Cade Fall Design

Cave Tutorial

Cade Fall Design


I started Cade Fall Design, in 2013, as a means of bringing together my close friends and colleagues to work on motion picture industry projects. The project where we came to know and love Hot Wire Foam Factory was a children’s puppet show. That particular show is quite special to me because it was essentially the show that inspired me to create Cade Fall Design and bring all these artists together.

“Cozy Cave” is actually one of the coolest parts of that puppet show.


Create your own cave


Cave set and props
Cave rocks and textures


It is comprised of 4 major, separate pieces made out of foam that we got from Imperial Paper Co. We used the Industrial Hot Knife with the 4” straight blade to cut each layer similar to the layers on a topographic map.


Industrial Hot knife
Create your own cave set design


There are two 8 foot long, 4 foot tall side walls, one 8’x4′ back wall and a facade that we attached and detached to the front of the cave as needed. The reason we did this is to allow us to shoot into the cave (or “down the barrel” so to speak)…


Cave set design


…but then if we wanted to follow characters into the cave, we could swing the 2 walls open and attach them side-by-side to make one long 16′ foot cave wall.


foam cave and rock face


In order to do this, the 2 opposite sides of the cave have to match perfectly. Here’s the part where HWFF tools became CRITICAL. In the very last stages of the sculpting, we put the 2 pieces side by side and used the Industrial Hot Knife Kit and Sled Guide with one of the many shapeable blades that are included and ran the Sled Guide along the length of the two interiors, creating a rocky erosion pattern that would easily trick the eye into thinking it was one long cave.


Industrial hot knife with router


After we had our rough layer cake cave, we used a drywall rasp to knock down the steps made by the layers. This leaves you with a rough and granular surface, but also gives you your basic soft supple curvatures. This also turns your workspace into a snowy winter wonderland, and yes, we always wore 3M respirators with P100 cartridges.


After the rough sand, I bounced back and forth between 3 different techniques; The knife/sled/curved blade technique (Industrial Hot Knife with Sled guide and shapeable blade), the claw hammer broken ruble technique and the hot knife/straight blade “crack cutting technique” (Industrial Hot Knife with 4” detachable straight blade).

DIY cave set design

The stalactites were essentially the same three techniques applied to the topographic stack of 1″ foam. I used Industrial Hot Knife and shapeable blades free-handed,  without the Sled Guide, and sculpted around the foam similar to how you’d sculpt pottery on a spinning wheel.


*TIP: When you’re cutting out your top layers, stack 2 layers and let the tip of the blade scribe a line on the next layer. This acts as a guideline, then when you cut THAT layer, offset your cut 1-2″ on either side of the line. That way there’s harmony in your curves.

DIY Cave set design


After all the carving and sanding was done, we applied six layers of latex paint, then finished it off with a matte interior paint, shot on with a Wagner paint sprayer.


DIY Set design

*TIP: Spray water on your paint while its still wet for added texture and natural erosion look.


Personal advice from the artist:

No matter what your project or medium, all works of art go through the same growth cycle as people.

They start as darling babies, cute but underdeveloped. Then they become obnoxious children with no manners at all, but you see potential. THEN they become very awkward adolescents and you have no idea what to do with them.

This is where most artists give up. My advice is “Push On”.

That awkward phase, where it looks wrong and feels wrong, is the phase where the piece takes on its true character. Its where the piece tends to undergo the most drastic changes. Its where you, yourself, discover what you’re actually doing. You gotta push through that phase.

That and, go camping at Jalama beach during the week, not on the weekends.