How to Create a...Ruined Stone Monolith

Materials Needed: Chunk of Styrofoam, Pocketknife, Pencil, Green Flock, PVA Glue, Paint & Brushes

ruined stone monolith
» The final ruined stone monolith on a cardboard base covered with green flock and rock debris.

A partially toppled stone monolith with ancient carvings on its front.

This is one of my favorite pieces, perhaps because of the use of Mayan symbols on the front of the monolith. I really didn't know what I was getting into when I decided to try carving styrofoam to take the form of this monolith, but I really enjoy the end result.

Sadly, I did not take pictures during the process of creating the stone monolith. =( Hopefully my descriptions and pictures of the final product can serve as a good enough guide.

ruined stone monolith
» A back view of the final ruined stone monolith.

First, I had to decide on the building material that I would use. One possibility was florist foam. I had never painted any terrain using this material before, and I was unsure if it would provide a realistic stone texture after being painted. My other alternative was styrofoam, and although it can be a mess to cut, I decided to give it a shot.

I began with a small, rectangular piece of styrofoam, about 5" x 1.5" x 1.5". I wanted to have part of a stone statue broken off and lying on the ground next to the main piece of monolith. This can represent either a second monolith that is missing most of it's body, or perhaps it simply fell off the top of the main monolith.

I first broke the styrofoam into two pieces with my hands, creating a larger piece (75% of the original size) and a smaller piece (25%). This worked well as it created a realistic broken stone look on the tops of both pieces. I also wanted one monolith slightly tilted indicating a state of decay and lack of upkeep. With a pocketknife I shaved away bits of styrofoam from one side of the bottom of the large piece until it was visibly tilted when I put it on a cardboard base.

Now the monolith is beginning to take shape. Next up, I wanted to simulate that blocks of stone placed on top of one another to create this monolith. At even intervals, I carved a line into the styrofoam, separating the piece into three distinct stone blocks. The smaller piece of styrofoam was small enough that I did not have to split it into separate blocks of stone.

Now came the fun part: carving in symbols on the monolith. These can be any symbols that you wish, and can appear on the front of the monolith or even on all sides. I decided to go with Mayan symbols for sun, night, earth, and fish. To carve them into the styrofoam, I used a dull pencil point and went over the carved area multiple times. It doesn't have to be perfect. After all, any carving into stone would have its own imperfections as well.

Finally, it's time to paint. Unfortunately, I did not have any stone grey paint on hand. Being a bit impatient, I decided to go ahead and try to paint it using chainmail colored paint.

After a coating of chainmail, I filled in the carvings using black paint, and drybrushed brown over the stone to simulate the many layers of dirt that would cover any statue left in the wilderness for years.

Last, I brushed on a thin and uneven layer of watered down PVA glue (aka Elmer's). A mixture of about 4-5 parts water and 1 part glue works well. I sprinkled on green flock and rock debris (aka talus or scree) to look like moss and other overgrowth that began to cover the stone.