We started playing around the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and were for the larger part of the time limited to playing online for two reasons: the pandemic and scheduling around adult life while not living in the same area. The latter means we will only be playing at most half our sessions in real life, but that doesn’t lessen my strive to make an immersive game when we do meet in the flesh for a game session. To this end, I recently got into making terrain pieces and generic base plates for the combat encounters in the game. So far, I have printed and painted ruin walls, trees, mountain pieces and a few gates. Nothing too fancy, but enough to add the third dimension to an otherwise two-dimensional battlefield. To give two-dimensional map a bit more depth, I created a textured, gridded base plate. Below I explain how I made it.
Lets start with the end result. It is 15 mm thick plywood sheet of 40 x 50 cm, that has been coated with colored sand and flock to create a grassy/woodlands texture to play on.
If you want to make one yourself, you can follow these steps. The order of operations is important!
- Apply the primer to the plywood. Unless you want to add an intermediate painting step for the grid color, the color of the primer will determine the color of the grid lines.
- Use 1 mm wide masking tape to create a grid. Press down on the tape, to prevent it from curling or bulging in the next steps. Leave some length free past the edges for easier removal later.
- Apply PVA / wood glue and spread it with a roller for an even coat of glue.
- Remove the tape! It is important that you do this while the glue is still wet. Believe me, I’ve tried to do it at the end and it is impossible to do when the glue has dried.
- Pour on the sand. Press it down a gently and then shake off the excess. Repeat if necessary to get a decent covering.
- Allow the glue to dry. Depending on the glue mix, this will take a few hours. The drying time is typically listed on the bottle.
- You now have a sand covered plate with a nice bright grid on it. You can leave it at this. If you want to add a layer of moss/grass to this as well start applying PVA glue on top of the sand. Try to stay within the lines as much as possible.
- Distribute the flock, press down on it a bit and shake off the excess. Repeat until all the squares are covered.
- Allow the glue to dry again.
When done, you will have something that looks like this.
The flock will come off easily. To prevent that, you can either apply thinned down PVA glue, a specific sealer or multiple coats of clear varnish (I applied 8 coats).
Have fun playing!