Having mapped myself out drawings maps for the One Page Dungeon and my own campaign, I took a step back to build something to translate those materials to the game table. Time to build myself a solid set of foam tiles. With these, I can finally replace my old cardboard-based system that was constantly limiting my dungeons, creating confusion with doorways, and suffering warping issues.
Where the test set linked above had several issues, I’ve figured out some work-arounds to improve the quality. Follow below for instructions, but here are some of the tools I used. None of these links are affiliate links, and similar products will likely work just as well.
Overall, I spent about 8 hours total preparing, cutting, and painting this tile set. In the future, I will supplement this basic set with larger tiles, unique tiles, tiles with other paint schemes, and tiles with negative space (carved out rivers, pools, or channels)
Handheld hot-wire foam cutter.
Pink construction foam, 1/2″ thick
Craftsmart paints: Black, dark grey, grey, light brown, brown, and suede.
Hot glue gun.
Construction sand, rough sand, tea leaves, or other flocking materials.
Balled up foil, a rough rock, bark, or other hard materials with interesting texture.
A cut up sponge.
Small denomination currency or metal washers, less than 1″ in diameter.
How to Make Dungeon Tiles:
- Create a 1 inch grid on the foam sheet. Use the T-square to keep your grid lines square to one another by using the t-square against one edge of the foam, and then using those lines to create perpendicular lines.
- Use the triangular ruler’s edge to create indents into the grid by pressing it down into the foam against a hard surface. Skip this step if you do not want a grid texture in your foam.
- Mark out your intended tiles in pen. Put some sort of marking on the inside of the tiles so you know where not to cut and what grid-lines not to follow.
- Heat up your wire-cutter and cut out the tiles. Make a second pass on the tiles where your lines didn’t follow the grid perfectly, ensuring that no tiles are larger than their intended size (smaller is fine, as they’ll still fit together closely enough). Angle your wire cutter such that the edge of the tile is angled, that its top is either even with or wider than its bottom, so that your tiles will touch at the top with as little of gaps as possible.
- Use the craft knife to pull up an edge of the thin plastic lining the top side of the tiles. This will also take your pen marks with it. Ensure that the tile “grout” is still deep enough for your tastes and re-indent with the ruler if needed. Hit the tiles randomly with the craft knife, texturing materials, and other items to create random gouges, scratches, indents, and pock-marks to give your tiles that “lived-in” look.
- For smaller tiles, optionally, you can glue on small currency or metal washers to give the foam tile more weight so it is less likely to be knocked around during play. I used 1 yen pieces, but pennies or washers will work just as well. Hot glue was my choice as I wanted a moderately strong bond without risk of chemically melting the foam.
- Base coat with flat black paint mixed 50-50 with PVA glue to give the foam some surface strength. Add any flocking that you will be painting, using that added glue to secure it to the foam at the same time as painting it. I forgot to add my flocking and added glue to leftover dark grey paint. This also meant I had to do a second round of dark grey painting to cover the construction sand.
- Do a heavy dry-brush of dark grey. Basically push the brush into all but the deepest crevices.
- Do a dry-brush of grey. Hit fewer areas but still most of the area of the texture, so that the deepest areas are still black and deep areas are dark grey.
- Do a light dry-brush of suede, hitting just the tops of the texture and edges of the foam.
- Paint the sponge heavily with light brown. Dab it lightly in random spots and in random orientations to give a marbled look of color to the tiles. Repeat for dark brown.
- Use them at the table!