Looking for a decent game mat for Marvel: Crisis Protocol I was a little underwhelmed. There are plenty out there, but most have odd road layouts, which don’t leave a lot of room for buildings, and if there’s one thing you really need for the game, it’s scenery.
So, after watching a tutorial by The Terrain Tutor, I decided to build my own. Here’s how I went about it, including a few tips I picked up along the way…
A good hunt around the garage produced a 4′ x 3′ piece of 6mm MDF; I also unearthed a board of similar size but 3mm thick instead – perfect!
I wanted to have some degree of modularity – Crisis Protocol plays on a 3′ x 3′ play area – and so drew out some plans with a road running along the edge and one cutting across the board. I then cut the 6mm board into 4 sections, each 1′ x 3′.
Using sandpaper, 80 grit, and a bit of PVA, I started on the roads.
I marked out where they were going and brushed on a thin layer of PVA. Using good quality masking tape to hold it in place – PVA doesn’t stick to masking tape – I applied the sandpaper.
A few things I learnt here: Firstly, cut the sandpaper with scissors rather than a knife. The knife chips the abrasive material away and leaves a rough edge, but the scissors cut through nice and smooth. Secondly, when securing the edges with tape you need to apply plenty of force wrapping it around the edge of the board, which will ensure a nice clean finish – you don’t want the sandpaper lifting away from the edge.
Next, I cut the 3mm board into sections that would form my paved/concreate areas. For the curved bits I made a template out of a spare bit of MDF. These were stuck in place, again using PVA, just overlapping the edge of the road.
Grabbing a scriber, I etched in the pavement. I steered away from using 1″ squares to avoid looking like a battle grid and used 1 1/4″. The lines didn’t need to be too deep, and I didn’t worry about slipping and leaving scratches; once washed they’ll look like cracks!
The lines did need a little sanding, just to avoid a furry look once painted, and whilst I was at it I bevelled the edge of the pavement to make it look more natural.
Next up was a couple of coats of household matt emulsion, I used slate grey, but anything similar would have done. I was tempted to go with black and just drybrush up the road, but that would have left me with more work to do on the paved areas.
I was lucky to have some old acrylic pigments lying around and so made up a black wash using them – there was no way I was using Nuln Oil, it would have taken an entire pot or two!
To make the wash I mixed water with a bit of the pigment until I had the right consistency and then added a very small drop of washing up liquid, which breaks the surface tension of the water and makes the wash ‘flow’. Note to self – don’t shake it before use, lol!
It was just a matter of running it along the etched lines then, making the pavement stand out.
Using the same wash, I went over the roads. I wasn’t too worried about neatness here, after all, have you ever seen the state of the roads in the West Midlands? I’m sure the ones in New York are just as bad, at least they are here!
For the paved areas I added a tiny amount of white to the grey emulsion and stippled it on using a sea sponge. I repeated this several times, gradually increasing the amount of white. Once I’d got it to where I wanted it, I mixed up two more washes, Umber and Green. These were liberally splashed over the paved bits and then mixed together with a very soggy brush.
Returning to the roads I started drybrushing using the slate emulsion. Again, I wasn’t worried about neatness, I just wanted to show the texture.
Last thing was to apply the white road markings, so I took an empty cereal box and made a few templates. I then resorted to the airbrush to quickly spray the lines – again, nothing neat, and I wanted to avoid solid lines.
A quick coat of Rustoleum crystal clear matt to protect it all, and that was job done. Now to put it to use…