- 03/04/2018 at 02:37 #87884
My first experiment with printed fabric hex mats arrived and I’m so impressed with how it came out that I thought I’d share the technique in case anyone else is interested. The basics are pretty simple… high resolution image, hex grid, and a banner printing service that will print on fabric.
This particular mat is a 3×4′ with 1.5″ hexes.
One of the lighter parts:
One of the darker parts:
A close-up that shows the texture of the fabric:
The hexes were the challenging part. Not wanting to draw them out myself – by hand, or in software – I threw together a Python script that outputs SVG grids with any dimension, hex size, and resolution I might need. It’ll go up on GitHub for others to use once I write up some documentation. Once I had the grid generator, it was an evening’s work to stitch the aerial photos together, tweak the brightness, contrast, and color balance, and export an image for the printer.
Two tips for anyone else heading down this path:
- Choose a printing service that puts the specs you need (file format, max file size, print resolution) front and center. It makes life a lot easier.
- Go for an image with a fairly uniform luminance. The light and dark halves of this map made it difficult to find a hex color that works well for both.
Hope you found that useful!03/04/2018 at 04:31 #87887Norm SParticipant
Very nicely done and a good way to bring technology and services together. The last time I made my own hex mat, I made a single cardboard hex template and by hand started in one corner of the board, drawing around the template with a green felt pen and spread out from there. By the time I reached the half-way point nothing was lined up and I had to start forcing the shape to fit by doing some free-hand work – not pretty and probably more time consuming than your professional approach.
I assume you can just output your final effort as bitmap, jpeg or even PDF and one of these services would be able to work with that?03/04/2018 at 08:24 #87892Dave CroweParticipant
It looks great!
You’ve got the know how and the skills. Good to see such a professional result. My own bed sheet/hand drawn/thing is… Shall we say… Idiosyncratic.03/04/2018 at 10:06 #87906RuarighParticipant03/04/2018 at 13:20 #87925
Thanks for the kind words!
The last time I made my own hex mat, I made a single cardboard hex template and by hand started in one corner of the board, drawing around the template with a green felt pen and spread out from there. By the time I reached the half-way point nothing was lined up and I had to start forcing the shape to fit by doing some free-hand work – not pretty and probably more time consuming than your professional approach.
I did a large space mat for Tacship with felt, craft paint, and a multi-hex template made from a plastic report cover. The alignment came out alright, but it took a solid 12 hours of taping, painting, and cleaning the template. I put on a few games with it and everyone had a great time, but the end result was disappointing for the amount of work involved. I still have the ambition to paint and hex a piece of cheap canvas from the local home center someday.
I assume you can just output your final effort as bitmap, jpeg or even PDF and one of these services would be able to work with that?
Yup. I bring the aerial photos into a raster editor (ex: Pixelmator / Photoshop / GIMP) where I stitch them together and make any color & contrast adjustments. That get saved off as a full-res TIFF, for future use, then I crop down to the portion I want and resize for the final dimensions x the print resolution. Then I import the map background into an SVG editor (ex: Graphic / Illustrator / Inkscape), drop the hex grid in as a separate layer, and fiddle with the color, stroke weight, and transparency until it looks right. The end result could have just about any format. All of the printers I looked at accept JPEG, PNG, and TIFF. I went with JPG because they also tend to have limits on the size of the file you can upload.
Where did you get it printed?
I had this one printed at Banner Buzz. Shipping was cheap, they print on fabric, the file specs are readily available, and they don’t automatically add grommets or any other hanging hardware. The total came to $35 for a 3×4′, which seemed very reasonable.03/04/2018 at 14:05 #87927RuarighParticipant
Cool, thanks. I’ll check them out. Am considering whether to print and mount my naval mat myself or whether to by a cloth/pvc mat with it printed on.21/05/2018 at 00:43 #90798
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