Home Forums Terrain and Scenery DIY Gameboard for micro and pico scales

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  • #120215

    As many people know, for several years now, I have been following the holy grail of a terrain system for 3-6mm miniatures that is:

    1) Portable;

    2) Durable;

    3) Flexible;

    4) Good looking.

    There have been many attempts, documented on my blog here: https://leadnobleed.blogspot.com/search/label/Terrain

    To make a LONG story short, I started with artists pastels over cloth, moved on to constructed modules of various sorts, flocked yoga mats, a home-made flocked drop cloth, painted MDF plaques and, most recently, magnetized painted MDF plaques.

    All of these have had their day and been discarded. Finally, due to the recent DIY desert terrain map, however, many different threads have come together in an epiphany.

    I think I have finally found the holy grail.

    It is simply this: distressed and pastel-colored felt, glued to thick yoga mat backing, framed in a cheap blackboard. The first one is 65×45 cm, which makes it the equivalent of an 8 by 6 foot table for Black Powder battles using 3mm figures. The front of the mat is based green, the back will be desert sci-fi red/yellow/brown.

    Here are the first pictures of the project, underway…

    Centimeter thick PVA yoga matting cut to fit the back side frame of a 75cm x 55cm blackboard.

    One by 1.6 meter of green felt. This is soaked and washed, twice, in a metric fuckton of bleach, until it gets to be this color (with logs of subtle stains and bleached out areas, which aren’t very visible in this shot), and somewhat distressed:

    Various artists’ pastels are rubbed into the surface and smoothed in with a sponge, distressing the felt even more. I then pass my electric clippers over the felt, clipping off most of the raised bits:

    I then let it dry and mounted back into the blackboard. After it was dry, I applied another coat of artists’ pastels. The result is below. This will dry, be clipped again, and then sprayed with scotch guard. More updates as the process continues…

     

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

    #120216

    Here it is after it has been dry and shaven. Next step: do the backside as dry-desert terrain.

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

    #120221
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    Looks good.

    #120225
    Thuseld
    Participant

    That looks good. I am always looking for cheap methods to move away from flat green.

    #120226

    Here is what it looks like with some figures and terrain on it:

     

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

    #120237
    Shaun Travers
    Participant

    That is very impressive!

    #120245
    Thomaston
    Participant

    This look good. I wish this was available in my cloth phase. I used watered down acrylic paint to stain my cloth and it was messy.

    I’m curious, why the yoga mat?

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #120248

    Well, the best looking terrain I have done so far has involved pinning stuff into place. Remember: this is all 3mm, so it is very light. I have loads of trees, bushes and other bits mounted on tacks and pins to hold roads, forests and fields in place. 10mm of yoga mat gives them more than enough backing to stick into.

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

    #120252
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    That has really turned out well.  I really like the variety of and suitableness of the color variation.  Being able to pin things down is a complete bonus.  I’ve been experimenting with a new way to do my 3mm Vietnam gaming which also involves pinning terrain down, but on a valley with mountains made of blue poly-iso.  If i could stack and trim yoga mats into hills this would probably be a better and more durable solution.  Wonder if you could cut rivers and the lie into it?

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

    #120260

    Yes, you can. I have done exactly that. You need lots of sharp blades and patience, however, because PVA is much tougher than foam. However, because of that toughness, it holds pins very well and also is pretty much self-healing.

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

    #120521

    So, next step: I paint the back of the blackboard dark brown and lay some molding strips along the side.

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

    #120522
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    Ok.

    #120530

    …and here it is with the mat fitted. I have sprayed Scotch Guard and dull varnish over the mat to keep the pastels from rubbing off.

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

    #120544
    Thomaston
    Participant

    I went ahead and tried using the foam mat. I like it, what I like most about it is it wouldn’t get damaged if I dropped it. I’ve tried carving ditches in it but it was tough, I might need to invest in a hot wire tool.
    Thanks for the tutorial Thad.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #120567

    Carving ditches is a bitch with this material. There are two ways around it that I have figured out:

    1) Use wood carving tools. Sharps ones.

    2) Cover the mat in felt or another thick material. That way, you smooth out all the gouges.

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

    #120606

    So, the back side of the mat was covered in pale green felt, then given the pastels treatment. This is the result:

     

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

    #120635

    Next step:

    I apply a thick black permanent marker around the green mat edges. (Paint is not viable here as it would rub off easily when the mat is fitted into the frame.

    I trim the fluff off the desert side of the map and use a tiny, sharp scissors (a nose hair clippers, actually) to trim off any overhanging felt..

    Scotch Guard and then dull varnish are sprayed over the desert side.

    Things I have learned not to do again:

    Do NOT use a mid green felt for the lush side of the map: use light green or yellow for both sides. This eliminates the need to bleach out the felt and lowers the nappy effect. The nappy effect is kinda cool, but you can get a much more controlled effect using a paint brush and just stippling the felt where you want it to be nappier.

    The light colored felts take pastels just fine and a light green or yellow will give you a great base to work with. Also, for picoscale (and arguably microscale), the felt gives enough terrain texture, as is, without distracting the eye from the minis.

    If I am applying spray varnish, I am unsure if I need Scotch Guard. Scotch Guard doesn’t seem to be enough to keep the color from rubbing off and if I am going to varnish it anyway, I don’t NEED Scotch Guard.

    Another way to do this would be to follow Mark Luther’s method and get a nice piece of light canvas, maybe light green, and just PEG it to the mat with pins. This would allow one to use pastels for each new terrain set up, as Mark does, and wash the cloth between games.

    I have chosen not to do this here because this is going to be a portable board I take down to my friendly local ganes pub to corrupt the kiddies with miniatures wargaming. 😀 I thus want the terrain lay out process to be quick, easy, and flexible and I want “wedding cake”-style hills so that there is no doubt in newbies’ minds as to who is on a hill and who isn’t.

     

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

    #120638

    Very interesting. How do you define the difference between micro and pico? With 3d printing becoming so prevalent I’m beginning to think this might be an option.

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    #120641

    To me, 1mm -4mm would be picoscale while 5mm-8mm would be microscale. Forward March Studio’s yer boy if you are looking at black powder, 3D printed picoscale. I prefer 3mm O8, now that it is available, but I would have gone with Forward March Studio’s stuff in a shot, had it been available five years ago. As is, I will certainly use it for buildings as soon as outsourced 3D printing become reliable and cheap in Brazil.

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

    #120650

    So, here’s the finished board, front and back. You can see some of the hills I am doing on the green side: these are stressed and colored felt over artists’ board, glued to 5mm thick cork. Wedding cake style, but that’s OK: this is meant to be a beginning players’ board, anyhow.

    If I get tired of the stressed felt look on the green side, I can always overlay it with colored light green felt.

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

    #120656

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

    #120660
    Just Jack
    Participant

    That looks fantastic. I’m particularly taken with the desert side, great effect.

    V/R,

    Jack

    #120671

    Yeah, I’m not sure the distressed felt option is the best. I thought it would give the board more texture, but it probably doesn’t need it.

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

    #120682
    Steve Johnson
    Participant

    The desert board looks really, really good.

    #120697
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    I might need to invest in a hot wire tool.

    Maybe use a dremel tool with the router bit and stand?

    I’ll echo the above about the desert side, just looks fantastic!

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

    #120704
    Nathaniel Weber
    Participant

    Very inspiring! I recently took an old cork bulletin board and did something similar, though not as well executed. Love that desert surface especially.

     

    #120717

    I am thinking I am going to redo the green side, given that I have everything out already.

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

    #120778

    Thomason, here’s what you can do with an overdrape technique and EVA tiles. Check it out!

    https://sites.google.com/site/napoleonicwargaming/terrain/terrain-posts/wargamematwithmodularrivers

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

    #120779
    Thomaston
    Participant

    Very cool, thanks. That cloth having hex grid solves another of my problem.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #120816

    The nice thing with the frame I made, Thomaston, is that I can also do that style if I make or buy an appropriate drop cloth.

    Here’s the new green side. I think I need to buy a chalky light green (white green) pastel to tone it down just a tad. I also might do some light yellow paint blotches on it. What say you all?

     

     

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

    #120820
    Thomaston
    Participant

    I think yellow ochre might be nice, adds a little brown for some variety, but that’s just me.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #120823

    That, too. I need a “chalkier” yellow ochre, however. The one I have is too bright. To the art supply store!

     

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

    #120875
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    Ya, the ochres would do a lot.  It seems very bright, and doesn’t quite have the excellent subtlety of the desert side.

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

    #120915

    OK, pale green, pale yellow, and ochre pastels added to dull it down a bit.

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

    #121019
    Thomaston
    Participant

    I remember now what these remins me of, A-TACS camo pattern.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

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