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"DIY flexible terrain mat finished" Topic

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2,597 hits since 7 Dec 2015
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Stew art Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2015 6:52 p.m. PST

Inspired by the work of others and my own desire to increase the presentation of my own games I decided to make a custom wargame mat using he caulk on canvas method. I also wanted to make a mat big enough to use in large games and also to put hills underneath to make natural appearing rises.
Or, if I ever get around to it, I can make hills out of foam with the same material and then it will all blend in oh so much better. I think the results came out pretty good.

First off, things I wish I did a little different that other rank armatures like myself might find useful:
-I got most of my stuff from woodland scenic, which turns out doesn't have a bright green that matches the army painter stuff, for that you need stuff from Scenic express or something.
-flock, as in course turf and fine turf, covers better than scenic grass. But the two mixed together work pretty well and do a good job.
-I wish I added some bare earth patches
-I should of added the rough / rocky patches BEFORE the flock or in one of those bare spots
-you need to lay down a TON of flock to get it to stick, and I wish I covered it more completely bc it initially came out very patchy. To fix this I sprayed down Scenic Cement and layered on more which worked. It also might have been better to make one mix of flock to cover the whole thing in a base layer and added graduations of color. What I did was put on several different patches of color that also ended up looking very patchy and had to be blended.

The next one will go better. This one turned out to be 5.5 ft x 7.5 feet. it's also not a flexible as I thought it would be. I'm sure there will be no problems rolling it up around a tube, but getting hills underneath it will take some practice and maybe the use of small pins. But as I don't have any foam to put under it anyway, that will have to wait till next time.

Here's a little picture montage of the process.

Clamped down the drop cloth


All the materials.


Caulk, paint, and stuff mixed in for texture. I used coffee and fine ballast.


Using my hands, I spread it on in patches.


Throwing on the flock and static grass


Moving on and more layers…



Final version.







And of course, I couldn't help putting down some terrain. : )









GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2015 8:22 p.m. PST

Wow, that looks great!

Baranovich07 Dec 2015 9:24 p.m. PST

VERY nicely done!

Rodrick Campbell Fezian07 Dec 2015 9:58 p.m. PST

Well done! that looks great.

elsyrsyn08 Dec 2015 9:24 a.m. PST

That turned out really well!


Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2015 11:57 a.m. PST

What are your roads?


tshryock08 Dec 2015 1:50 p.m. PST

Very well done! Can't believe you spread the caulk with your hands. You must still be picking bits off your skin.
I like the natural look. When I made mine, I went with patchwork fields all over, which works great for more modern (1800+) games, but doesn't look as good for games before then. Which of course probably means I will do another one at some point.
My mat is also pretty big (covers a 6x8 table with enough past the edges to handle hills), but getting hills under it can be a pain. I usually end up using my foam hills on top, which don't look nearly as bad on the nice mat! When you put stuff under it, I have to use T-pins to hold the mat in place and keep troops from stretching the hills out or sinking into a valley.
Mine sits on a 1 inch thick piece of foam so I can push pins into it.
Great work on your mat and thanks for sharing.

rampantlion08 Dec 2015 2:48 p.m. PST

I like it, but the hanging tree steals the show. Not sure what that says about me…..

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2015 3:36 p.m. PST

yeah, i always throw that hanging tree out on to every table. : )

thanks for the feedback gents, and some more responses:

Roads are purchased from "Wargamer's Terrain" and I would recommend them.

i wore gloves when i spread out the caulk… : )

Yeah; the mat isn't super flexiable and i wonder if I used a light cloth (versus a canvas drop cloth, maybe some other fabric) it would drape easier, or maybe used less scenic cement when adding flock… i dunno. but it does appear hard to put hills underneath it, but i haven't really tried hard yet, and i think as mentioned, push T pins might be the way to go.

if i can't get it to work i guess i'll make hills, but if i use the same materials at least it will all match. : )

blacksoilbill08 Dec 2015 4:10 p.m. PST

Looks fantastic – nice natural looking variations in colour really make it. Thanks for the reflections on the process too.

Bandolier08 Dec 2015 4:19 p.m. PST

Well done! Looks like a great learning experience as well.

Crucible Orc09 Dec 2015 5:45 a.m. PST

one of the tutorials I've seen online mixed fine sand into the caulk/paint mix to give it a more grainy appearance.

how much of the DAP tubes did you use? I've been wondering what kind of coverage they can achieve.

I intend to do this for a 5'x12' mat. a;ready got a place to get scenic express stuff shipped to Canada more reasonably shipping-wise.

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2015 7:20 a.m. PST

Thanks for the reply re the roads. I have his rivers. Great too.


Stew art Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2015 10:00 a.m. PST

thanks for the more replies…

i hope the 'reflections on the process' will be helpful to the next person, which is really the whole point. i found a lot of useful info online before i tried it out, though really experience trumps all.

for the mat i used about 5 tubes of caulk, and 1 gallon of paint. i had extra caulk but barely any paint left over.
i used coffee and fine ballast because i wanted a contrast in the grains and it's what i had laying around. it looked rough enough. later in when i try again and try a bare patch, i might add more in that area. it doesn't look that grainy because i didn't bother to dry brush the areas not under the grass.

flexibility; the mat definately rolls up, even folds up (though i would worry about creases). in fact i have to roll it up tonight because i got to give up my garage for the weekend. so i'll roll it up and next week unroll it to assess for any damage but i don't expect any. what i more meant to say was that it doesn't drape super well. it does, but it's a little stiff, and i'm going to have to experiment with pins to get the mat to actually drape over elevations placed under it. another way of saying it: imagine a table cloth, that hangs straight down over the edge of the table. This mat that i made won't hang striaght down but billows out. hope that makes sense.

but i still like it. : )

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2017 12:17 p.m. PST

so far, I've made 2 of these mats. I made the one in this thread first and another one as outlined here.

TMP link

anyway, now a year later and I suddenly want to update this thread about the hills. I've had several games now where I have successfully placed blankets and towels under the wargame mat and it makes hills. it doesn't do very small hills as those don't get defined, but hills that are at lest a foot across by 6 or so inches it will do pretty well.

also, placing towels and such under the wargame mat works for small troops like my 15mm ACW (the primary reason for this in the fist place) that don't weigh much. I think for 28mm figures on movement trays would be too heavy and need something more solid under the cloth, like carved foam.

here are some recent pictures of an ACW game that I just did using the same mat that I made above. the hills are more apparent in real life than in the pictures, but you can see the undulating terrain.

mat also spends most of it's time rolled up and when it unrolls it does spend a little time curled at the edges before flattening out.

overall, I am still very happy with this project and it's results.


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