Making Roads

Seems I am getting bold: After purchasing a terrain mat from Pieropablo, I wanted to experiment a bit with the technique myself. The plan was not so much to make my own mat (at the moment, I don’t have the space for that) but to make some terrain features.  There are some very helpful tutorials out there, the most inspiring being the one on Tobi’s Paint Pot and the discussions on the German Sweetwater Forum.

My experiment started with mixing unthinned acrylic paint with sand and slathering the mass unto a piece of felt. After letting it dry, I cut out a roundish shape and did a little bit of drybrushing. Ok, this seems to work! I had a decent wood base for our mediterranean games.

Let’s tackle something bigger. For some time now I wanted to build new roads. The ones I have are nice but a bit broad for 15mm medievals – they are scaled for 28mm (I bought them for the pirates) and look like highways with the small guys. There are a lot of different techniques for making roads out there, but I haven’t yet read something about mine, so here goes:

Take a piece of felt or other textile – mine was about 100x80cm. Some use artist’s canvas, but this is way too expensive where I live and the felt seems to work fine. With a permanent marker pen, draw on your roads. I used my 28mm roads as templates for the larger pieces and just freehanded meandering paths.


Fix the cloth to a surface. This is necessary to prevent shrinking when the acrylic dries. Think of turning it around so as not to slather the acrylic over your carefully drawn roads, as I almost did!

The next step is to mix a paste of acrylic – this time I used the sealant acrylic that is available for next to nothing at every DIY store – with paint and sand. Put on disposable gloves as it is going to get messy! Pour the mass unto the felt and rub it in. You can create different structures with your fingers, so do experiment a bit.


When this is ready, let dry for a couple of days to make sure the acrylic cures. You want to leave the stuff in a room you don’t have to use often because during drying acrid fumes emerge from the mass. When everything is properly dried, cut out the roads with scissors. A quick drybrush and a whiff of mat spray varnish and the roads are finished!


I’m quite content with how this worked out and already see many more possiblities. Next up are more wood bases and, who knows, maybe I will even try a gaming mat, provided I can make space to let such a large surface undisturbed for a couple of days.


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