Blood Bowl pitch on a Zuzzy gaming mat

Ever since I started playing Blood Bowl late last year I’ve had my eye open for a mat to use as a pitch.  I wanted it to be portable (ie rollable) but lie flat when in use, and not deteriorate over time as some flocked mats are known to do. It also had to be large enough to handle 40mm squares (my group plays in Thunderbowl BB League in Vancouver, BC, “Home of the 40mm board”), which requires a pitch roughly 2′ x 3.5′ in size.

Then I ran across Zuzzy Miniatures, manufacturers of, among other things, thin sheets of molded latex rubber designed to simulate terrain for wargaming use.  Painted, the mats look absolutely fantastic.  And they met my other criteria: durable, rollable, and well-behaved.  The only negative was that they do not come with a grid — I would have to paint one on.  I imagined this would be a time-consuming process, especially on the mat’s rough surface.

I stewed on this problem for several months, but eventually decided it was worth the $30 risk (US$23.21 plus shipping) to order one and see how it went.  I ordered their Moorlands mat in the Verdant Fields line, mainly because I wanted my pitch to look like grass (I’m playing Pro Elves as my rookie team).  There are several other terrains available however, the Broken Blacktop mat probably my favourite.

Here is the “before” shot:

Zuzzy Moorlands mat, straight out of the box

The first thing I did was apply a dark brown wash, to try to give the recesses a rich dirt look:

Zuzzy Moorlands mat, after brown wash

Then I went to town with the greens.  I don’t remember the exact process but over a period of about four weeks I finished the surface painting using various shades of green and brown, working sporadic evenings as I had the time (and sometimes when I didn’t).  I used stippling, scumbling, washing and drybrushing techniques, but I’m a total novice when it comes to painting and was feeling my way.  I tried to let the terrain features guide my colour choices but in hindsight this was a mistake, at least for this application; if I do another pitch I’ll stick with one set of colours and let the natural contours speak for themselves.  I used acrylic paints from the local craft store, mostly Apple Barrel brand thinned with water.

The next step was the dreaded one: painting the lines.  Methods I considered included:

  1. Drawing them on using an opaque acrylic paint-pen
  2. Slapping them on using carpenters’ chalk lines made permanent with fixant spray
  3. Airbrushing
  4. Painting by hand-and-ruler

At first I tried option 1 — seemed easiest — but it was an utter failure; the paint pen picked up just as much green as it left white on the pitch, and I got nowhere.  Option 2 seemed too messy, plus I feared losing the other lines as I worked on new ones.  I don’t own an airbrush for option 3… So painting by hand was the default winner.  It took me a few hours for the white, and probably 4-5 sessions of several hours each for the green.

The last step was to do the scorekeeping and dugout sections.  To create these I simply sliced off 8cm from each end of the painted pitch, then drew the lines and other features using lettering templates.

The end result is below.

The pictures make the lighter colours look much brighter than they are in reality, but as I mentioned I would have preferred less contrast between the colours.  One side benefit I didn’t expect is how quiet dice-rolling is.  The dice bounce substantially more than on a cardboard or MDF surface, but not nearly enough to be irritating.  All in, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

~ by fidius on July 23, 2011.

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