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Terrain mats


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Nothing to see here. Yet. Just some ramblings as I get ready to try this out. I'm typing this up to organise my thoughts and if anybody out there has experience with this I'd love to hear about it. I've bought myself a 9'x12' canvas drop cloth and want to make up several 3-4'x3-4' terrain mats for skirmish games like Frostgrave. Plan is for one mostly water/swamp, one dry, sandy steppe/desert and one city pavement. Others may follow if I like how these turn out.


I've been reading many, many tutorials on making boards and mats. I have a good idea of what I want each to look like but not so good an idea as how to accomplish it. One method I've seen is mixing caulking with paint and covering the canvas. Looks cool but not sure if I'd need the caulking. I've also seen just painted mats. I have enough canvas to experiment but have been waffling about what colour of paint to buy. Was thinking one small pail of interior paint would easily do all 3 mats as a starting point if I pick something suitable. Leaning towards a dark brown with a greyish tint. Paint it a bit with blues and greens add some green flock and dark sand for swamp. Add light sand and brownish/green flock drybrush up lighter shades for steppe. Medium sand with greys and tans for the city (possibly dungeon floor?).


@Rob Dean and @Chris Palmer, I see you guys have different mats. Were they DIY or bought? Rob's last photos in the gameroom thread are very much what I'd like to try for the steppe/desert mat. Something not totally sand that my existing hills and such wouldn't look too out of place on.The GA mat in Chris' photo is similar but different shade to what I was thinking for a swamp mat. Trying to run that fine line between different themes while still keeping almost everything usable on all the mats. Should I even be bothering with trying to sand/flock it and just go paints? Simple is always good but sometimes my brain wants me to go for the extra effort and effect. 

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My GA mat is a lucky fabric find in Joanns.  It is a tie-dye fabric that I use straight off the shelf:




Likewise, I have a Mars cloth that was a lucky clearance fabric find at Joanns, used as found:




My Frostgrave cloth was white felt (From Joanns again) I sprayed with some grey primer, and a little grey blue Tamiya camo spray paint.  I then gave it a cobblestone pattern by cutting up a silicone hot pad and using it like a stamper.



And I also have larger Mars cloth that is felt ordered from an online fabric store , that was sprayed with a variety of red-brown primer, browns, tans and yellows..



I also have a GA water cloth that was some fleece I found at Joanns, on sale; and used as found.



So, basically what I'm saying is I don't have much experience in game mat manufacturing.  All of mine came from a fabric store and are used as is or with a little spray paint applied.


I think Rob's is purchased as a specifically manufactured gaming mat, but I'll see if I can get him to swing by here and off his thoughts..



Edited by Chris Palmer
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I've got lots of canvas just don't feel like wasting paint so I haven't jumped in yet. Plus I'll probably want to do it out at the farm where it doesn't matter how much of a mess I make in the basement. Still having furnace troubles there and it gets kinda chilly with the -20 to -30 C weather we've been having. Soon I'm hoping.

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Thanks, hosercanadian. I've been wondering if I really need to do the caulk or not. I was thinking of starting with interior house paint and sand for texture on a 2x2' chunk. If it didn't turn out then I could go buy some caulking for the next attempt. Some of the tutorials I've read mixed caulk, paint and sand. Some just painted the cloth and others everything in between. My farm is 90% sand so no worries on that part other than I only have a couple margarine tubs saved right now. The rest is frozen and under a lot of snow.

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So, last night turned out to be busier than I was expecting.  The first partial answer is that the mat shown under the most recent picture in the Gameroom thread is a commercial fleece product from Cigar Box Battles.  I like their mats for convenience and relatively good resistance to holding creases, so they are nice for conventions where you might need to throw something on the table quickly.


At home, I have usually used felt with spray paint:




I have felts in 6x10 and 5x6 sizes in brown and green.




Here's an old picture of second son William helping out with a green cloth used for the 40mm fortress game.


I experimented some with flock on felt back in the '90s.  It worked ok, but required special handling to keep from setting creases and shedding flock inconveniently around the house:




More to follow...

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