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Martian Themed Boards

by Salvatore

Martian pyramidSalvatore has a bit of a thing about Mars. Which is good for us, because he has made some Martian game boards and themed terrain. I have collected all of Salvatore's Martian items together into one project.

Why 'Martian' terrain? I have always been a space exploration enthusiast (I was born in the same year as the first manned lunar mission) (Sadly I wasn't - Gary). Mars is a planet shrouded in mystery. Richard Hoagland's "The Monuments of Mars" has been a great source of inspiration for this project. If you haven't read it yet, please do so! It is a fascinating discussion of the enigmatic structures of Mars. These structures are not geologic anomalies and seem to be the result of 'intelligent' design. Check out the Enterprise Mission website for some mind-blowing satellite photos of Mars!

Martian Terrain Boards

I wanted to reproduce the blasted, jagged terrain of Mars with these terrain boards. The key elements are texture followed by color in order of importance.


  1. Two 2'x8';x1" sheets of pink insulation board (trade name='Foamular')

  2. lightly colored latex paint (that's emulsion to Brits)

  3. 1 gallon PVA glue

  4. rough sand

  5. very wide and stiff brush

  6. 3 cans of 'ruddy brown primer' spray paint by Krylon (I suggest you try car spray primers, such as lead oxide aerosol, if you can't get this brand - Gary)

I chose foam insulation board for its light weight. Caution-this stuff WILL warp if left in the sun! I found that out the hard way. The foam is usually sold in 2'x8' sheets, and as one would imagine, it is not easy to transport in your car. The solution is to cut the boards right there in the parking lot! After measuring carefully and using a large carpenter's square, I cut them down to four 2'x4' panels, making them easy to store in the backseat.

Some of the best terrain is constructed with leftovers and junk. These terrain boards are no exception. I put leftover cans of latex house paint to good use and concocted an improvised texture medium by mixing together equal parts of latex paint, PVA glue, and sand.

Liberally spread an even coat of this goop with a 4" stiff brush.

Lay the boards flat to dry. Drying time is at least 48 hours, perhaps longer if there's a lot of humidity in the air. Once dry, coat the opposite sides and edges of the panels with a 50/50 mixture of PVA and latex paint. This seals the boards against stray blasts of spray paint (You'll get an unwelcome surprise if spray paint touches the bare foam!). Drying time may take another 48 hours.

Once dry, spray the roughened surface with two coats of Krylon 'ruddy brown primer'. It has just the right balance of red and brown for

Martian terrain. Next, drybrush the panels with rust red lightened with yellow. Build up several layers of increasingly lighter shades. I plan to use the opposite sides of the panels for jungle terrain, my next BIG project! (Arrg...lock up your socks...Gary)


martian pyramidWhat would a Martian terrain project be without pyramids?

Several four-sided and five-sided pyramids can be seen in NASA satellite photos in a region of Mars called Cydonia.


  1. corrugated cardboard

  2. heavy-duty postal paper tape

  3. 1/2" thick rigid white foam board (not the beaded kind)

  4. PVA glue

  5. thick craft glue

  6. joint compound

  7. medium ballast

  8. cat litter

  9. old 1" brush

This pyramid is made with four 8" cardboard triangles joined together with postal tape. Cut a 10" square out of the white foam board (edges rounded off with a knife) and coat both sides with watered down PVA to seal it. Mount the pyramid onto the dry base with thick craft glue. Use an old brush to texture the pyramid with joint compound (make sure the tape is covered). Texture the base around the pyramid with what I call 'Martian Ground Texture': medium ballast, cat litter, PVA, and water. Once dry, spray the whole thing flat black. Drybrush with rust red lightened with yellow.

Artifact ES712

Artifact ES712'ES712' stands for 'Enigmatic Structure #712'. The Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars is unable to discern the purpose of this strange artifact.

It is impervious to drilling tools and gives off a powerful psychic aura. In actuality, it is made from the cardboard/cellulose form that my cellular phone came in! I didn't have to alter the shape one bit. I simply glued it to a carboard base, applied Martian Ground Texture, gave it a blast of flat black spray, and drybrushed it with rust red and yellow.

Fusion Reactor

Fusion ReactorInspired by the carbon-60 molecule 'buckminsterfullerene'. Although a C60 molecule would be a soccer ball (pentagons + hexagons), this structure is made with twelve 2" pentagons.


  1. corrugated cardboard

  2. thin, smooth card

  3. heavy-duty postal paper tape

  4. drinking straws

  5. one popper stud

  6. one tank bit for an access panel above the doorway

  7. PVA glue

  8. Testor's 'magnesium' metallic lacquer spray


Top portion: Using a protractor, make a template for a pentagon with 2" sides out of thick card (plasticard works best for template making). Each inside angle should be 72 degrees. Trace 12 pentagons onto corrugated cardboard and cut them out with a sharp knife. Join the pentagons together with heavy postal tape. The angle of the pentagons will automatically give you the spherical shape. Trace 12 more pentagons onto thin card. Cut them out and glue on top of each pentagon to hide the tape. This also gives the structure a more angular appearance.

Bottom portion: Make a trapezoidal template with 4" verical sides and horizontal sides 2" and 4" respectively. Trace and cut 5 trapezoids out of corrugated cardboard. Join them with heavy postal tape and mount onto a 5" pentagonal base for structural stability. This forms a five sided, flat-topped pyramid. Trace and cut 5 more trapezoids out of thin card. Glue these onto each side to hide the tape. Glue one 4" drinking straw to each corner. Glue the 12 sided polyhedron onto the pyramid. The doorway is made with thin card triangles and a popper stud. You may use whatever bit you have for the access panel. I happened to have an extra Imperial tank plate. For the finishing touch, I sprayed it with Testor's magnesium laquer. Testor's makes a brilliant series of metallic lacquers. Check them out!

Martian Hill

Martian hillThis is a stacked hill made from three pieces of 1" rigid white foam (not beaded). I shaped them with an electric foam cutter. I added no texture to the hills, but instead allowed the flat black spray paint to eat away at the foam for a pitted look. Drybrush rust red and yellow.

Pyramid & Crater

Pyramid & Crater

The pyramid was made the same way as my 8" pyramid, except this one is 4". The base is 1/2" white foam board (not beaded) with the edges rouneded off and a 2" crater cut into it. Glue the pyramid onto the base, apply Martian Ground Texture, spray flat black and drybrush with rust red and yellow.

Martian Rocks

Rocks Mars has countless boulder plains. These are real stones glued onto a cardboard base. Martian Ground Texture was added around the base of the stones. Spray flat back and drybrush rust red and yellow.

Rocky Hideaway

Rocky hideawayA great ambush spot for my scouts!


  1. scraps of 1" thick insulation foam

  2. cardboard

  3. Bondex 'popcorn' ceiling tile patch compound

  4. PVA glue

  5. 'ruddy brown primer' by Krylon

I simply glued and stacked some scraps of 1" insulation foam board onto a cardboard base. I applied an interesting compound called popcorn ceiling patch by Bondex. It is like joint compound with pearlite added to it. After it dried, I noticed that this compound is not too sturdy. Therefore, I coated it with a protective layer of watered down PVA. I sprayed the whole thing with and undercoat of 'ruddy brown primer', and drybrushed with rust red and yellow.

Storage Shed

Storage shedI am planning to make some Martian pieces with a colonization theme.


  1. thick card

  2. 1/2" rigid foam board (not beaded)

  3. small capacitors from a junked stereo

To make this shed, refer to my Top Tip for making 'curved structures'. It is a laminate of four 3.5" x 6" rectangular pieces of thick card and PVA. Spray the shed flat white and washed it with a dirty mixture of rust red and brown. To prepare the base after cutting it to the desired shape, seal it with watered down PVA on both sides. Allowing the base to dry sufficiently, apply Martian Ground Texture minus the cat litter on one side. Spray the base flat black and drybrush rust red and yellow. Glue the shed to the base and add all sorts of colorful bits that look like storage containers. In this case, a handful of painted capacitors did the trick.

Water processor

Water processorIn my never ending crusade for terrain pieces that utilize golf balls (see my Psychic Permutator), I came up with this water processor used by the Martian colonists.


  1. four golf balls

  2. tin can

  3. one rubber hose gasket

  4. rubber sprue from the hose gasket package

  5. household adhesive

  6. Testor's 'magnesium' metallic lacquer spray


Glue the golf balls to the tin can with strong adhesive (like epoxy). Use super glue to affix the rubber hose gasket and rubber sprue to the can. Spray with Testor's magnesium lacquer. A very easy and cheap piece of terrain to make!

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