Fantasy Town City Wargames terrain print your own battle maps

Mat procrastination finally pays off. DIY Fantasy and Sci-fi battle mats.

I’ve resisted buying some a gaming mat/battleboard for a good while. There are very fine specimens available on the market (Pworks and Deepcut spring to mind) but because I am an ‘in-active’ player I couldn’t justify the £30+ price tag on them. Plus, being into both fantasy and sci-fi I know I’d just end up ‘collecting’ a whole bunch. Up until now I’ve trundled along printing out my own boards and tiles and being ‘okay’ with the results. But there is a limit to what you can achieve with an A4 colour inkjet, graphic designer or not.

City Town Terrain for Mordheim or Frostgrave fantasy gamesI’ve been humming and hawing over getting some custom mats printed up for some time. I gathered a few quotes from printers and done a bit of online research. But I faltered. Procrastinated. I simply hadn’t ‘seen’ a finished example so I couldn’t be sure of what I would be getting.

Long story short, I joined Sam and Tim the other week in Falkirk for a rare gaming outing (which was great fun btw chaps). Sam tinkers in similar areas to myself and had had a set of vinyl 2’x2′ mats printed for (Advanced) Song of Blades and Heroes. We played on one and I was suitably impressed by the print quality and material. Sam proffered the printers details (see note 1.) and a printed mat (see below). Back at home  I started digging around for various artwork (see note 2.) that I’d been messing around with previously with a view to getting some mats printed myself previously.

Well here are the results. Two mats printed, one the cobbled texture from Heroic Maps for a fantasy town (see note 2.) and the other for Sci-fi/Post Apocalypse type games based around a modified Mercs map that is available free online.

Unpacking and Initial Inspection and Comparison

Initial impressions were good. Printing quality was high. The material is quite thin but it feels robust. Once laid flat is moulds to the surface quite quickly. A bit of shine from overhead lights but the finish itself is not glossy – more of a satin finish.

Here are the two 3’x3′ next to Sam’s 2’x2′ and some close up shots.

Sci-Fi/Post-Apolocalyptic Mat

As I’d been ‘growing’ a new fantasy town I thought I’d quickly throw together a table with a few shanty houses and the like before I needed the table space back for the fantasy town terrain.

Sam’s Fantasy Village

Similarly, before committing the table to the ‘big brother’ I thought I’d try out Sam’s 2’x2′ with some buildings first. The results.

Fantasy Town

Still a work in progress but this is coming together. I’ve been trying to resist the fiddly clutter I tend to add to make this more ‘practical’. The mat replaces tiles using the same texture and it is a big improvement (should have taken shots of before and after, I know). The use of ‘pavement islands’ seems the best solution I can think of that achieves the desired effect yet remains modular.

Note 1: The printers were;
Pixartprinting SpA, a Cimpress Company
Via 1° Maggio, 8 – 30020 Quarto d’Altino VE – Italia

Spec (same for both mats I sent):

Processing n. 1

PVC Banners

Material

Extreme Classic PVC 500 gsm- 6,40

Orientation

Landscape

Number of copies of the same item

1

Width (cm)

91.5

Height (cm)

91.5

Printing details

Front only

Cutting Method

Squared

Accessories

None

Location of accessories

————–

Number of eyelets

0

Reinforced edges

————–

Pole pocket

None

Net Total

£ 10,24

Item name

Heroic Town

Estimated delivery date

14/03/2016

Using their online upload system was as easy as others I’ve used in my professional life and the service was very quick. Postage was free and there was VAT to add so each mat was £12.29 (still 50% or more cheaper than commercial mats though I suspect the material quality there would be higher). Sam reliably tells me that he purchased his during a sale offering (I think) 50% off. Do the maths.

Needless to say I’m on their mailing list now ready to take advantage of the next sale on vinyl prints!

Note 2: I’d been using some Dave Graffam street tiles. They are great. Indeed it’s his art used on Sam’s mat seen above. However over time I found them too busy and too grey. I then printed out a 2’x3′ Darkburgh from Pworks. Looks great, but again, too busy on the eye in practice.

I’d bought some Heroic Map tile sets and Battle Maps before and started looking at them with a view to a town setup. In principle I had what I wanted (from Modular Town Houses kit) – nice muted tones, nice sandy colouring, not too strong in contrast. However I was missing some of the files from the download. I emailed Joe at Heroic Maps and he was only too happy to help and quickly sent me the need files. Yeah! Needless to say, with the results I’ve got and the quality of maps available from Heroic Maps I’ll be sure to be printing off a few more.

11 thoughts on “Mat procrastination finally pays off. DIY Fantasy and Sci-fi battle mats.”

    1. Indeed there are. If you dig around in my archive you’ll find a board made from one available on topsolitario. A heat site full of useful material. Most of the shanty houses are freely available from TommyGun who is also very awesome. A Google on ‘free paper models’ or ‘free wargames terrain’ will throw up a few useful sites indexing other resources.

      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment and share.

  1. A quick question – how do you and / or Sam combine the 6 inch by 6 inch dave graffam tiles ( i have those myself) to make one 2 x 2 ( or indeed a 3×3 ) mat before sending it off to the printers please? ( im not very savvy with adobe !!! )

    1. Hi Dave. Think “jigsaw” (i.e. jigsawing them together into your desired layout before committing to printing) then yes, I’m afraid it is a Photoshop or Illustrator stitch job. Not that difficult really. Just set your canvas/artboard to the desired finished size then drop in the ’tiles’ you want until you’ve made up your layout. (Make sure the file is set to the correct resolution 300dpi first.

      The two that I made were a bit different. The Heroic Maps texture was also dropped in to Photoshop and I tried to make the ’tiling’ as seemless as possible before flattening the image. The MERCS map was ‘technically’ easier as it’s ready to go – except I Photoshopped out a bunch of scatter items/manholes etc that would removed ‘scale sensitive’ objects.

      In all cases I was also scaling down a bit for 15mm at the same time (but not necessary). I’d advise against that too if you plan on using the in-built gridding for measuring.

      As far as Photoshop ‘skill’ required – I’d class as pretty simple stuff. Hope that helps a bit.

  2. Hello again – would i have to buy the photoshop program to enable me to do this or is there a trial / alternative i can use for free ? ( i’m only planning to make 1 or 2 tables )

    Thanks again !!

    1. Hey – Sorry Dave. Totally missed your post!

      For what it is worth (5 months later), NO, absolutely no need to fork out for something like Phototshop. Whilst I do not use it myself, I understand GIMP is a good, free, Windows based alternative.

      Having said that, depending on the format or size/scale of your original, you may not need to do any editing at all.

      If I can help please feel free to get in touch about it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.