Tag Archives: Terrain

Working With Photo Fleece Part 1 – Mats

I often get these three questions when running games:

  1. Where did you get your mat?
  2. Where did you get your roads?
  3. 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!
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A Low Countries Canal Build

Ever since Too Fat Lardies released their Blitzkrieg 1940 Handbook for Chain of Command I’ve been working mostly on Early War projects. I had wanted to do something with this Sarissa canal bridge and after seeing how the owner of my FLGS built his canal for a Battle of Mons game I decided to adopt some of his techniques and build my own.

I don’t have the inclination, nor the room, to make dedicated terrain boards so like everything else the canal was going to have to be modular and easy to store. As my gaming mats are 60″ wide I decided to make 5 sections, each 12″ x 12″.

I used panels of Ampersand hardboard and airbrushed several colors of green for the water and then applied three coats of Minwax acrylic gloss varnish using a foam brush. For the canal walls I used Pine Ranch Casing that I picked up at Lowes. This was cut into 12″ lengths (except for the bridge section) and airbrushed with some brown. For the walls I used some brick texture paper that was given to me by a friend. It was cut into strips and affixed with carpenter’s glue. This was finished off with a wash of Vallejo Sepia and some Secret Weapon Algae where it met the water. The completed walls were then glued to the panels with carpenter’s glue.

Next I assembled the bridge and added some fine sand on the surface of the ramps. This was then primed and painted, and I added more brick paper on the horizontal surfaces. Before cutting the canal wall pieces I placed and marked out where the bridge would go. Then I cut the short pieces of casing and finished them the same way as the others. I didn’t get any pictures of it, but the bottom “base” of the bridge had a connecting piece to make it a one piece affair and help align the ramps when opening and closing it. I had taken a leap of faith and removed it while finishing the bridge, hoping that I could align the pieces well enough when I affixed them. I attached the bridge to the canal board using carpenter’s glue and set it aside to dry. Spoiler alert – it worked.

To finish off the bridge piece, I fashioned some connecting wall pieces using card stock and the ever versatile brick paper. These were affixed to the board, and then the remaining space was filled with air-dry clay. Once this has set, I added more fine sand and painted it to kinda-sorta blend it in with the ramps. Then I flocked the edges making foot paths on both sides. I may add some detail parts in the future, and I do have some boats to finish, but for now it’s functional.


The Duvel Brewery

“I look for ideas at conventions and on the web, then I steal them.” – Me

Back in 2013 I reviewed a 28mm Crescent Root Studios warehouse. It’s a great piece, but it hasn’t been in heavy rotation in my games. I think the driving factor was it didn’t have a purpose. It was just this big set of buildings without a theme in the context of my other terrain.

Thanks to Richard of Too Fat Lardies I found inspiration to resurrect the warehouse and turn it into something I will use more often. A few years ago Richard started posting a series on his blog about building a brewery. This, combined with the release of the 1940 Handbook for Chain of Command and an idea I had for running a game at Cold Wars, made me think that converting my warehouse into a brewery may be a good idea.

I could have just made a sign and strewn a few barrels about, but I wanted to take the opportunity to do a few minor upgrades otherwise I feared it would just sit around gathering dust again. I applied the same techniques to all the buildings, and have used the outbuilding/shed as an example.

I started by touching up the building walls by painting over some obvious tabs and then giving them a wash of Vallejo Sepia to bring out some detail.

I then turned my attention to the doors. I painted the hinges and pulls, gave them a wash and then some dry brushing.

Lastly, I focused on the roofs. The detail on these was a little soft, and they had tabs that were showing through so I decided to reshingle them. I purchased some self adhesive laser cut paper S-Scale shingles from Rail Scale Models. These were placed directly on the existing roof pieces. I then gave them a wash and dry brushed them with multiple colors.

Once the buildings were done, I decided to copy Richard’s work a bit and add a smoke stack. I bought an HO stack from Walthers and covered it – somewhat poorly – with some textured brick paper a friend had given me. It was then given a wash and some light dry brushing. I then added an O-Scale ladder to cover up my awful vertical seams. It isn’t the best match for the other brickwork, but it’s good enough for me.

Next I applied the same techniques I used on the buildings to the walls and platforms by touching up some exposed tabs and giving them a wash. I then made the decision to make a permanent base. In the past I thought that I may use the platforms and/or walls in other settings, but that never happened. I had a piece of tempered hardboard that was the right size, and to this I attached a piece of JTT grass matt to act as a moisture barrier and a base for the flocking.

I layed out the walls and platforms, then once satisfied secured them with carpenter’s glue. After this had dried I applied the flock and tufts I wanted.

To add some final detail I wanted to add an illuminated sign. I had a 3V gooseneck lamp in my electronic gadgets box, so I wired it up with a switch. I then printed out a sign, affixed it to a thin MDF base and overpainted it. I simply attached it with poster putty so if I want to change theaters or whatnot I can.

Overall I’m pleased with the outcome and feel that this will get the playtime that it always deserved. I’m also happy that, apart from the large base, that it still breaks down for easy storage. As with anything of mine I imagine it will evolve over time. I have more barrels to add, and am already on the lookout for a hand cart.


June Workbench Roundup

Another month of “I’ll just work on whatever”. Results follow.

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Girder Bridge – Warbases

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Giant Crocodile – Unknown

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Hard Suit – Lead Bones

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Exotic Idol w/tea light – Reaper

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Headless Hessian – Gorgon Studios

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Terror Bird – Iron Wind Metals

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Aztec Seer – Dragon Bait Miniatures

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Windmill – 4Ground

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Sd.Kfz. 222 – Blitzkrieg Miniatures

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Lebowski Crew – Impact! Miniatures

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German Flamethrower – Warlord, German Sniper – Artizan, German Flamethrower – Warlord

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Household Staff – Artizan

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Sister Maria – Reaper

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Werewolf – Otherworld Miniatures

 


May Workbench Roundup

With no looming GM deadline until July, I decided to work on whatever struck my fancy this month. Here’s my scatterbrained results.

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A Warlord Panhard 178 to replace my existing one from Army Group North. The AGN one has an integrated base that I was never quite pleased with.

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A Jump Off Point, Force Morale Trackers and Patrol Markers for my Early War French.

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Some plastic canoes from a child’s play set for my FIW Sharp Practice games at Historicon.

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An Abomination from the old Carnevale line.

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A scratch-built Woodland Indian smoking rack, again for my Historicon games.

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Generic hedge gate from Warbases.

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I think the small dinosaur is either from Iron Wind or Reaper and the Owlbear is from Otherworld.

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Late war German Panzerschreck team from Warlord.

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Some late war German NCOs from Victory Force and Warlord.

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An early war MG34 team from Warlord.

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Medusa from Otherworld, a Celtic Druid from Gorgon Studios and a zombie-thingy from maybe Reaper(?).

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Artizan pulp Russians.

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A murder of crows from Reaper – my first piece for Legends of the High Seas.


French Harbor Town – Part IX

So finally I finished up the impetus for this project – the Brigade Games U Boat.

Being a gaming piece first and foremost I wanted it to be easy to store and transport, so decided to not go overboard (see what I did there) with the detail. I made the decision early on to leave it as a three piece affair and to magnetize as many pieces as possible.

The kit came with a single 20mm, the 8.8cm deck gun, two periscopes, an UZO pedestal and the posts for the railing at the aft of the conning tower. Surprisingly missing were the iconic (to me) horseshoe shaped life rings. I was able to find some 1/48th scale ones on Shapeways along with a more detailed UZO and a circular range finder.

Assembly of the guns was pretty straight forward, and I magnetized the bases of these along with the periscopes and the UZO. I then used some solder to create the aft railing. I affixed the life rings but decided to leave off the RF antenna. It was housed in a box and I didn’t want to sacrifice any more real estate in the conning tower as I wanted to cram some based figures in there.

After that it was a matter of firing up the airbrush and giving it a coat of paint. The markings are hand painted and are my interpretation of the U-201 coat of arms and snowmen.

Additionally I scabbed together a couple of gangplanks from basswood strips. The rubber dinghy is from Bandai and the supplies are from the scrap box.

Finally I’ll put the finishing touches on the figures for the orders of battle and gin up a few play aids.


French Harbor Town – Part VIII

We finally had a short break in the weather, so I was able to fire up the airbrush and finish the Opel Blitz and the sea wall. The truck is from Rubicon and built straight from the box.

I created the sea wall by 3D printing the stone cap pieces which I then affixed to lengths of 90 degree angled styrene. I then created the wall by cutting sections of G-scale corrugated sheet and gluing them to the angled pieces. The backside of the plastic sheeting had the shape I wanted for the wall corrugations. The dock cleats are an O-scale model railroading product. I may circle back and airbrush the stonework a bit more if I have enough time.

Up next I’ll start working on the U Boat.


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