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"Home made gaming cloth??" Topic

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DougEagle Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 11:12 a.m. PST

While I like the looks of the neoprene mats, I find they don't really suit for what I'm after. I've looked at other avenues for a good battlefield look for Napoleonics, WWII and modern, but nothing stands out. Hotz Mats has a nice one, but it's the cost factor for one.
Which got me thinking…

If I got piece of felt for my battlefield, would I be able to use cans of paint to paint the fields on it?

Has anyone tried this before?



Cerdic08 Dec 2018 11:24 a.m. PST

It's been done. Try YouTube for 'how to' videos. I believe rattle cans are the preferred method of applying paint!

DyeHard08 Dec 2018 11:54 a.m. PST

This is a great project:

Here are some links with inspiration and "How-To"

TMP link

TMP link




This last one I am posting is very close to your plan, felt cloth with spray painted fields and variation:

Schogun08 Dec 2018 12:20 p.m. PST

I just made one myself from synthetic felt from JoAnn's. There are 2 kinds -- wool and synthetic. Wool felt is thicker with a coarser, more fibrous texture. Synthetic felt is thinner and less coarse. I chose synthetic because figure bases would stand better on it. Also because there is now dye especially for synthetic felt. I bought a tan color then used brown dye to make it darker. Worked great. Then I used a wide brush to drybrush the mat with craft paint. Again, worked great.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 1:18 p.m. PST

I use a felt color called "Reet's Relish" from National Non Wovens. It comes in 6' widths on bolts as long as 50 yards. Our club buys them in bulk.

It is an olivish green – MUCH nicer than that Christmas green that looks like crap to me. Even better, it is not a solid color, but flecked with darker and lighter spots.

Here it is in action. The mottling is in the fabric, no rattle cans needed:


PJ ONeill08 Dec 2018 1:46 p.m. PST

I use cheap fleece, about $10 USD-12 for a 6x5 ft piece from JoAnn's Fabrics (or any fabric store). There are various designs, but a light green or brown with diluted glue/paint (Elmers) and some flocking over that works well. The fleece drapes better over the hills than felt.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 2:00 p.m. PST

Yeah, with due respect for the expensive custom jobs, you can get a very presentable mat out of craft shop felt and a can or three of spray paint--and if it doesn't blend well with your existing bases, it's your own fault.

Also it's cheap enough to make custom mats to match a particular battlefield at a particular ground scale no big deal. Very handy for "away games"--and painted on roads and rivers are substantially less likely to migrate in the middle of a battle.

epturner Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 2:13 p.m. PST

I bought one called "Pickle Relish" from a fabric store…

Another option would be to get a canvas tarp from Home Depot-ish… and spray or otherwise paint it that way.

My two shillings worth.


Lion in the Stars08 Dec 2018 2:30 p.m. PST

Canvas painter's dropcloth from Home Depot (or whatever your country's major Do-it-yourself store is called), and then you get some of the Privateer Press paints because those paints use liquid pigments and can thin way, way, way, down with water.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 4:10 p.m. PST

I did a drop cloth once.

You need a GALLON of paint to get the base coat down, it's like painting a sponge:


Rich Bliss08 Dec 2018 4:21 p.m. PST

All,of my cloths are fabric with spray paint applied by me. Works fine.

BattlerBritain08 Dec 2018 5:30 p.m. PST

I've made my own using either felt or cotton material.

Years ago you used to be able to get bed sheets in a light green colour that was fairly close to grass green. I'm sure you can get rolls of similar material from any haberdashery shops quite cheaply.

For painting either material I use acrylic paints available from most craft shops. I mix in some 'fabric adhesive' which I think is just PVA wood glue, a white glue that can be watered down.

The mixed paint and glue I brush on, usually quite liberally.

The adhesive helps the paint flex with the material and not flake. I've got sheets that haven't lost paint after about 10 years.

All in it's about 20 to 25 notes for a 6' by 4' sheet.

Ed von HesseFedora08 Dec 2018 5:42 p.m. PST

Here's a link to mine. I needed a huge one, so I used sheet material dyed green and then spray paint.



Rich Bliss08 Dec 2018 5:47 p.m. PST

Here's a shot of my latest one link

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 6:30 p.m. PST

I purchased a 6x9 sheet of felt that was advertised as "gold" when it arrived, it turned out to be far too yellow for any sort of gaming surface. I went to th local hardware store, and picked up a couple cans of "nutmeg" spray paint, and gave the felt a good, heavy spray. The result was very good, as the paint settled in just right.

Yellow Admiral08 Dec 2018 8:38 p.m. PST

Spray-painted cloth can be the basis for really nice terrain, as Mark Luther (Microbiggie) demonstrates repeatedly: link

Here's his FlickR album describing how he does it: link

I am generally unhappy with the felt I spray-painted many years ago. The spray-paint stiffened the cloth quite a bit, it doesn't really look as good as overlaid fields of 3D stuff, and it doesn't visually blend well with scatter terrain (sticks, rocks, bushy stuff, lichen bits, etc. gathered from cleaning up after previous battles).

Over a decade ago I bought some ugly green fleece for the reasons PJ ONeill mentioned and moved my hills under the cloth, and discovered I really preferred the look better than felt. The fuzzy side has about as much texture as ground foam "grass", but doesn't grab onto miniature bases the way the stray fibers of felt do. However, Mark Luther's lovely idea to use pastels and draw the roads directly on the cloth does not work well on fleece (too stretchy, too fuzzy).

- Ix

shirleys painting08 Dec 2018 10:35 p.m. PST

My husband and I run a painting class for the kids in our town.

The 3rd year it was paint a Blood Bowl team. About 13 kids joined in, and we got them teams.

We were short of BB pitches, so my husband and I got some material and made a bunch of fields.

Complete success!

Martin Rapier09 Dec 2018 8:45 a.m. PST

I've got a brown felt cloth oversprayed in various greens, tans etc with looks fine. Also a mid green fine corduroy cloth, again oversprayed with brown, tan etc. I prefer the texture on the corduroy, but the felt one is OK too.

The huge advantage of actual cloth rather then e.g. my Deepcut studios mats, is that things like roads and rivers adhere much better to them as the cloth has more 'bite'.

I went for natural patterns of elevations and depressions rather than trying spray on fields etc. It does mean that both have turned out looking a bit like late WW2 German camo patterns….

Oberlindes Sol LIC09 Dec 2018 2:05 p.m. PST

You can definitely make your own table cover. I always have an eye out for suitable fabric in the remnant bins, at yard sales, and at Goodwill, Salvation Army, or similar stores. Cotton blends that are neither too thick (like canvas) nor too fine (like curtains or sheets) seem to work best.

I use very wet acrylic interior house paint to make large irregular blotches on the fabric. I usually use a different shade of the fabric color, like brown paint on tan fabric. You can use a couple of different colors of paint, depending on the terrain. I use a cheap 4" paint brush from the hardware store. Paint samples are usually $3 USD to $5 USD, and a paint brush is under $2 USD, sometimes under $1. USD

Depending on the terrain, you can go full Jackson Pollack and flick your brush to spray paint drops on the cloth.

Note also that very wet acrylic paint tends to bleed in different colors on the fabric, so the edges of your brown areas may have outlines of red and yellow. I recommend embracing this effect, which gives a natural-looking transition of colors.

I do separate terrain pieces, rather than painting them on the cloth. For example, woods might be model trees on a piece of darker brown cloth cut to an irregular shape and mottled with lighter brown paint (maybe the same paint as was used for the blotches on the main table cover).

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2018 10:36 a.m. PST

Here is some instructions for making one:


Here are is how to build a table using said cloth:


Here is a finished table in action:


Hope this helps.

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2018 11:33 a.m. PST

If I can do a shameless plug..

I made my own wargame mats awhile ago using the caulk method. I wrote a blog post about it, and you can find it here:


I've been using them for awhile now and hold up nicely. here's an action shot:

However I will say: If I were to do it again today I don't know if I would. There are so many mats outs there now in a variety of materials. The price for commercial mats is high but you get to skip the work… but I'll also say it wasn't hard work or particularly skilled but does take some space and time…


Lion in the Stars11 Dec 2018 12:57 p.m. PST

Oh, yeah, completely forgot about Stew's method!

I suppose you could also use various cloth dyes on the painter's dropcloth.

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2018 9:14 a.m. PST

Thanks Lion!
but let's not call it 'my' method since I got it off the internet from similar blog posts. Mine just adds to the body of research so to speak. : )

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