A first timers attempt at a scratch-built Battleboard - Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums
 6Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-01-17, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
Moonschwine's Avatar
Moonschwine's Flag is: United Kingdom
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Near Bath UK
Posts: 682
Reputation: 12
Default A first timers attempt at a scratch-built Battleboard

So recently I undertook one of my New Years resolutions which was to build a Battle Board from MDF and assorted flocks / grasses and things. This Thread serves as a WIP tutorial to do so as well as to give some of my thoughts on the whole process.

Long Story short - building your own gaming board is a rewarding if time consuming thing to do. As a first timer I've probably taken three times the normal time to do this, but realistically if you were to work say a few hours every evening I think the "Average working class person" could put together a suited and booted gaming board in about a week easily.

I'm going to break up this tutorial into a few sections and reserve a few posts. With the intention of having the tutorial complete when my board is.

I'm going to separate the thread into the following sections too:

Initial Design Ideals (In progress)
Materials (Complete)
Step 1: Sealing and Priming (Complete)
Step 2: Flocks vs. Grasses (Complete)
Step 3: Making the Board (Complete)
Step 4: Issues and Lessons Learnt (Complete)
Step 5: Completed Product (Completeg)

Hope you Enjoy!

Inspiring Quote:

"Ambition is the biggest killer of Momentum"

Active Projects:

The Catechized

Starting afresh with my Chaos Space Marines.

Project Log Link (Placeholder) -


Project Rebuild, Reboot, Recycle:

Stripping, rebuilding and remaking my Guard army.

Last edited by Moonschwine; 07-16-17 at 11:50 PM.
Moonschwine is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-02-17, 12:07 AM
Junior Member
 
Spoticus's Avatar
Spoticus's Flag is: USA
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 29
Reputation: 1
Default

Looking forward to it!

"The Master said, (the good man) does not grieve that other people do not recognize his merits. His only anxiety is lest he should fail to recognize theirs." - Confucius - The Analects

Fortress Erioch - my wargaming blog
Spoticus is offline  
post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-02-17, 03:06 AM
Closet Dictator
 
Old Man78's Avatar
Old Man78's Flag is: Ireland
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Sector 7 G
Posts: 3,400
Reputation: 34
Default

I so badly want to build my own gaming table but storage is a problem. I am thinking of getting x2 6x2 picnic tables and just getting some gaming mats to put on top

Old Man78 is offline  
 
post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-17, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
Moonschwine's Avatar
Moonschwine's Flag is: United Kingdom
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Near Bath UK
Posts: 682
Reputation: 12
Default

Materials:

Most my major materials were bought from a local chain of Do-it-yourself retailers. In this case good old B&Q. However I also used a hobby store chain called Hobby Craft and a General Goods chain called B&M. Static grass was bought from Ebay. Frankly I could have bought most of this stuff for cheaper but I wanted to get an idea of how much it was going to cost just "going out and buying it".

Anyway the purchases were as follows:

x2 MDF Board. 18mm Thick, 606mm Wide and 1220mm Length. Approximately x2 2ft by 4ft Piece for you Imperials - £25 total
Cheap decorators brushes pack of 4 - £1.25
PVA Glue 1 Litre tub - £7.23 (You can get this much cheaper from most hobby stores tbh)
x4 Acrylic paints. Black, Green, Brown and Grey - £4.00
Masking Tape - £1.99
Plastic decorators sheets (to place on surface to work on) - £2.99
Squirt Bottle - £1.00
Woodland Scenics Blended Earth Turf - £8.00 (This ended up going on a bit too thin in the end, Ideally I should have recovered more of the flock that came loose, I would recommend getting a second bag of this. Again though you can get flocks very cheaply online).
Various Static Grasses, Sands and Earths - £30.00
x4 Rubber Furniture Feet (Self-Adhesive) - £2.00

Total: £83.46

In the end not bank breaking. Alot of the materials are also reusable meaning future boards are cheaper. I've still got quite alot of glue left, some grass and items like the brushes and squirt bottle are obviously reusable.

Again this is mainly "off the shelf" purchases. I believe with some patience and digging around you can easily get this down to around ~£40 or so. I know for example that you can go to scrap wood merchants for example and pick up quite large sheets of Ply and MDF that are bargain priced due to slight damage / odd shapes. If you have a power saw or a jigsaw at home you could easily cut what you need into shape.

Inspiring Quote:

"Ambition is the biggest killer of Momentum"

Active Projects:

The Catechized

Starting afresh with my Chaos Space Marines.

Project Log Link (Placeholder) -


Project Rebuild, Reboot, Recycle:

Stripping, rebuilding and remaking my Guard army.

Last edited by Moonschwine; 05-03-17 at 11:35 PM.
Moonschwine is offline  
post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-17, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
Moonschwine's Avatar
Moonschwine's Flag is: United Kingdom
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Near Bath UK
Posts: 682
Reputation: 12
Default

Initial Design Ideals (In progress)


I am very lucky in my life to have a talented girlfriend who supports my hobby activities. Initially the Terrain board was a 'Something I wanted to do' however she was the one who motivated me to take on the project for real.

One of her many talents is art and design. As part of a birthday present - which included the purchase of the MDF boards she took down a few initial ideas of how the board could look in concept.

Originally the board was meant for a Warmachine game, so a steampunk / "strap cogs to stuff" was the overall theme.

You can then see my terrible hand drawings of the layout, truly nothing in comparison to her artistry.

<Pic Goes Here>

I do recommend you make some kind of rough sketch for your battleboard. That way you can create a bit more coherency across the board - honestly the temptation to just go wild was overwhelming but I'm glad I stuck to my original ideas.

Inspiring Quote:

"Ambition is the biggest killer of Momentum"

Active Projects:

The Catechized

Starting afresh with my Chaos Space Marines.

Project Log Link (Placeholder) -


Project Rebuild, Reboot, Recycle:

Stripping, rebuilding and remaking my Guard army.

Last edited by Moonschwine; 05-04-17 at 08:39 PM.
Moonschwine is offline  
post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-17, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
Moonschwine's Avatar
Moonschwine's Flag is: United Kingdom
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Near Bath UK
Posts: 682
Reputation: 12
Default

Step 1: Sealing and Priming

With the initial design down the first thing to do was seal the MDF.

If you don't know, MDF is basically mulched up wood-shavings mixed with wax and resin. This gives it a degree of flexibility and firmness but at a reduced weight, and ultimately cost. The drawback to this is that if it gets wet - well basically the board becomes ruined because it warps and in extreme cases disintegrates.

1. The first step was therefore to seal each of the boards. You can get all sorts of fancy wood sealants, but frankly PVA is more than enough for a job like this because the board itself is never going to get wet. For this I applied a reasonably generous coat to all sides and edges of the boards. I did this on both sides of the board too. At this phase you don't want to mix your PVA with water, because that will seep in and become trapped leading to warping. Just apply generously and directly.

2. At some points I got small pooled blobs of PVA on the edges, however this wasn't really an issue as I just picked them off and reapplied a less thick coat where they formed.

3. Once dry I used a 70:30 mix of Black acrylic paint and and water to give one side of each of the boards a solid base coat of black. Due to the cheap nature of the brushes some hairs did break away and become trapped in the end drying product. But frankly this wasn't a problem.

4. It took just shy of an hour in the summer shade for the paint to fully dry; probably much quicker actually but I wanted to make sure.

5. I then used the masking tape to "Map out" the initial design. This included the pathways and 'Town Square' that would receive different textures / grasses / materials

6. Once Complete it was a matter of using a 70:30 mix of acrylic to water to paint out each of the areas in their respective colors. Grassy areas would be green. The paved road would be grey as would the town square. Whilst the other roads received a nice brown color.

7. When complete the boards looked something like this:

Board 1:





Board 2:


Inspiring Quote:

"Ambition is the biggest killer of Momentum"

Active Projects:

The Catechized

Starting afresh with my Chaos Space Marines.

Project Log Link (Placeholder) -


Project Rebuild, Reboot, Recycle:

Stripping, rebuilding and remaking my Guard army.

Last edited by Moonschwine; 05-03-17 at 11:01 PM.
Moonschwine is offline  
post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-17, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
Moonschwine's Avatar
Moonschwine's Flag is: United Kingdom
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Near Bath UK
Posts: 682
Reputation: 12
Default

Step 2: Flocks & Grasses & Earths (In progress)

If your an amateur like me then the words "Flock" and "Static Grass" basically mean one and the same to you.

However as I quickly found out - this can be a rage trigger in the more experienced Terrain builders as the two materials serve a similar purpose but in a significantly different manner.

So if there's anything you take away:

Flock:

1. Flocks come in all degrees of colours and coarseness - giving effects from 'smooth carpet' to 'furry bobbly' effect. They are typically used to mimic the 'Earth' that your static grass will sit upon.

2. For my Base coat I used Woodland Scenics blended earth. This gave a nice smooth carpet effect that blended well with the static grasses I planned to use.

3. Application was pretty simple: Get the PVA and mix it about 80:20 PVA-Water. Then take your Paint Brush and do a new coat on the areas that you want to be flocked. As you can see from the images the areas I skipped were the roads and the Town Square as I'd use an Earth Texture on each of these.

4. This did take some time to dry, about two hours in total and even then areas were still a bit 'soft' to the touch - Ideally I think I should have left it a good hour or so longer, as a lesson I learnt here was that it's best to do both boards one after the other, that way you aren't wasting more hours for each board. In my next build I'm definitely going to make this consideration, but as a first timer it wanted to test methods and application techniques first on a single board.

5. Once the PVA was dry I then lifted up the board by the edges and let the unattached flock collect on my Plastic Dust Sheet. I then recovered that into a jar for use later. Another lesson here is that Slight Breezes are your enemy, and I probably lost a good amount of flock to the wind. However as my Rental agreement is strict as Kharn is angry, so I decided the minor financial loss was probably better than my deposit. I managed to recover most of it though.

Here is the First Board




Here is the Second Board







Static Grass:

1. Static Grasses are those little coloured fibers that, unsurprisingly, mimic the effects of grass.

2. You can really get any colour you want in this thing. Also it comes in different lengths, and you can apply it by hand, by special shakers (why you'd buy this I don't know) or using a special device called a Static Grass applicator that shoots an electrical charge into the fibers, making it stand up on end. These devices range from Home-Made battery and wire devices, to rather expensive branded devices. In the end I opted against this and used the good old "throw it on by hand" method.

3. I used a variety of Static Grasses. These were - Spring Mix, Summer Mix and Autumn Mix. All of these were of 2mm in length and bought off a seller on Ebay. I used this combination as using just one hue (colour) of static grass gives a rather flat effect when applied - in the case of just using green Static Grass, this will give the effect of being a perfectly mowed lawn. Which as my Battleboard is to host a range of games from Warmachine to 40k, I wasn't really wanting that effect.

4. I then started applying a 60:40 mix of PVA-Water using the squirt bottle. What I found here was that the thicker the mixture, the more it tended to come out the bottle as a direct 'line' rather than a spray. In areas where the PVA hadn't fully dried, this would "blast" off some of the flock requiring some delicate reapplication.

5. It took some experimenting until I got the sort of consistency I wanted that wasn't jet washing the flock off. When I did sort it though I began spraying random patterns across areas of the flock and I started with the Autumn Mix of grasses. This was to create areas of "patchy" looking grass.

6. It was then a matter of just adding dirts and grasses till I got the effect I was looking for. An interesting thing I learnt was that blending is very important and use of darker and lighter grasses is key to give a more believable look. Personally for a first time I'm quite happy with the Results. This is the product about 70% of the way through for each board.

Board One:




And Board 2:

Old Man78 likes this.

Inspiring Quote:

"Ambition is the biggest killer of Momentum"

Active Projects:

The Catechized

Starting afresh with my Chaos Space Marines.

Project Log Link (Placeholder) -


Project Rebuild, Reboot, Recycle:

Stripping, rebuilding and remaking my Guard army.

Last edited by Moonschwine; 05-09-17 at 09:47 PM.
Moonschwine is offline  
post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-17, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
Moonschwine's Avatar
Moonschwine's Flag is: United Kingdom
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Near Bath UK
Posts: 682
Reputation: 12
Default

Step 3: Roads and Town Square

With the roads and town square I used four different scatters.

The dirt roads were created using a saw-dust type scatter under the title "Light Brown" with an edging called "Earth Brown". The intended effect was to create a dusty trail with a sort of 'wet' ditch effect. Personally I'm okay but not overly thrilled with the result it's created. The contrasting colours and lack of 'depth' to the terrain means the effect isn't exactly what I wanted but it will suffice. For a future project i'm going to look into making full water-features like ponds that will use texturing to give the board some depth.

A real problem I had was how fine the scatter was, for some reason it took alot longer to dry than other scatters, I think this is because the dust had absorbed the PVA : Water mix and therefore took a bit longer to dry out.

The town square uses two scatters. The first is a mix called "Brown Mix" which has different scatters of blue, white and red mixed in with the brown. It gives a a sort of 'trash effect' when scattered down; like litter has been left. This made a good base as it gives the 'town square' a bit of texture and colour not found across the board. I then used a fine slate to create a paved / stone effect to give the impression that the streets are actually a bit more robust. As you can see from the shots it works well with the cut-out houses for a fantasy hamlet / edge of town.

Finally I smoothed out areas by lightly spraying thin PVA:Glue - about 40:60 mix and using an old paint brush. This helped settle more of the scatter in place.

Board 1:




Board 2:

Town Square and Road Prepping:



Town Square and Road Complete:

Old Man78 likes this.

Inspiring Quote:

"Ambition is the biggest killer of Momentum"

Active Projects:

The Catechized

Starting afresh with my Chaos Space Marines.

Project Log Link (Placeholder) -


Project Rebuild, Reboot, Recycle:

Stripping, rebuilding and remaking my Guard army.

Last edited by Moonschwine; 07-16-17 at 11:48 PM.
Moonschwine is offline  
post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-17, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
Moonschwine's Avatar
Moonschwine's Flag is: United Kingdom
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Near Bath UK
Posts: 682
Reputation: 12
Default

Step 4: Issues and Lessons Learnt


Building this battle board has been a fun and interesting experience for me.

Overall I think the end result is a good 6/10 Board that can be use for a variety of gaming systems. It's robust enough to do what I want, portable enough to get around in the car and generic enough to use for most systems. However I wouldn't be doing any justice to say that there haven't been a few things I would have done differently or a few tricks I'll try for my next design.

Issues:

My first issue has been that both of the MDF boards have suffered some minor warping due to the torsion of the glue drying. This could have been prevented using clamps to fix the board down whilst drying, or using a frame to hold the board in place. This is an effect of the PVA glue drying and becoming taut which causes the board to have raised edges.

An alternative and cheap option would be to have weighed the board down whilst the glue dried. To be totally honest I feel that this will be resolved over time simply at the fact the raised edges wont be able to resist gravity over the years. I plan to speed the process along with a bit of weight too.

The second issue has been materials.

I purchased a range of flocks and scatters from a vendor on ebay. Personally, I feel that although I did get them reasonably cheap for my budget (total build budget was £100), I do feel I could have gotten it all alot cheaper; or at least more for my money bringing the total cost down / allowing other projects to be built. In particular my under flock (Woodland Scenics earth mix) ended up spreading a little thin on the second board, but not because it wasn't enough, but because alot was wasted (see below)

I was also lucky to have a few materials on hand like PVA glue and brushes. Although these won't break the bank for most people, they are extra costs I didn't have to factor in can cause creep. You don't need to spend alot on these, but it's evident that a £4 brush and a £1 pack of 4 brushes do differ considerably - I was for example constantly picking out loose hairs as I applied the PVA to the MDF at the beginning.

The third is wasted material:

I also believe I could have recovered alot of scatter and flock had I been able to work indoors. Sadly I live in rented accommodation and space is tight so I had to work outside. This posed a few problems in and of its own:

1) Drying times were not constant. One section could take hours another a few minutes. I lost some of the paint to air-drying / summer sun. Not a big deal, but there was a sketchy moment when I was running low on green basecoat and it was drying faster than I could apply it.

2) Wind. Even the slightest breezes made applying static grass and flock a chore because it wouldn't land where I wanted it. Some flock would also blow away into the garden - exactly the stuff I could have recovered had I been inside a garage / workshop and working on a proper work bench.

3) Bugs. Yup, I had to save dozens of little flies and bugs that landed on the drying board and got stuck.

Fourth Lesson / Issue - Recovering Flock and Static Grasses

You can recover alot of the materials you use by working on a proper bench and laying down a plastic sheet or news-paper. Sadly I didn't have this benefit and therefore lost alot of grass / flock to the garden / winds of fate. Again it's nothing big, but for those who value value for money it's certainly worth being better prepared than I was.

Inspiring Quote:

"Ambition is the biggest killer of Momentum"

Active Projects:

The Catechized

Starting afresh with my Chaos Space Marines.

Project Log Link (Placeholder) -


Project Rebuild, Reboot, Recycle:

Stripping, rebuilding and remaking my Guard army.

Last edited by Moonschwine; 06-14-17 at 07:38 PM.
Moonschwine is offline  
post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-03-17, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
Moonschwine's Avatar
Moonschwine's Flag is: United Kingdom
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Near Bath UK
Posts: 682
Reputation: 12
Default

Photos of End Product (In progress)

Prior To Correcting last issues:





With terrain and minis:


Old Man78 likes this.

Inspiring Quote:

"Ambition is the biggest killer of Momentum"

Active Projects:

The Catechized

Starting afresh with my Chaos Space Marines.

Project Log Link (Placeholder) -


Project Rebuild, Reboot, Recycle:

Stripping, rebuilding and remaking my Guard army.

Last edited by Moonschwine; 07-16-17 at 11:49 PM.
Moonschwine is offline  
Reply

  Lower Navigation
Go Back   Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums > Hobby > Tutorials > Wargames Terrain and Basing

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome