Monday, 19 January 2015

Do it yourself Gaming Mat

Last year I followed several threats in different forums which covered DIY gaming mats. Really I was wondering whether it's much work and whether I would be able to create such a thing myself. Finally shortly before Christmas I went to our local hardware store and bought the missing components. I was a bit hesitant so I started with a small 50cm by 50cm test piece.

Here's the material I used:
  • a 50cm by 50cm piece of canvas on a stretcher frame
  • a tube of acrylic sealing compount
  • tinting paint in my terrain base colour
  • some sand and gravel
  • a couple of scoops and trowels
  • some static grass
  • old newspaper to cover our dinner table and prevent severe trouble with usually peaceful Mrs Monty
First of all I prepared the basic pulp for the gaming mat. Therefor I mixed the (whole) acrylic compound with tinting paint, sand, gravel and a few drops of water until it blended to a smooth paste.
Afterwards I and my little helper spread the mixture over the canvas and smoothed it slightly. With the sand and the gravel it becomes a rather rough surface. More or less the same as if you glue sand onto a wooden surface when building usual gaming tiles.

Then we spread static grass, little pebbles and some turf onto the wet pulp and pressed it into it slightly. Most of all I wanted to try which components stay in the mat when dryed and which fall of...
Finally we let the mat dry. It seemed like ages for me but probably it was one or two days really. Then I draybrushed the mat with medium brown and ivory. Just the colours I used for my other terrain tiles. The result is satisfying I think.
Lastly I cut the mat off the frame and rolled it around a piece of pipe insulation foam to store it.
After a couple of days I unrolled it again and the canvas set smoothly after a few minutes. So I think the acrylic pulp works rather well.

As you see it found first use when Viktoria set up our crip under the christmas tree:
Rather soon I'll repeat the experiment on a larger scale to create a playing area for SAGA games so roughly 1,20m by 1,20m or something like that. For this I'll try felt cover sheeting as basic fabric. It's much cheaper than canvas and more flexible.


  1. Well done Stefan, that's a great idea and that last photograph is just adorable!

  2. Great work Stefan! I'm always poundering about producing on myself but I'm lazy, you know... probably will buy one ;-)

  3. That's turned out very well Stefan. Love the nativity scene!

  4. Fantastic! Looking forward to hearing how it hold up to continued use

  5. Looks great. be sure to report back how it handles under some repeat use.

    And good work involving your little helper. My nearly five year old would probably be great labor for some projects of this sort...

  6. Interesting. Thanks for posting.

    1. And another idea.

      At work we handle a lot of technical drawings (blueprints ?) I instead roll these with the top side with all the lines and information outwards. By doing this the drawing keep it self down when I unroll them instead of trying to roll up again.

      Maybe it could work for something like this to?

  7. That's a great outcome Stefan and it repaid your efforts in full. I do think it's a bit of a worry you following online threats though... :-)

  8. I like the idea of this Stefan, and the test piece certainly looks pretty cool!!! Looking forward to the larger version!!!

  9. That seems to work very well, nice job!

  10. Looks awesome !
    Might steal this idea.
    Please show how it works after few weeks.

  11. That's very nice! Great little tutorial. Can't wait to see the larger version!

  12. Many thanks for your kind comments. Feel free to steal the idea. It's worth a try.

  13. Good result! I've done something similar here:

    A tip for keeping the cost down is to buy your canvas from a dedicated art store. They usually sell custom sizes by the yard, usually around $7 or $8 per yard (3'x4' section) depending on the thickness. I've also heard of people using painter's drop cloths as a source of cheap (albeit rather thin) canvas. Hope that helps!