcoat before the glue cures and then you'll get the crackle effect.

Crackle medium is really just a thin white glue. The cracks appear because the glue contracts as it dries.

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Here is what a board with crackle looks like.



I would not recommend doing it. It is a bit expensive and is tricky to work with if you are not familiar with it.

An alternative:


Instead buy 16 (9 if you only want a 3X3) stickem tiles from Home Depot/ Lowes with a dessert like pattern and have an instant fully painted no mess gaming table for under twenty dollars.

Hope this helps,


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My question is why would you want to do an entire desert board with cracked Earth? Most of the deserts I have been to (Arabian peninsula, South Western US, and Mid-West US) dont have huge expanses of cracked Earth. It is mainly found around dried water areas like wadis and oasis. if you use it to accent a desert board it will look more natural (and be a lot easier to do).

My recomendation is to either use the cheap floor tiles like Dozerdozen above suggests or start with something similar to what you see here. You can see example desert themed boards by both TheBugKing and further down myself. Once you have the basic board done go back with some dry wall mud (dont use spackle it is to thick for this) and create the cracked earth accents where you want them. Two ways to get the drywall mudd to produce a craked earth effect;

1) Put it on thick and let it dry naturally (doesn't always work but when it does it looks real good).

2) Put it on a bit thinner (adding a little water to the mix helps) then pull out the sculpting knife and start pressing and connecting lines to form random shapes and patterns in the mud(definately more work but produces a more consistent result).

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Dont get me wrong I like the cracked earth look (I use it on all my Protectorate of Menoth models) but on a larger (3' X 3') terrain piece I dont think it will look quite right.

I am guessing that the pictures above utilizing the crackle medium are not what you are going for, in which case I would look at either the thinned dry wall mud (cheaper though not super durable) or possibly a thin layer of apoxiesculpt (expensive but a bit more durable) with the lines/shapes pressed in using a scuplting knife over a sturdy (non-warping) base. Would recommend working in small sections (floor tiles might be your best bet) I dont know of a quicker way to do this on a large scale.

Edited After thought: Two additional ways to do this, first the long one (that I know works);

Start with a sheet of thin posterboard, use a sharp craft knife and cut the design into the top layer of the posterboard (basically you are just cutting the top layer of the poseterboard). Once your design has been cut use a big paint brush (sponge works better) and wet the top layer. It will curl slightly. Once dry use a wash of your desired finish color. I used this for flooring on a protectorate themed building piece.

Second method (should be shorter but I haven't tried myself) Start with a sheet of cork board (like this P12230020.jpg), apply a heavily watered down wash and wait for it to dry. This should cause the lines in the cork board to raise slightly more then the centers and produce the desired sun baked mud effect. Disclaimer I haven't tried this myself for terrain but I have accidentally done this to some cork kitchen heat pads.

Edited by Omenbringer
Added two additonal methods for the cracked earth effect
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