Welcome to the Highlander Studios blog.

I won't promise any earth shattering revelations here. What I will be trying to do is post some new products as I release them, share some thoughts on gaming and show some pics of games and other stuff that I enjoy. So come in and make yourselves at home.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Road Goes Ever, Ever On

Quick Easy Roads

      The bane of my gaming existence is terrain making. I enjoy having highly detailed, realistic items on the board, but when I start building them I soon lose interest due to the length of time they take to build. I've wanted some decent city streets and roads for my games for a while. I decided that that I'll eventually build fully detailed modular boards. In the interim what do I do for the game in a day or two? My solution was to build some serviceable road sections as quickly and cheaply as possible. Here's the result when added to the game table.

     The following is a tutorial on how I made my quick and dirty roads. I hope it provides some inspiration and simple instruction to those who want to make something similar.

Gathering the Materials

     The first step I took was to take a look around my studio and see what materials I had on hand. Using items that were already available made the project essentially free. The cost of the materials if I were to purchase them again would be less than $20 for 30 to 50 feet of roadway in 15mm scale. The time involved to make this first set was around 4 hours including decision making and trial and error on a few test parts. I ended up with about 10 feet of roadway. Back to the materials.


      Materials and Tools:

      Black Fun Foam: I had 12” x 18” sheets on hand. Actual dimensions are slightly less than that so there was a good bit of left over material that wasn't wide enough or long enough for the road sections I wanted. They were used as test pieces and will be used in other projects like sidewalks later.

      White Paint: I actually chose an off-white. The actual color and brand of paint is a matter of personal choice. The paint on hand was Folk Art – Tapioca. Yellow would be a good additional color for different road styles. I kept this first set simple.

      Weathering Powder: I had some Vallejo – Concrete here. You can use whatever brand or even chalk pastels. I wanted a light gray to mute the road surface when I was done.

      Platinum Gray Primer: It's not shown in the picture. I used a cheap, sandable automotive primer.

     Tools: Steel ruler, 1/4” flat, #1 and #2 round brushes, X-acto knife, ball point pen and pencil.


     Designing the pieces was the most time consuming part of the project. I wanted roads that were scaled for 15mm gaming. I chose to go with a 3” width. That's slightly over scale for a 22 foot wide road, but most of my vehicles are slightly larger than 1/100 scale and I figured a little extra room to move figures wouldn't hurt. I arbitrarily chose 9” and 6” lengths. That ended up providing me with a good bit of flexibility when laying out my first town. The intersections, corners, and curves will all be based on 6”x 6”, 9”x6” or 9”x9” rectangles.

      These techniques will work for whatever scale you happen to want to play. You'll need to adjust the road widths and/ or lengths to meet your specific needs.

     I used two sheets of Fun Foam and decided to lay out 1 T-intersection, 1 intersection, 2 6” lengths and 4 9” lengths. I marked the measurements with a pencil and cut them out with the knife.

     I experimented with different painting techniques on a couple of scrap pieces and found that the fastest way to get good coverage was to simply apply a light coat of primer over the parts. I allowed some of the black to show through.

     Using the #2 brush, I lined the edges of the roads. I free-handed them, but you could just as easily line a straight edge along the side and paint them that way.

     At first I painted the center lines by drawing them on in pencil and painting over the lines with the #1 brush. But then it hit me that I could just line up the straight edge and paint them them to the lengths I wanted without the extra step. I didn't do any real research on line lengths or spacing for this set. The goal was speed, not accuracy. I'll take some time to get measurements for the next sets. For now, I have the impression of roads with dotted lines.

     You could stop at this point and have perfectly serviceable terrain. I wanted more wear. So I added some cracks and small potholes. You can get as crazy with this as you like. These were drawn on with a ball point pen.

     The last touch I added was to apply the weathering powder. I used my fingers to dab on blotches and then smoothed it out with the 1/4” brush. I brushed parallel to the lines for the most part, but I also brushed down into the cracks to mute them a bit.

     Here are a few shots of all of the pieces. Total time spent was about 4 hours.

     The work flow on the next few sets should be a little more streamlined. I'll be adding more straights, some different sized intersections, different line styles and some curves.


Joseph Byrd said...

QWIK Upgrade: ROAD RAGE!!!

Jay said...

Like it.

Team.DATAC said...

Nice, thanks Rod.... I'll be needing these soon.

Gunrunner said...

Good work, Rod- time well spent!

Allison M. said...

Those look really nice, actually! I assume "fun foam" is those thin open cell foam sheets you can buy at craft stores etc?

Rodrick Campbell said...

That's precisely the stuff, Allison.

Allison M. said...

Hobby supplies that are super cheap and easily worked with? My favorite kind.

Anonymous said...

Excellent tips!!! THANKS!