I always found deserts to be fascinating habitats. A cursory look will leave you with the impression that it is hell on earth: sandstorms, unbearable heat during the day and freezing at nighttime. Yet, the desert is not only home to thousands of plant and animal species, it also has a simple beauty to it, dominated by the shapes the wind forms. They are thus a worthy subject for the modeler and can provide an atmospheric backdrop for our games. The exploits of the Crusaders come to mind as well as the cultures inhabiting Northern Africa, for instance the ancient Numidians.
In this first tutorial on arid terrain (more to follow) I will show you how to make a dry desert lake or an oasis that is slowly drying out. Using a similar technique I will also provide you with some ideas how to model a partially dry river bed, with only a small stream of water remaining. Per usual I will talk about the materials needed and provide you with step-by-step instructions how to make a cracked lake or river bed and scratch-built a dead tree to add further interest.