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"The river and road dilemma" Topic

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UshCha13 Mar 2023 2:39 a.m. PST

The thread on Stylization of art as it roved about on Rivers and roads made me think that I have never found a personal perfect solution so you have to opt for your own least worst solution.
Rivers, streams and roads in the real world wend about in all directions in a complex manner and in many cases are above or below mean ground level by small amounts. They can be a lot higher or lower but the latter is very difficult if not utterly impractical, to have a river several feet below mean ground level , as that would mean raising the whole board level up, far too much space required at least for me.
However we come to the dilemma, modular rivers and roads or flat overlays. I would like to have my rivers to have banks and this can be modelled by having an overlay that rises up a bit then drops to the river creating a bank. However this methodology has significant limitations, it's a rise first which then becomes awkward, do you treat it as a rive which it is visually, or do you pretend it's not a rise. In the heat of the moment pretending it's not a rise can be a pain and again personal opinion it's unsatisfactory.
Similarly if you have raised river sections you have the additional problem that the shape of the river is now in a large part defined by the module orientations without an almost semi infinite number of modules which is or course impractical. In a very old Hexs based modular system I built myself it did have sunken rivers. However it needed lots of modules, straight, curves, junctions, 2 or 3 watercourses meeting, left and right, similar widths or stream/river junctions. This required dedicated storage and significant time to even approximately model a real map and still looked stilted.
As for roads much the same applies.
The alternative is in effect is equally un-satisfactory, is to have just very thin overlays (mine are blue clear plastic). It's possible with these to generate easily any shape or junction. I tend to have just two widths and selection and setting of length is easy as one section can be laid on top of another to get any length. However that in itself puts an unrealistic limit as the sections have all to be the same width over there entire length. If you radius the ends of the sections you can sort of get a rounded corner by sections, not great but just tolerable (to me). However there is no bank and no stretches of sand either side where the bank would below. Again that is an unsatisfactory compromise as otherwise the part count goes up and again it becomes worse. I could add another layers under the river bed to indicate sand/gentle slopes but again time setting up and bit count rises exponentially.
So to me two not entirely satisfactory approaches I go for the latter. Which of the two do you go for and why and of course if you have a better solution than either of these please tell or make it commercially available.

Eumelus Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2023 3:50 a.m. PST

Well-summarized. I have nothing new to suggest for rivers, but I've found a method for laying out roads that I like. I use brown electrical tape from the home-improvement store. Once the roads are down, I go over them with a 1/2" brush drybrushing light tan (dust color) matt craft paint along the roads. The light tan paint cuts the gloss of the tape and the finished look is lighter in the center of the roads so the visual effect resembles the shadow on either side of a slightly sunken feature. For modern paved roads, black electrical tape and light grey drybrushing achieves the same effect.

Dexter Ward13 Mar 2023 4:11 a.m. PST

My rivers are cut into my terrain boards; much nicer than terrain laid on top

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2023 7:53 a.m. PST

I use Tee Time Indoor/Outdoor carpet, from a local DIY store, as my table covering base: it is nigh indestructible; if soda, or other drink is spilled on it, I take it outside and hose it off -- literally! The Tee Time has a really nice weave, dark green, with black fibers woven into it. Very affordable, too: currently selling for $0.53 USD/sq.ft., at Menards. If food is spilled on it, I can resort to a carpet cleaner, if the water hose is not sufficient. I used a much poorer version of carpet, for 20+ years, and it was super-easy to clean, and to use. It works really well with 2D river tiles…

For rivers, I went with 2D printouts, in 4"-squares: Fat Dragon Games E-Z TILES: Rivers & Streams. I printed them on regular copy paper, using my color laser printer. I then cut them out, and I applied them to vinyl peel-n-stick floor tiles (<$1/square foot tile), applying them to the glue side of the tiles (blog link, scroll down to project #6). I also covered the printed side with clear shelf liner vinyl (Clear Matte Con-Tact Paper, from Wal-Mart), making them extremely durable, and I can even write on them with water-based markers, if necessary.

This allows me to build in as many curves as I like, but I tend to make long, straight runs, as a truly realistic river/creek, would not be a lot of fun to play with: the realistic S-turns are just a pain to navigate, and they would detract from game play. Here are two photo's of the 2D River in play, on my tabletop: Photo1, Photo2 (upper left corner of image), both from the same game.

I play games, not simulations. That is the rule I live by. I create fun games to play, I do not create dioramas on my gaming table. ;-) Cheers!

Umpapa13 Mar 2023 11:33 a.m. PST

No need to modularize everything. Usually one module is enough:

Rod MacArthur13 Mar 2023 12:09 p.m. PST

My river system, developed 50 years ago, has all rivers dropped below the ground level so looks realistic. You can see it here:


You can also see it in the 5th picture in my latest post here:



HMS Exeter13 Mar 2023 4:50 p.m. PST

Once upon a time, in the great before time, gamers played on large green fabric sheets that rolled up conveniently. Hills were made by stacking paperback books under the sheet. Roads were masking tape and rivers were blue cloth tape.

One company made trees out of yarn. You created a bundle of various short lengths of green yarn. Then you turned the whole thing inside out and you had a green ball.

Gamers progressively gravitated away from that as too primitive. We all still struggle with the competing considerations of convenience, cost and appearance.

UshCha14 Mar 2023 1:31 a.m. PST

HMS Exeter I have heard of the masking tape, the green ball of yarn is new to me. My latest trees are 3D printed flats, put enough on and they look OK and store very well as the "tree" is srparate to the base, and even dafter you an change the base so the tree stands on a slope.

Eumelus you took it one stage further. Unfortunate ly I'n not going to use masking tape on my expensive Hexon II but it is a good solution.

CeruLucifus14 Mar 2023 8:00 p.m. PST

I have painted resin river sections with molded banks. I put masking tape loops on the back to hold them from shifting around on the vinyl table top. Depending on the miniatures game, we either play that the raised modeled banks represent the start of the river terrain effect, or we stand miniatures right on it (treating as flat).

I have made clear plastic stream and water pieces for RPGs, but my game surfaces are too dark so they work best for falling water, until I develop a light underlay to pair them with.

For roads, lately I have started using tan masking tape and marking them up with streaks of earth tone colored chalk.

I have not tried this, but it seems to me if you make a terrain cloth of teddy bear fur, and lay flat weighty river or road pieces on it, they will sink into the fur and give the illusion of being recessed into the terrain.

UshCha16 Mar 2023 9:39 a.m. PST

CeruLucifus The teddy bear idea looks great for bigger scales, that could be a winner.

Its interesting most of you go for modular or disposable (masking tape), none of course is mine but hey we are all different and they are all great ideas.

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