Sunday, May 22, 2016

Making a Terrain Mat

Since I moved to Edmonton last fall, I haven't done much Historical gaming.  Part of this is the group that is here, but part of it was also a combination of my looking to do something different.  However, my favourite period is Napoleonics, and I like big games.  I had the table space but  I did not have a larege enough game mat to  play a big Napoleonic game.

I set out to make myself a 12x5' game mat to host big napoleonics on.  my biggest hurdle was getting the scenic grass i wanted.  I Picked up a shaker of Scenic Express EX881 Summer Grass blend  "flock and Turf"  last spring while i was at Cold Wars .  the stuff is a mixture of coarseness's   of flock and turf  but the green is a nice bright green like the original GW Static grass.   it's really nice looking. 

the problem with scenic Express Products is they are not distributed in Canada, nor does scenic express apparently ship here either.  while searching the internet i found a website called Model Train Stuff  which sells scenic express Products.   I ordered 4 "Eco"bags of 48oz grass.  their estimated shipping time was 2+ weeks, but it arrived in less then 10 days!  The service was good, they let me know when it shipped and provided a tracking number.  I'll definitely consider buying stuff from them again.

anyway, I also bought myself a new Phone, which i used to take the pics of the mat making process. but before I began I wanted to test it's usefulness at taking pictures of miniatures, so i stepped over to my display case and took a single shot of my small ECW collection, and this was the result (of one try only). I was quite satisfied.

The earl of Essex and company. all Warlord Games figures.

anyway, on to hte mat making.  I decided to go with a process i have raed about of several blogs and post on The Miniatures Page.  you take a peice of cloth (in this case a Canvas Dropcloth form home Depot) and coat it with a combination of Acrylic Caulk with latex, Latex paint, and some sand.  then before it dries you cover it in teh flock/grass and pat it down.

Here is a lsit of everything i used:

4x48 oz  Scenic Express "Flock and Turf" Summer Grass Blend (plus shaker I had around, $60)
12x 300ml DAP Alex caulk( a contractor pack, $25)
1x 1 gallon of CIL flat brown paint( $30)
1x Everbilt 12x9' canvas Dropcloth($36)
1x 5 gallon orange Home Depot Bucket.($4)
4x handfuls of concrete sand
1x random piece of plastic from  window blinds i found in the back room(to stir, Free)

Total cost in Materials was $155 CDN.

I did not include the sand because i didn't use much (4 handfuls?)  and it's from a 10KG bag of concrete sand i bought like 8 years ago for another project.  but a bag of the sand will run you about 10-15 bucks.

I doubt you could by a 12x5 mat for that price.


first i laid out the dropcloth on my table, and cut it down to a little over 5 feet wide.  the Cloth is actually  about 3 inches short of 12 feet.

Cloth laid out and cut to size

Next I grabbed my caulking Gun and squeezed all 12 caulking tubes into the bucket.
Empty caulking tubes(right) and their former contents(left)

I then added a little less tehn half a gallon of the Brown paint and started Mixing.  I added 4 hand fulls of sand, one at a time, after teh caulking and paint ad been thoroughly mixed.

Mixed caulking, paint and sand.

Using a pair of Latex Gloves, i  spread the mixture over the dropcloth by hand. if you put it on too thin you see the texture of the canvas.  but it doesn't need to be really thick either. the dropcloth had some seams in it is i made it thicker around those to help hid them.

Mat partially grassed.

I then began sprinkling the grass on the mat by hand.  I didn't want full coverage, but at the same time i don't want a lot of the caulk and sand to show through, since it won't be dry brushed or have any depth. but you still want some showing through.

the Mat fully grassed

the total time from laying out the cloth to finishing the grassing was about 2.5 hours.

I'm pretty pleased with the results so-far.  The mat is still drying as i write this, so I'll post again when the mat is dry and i can get some closeups of the final result.


  1. Looks interesting , I,ll be sure to check it out when it's dry.

  2. I like the idea of mixing everything in the bucket first, the traditional way doing areas of caulk on the cloth a bit at a time has always seemed problematic to me as seems between working areas look harder to conceal.

    Do you need to iron the canvas before application? Or does the wet mixture take care of the folds?

    Thanks for the posting and ideas.

  3. That is awesome, definitely want a review on the results