Friday 26 April 2013

DIY Gelatinous Cube

Finn gets half eaten by "Jelly Cube"
Adventure Time with Finn & Jake
Gelatinous cubes are one of those classic dungeon monsters you need in your DM's arsenal, in fact I'd go so far to say that if you haven't encountered one you need a new DM.

The commercially produced miniatures are on the whole way too expensive but here's a list in case you have no modelling or DIY skills.
  • Otherworld Miniatures - The go to guys for OSR style fantasy miniatures have 3 versions;  DM16a Standard (£15), DM16b Deluxe I and DM16c Deluxe II (£25).  These are very useable and to the usual Otherworld Miniatures sculpt standards, but pricey all the same.
  • D&D Miniatures - The Desert of Desolation series of minis introduced which you can still pick up (if you have deep pockets) on ebay for £40.  One for the serious collector I think.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants - The DIY Roundup

There are basically two ways to tackle this, solid or hollow.  Making your gelatinous cube solid has a number of advantages namely that it will be extremely sturdy durable and you can embed miniatures and other items inside for that partially digested look.  However the cost of resin can be high and it's not a material everyone feels confident using. 

The obvious advantage of the hollow cube is that you can put your PC's miniature inside it and there's a weight saving.  It's a purely personal choice, but here's a quick round-up of the more prominent jelly cube makers out there on the interweb.

Solid DIY Gelatinous Cubes
Hollow DIY Gelatinous Cubes

Make it the Roleplay-Geek Way

You will need:
An old shirt box, ripe for recycling
  • Acetate - I got mine from an old shirt box (I bet you have some old packaging lying around) so was this was essentially free and made me feel good about reusing and recycling.  Most come clear but any colour will do, it just has to be transparent.
  • Hot Melt Glue Gun - I picked mine up from a discount store complete with a couple of packs of sticks for £3, but most DIYers and hobbyists will have one of these already.  If you don't have one of these you can use superglue, but make sure that you add some gluing tabs to your box grid (see Step 1 below).
  • Pen - A Sharpie or other non branded fine permanent marker (like a CD Pen).  Green or Blue are best, but any colour will suffice.
  • Sandpaper - Wet & Dry is best to minimise coarse scratches but essentially any sandpaper will do the finer the better.
  • Ruler - for marking, cutting and folding your acetate.
  • Craft Knife - for cutting your acetate.

  • Sticky Tape - for holding your cube sides together as you glue.
  • 30-60 Minutes of Your Life! - You won't ever get it back but you were only going to waste it watching TV or reading some other persons blog.
Acetate marked out in "Cross Pattern"
Step 1: Get your sheet of acetate and mark out a grid of 2 inch squares (50mm) in the standard folded out cross pattern you learnt in high school geometry class using the pen and ruler.  Like so:

If you want to make a hollow box, cut out a smaller square (approximately 40mm) from one face, usually the end one in the cross pattern. 

If you're using superglue it's a good idea at this stage to leave a thin glue tab around each of the faces as it's really tricky to glue edge to edge without seepage and the inevitable fingers stuck together.

Acetate cut, scored, folded and scuffed
Step 2: Making sure that you have the marked side face up, cut out the acetate cross and score along all the fold lines using the blunt side of the craft knife.  Using the ruler as a straight edge will help you make sharp folds.

box taped and glue up in progress
Step 3: Again, making sure that you have the marked side face up, take your sandpaper and rub along all the inside faces edges to both scuff off the pen lines and to give it a frosted look.

Step 4: Tape each side one at a time and glue the edges together.  The hot melt glue may heat up the plastic and deform your box sides but don't panic at this stage.  Beware, the hot melt glue is exactly that, HOT! and will take a while to cool down, so try to avoid the temptation to touch it as it will burn you, stick to your fingers and go all stringy. 

If you're using superglue instead of hot melt glue try to avoid getting any on your fingers as it's a real pain and you will get finger print marks in the acetate. 

Extra drippy effect applied to outsi
Step 5: When all sides are glued and cooled, strip off the tape and repeat the process on the outside edges.  You can drip hot glue (or PVA) from the top face down each side for that extra... drippy look.

Eh voila, you have a super cheap Gelatinous Cube, or as we say in Sarf East Lahndan, "Jellied Cube for nish, mate!".  You can make your cube's as big or small as you like and in as many colours as you like. Try spicing it up by by glueing miniature swords, shields or bits of that half butchered skeleton you have lying around your bits box, to the inside faces

With a bit of creativity you can use hot melt glue and acetate for all sorts of things like flying stands, Tenser's Floating Disc, magic portals, Walls of Ice, Fire, Force and Fog or any of the Bigby's Hand spells.  Let your imagination and hot glue flow free!.
Finished gelatinous cube happily munching on a GW half-orc


  1. Its awesome that I thought about building one when I was a kid 20 years ago, and now I'm building one for my son!! Even better that this was posted just a month ago. I never knew such creative people (let alone d&d players) were out there!
    Great post and thanks for the ideas.

  2. Once you've finished, how do you get mini figures in and out of the cube? Or did I miss something in the instructions?

    1. Sorry if not entirely clear the bottom face has a 40mm square hole cut out of it so you can easily place it over any minis you want to swallow.