Shaper and Maker

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Modelling project: Creating dungeon terrain board

This project started after I got tired of photographs of games taken on an old, almost white D&D miniatures battle map. I looked for vinyl mats first, but it started to look like the ones I was interested in weren't available anymore, and I wasn't perfectly happy about them either, so I decided to create real 3d ones of my own. I wanted to find a really strudy base for the terrains but couldn't find any, making me dig up some hardboard and use it as a base. The result was satisfactory, even if there is a bit distortion. If I would have found light but hard material (that stays straight!) for the base I would have used it instead.

Cutting lines to cardboard

First I took a sheet of 1mm cardboard and started cutting 1" squares into it - actually cutting v-shaped lines after every inch in two directions to form the grid. I've drawn lines with a pen but don't use a ruler when cutting and I'm purposefully avoiding cutting straight lines to make the board look more life-like.

Cutting the sheet in two

Sometimes cuts got too deep; in the middle of the cutting process I decided to glue the board split in two into hardboard pieces so they don't fall completely apart, as you can see they started to do in the pic above. 

But making the boards with a too little sleep made me make a stupid mistake, so the other board is 2" wider than the other. I tried to make them equal size and on the other side, 4" difference would have been enough to make the pieces really different size, but 2" difference is just stupid. But well, it's not the end of the world and I didn't want to use time to do something for it.

Glueing to the hardboard

To avoid distortion, I glued some 10-15cm with an amount of glue I thought will be enough, not a bit more - and put a board and books on the glued part as weights. Once this part had dried, I glued next part and then the next until everything was glued. I don't think any distortion came from this process, but there was unfortunately a bit distortion already in the board.

Base paint: Spray painting

The next phase in painting was using matte grey and black spray paints to create the base color. The bad thing was that the cut lines didn't take much of the paint. I might have gotten better results by painting with non-spray paints, but then again, it might have caused distortion, and these paints formed a protective layer on the cardboard so that the water-based paints wouldn't get sucked in it and cause distortion.

Painting lines with thin ink

The next phase was to fix the issue from spray painting by making washes with think black ink. Just in case, I avoided going through too large areas at once. I had to repeat this for a few times.

Two boards

The washes also created more lively look for the boards. But they were still too monotonic, so I dug out a sponge (see below).

Using sponge to create surface

Using a sponge and various shades of grey I tapped color to the boards bit by bit.

The paints I'm using are mostly miniatures paints, but I also use pigment powders with PVA glue, acrylic paints and possibly some other paints. They work quite well when mixed.

After spraying

...and after several rounds of tapping I started to be happy about the result. When I was finished, I used matte spray to protect the surface.

Gaming terrain in use

Using the tabletop game board for the first time in a D&D game. No more almost-white ground on photos, hooray!

But I didn't stop the process here. I wanted to have two-sided boards I coud use for most situations, so currently I'm creating exterior terrains on the other sides of these boards. I'll make a separate post of these terrains when I get them finished.


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