We are supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost for you. Learn moreLast update on 27th February 2024 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.

Hey there! Looking to take your tabletop gaming or diorama projects to the next level without breaking the bank? Well, you're in luck because I've got just the thing for you: 'Dollar Store Basing'! In this guide, we're going to show you how to transform those cheap plastic bone decorations into super versatile scatter terrain that'll make your gaming table look like a boneyard or a barren wasteland. How cool is that?

Now, here's the deal. We're going to walk you through the whole process, step by step, so you can follow along and create your own awesome terrain. First things first, we'll start by disassembling those plastic bones and picking out the best ones for your project. Then, if necessary, we'll show you how to cut and reassemble them to get the perfect look.

But wait, there's more! We're going to take things up a notch by using premium vinyl tiles for the base. Trust me, this is going to give your terrain that extra touch of awesomeness. Think of it like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae – it just takes it to a whole new level!

So, are you ready to unleash your creativity and bring your projects to life with 'Dollar Store Basing'? I know I am! Let's dive right in and get crafting. Your tabletop adventures will never be the same again!

Key Takeaways

  • Cheap plastic bone decorations from a dollar store are used to create versatile scatter terrain resembling a boneyard or wasteland.
  • Tin snips are used to cut and assemble the plastic bones, and they can be glued together if needed.
  • Premium vinyl tiles with adhesive backing are used as the basing material, providing a quick-drying and moisture-resistant surface.
  • Weathering techniques such as setting the bones on fire and melting the plastic edges can be used to achieve an organic worn appearance.

Materials and Preparation

To begin your dollar store basing project, gather the necessary materials and prepare them accordingly. Sourcing materials from a local dollar store is an affordable and innovative approach. Start by disassembling and selecting the plastic bones based on their visual appeal. Use tin snips to cut and reassemble the bones if needed.

For the basing material, opt for premium vinyl tiles with adhesive backing. These tiles are thicker, quick-drying, and can be easily cut using a knife. Sand down the edges for more organic shapes. Plan the placement of the bones by drawing an outline on the vinyl tile.

To achieve an organic wear and tear effect, set the bones on fire with caution. Create a textured surface by spreading joint compound on each base and use wet brushing to remove any scrape patterns. Secure loose bones into the compound and add texture with various grits of gravel. Sprinkle baking soda on top for a fine sand effect.

Clean the plastic bits before applying a base coat of white spray paint. Use craft paints in browns, sepia, and dark colors to create an aged yellowing look on the bones. Finish by dry brushing to highlight details and give the bones an aged appearance.

With these step-by-step processes, you can transform dollar store materials into innovative and visually appealing terrain for your projects.

Weathering Techniques

To weather the bones and add an authentic worn look, you can utilize various techniques in the process of dollar store basing.

One technique that can be used is creating melted plastic effects. By carefully setting the plastic bones on fire, you can achieve melted and deformed edges, giving the bones a weathered appearance. However, safety precautions should be taken during this process. It's important to open a window, run a fan, or wear a respirator to ensure proper ventilation. Having a jug of water nearby is also recommended in case of accidental fires.

Additionally, setting the plastic bones on fire can also add free weathering and darken the edges, enhancing the overall look of the terrain.

Creating the Base Texture

Spread joint compound across each base to create a textured surface. This technique is commonly used in terrain building to add depth and realism to your project. Here are four innovative ways to enhance your base texture:

  • Using joint compound for texture: Joint compound is a versatile material that can be applied in various ways to achieve different textures. Experiment with different application techniques, such as stippling, dragging, or swirling, to create unique effects.
  • Adding gravel for realism: Incorporating gravel into your base texture can add a touch of realism to your terrain. Choose gravel of various sizes and colors to mimic the natural appearance of rocks and debris. Secure the gravel by embedding it into the joint compound while it's still wet.
  • Layering different textures: To create a more dynamic base texture, consider layering different materials such as sand, small twigs, or even crushed leaves. This layering technique adds visual interest and makes your terrain look more authentic.
  • Experimenting with color: Don't be afraid to experiment with color when creating your base texture. Consider adding pigments or acrylic paints to the joint compound to create a weathered or aged look. This can add depth and character to your terrain.

Painting and Finishing Techniques

After completing the base texture, it's time to move on to painting and adding the finishing touches to your terrain. The color choices and highlighting techniques you use can greatly enhance the overall look of your project. To help you make informed decisions, here is a table showcasing different color choices and their effects on the terrain:

Color ChoiceEffect
Earth TonesCreates a natural and realistic appearance, blending well with the boneyard theme.
MetallicsAdds a touch of futuristic flair, perfect for a wasteland or sci-fi setting.
Weathered GrayEmphasizes the aged and worn-out look of the bones, giving them an authentic feel.

When it comes to highlighting techniques, dry brushing is highly recommended. This technique involves using a small amount of paint on a dry brush and lightly brushing it over the raised areas of the terrain. It creates highlights and brings out the texture and details of the bones. Experiment with different shades to achieve the desired effect.

Final Touches and Inspiration

Get creative with your final touches, adding unique elements to inspire and enhance your dollar store basing terrain. Here are some innovative ideas to consider:

  • Repurposed Containers: Think outside the box and use empty containers from the dollar store as additional terrain features. Cut them up, paint them, and incorporate them into your boneyard/wasteland theme.
  • Natural Elements: Incorporate found objects from nature, such as small rocks, twigs, or dried leaves, to add a touch of realism to your terrain. These organic elements can bring a sense of authenticity to your scene.
  • Rusted Metal Accents: Scour thrift stores or your own junk drawer for old metal objects, like keys, screws, or bottle caps. Rust them up with paint or fake rust techniques, and strategically place them throughout your terrain to create an aged and weathered look.
  • Faux Foliage: Use dollar store craft materials like artificial plants or moss to add pops of color and visual interest to your terrain. Glue them to strategic spots, such as around the base of the bones or on top of the containers, to create a more vibrant and dynamic scene.

Can Dollar Store Basics be Used for Stripping Miniatures?

Yes, dollar store basics can definitely be used for stripping miniatures for painting. Items like isopropyl alcohol, acetone, and nail polish remover can effectively remove paint without breaking the bank. Just be sure to use them in a well-ventilated area and follow proper safety precautions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Other Materials Be Used Instead of Plastic Bones for the Terrain Build?

Yes, alternative materials for terrain build are possible. Explore creative basing techniques like using natural elements (twigs, rocks) or repurposing household items (bottle caps, foam). Experimentation can lead to innovative results for your project.

Can the Vinyl Tiles Be Painted or Stained Before Using Them as the Basing Material?

Yes, the vinyl tiles can be painted or stained before using them as the basing material. This allows for customization and the ability to create unique textures and colors for your terrain.

Are There Any Alternative Methods for Achieving the Worn and Weathered Look on the Bones, Besides Setting Them on Fire?

There are alternative techniques for weathering bones without using fire. Consider using paint washes, dry brushing, or applying weathering powders. For adding texture to bases, try using cork, sand, or even small rocks for a more realistic effect.

Is It Necessary to Apply a Primer Before Using the Joint Compound on the Base?

Applying a primer before using joint compound on the base is not necessary. The joint compound can adhere well to most surfaces without a primer. However, using a primer can improve the overall durability and longevity of the terrain.

Are There Any Additional Ways to Add Texture to the Base Besides Using Gravel and Baking Soda?

To add more texture to your base, besides using gravel and baking soda, consider alternative texture options and creative base embellishments. Experiment with materials like sand, small rocks, moss, or even tiny twigs for a unique and visually appealing terrain.


In conclusion, 'Dollar Store Basing' provides an affordable and creative solution for enhancing tabletop gaming and diorama projects. By utilizing cheap plastic bone decorations and premium vinyl tiles, crafters can transform these materials into versatile scatter terrain that resembles a boneyard or wasteland.

With step-by-step instructions for disassembly, selection, cutting, and reassembling, along with weathering, painting, and finishing techniques, this article offers a comprehensive guide to unleashing your creativity and bringing your gaming or diorama projects to life.

Get ready to elevate your projects with 'Dollar Store Basing'!

Similar Posts