Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sectional Terrain: Basic Roads

 With the tree plates and naval terrain done (mostly, more reports to follow on both), the last remaining "big item" is to make some road sections.  I use a very simple method that is way to do and provides good results.  The first step is to cut out the basic road shapes.  I prefer to use Mat board as the underlayment - it's durable and cheap.  Road width is really a function of scale - I went with 2.5 inches since these roads will be used with both 28mm and 15mm minis.  Roughly 30 minutes of drawing and cutting with a hobby knife results in 23 feet of road sections.

The benefit of the mat board is that it is both flexible enough to be curved to follow contours but strong enough to resist warping as the silicon caulk cures.

 The next steps is to cover the road sections with silicon caulking.  I use a product in the US called DAP Dynaflex 230.  The important features are to select a caulk that is both flexible and paintable.  Squeeze out a generous bead of caulk over the road section and spread it out with a tool - I use a craft stick.
 Once the caulk is spread the next step is to smooth it out.  I like to use a damp foam brush to do the smoothing.  Don't use a good brush to do the smoothing because it will get ruined from caulk adherence.
After all the road sections have been "caulked" I like to go back and add wheel ruts.  The ruts are created by running a clean craft stick edge down each section 8-10 times - a bit more for intersection pieces.  Don't press too hard as deep ruts don't look that good.

To the right of the picture you can see my very sophisticated curve making tool - an old paint stirrer stick with holes drilled every 2.5 inches (the width of the road).  I find it easier to make road curves in 90 degree angles and then cut the finished section to be 45 degrees.

Let the road sections cure for 24 hours and they're ready to paint and flock.

From a time perspective it took me roughly 2 hours to get to this point and there's probably another 1-1.5 hours left to paint and flock.  The total cost of this project is:

Mat Board (1.5 20'x32" inch board @ $4.15 each): $6.23
2 tubes of DAP Dynafelx 230 @ $4.38 each: $8.76
1 foam brush: $0.75
Paint and ground foam: $5.00 (just a guess)

Total cost for 23 feet: $20.74 or $0.90/foot

That's not very expensive and is both a lot cheaper and just as nice as some commercially available products:

Flex Roads: 12' for $45.00: $3.75 / foot
- These are really nice and have a good grain so I think the quality is better than my method

Battlefront/Galeforce 9: Rural Roads 6 feet for $45.00: $7.50/foot
Nice sculpting but really high profile and super expensive.

EDIT: How does the road curving tool work?
It's really very simple - the thin board has holes drilled every 2.5 inches (the width of the road) and then I use the tool to draw a curve.  Anchor the bottom point with a nail or Phillips head screw driver and us a sharpie of each outer hole to draw curve (like a compass).  Start with the outer most hole (12.5 Inches on my stick) and draw a curve.  I found a 90 degree curve works best.  Being careful not to move the bottom control point, put the tool back to the initial point and then draw a second curve at the next lower point (10 inches) and repeat.  Soon you'll have marking for curves that keep the desired road width constant.


Stefan (aka. Monty) said...

Very inspirational. Looking forward to see them painted.

Stryker said...

An excellent idea - I've been thinking about making some roads and these seem ideal. I've not heard of 'Mat Board' in the UK, is it cardboard (mounting board)?

jmilesr said...

I think it's referred to in the UK as mounting board. It's primary use is with picture framing and it's a very heavy weight paper product thats about 1/16 of an inch think

El Grego said...

Does the Dynaflex 230 have much of an odor to it as it dries?

jmilesr said...

Not the I noticed. I would let it cure outside or in a garage (I used a garage)

Der Alte Fritz said...

The big problem with the Battlefront roads is that they tank treads embedded into the road sections, making them unsuitable for Horse and Musket periods and earlier.

Could you expound on the road curving method, I couldn't understand how you used the tool.

jmilesr said...

Alter Fritz - I edited the end of this post with a description on how to use the curve making "tool". It's essentially a very crude compass that's marked based on the desired road width.

Will you be coming to Historicon this year?