Making a Wargaming Terrain Mat / Base Cloth

I’ve been using a plain green felt base cloth for my games since, well, forever. Originally it was a dark green pool table baize I got off Evan Allen. More recently I got a lighter green felt base cloth from S&A Scenics. But they are well, dull, so I’ve been toying with what I could replace them with.

Plain Green Felt Base Cloth

My current base cloth is from S&A Scenics. It is a much better colour than my original dark green pool table baize but is rather uninspiring.

Green felt base cloth from S&A Scenics

Painted Felt Terrain Mat

I asked the Shako discussion forum how to improve the look of my Shako games. Tom Breza responded with instructions for how make a painted terrain mat to replace my plain green one. He also provided photos of an example made by his friend, also called Tom.

Painted Felt Terrain Mat

Materials

  • Felt
  • Paint
  • Paint roller
  • A nice sized area to lay the felt out to paint. A driveway works well but you may end up with some on it if you are not careful.

Felt

The main material is a large piece of beige felt

I checked with Tom about what he meant by “Beige”. He was aiming for light brown rather than the “natural wool”. I ended up using “Teddy” coloured felt from Craft Felts by John Paul Products . Sold my the metre. I got 3 m long x 1.5 wide.

I got some samples from Fred Aldous in the UK. He has rolls of felt which at 180 cm wide and sold by the metre. Because I was looking for “brown” rather than “natural wool” went for Tan (Golden Sand) rather than Beige (Mushroom). However when I got some Tan I found it a little too golden.

Tan (Golden Sand)

felt_beige.jpg (32449 bytes)

Beige (Mushroom)

Calico Laine list it but don’t stock it.

Paint

Flat interior house paint in various colours

  • Beige (for the base colour)
  • Browns (for dirt)
  • Greens (for fields)

Method

Lay out the felt flat.

Roll on various shades of green and brown to come up with a patchwork of rural fields. For the best results you use a shade of paint as a base and add greens and browns to the base for the different colours. Start with a beige paint as the base and add browns to make the dirt areas. Add green for the growing crop areas. This way they tie in with one another and are effectively variations of the base paint colour.

You can be sloppy with it. The paint in an area does not need to completely cover the felt. Letting some of the beige felt show through in small amounts is OK and actually adds to the effect. This includes spots of the beige cloth showing through inside a painted area but also strips of beige cloth between painted areas. So sloppy is OK.

Teddy Bear Fur Terrain Mat

A couple of years ago Evan Allen put me on to Teddy Bear Fur as the basis for a terrain mat. Seems quite popular at the moment.

Materials

  • Teddy Bear Fur. 1.5 m wide. Use light coloured fur as similar to ripe wheat and easy to spray other colours on.
  • Spray paint. DIY emulsion or Auto Spray; both cheaper than modelling sprays. Get light to mid green and a sand colour.

Method

  1. Hang the fur to remove any creases; perhaps a week or two
  2. Trim fur roughly with hair clippers or scissors; probably to 5 to 8 mm for 15mm figures.
  3. Spray paint with light to mid green; spray from a distance to reduce clotting
  4. Spray a highlight in a sand colour
  5. Comb out any blobs of paint.

References

Earls Wood Wargamers: Terrain Corner: Teddy Bear Fur

Home made. Very nice although a little too much green for my taste.

Realistic Wargamers: Wargamers ‘Fur’ Terrain Clothes

Commercial. Similar technique but less effective in my view.

Elladan: Teddy Bear Fur Mat

Home made. Very nice but too specific for my tastes, i.e. the mat is hand crafted to a specific terrain arrangement.

Elladan: Teddy Bear Fur Terrain Pieces

Using fur for terrain templates.

Two sided Painted Hardboard

I wanted an easy urban table, so Nikolas Lloyd suggested I paint the rough back side of some hard board black then dry brush to get a cobblestone effect. The photo is from a game before I did dry brushed the cobblestones but you get the idea. The board is 3 feet by 2 feet.

3′ x 2′ urban table

I also painted the flat side of the hardboard in Flat Earth (as per my flocking style). I used very dilute paint so it gave a kind of washy / tie-dyed effect.

Diluted Flat Earth on the reverse side

Painted MDF

Inspired by Nick Huband’s Battle Board for the Portable Wargame I made my own. Or several of them. The first one in use was a very narrow table (4 feet by 18 inches).

Day 1 Turn 1

to make these:

  1. Spray splodges of green
  2. Draw grid lines if you need them
  3. Varnish

Teddy Felt and Green Spray

While experimenting with the above I got some “Teddy” coloured Craft Felts by John Paul Products. This is felt rather than teddy bear fur – the name just reflects the colour.

Caetrati force march

Teddy Felt and Green Spray

Table

Table for the Village-P scenario

I laid it out and sprayed green blotches on (with Halfords Ford Meadow Green Spray Paint). The effect is kind of like the teddy bear fur with green highlights but flat. Good enough to have a go on.

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