Home Forums Terrain and Scenery HELP REQUEST: Desert Wargame Board

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • #20576
    Avatar photoBrigadier General

    Ok, I want a permanent desert wargames board. My first desert board was a temporary and simple 2’x2′ hardboard with a mix of flocking which you would add terrain features as you choose.  While I like that I have always admired the look of boards with permanent features affixed to the board. I set about to create such but am not happy with the look thus far.  Here is what I have done.

    I bought a foam project board with a cardstock surface on top and bottom from Hobby Lobby.

    I then cut out a crescent shaped oasis and marked off a road. In retrospect I made the road way too big for my 1/600 forces that will use the board.

    I then started adding flock, which was a mix of construction sand, hobby craft colored sand and home-crafted colored sawdust.

    After drying overnight I discover the board has warped. However I pressed on and started painting the road and oasis while adding some permanent features like the scrubs and cardboard rock outcrops.

    The warp can be seen in this picture.

    Now I have stopped working on it and am tempted to throw it out and start over. So I was hoping some of you might share what you’ve done for your own desert style boards. My current thoughts are to acquire a new board. Paint it vice using glue and then sprinkle some areas with a mix of flock but not covering the entire surface, thoughts?

    formerly known as "wargamer1972"

    Avatar photoBrigadier General

    As a fol-up thought if I paint the board vice water/glue do you think it will still warp or curve up?

    formerly known as "wargamer1972"

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    Paper or card based products will always warp I reckon.
    Even my 3/4″ thick wooden board has warped.

    You could always try my canvas board as seen HERE, very cheap easy and light and no warpage.

    Failing that, how about painting the underside with a PVA solution and see if that warps it back the other way?

    However, unless the board is going to be used next to other boards, does it actually matter?
    I think that the whole board has an appeal as it is not flat, much like the actual world.

    Avatar photoFredd Bloggs

    If… If I was building a desert board as you describe, I would start with a coating of thin plaster and PVA mix brushed over it, this just kills the flatness, add into the ‘gloop’ some light sand/beige artists acrylic (you can buy cheap tubes of it) so it is then painted on and you have a rough coloured surface, then I would grit it but only on some areas. Use a paint splatter type design and then have ungritted board between them. One of the advantages of this look is the ungritted bits look like paths and dry watercourses etc with any additional work. To delinate a road I would find a larger piece of grit or small stones and just place them to mark the left edge of the road, spaced out so they don’t become a continuous wall, so they act like marker posts.


    Material wise it needs to be quite firm to prevent warping etc. I would look at Angel Barracks thread here on using pre-made artists canvas’s.

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    Other than the warping and the width of the road, are there other things about the board you’re not happy with?

    Regarding the warping, try painting glue over the opposite side of the board. That often works. That said, foamcore is generally a far-from-perfect material for wargame boards. It may be lightweight and easy to carve, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to warp unless you reinforce the underside with something more rigid (and even that might warp it, if you’re attaching the reinforcing material with PVA).

    I’d also suggest that you keep things modular where you can, unless it’s very important for you to achieve as “seamless” a look as possible. The oasis and road have to be integral if you want them to be sunken into the board for that realistic look (although if you’re ambitious enough, you can cut out a slot and do separate insets that allow you to swap out the oasis for clear ground or another terrain feature), and if you want a seamless, continuous landscape of undulating hills, valleys, canyons, wadis, scrubby slopes, etc then that’s probably best to make integral as well. But there’s something to be said for having those discrete outcrops and bits of scrub be separate pieces. Another thought along those lines is to make a big, separate hill or other raised terrain feature that will entirely cover the oasis, for more variation. But if absolute seamlessness is a priority to you, disregard this paragraph 

    Is the oasis finished or do you mean to fill it with a water effect resin or something along those lines? And the road, is that finished?

    Regarding the sand, I can’t quite tell without a close-up shot, but you might have wanted to paint the board a sandy colour before adding the sand. Personally I overpaint all my terrain (I leave nothing in its natural colour, not even sand), but that’s just a personal preference based on my general “philosophy” for painting and terrain-building. We all have our own philosophies in this regard.

    I also get the impression that you used quite a coarse, gravelly sand. Maybe, for 1/600, you might want a finer-grain sand and use gravel more sparingly, perhaps in patches to make areas of rougher ground?

    These are all just friendly suggestions and I claim no expertise in the field of terrain-building. I just like to experiment a lot with terrain-building techniques and materials, and have arrived at my own conclusions for I personally like best.

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    Oh, and I would second Fredd’s suggestion of texturing most of the surface with a mix of PVA, plaster and paint, especially for a microscale board where grainy sand can look out-of-scale. While it’s still wet, try dabbing it with a balled-up sponge to get rid of brushmarks and achieve a more natural texture.

    Say, Fredd, how does a mix of PVA and plaster work out for you? I like experimenting with materials but haven’t tried anything to do with plaster yet. I do want to find some way of giving PVA glue more substance and “fill”. I find that a mix of PVA and wall filler tends to crack as it dries, and that a mix of PVA and powdered papier-maché is unruly to work with (although it has its uses).

    Avatar photoNorm S

    Foam board does warp. You will get warp from anything that shrinks as it dries out – PVA glue does shrink back.

    You can get some of these non-shrink filler pastes, which may if thinly spread help on a heavier board.

    Some people paint both sides of their board as a first stage in an effort to reduce warp.

    Even a thick board can sometimes need screwing onto a frame to stop it warping

    Would it be worth you buying a 2″ thick insulation board – you could also carve into that.

    Environmental changes can also introduce warp – so fig you build the board in the house over a few days and then store it in the garage, you may get post storage warp.

    Avatar photoFredd Bloggs

    I use a premixed tetrion filler, that I then water down until it is a cream like consistency, then squirt in bond pva (used for sealing walls etc), mix add in paint, thin a little more as needed and then paint it on sloppily, also useful is an artists trowel or a butter knife for smoothing and texturing. If there are any cracks I just daub some more of the mix on. If you make it up in a tub/jar with a good sealing lid it will keep for a week or more once mixed.


    Avatar photokyoteblue

    I plan to use blue or pink foam and build it up to make the terrain features.

    Avatar photoMr. Average

    I’ll make a radical suggestion. Keep the board. Just pack the sides with verticals cut to the contour of the now warped top surface, and paint them flat black. Allow the whole thing to have a gentle “rolling” appearance, like a real desert landform would have, and tell everyone you did it on purpose. It’ll look like a perspective battle map from an Osprey book.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.