EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

For some years now I have been looking forward to getting started on a new look for my wargame table once I got re-settled. But just what that look would be has been the question.

I'd done the geomorphic terrain board thing in the early 80's and as terrific as it can look when well done, I knew I didn't want to go back there. I have often used a cloth laid over shapes but that method doesn't work well with single figures as they have trouble on the slopes so I have also often used a painted tabletop with hills placed on top.

The decision to stick with multi-figure bases for most of my collections coupled with the appearance of hexes on my tabletop meant that some form of cloth was in order for regular games.  Having calculated the cost and effort to do the latex and flocking on cloth thing, I decided I wasn't up for either aspect. My next choice was a piece of appropriately coloured cloth with some over painting. My old one is 15 years old now and faded and anyway it is was in fall colours and I'm ready for the sort of rolling green hills that I'll be living amongst in a month's time.  I finally admitted that I was not going to manage a fabric shopping trip to Halifax so hit the local hardware store for a canvas drop cloth and a quart of green paint. (BTW When we went metric, why didn't they resize the quart paint cans to a litre instead of 870ml? Who can remember to ask for 870ml? )

Stage 1 a mottled green. Now to add yellow, brown and darker and light green touches.

The drop cloths came in two sizes, too big and too small. I opted for too big, 10 ft x 11 ft. Not quite big enough for two since a 5.5" width would be a tight fit for draping over hills and wouldn't work at all on a 6 ft wide table. I could leave it as is to fit over the 6ft x 10ft  tables at Cold Wars but that would leave a lot of over hang to trip on during the other 99% of games. My current thought is to cut a piece 7ft x 9ft and use the offcuts as templates to mark woods, towns etc and to make a gridded playing service for a portable wargame. 


13 comments:

  1. Hi Ross,

    I reckon the current thought seems like a good idea and the cloth size will allow for quite a hilly set up without being too 'revealing'!

    All the best,

    DC

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    1. I've never used canvas before and am slightly apprehensive about its ability to settle in over the hills but we shall see this weekend.

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  2. Cloth looks pretty good - I find I sort of wish I had one. Old School references to cloths laid over books and wooden blocks are part of the heritage, but I've never actually used a battlefield laid out like that. Given the multi-figure stands, there is no reason not to do it that way, I guess, and I may well have a go at this to hide my all-pervasive hexes when they are inappropriate. Only misgiving is that I've got used to units sitting on sabots that slide nicely across a painted board, and a cloth wouldn't lend itself to that. Sometimes I'm astounded how lazy I've got.

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    1. I have this vision of a table covered in slippery satin.... I do recognize a growing lazy streak in myself. Its possible that having gritted my tabletop may be one factor behind the failure of sabots to catch on with me.

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  3. Ross Mac,

    The cloth looks great ... and if I were not wedded to my Hexon II terrain, I would be following your example.

    All the best,

    Bob

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    1. I get to play on Hexon a couple of times a month and am quite taken with it. Once the overseas shipping is added though, its just outside my current budget.

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  4. Ross

    I briefly dabbled with home made geomorphic boards and drooled over store bought hexes, but have stuck with cloths for the most part. My first was a vivid green felt which prompted the question "are you going as a frog" from the Fabricland clerk when bought it one October! With a wife who quilts, I make regular visits to fabric stores, can use her membership discount (no ever pays "full price" for fabric) and have borrowed her cool tools (quilting rules and curing mats) before being told to get my own!

    Now I use a mottled olive drab cloth if they come by land and a blue vinyl if they come by sea.

    Cheers

    PD

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    1. I had bben in the habit of poo-poohing bright green tables until 6 months after I moved to the country, autumn and winter passed, spring broke out and for months there after everything was as bright and green as an Irish Spring commercial and all my cloths looked far too drab and dark. (mind you when fall came back I had to admit some degree of drabness creeping in)

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  5. Ross: What color was the canvas you have bought?

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    1. The cloth came as what one might call natural or unbleached cotton, a light tan colour.

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  6. Interesting. How do you apply colour? I was thinking off giving my own hex mat a slightly more mottled appearance.

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  7. The initial base was brushed on acrylic paint. Highly watered down once I realized that it was going to take more than a quart at full strength. This has had the twin effects of a more mottled appearance and a lighter than planned shade of green. Additional colours will be added with spray paints or by sort of dry brushing although possibly with darker painted splotches.

    This is a voyage of discovery. My previous mottled cloths were done by spraying green, brown and camoflage yellow over khaki.

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  8. Ross,

    In the theatre, set decorators often use those large rough sponges to dab on mottle . . . you might consider that method as well.


    -- Jeff

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