Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Making River Pieces For My Desert Gaming Board Part 1

OK, so I decided to do some nice river pieces for my desert board. It's not a very hard project but for those of you that have never made any water pieces for your wargaming table this will be a somewhat "How-To".

So anyway step one was to figure out how long I wanted my river to run and whether it should run the short distance i.e. 4 feet long or the long distance i.e. 6 feet long. What I came up with was why not make pieces to do both! Since the river is going to be made in sections, why not make it work for both lengths!

First off was the materials. You'll need the following:
  • 1/4" hardboard for the base
  • Sand (I have a big bag of playground sand I bought at a DIY store for about $5 a few years ago and I still haven't used it all!)
  • Wood Glue
  • Scrub Brush (natural fiber or some natural fiber rope... we'll be using this to make some grass here and there at the banks)
  • Paints: a dark blue (I'll be using an old discontinued citadel color called Deadly Nightshade), Medium blue (I'll be using Ultramarines Blue), A Medium Green (will be using Knarlock Green), and whatever colors your gaming board are painted. Since mine if for a desert board I'll be using my desert color of latex paint (Ace Hardware Store's Sensations Earth Tone) dybrushed with Citadel Bleached Bone.
  • Two Part Resin that sets up clear. I'll be using EnviroTex Lite Pour-On but you could also use GW's Water effects and use a few coats if you don't have acess to any clear resin.
First thing I did was decide the width of the river pieces. I went with 7" wide pieces. I marked out the hardboard creating straight sections 12" long and then made two 90 degree curves and a 180 degree curve or "U". In order to make it so I could use it going both directions I had to marked out and cut a smaller 7" long straight section. The length of this smaller piece will depend on how much length your curves and "U" piece are. Or you can just make a straight section of river and use four 12" pieces.

Next was the cutting. I used a circular saw to cut the hardboard into 7"x12" pieces and cut the curves and U into square pieces. Once this was done I got out my jigsaw and cut the square pieces into the respective curves or U sections and added some shape to the straight pieces so they weren't just a rectangle with straight edges (up to you if you want to do this step.)

Now that the pieces were all cut I gave them a feathered edge so they will blend in with the table more. So using my razor knife I shaved off some of the hardboard then sanded it a little using medium grit sandpaper. Now the pieces were ready to build upon.

Next off was to make a paste out of the sand and wood glue. So I poured sand into a plastic bowl (soup bowl from wanton soup from the local chinese joint) and added a little water and then wood glue. You want the consistency of the paste to be not too wet. If it's too wet there will be no texture and the paste will not stay in place. It will run all over. Go for a dryer mix and if it's too dry you can always add more glue a little at a time. If you make it too wet add more sand. Using an offcut of the hard board for a mixing stick I mixed up my paste and started laying it down in "sausages" onto the board on each side of the river to make the banks. Now taper it out with a shallower angle on the outside area of the bank and a sharper angle on the inside "river" area of the bank. I used my fingers for this. Once you get to the end of the piece, lay down the next piece and line them up then start the sand on the next piece. This way your riverbanks will line up. One thing I did was to label the underside of the hardboard with a letter and an arrow showing which way the river was flowing. The pieces would just go in order alphabetically in the direction of the arrow. This way the paint and gravel for some shallower spots in your river will all be going the same direction. Also your riverbanks will all be lined up properly this way so they will look like they all go together. Let all the sand-glue-paste dry, overnight if possible.

River PiecesNow that your riverbanks are set up, select a few areas for shallower ground and for areas that are fordable for your river. Glue down some sand and try to taper the shallow areas in the direction your river is flowing as you can see I did in the pic to the left. You also want to glue some sand onto the outer side if the riverbanks to give some texture for the ground. Let this all set up and in part 2 of this we'll be painting everything and adding the grass clusters!

This is it for part one of my river pieces. Hope it's helping you out.

Til next time,

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