Friday, July 15, 2011

Building better roads

Terrain is one of those things that many times we don't have enough of or what we have is just enough to get the job done. I admit that good terrain is often very costly and we want to spend more money on our soldiers instead of little buildings or forests for them to fight in. when you first start out not having much if any terrain is understandable, but if you get into this hobby deep enough then terrain becomes in my opinion just as important as putting painted models on the table. I will admit to being slightly spoiled when it comes to this too, When I finally emerged from the basement to play in public I was playing on some of the best terrain around, I was playing on tables put together by the I-95 crew and friends of theirs. I was instantly ashamed of my poor attempts at terrain. I have slowly worked to build a better terrain collection without going so deep into my wallet that I cant add more troops to the table too. Now that my rambling is done we can get to the meat of this post.

  Roads which are durable enough to last a lifetime of gaming use can be made very easily with a minimum of cost and just a little effort. Tools and materials are fairly basic, A sheet of MDF hardboard, flock for the road edging and possibly the roadbed itself, and of course glue for the flock, a jig saw is What I use to cut the MDF though I am sure other types of saws could be used. One other item which I will be using is completely optional and could easily be avoided or replace with something else to keep costs down even lower is a can of Floquil Diorama paint, This is a textured spray paint which I use for the roadbed itself and is the most expensive item used  (due to using the whole can for one project) at about $6.25 a can.
I made my first set of these awhile ago and made straight sections as well as some curves, For the curves I copied the curve from some pieces of HO scale slot car track I got from my father, if you have something like this available its a nice easy way to get nice even curves for your roads. I am going to be making more straight sections only for this how to though the technique is the same for curves.

Jigsaw, flock, glue, textured paint, and a HO scale slot track section used as a template


Floquil Textured Diorama paint (optional item)

HO scale slot track curve and a completed straight section of road.

As far as what size to make your roads that will depend on a couple of things, I am making mine for Flames of war, thus 15mm scale and I am not trying to match roads I already have. Mine are 3 Inches wide and length would vary depending on your individual needs, the one shown is 10 inches long though I am going to go up to 20 inches with some of the ones I am making now. If you have some roads already and want them to match up you would just make them the same width as what you have.

First off simply mark out the length and width you need for your roads and cut them out with your jig saw. I decided to do a 4 way crossing  as well just because I had a scrap piece left over and it seemed like a good use for it.
Cut to size and ready for a roadbed


The next step it to spray them with the floquil diorama paint and then wait for that to dry, I let them sit over night.
The floquil paint gives a nice texture and color for dirt roads

Now I put some glue down the sides of the road and then add my grass flock. you could also dress them up a bit with little stones or logs lying on the roadside if you wanted to.  once this is dry you could spray a flat coat over it to help hold the flock together, however I have been using the first set I made for almost a year now and I don't think it needs it. Total cost for  supplies is minimal assuming you already have flock and sand to cover with all you need is the MDF and that can be had for around $7.00 or less for a sheet which more than enough for a good set of roads.
I run a line of glue down and then spread it out with a stick or tooth pick

once I put down the flock I let it sit for a minute and let the glue grab into the flock

shake off the excess flock and let dry

The completed roads, the sheet they are sitting on is part of whats left from the original sheet for other projects

 on a final note this could be adapted to a number of other features as well. I have been planning on making rivers in the same way  as well as making more like the roads and putting down rail track and flocking and ballasting the track  which will make it look better on the table than just putting down loose track. Of course with track it becomes a little more expensive to do as you will have to add the cost of the track.



5 comments:

  1. That's a very nice road-making technique.

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  2. Thanks, I need to build some terrain and I guess roads are a good start for a beginner.

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  3. Congratulations! You shall henceforth be known as Matthew, Builder of Roads!

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  4. Makke, glad to help. Roads are a good easy start and you can use the same basic idea for tons of other terrain as well. I am currently doing the same thing I did here but laying rail track down on it.

    Robert, that's the best you got? I am disappointed.

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