Tag Archives: terrain mat

Scratch-made Cloth and Caulk Gaming Mat

As much as I like the idea of custom making modular terrain boards with actual sunken features, like roads and streams, I’ve been thinking it would be a good idea to go with something a bit more flexible. That way I might actually get a game ready, for once.

The typical model railroad grass mats haven’t impressed me much, but I have seen some really cool fabric mats that people have made by hand.

Mr. Luther, for example, does these incredible 1/285th scale mats using spray painted cloth, scatter terrain and pastels. Pastels! They’re works of art, and if you spend much time on his Flickr page, you’ll find yourself inexorably being drawn to gaming WW2 in 6mm. Ahem. Here’s a link to a tutorial on setting up a board for Normandy. I suspect (but could be COMPLETELY wrong) that the pastel chalk colored roads, creeks, and rivers might not work too well for larger scales, and based on my suspicion, I’ve pursued other methods.

Which leads us to the caulk-impregnated cloth style of mat.

Tobi’s Paint Pot has a nice tutorial on doing a 28mm dark ages board for Dux Britanniarum. His approach is pretty serious and relatively involved (to be honest, none of these methods could be described as ‘quick and simple’), but the results speak for themselves. I find his integration of scatter terrain into his mat to be particularly impressive.

War Artisan uses a base of rubber athletic flooring, teddy bear stuffing, and a caulk-impregnated cloth, all held together with straight pins, to do his beautifuly 10mm games. From some reading I’ve done on the internet, I suspect he may be the inventor of these styles of gaming mats, but I could be wrong. In any case, they’re completely drool-worthy. Be sure to check out the scratch-built ships, while you’re on his Flickr page. Also drool-worthy.

The Lion of the South does yet another variation on the caulk-impregnated cloth, also to great effect. Gorgeous games! His tutorial is quite easy to follow, too.

The method I ultimately followed is from the cleverly named Big on Miniatures blog. As a brief aside, I’ve been painting old west miniatures as a sort of filler between my myriad of (incomplete) projects. Somehow I managed to find myself with a dozen gunfighters painted, a free set of rules, and some players who are potentially interested in some wild west gaming. I have a rough plan for a three-way shootout at an abandoned stagecoach station somewhere in the arid southwest. So, that helps explain why I was so drawn to the BoM desert mat. Plus, his tutorial is super detailed. Check it out.


So, what could I possibly add to this bevy of really excellent tutorials and gorgeous examples of finished terrain? Not much.

I didn’t get my colors right on my mat-I used far too little of my mid-tone, and it doesn’t really look like any desert I’ve ever seen. I also could have used an intermediate size of ‘grit’ between the playground sand (on the small end) and the kitty litter (on the large end) that I did use.

What I can add are some shots of various scales of figures on the board. Lord knows I’m completely ADD about my miniatures gaming, and have been all over the place on that front. So, without further to do, here are some shots ranging from 1/285 to 28mm. Hope they prove useful!



Like I said, I set out on Caulk-quest 2013 to do an Old West game (more on this in the future) and here are a few of the figures deployed in the desert. These are Knuckleduster 28mm miniatures with some of the very cool Pegasus cacti. Those cacti are the first thing I’ve ever painted that seemed bright enough to me. Which is a breathrough, of sorts. I think the kitty litter and sand work very well at this scale, but the intermediate level of ‘grit’ really needs to be there. Maybe next time.

WW2 on the surface of a moon of IO.

WW2 on the surface of Mars.

This is a rather surreal shot, for obvious reasons. I don’t think the kitty litter would work for  Normandy, or other verdant areas, but I could see using it for parts of Italy or North Africa. When I do a temperate climate mat, I won’t add the litter in.  Sorry about the hovering farmhouse. The figures are Warmodelling via Scalecreep.com.

Looks pretty good, other than the incongruous figure basing...

Looks pretty good, other than the incongruous figure basing…

I dig it.

I dig it.

These are 15mm sci-fi figures by Khurasan Miniatures.  I think the mat, with its screwed up color palette, works GREAT for sci-fi gaming. I should re-base my figures to suit, or something.

1/285 Micro-armor in effect

1/285 Micro-armor in effect

The mat also works really well with the microarmour. For totally different reasons.  Here the kitty litter starts to take on tactical significance. I joke. A little. I think the mat could work great for North Africa, especially if I adopt some of Luther’s methods of creating topography (and if the mat proves flexible enough).  Again, the kitty litter wouldn’t be suitable for civilized farming and urban areas, like Normandy.

Okay, enough of caulk and kitty litter vs. various scales. I learned some valuable lessons. You can knock one of these mats out in 2-3 days, and I’m going to start working on one for 1/72 WW2 in Normandy soon, so look for a follow-up in the next few weeks.