Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Fuzzy Felt - Improving Terrain Mats

A mellow return to gaming folks, on Sunday afternoon after  a tiring weekend I took on a relaxing little project needed for my display/demo game in May (mental note, must check booking is confirmed!)

I've been the happy own of this gorgeous piece of heavy velour/velvet cloth in a deep olive green, and it's been the base for many a game over the years.  One can thank seventies fashion for this which began life as a set of curtains.  I was able to rescue just over a 6x4 foot chunk:

The down side is it's uniform and dark, so I wanted to break up the colour and lighten the overall effect.  It's not the first time I've tried this on the blog, but this time I thought I'd run through the process, tutorial style.

First off, I covered the floor in paper, this isn't the most dirty of jobs, but if you value your surfaces, protect them just in case.  Also significant others frown upon such slapdash behaviour, you may be blessed with a garage or spare room for this, have the sense to use it!

for paints, I only needed three.  A mid green emulsion sampler, and a basic yellow and brown watercolour artists acrylic (from a pound shop).  I began with 80% green and 20% brown mixed and applied to a distressed or old sponge or piece of foam.

Rather than dipping the foam in the paint, apply paint to the foam with a brush.  Apply a lot of paint and make sure it penetrates the texture of the sponge, but also sits on the surface.  But does not go on to the edges too much.

I latterly added the foam to a block (of styrene foam, not ideal but all I had to hand).  This allows for much better results.

To the application of paint.  You will be working fast and will need to reload the sponge regularly.  With your first pass, dab lightly everywhere to build up a random base note, to break up the uniformity.

Yeah, I know, you can totally see the difference, right.  We have a way to go yet.  Next we start to add yellow to the paint mix and go over for another round.  This time rather than just dabbing lightly, once the whole mat is covered, start to press the foam down several times in one area with a little more force.  To begin to create patches of lighter ground.

This is an instinctive stage now, if you make what you thinks look like a mistake, like that dense green blob in the centre, work on softening it with following layers.  Adding more yellow with each pass, occasionally a bit of brown too.

Incidentally I rolled the mat up as I went along so I could reach it all.  Unfurling it again for the start of each layer.  The paint dries on the material virtually on contact.

Obviously as it does, it darkens too.  I the end I applied six layers and got to the texture below.  I may yet add more.

It's a quick job, but one that takes practice to get a good finish with, try it out on old scrap cloth or carpet if in doubt.  Alternately, if you have a spray gun, the results could be much easier to achieve.

Give it a go!


  1. That looks brilliant! I really like the velour/velvet as a base-fabric as felt will often 'pill', stretch and look nasty. Your layered colour application turned out very well. I'll have to ponder this for the future...