Miniature Mushroom Tutorial

Spend any time around ToadChapel and you know I’m plum crazy about the fungus. I like the way mushrooms look and I like learning about them, so I photograph them, I draw them, and I use them extensively in my miniature projects. I’ve developed techniques for creating a variety of mushroom shapes suitable for 28mm, 54mm, or larger scale mini scenes, and I’m happy to share my approach with you. Depending upon how you paint these, you could produce many actual mushroom species and an unlimited number of fictional fungi.

These mushrooms are sturdy and small enough to use on gaming bases, especially if you place them intelligently, but they’re delicate enough to add a lot of dazzling detail to display pieces. Read on to learn how to work some minuscule mushrooms into your next modeling project.

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Mushroom Forest

I think I’ve finished up the setting for my next mini creation. It’s a forest scene packed with all sorts of mushrooms. There’s a figure still to come, but I wanted this piece to stand without one.

There were plenty of challenges. Leaves that can’t effectively be bent, rolled, or twisted. Various media fighting each other. Frustratingly slow drying times!

There’s plenty I’d like to improve or change, but I’m very happy overall. The turkeytails and lichens are the best I’ve done. The effect of the leaves in the water looks cool. And the logs are real good to my eye. So yeah, a nice little piece of modeling, I think.

Read on for a tour of the various mushrooms and other woodsy stuff!

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Forest Diorama First Look

I pointed out in a few recent posts that I often draw the same natural objects. I should have mentioned that I model them, too! Here is a sneak peek at a project I’ve been engaged in for a little while. I intend for it to serve several purposes.

Forest Floor
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Last One to Arrive

Ok, I’ve added a ninth and final figure to my Roman tavern/street diorama. There is pretty much no more space to add another mini, at least not in a way that would supplement the scene rather than detract from it.

This fellow is peering around the main character’s shoulder, lending emphasis to that figure’s gaze & shout. I’m not sure if he’s a patron of the bar, the landlord, or what, but I knew he belonged back in there. He’s a well fed guy, so I gave him a nice palla to wear to further emphasize his affluence.

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Another Shopper in Rome

I’ve successfully added to my diorama again, this time adding a lower class woman out shopping for food. I needed another, more typical Roman woman to complement the senator’s ostentatious wife, so this one is wearing a simple undied wool tunic while she visits the market.

She’s removing her hood to see what all the fuss is about behind her. In her basket she carries a small loaf of bread, a sausage, and an apple. I’m planning to add another item, maybe a pomegranate or a quince, which has fallen onto the street.

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Chicken Little er… Little Chickens

Sorry for the dad jokes. If the shoe fits!

Here’s today’s mini added to the Roman diorama. This figure is a slave cook carrying two chickens from the market. Unlike the other figures, who are engaged in one way or another with the hubbub in front of the popina, this fellow is going about his business as planned.

I knew the scene wouldn’t be complete without a slave, a member of an often forgotten class of essential workers who enabled the vast Roman society & economy to function. We must keep in mind the institution of slavery whenever we are tempted to glorify Roman ‘greatness’. While a fundamentally different practice than modern slavery, servitudo was nevertheless a vicious and dehumanizing state of affairs.

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Tiny Tavern

Here are the beginnings of a little tavern or popina somewhere in the Roman Empire.

A small diorama model of an ancient Roman tavern. The scene is in 28mm scale.

The tile inside the shop, the plaster wall facing the street, and the sidewalk and cobblestone roadway are carved & textured out of styrofoam. The roof is layered corrugated paper. There’s a little wood & plastic card for structure. Everything is held in place with wood glue and super glue. The building surface is 4″x4″. Everything is to 28mm scale.

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