I often get these three questions when running games:
- Where did you get your mat?
- Where did you get your roads?
- How do you keep your quads so ripped?
In this post I’ll be addressing the first question of how and where I source my gaming mats.
Many years ago a friend of mine had a glorious mat for Check Your 6. It was an aerial photograph of some Pacific islands with a hex overlay, and it was printed on fleece. I always though this was very clever, and when I started to work on my own terrain I thought I would try this method. Here’s a step-by-step.
- Find something to print. Personally I browse Wargames Vault but there are other sites, like RPG Now, that have the same files. I have printed full size mats using graphics from WargamePrint, Heroic Maps, Tiny Worlds and Dave Graffam Models.
- Decide what size mat you are going to print. I use Walmart Photo for my prints, and currently they have two fleece blanket sizes; 50″x60″ and 60″x80″. For the remainder of this tutorial I’ll be using a 60″x80″ print as the example.
- Prepare your file for upload. As I am a Mac snob, my examples are from Affinity Photo but the techniques apply to any photo editor.
- Convert the color format to RGB (8 bit). I understand that, in general, it’s better to print in CMYK color space but file size becomes an issue with these. This example tiff was reduced from 335 MB to 228 MB by switching to RGB.
- This image from WargamePrint has a border around it that I didn’t want on the final product, so I cropped it.
- Next you’re going to want to resize the image to 60″x80″. It’s important to do this before uploading it for printing. I made the mistake once of allowing the website to resize the image and the edges came out very blurry. I alter the ratio and resize these to 60″x80″, however it would also work to resize it to 60″x90″ and then crop it again. I’ve always used bilinear as the resample method without issue, however your results may vary.
- Lastly you need to export the image as a jpeg for upload. I have no idea what the size limits are for uploading files at Walmart Photo. Put it this way, the FAQ on the site still references Netscape. I’ve just done this through trial and error. I know that this image works at 9000×12000 pixels. Again, your results may vary.
- That’s it. I think the process of uploading the file and ordering a print is pretty self-explanatory. Just be sure to use the Full Photo Fleece blankets, NOT the plush. Good luck!