Home Forums Terrain and Scenery DIY Desert battle mat

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  • #119238
    Avatar photobruce ross
    Participant

    Was thinking of going the canvas drop cloth, colored grout + fine sand and acrylic caulk route to make a mat for some 42-43 north africa gaming.

    Anyone here try this before and if so, any advice or tips?

    Thanks

    #119239
    Avatar photoMr. Average
    Participant

    I’ve had poor results actually adding textures to cloth, like sand and so forth, as it tends to flake off (or has when I did it).  However, you can get some interesting mottled color effects with powdered dyes like RIT dusted over the surface while the cloth is wet, then make the textured areas as “scatter terrain” on bases of various sizes.

    #119242
    Avatar photoRhoderic
    Member

    Was thinking of going the canvas drop cloth, colored grout + fine sand and acrylic caulk route to make a mat for some 42-43 north africa gaming. Anyone here try this before and if so, any advice or tips?

    I’ve not done quite that, but I did make a desert mat from craft store felt and acrylic caulk (without grout or sand) once. I dabbed the caulk with a dry sponge to texture it like sand.

    Masking the felt texture took twice as much caulk as I expected, which cancelled out much of my reason for wanting to make the mat in the first place (making a desert terrain set-up on a low budget). I could have been stingy and left some of the felt texture showing through, but the resulting “plant material” look to the ground would have been counter to my idea of a desert. Might have been halfway-decent for savanna/steppe/scrublands, but then again I’m not crazy about the texture of felt for any kind of tabletop gaming surface.

    I also found that the caulk dried so fast that it left me precious little time to texture it with the sponge, especially as I had to keep wiping caulk off the sponge every minute. Should maybe have used a bigger sponge, or something. Trying to retard the drying with a water spray bottle made the caulk less amenable to texturing.

    I ended up ruining the mat not long after I’d made it. Acrylic caulk has a way of sticking and bonding to itself, even after it has dried and been painted over with acrylic paints. In my defense I wasn’t entirely oblivious of this, and always made sure to roll the mat in such a way that no two parts of the upper surface touched. But in a hurried situation I packed the rolled mat away in such a way that it got squished, leaving a terrible pattern of irreparable, evenly spaced creases in the caulk, with unpainted caulk showing through.

    So in the end, not a successful project. I might still try my hand at felt-and-caulk roads at some point, but now I have no illusions about the drawbacks of it.

    I can’t say how much of this is relevant to making a mat with canvas instead of felt, and with grout and sand mixed with the caulk. All I can say is that acrylic caulk as a modelling material does come with some fundamental pitfalls.

    #119333
    Avatar photojeffers
    Participant

    This won’t help you at all, but I’ve happily used an old cotton blanket for desert games since at least 1974! And I’ve seen Colin Rumford use a tie-dyed sheet…

    However, slightly less messy what about a painted cloth decorating sheet (heavier than a bed sheet)? Use a thin emulsion for the base colour and spray with various shades of grey, sand, brown etc for effect. Works for ‘temperate climates’.

    More nonsense on my blog: http://battle77.blogspot.com/

    #119378
    Avatar photobruce ross
    Participant

    I think I’m skipping the whole DIY route.

    Found a site, warsigil.com, who sells some very nice textured mats. Kind of pricey, but it’s about twice as much as it would be if I made my own, and I just don’t want the hassle of a DIY project.

    Probably start with a tan piece of cloth and save up for the mat.

     

    Thanks for the comments

    #119423
    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    Might be the best way to go.  Honestly, I wouldn’t make my own mat unless it was for something that is not available.  For instance I recently bought a new mottled green mat for my Vietnam gaming (hasn’t arrived yet) but I am working on a purple and grey mat for some sci-fi gaming on an alien planet.  No one makes what I am looking for in the sci-fi game, so DIY it is!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #120011
    Avatar photoGillies Sim
    Participant

    I saw this http://spudnick080.blogspot.com/2016/09/desert-mat-tutorial-and-thoughts.html which I think is a rather splendid DIY version of a desert mat, and somewhat more interesting than just the flat sands! I realise you are going the purchase route but incase you change your mind!

    https://nottherivercottage.blogspot.com/

    #120019
    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    THAT was a great tutorial, I hadn’t thought of using teddy fur as the basis of a desert map.  That’s brilliant!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #120052
    Avatar photo6mmwargaming
    Participant

    Wow that desert teddy bear mat is amazing.

    My 6mm Wargaming site https://6mm.wargaming.info

    #120063
    Avatar photoGillies Sim
    Participant

    yeah it’s one of those that makes me want to try emulate it. Because it is so damn pretty!

    https://nottherivercottage.blogspot.com/

    #120065
    Avatar photoMike
    Keymaster

    Blimey. That is nice.

    #120066
    Avatar photoSteve Johnson
    Participant

    That is excellent!

    #120070
    Avatar photowillz
    Participant

    Was thinking of going the canvas drop cloth, colored grout + fine sand and acrylic caulk route to make a mat for some 42-43 north africa gaming. Anyone here try this before and if so, any advice or tips? Thanks

    I saw a step by step guide on a blog a few years ago of how to make what you require, sadly I can’t remember the blog.  I will try and hunt it down what I do remember is that when using caulk over a large area the sides need to be held in place, stops warping.

     

    Willz.

    #120071
    Avatar photowillz
    Participant
    #120072
    Avatar photowillz
    Participant
    #120085
    Avatar photoDeleted User
    Member

    Thanks Gillies and Willz, now the difficult thing is deciding which method to use.

    #120101
    Avatar photoShahbahraz
    Participant

    Fantastic looking results there. The teddy bear fur one is especially fantastic. I must try this out.

    --An occasional wargames blog: http://aleadodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/ --

    #120139
    Avatar photoMartinR
    Participant

    If you want a textured cloth, a large piece of felt in a suitable base colour then broken up with spray paint works fine. The felt has a rough texture (also handy for getting terrain items to stick to it) and the paint splotches make it look more natural, although mine bear a suspicious resemblance to DPM.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #120167
    Avatar photoThaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    For some time now, I have been wanting to experiment with teddy bear fur for 3mm miniatures, but I have been stymied, for obvious reasons.

    The excellence of that desert map tutorial got me thinking again, however, and I have come up with this technique:

    What do you all think? I am kinda chuffed! I’ll do a tutorial, if there is interest.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #120170
    Avatar photobruce ross
    Participant

    That teddy bear map is brilliance, however, there was no mention on that link saying if it could be rolled up and stored. I doubt it could be which would be a no-go for me.

    I’m not a builder. Painting mini’s is about all I have in me. Terrain making is time consuming and messy.

    Warsigil maps look to be exactly what I want AND you can roll them up.

    Appreciate all the suggestions

    #120194
    Avatar photoDeleted User
    Member

    The last paragraph does say he did fold and roll the mats.

    #122174
    Avatar photoMustPlayThat
    Participant

    I only read the first few posts, so my answer is, I visited a sofa upholstery shop, well I say shop it may be just for companies, but they had rolls & rolls of sofa material, and you can just paint on it with acrylic paints. You can get all colours green sand snow etc.. it all has a matt plyable surface , its better than rubber as is flops and bends well.

    #122180
    Avatar photoRhoderic
    Member

    I only read the first few posts, so my answer is, I visited a sofa upholstery shop, well I say shop it may be just for companies, but they had rolls & rolls of sofa material, and you can just paint on it with acrylic paints. You can get all colours green sand snow etc.. it all has a matt plyable surface , its better than rubber as is flops and bends well.

    What kind of texture does it have?

    #122181
    Avatar photoMustPlayThat
    Participant

    a lot of them are like thin PVC, but you can get quite a few different sorts , even thin leather,

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