Dust Tactics: How to Make a Custom 3D Gaming Board

Following on from the teaser reveal last week of my custom 3D Gaming Board I made for Dust Tactics. Here's a step-by-step to guide on how to build your own. This technique is relatively simple and could be used to make a variety of urban, sci-fi, or post-apocalyptic gaming boards (I would like to use this technique for my Judge Dredd Miniatures board). It was pretty quick, easy and relatively cheap.

Dust Tactics Custom Gaming Board, Finished and In Action
Whilst the whole project was undertaken over a series of months, in terms of actual time spent it could really be done in just a few weekends.

Dust Tactics is a board game and. in the Dust Tactics: Core Revised Set, you get a poster sized play-map. The artwork is what you'd expect from a modern 2D gaming map, high quality, thematic and quite generic. Great to get you started but after a while it seems a little bland.

To variety to the gaming surface, the Dust Tactics: Terrain Tile Map Pack adds 12 double sided terrain boards. The terrain board set essentially adds a different theme to the gaming map, the tiles themselves do not change the basic game mechanic, i.e. they don't for the most part (with the exclusion of water) add significantly different terrain effects. It is however, very shiny. Industrial themed, layered colour variations, worn, stained concrete, direction markers and rusty panels.

Dust Tactics Terrain Tile Set

The Dust Tactics maps and terrain boards feature squares that measure around 93mm. I increased this very slightly to 95mm for ease of measurement. Each tile is 3 squares by 3, but for ease of setting up a table I made sections of 9 by 3 squares. I also made just one section of 3 by 3, to help with certain scenario layout configurations. I didn't change the size too much, so that the Dust Tactics: Warzone Tenements (designed to fit the standard map) would still fit pretty well and not look out of place.

The base of the board is 6mm MDF, batten on the outside only. I use the three drill method, Highly recommended. What's the three drill method? One drill for drilling holes, one drill for counter-sinking and one drill for putting the screw in. I made my first terrain board in this method with a single drill and it took about six hours. I made all these boards with three drills in just over two hours. The Drills I picked up were part of a Ryobi Cordless Rechargeable Drill Twin Pack.

The only picture I could find was the one I took when I made my first terrain board, slowly... with a screwdriver.
The whole board was then covered in cork tiles, cut down to 95mm squares. Every tile had a bevelled edge created with a quick sanding.

Keeping the tiles even was actually trickier than I anticipated.
Gluing the tiles onto the boards (wood glue) and retaining a good fit all the way along was a little difficult (expansion in contact with wood glue perhaps?) and a few had to be cut down (just a mm or two here and there).Since finishing this project I have found a much quicker way of doing this (on some dungeon terrain tests), which I wish I had known about. Cover the whole board in cork, mark the squares and then cut with a sharp knife at a 45 degree angle along both sides of the line, the bevel pops out easily, much quicker and far less effort. Every day is a schoolday!

First three boards, a standard 9 by 9 game size, unpainted, with rubble terrain WIPs.
Once I had a few under my belt is was simply a case of knuckling down and getting it done.

I base coated the top edge of the boards with a dark grey primer and then primed the whole board with a medium grey house paint emulsion. Rather than trying to dry-brush (which as anyone who has tried it, can be challenging on a large flat surface, I kept the base-coat relatively light.

Undercoat with grey house paint emulsion.
Following the first coat I ran a quick diluted coat over the top in the same grey, this filled in the few spots that got missed on the first pass and also gave some areas a patchy, stained effect.

Panted board, with patchy effect, before colour was added.
To ensure there was more colour variation across the board, I split the board into 3 by 3 sections, using a straight edged mask and here and there, began sponging on colour variations. This was simply a case of choosing a variety of greys, browns, ochres and even some blue and green (more subtle) and after a few tests I stipple sponged on the colour. I added a few smaller squares (hatches or patches on concrete) for more variation.

To add to the industrial feel a drew up some stencils of directions and hazard markings on plain white paper and once again (this time using white, black, red and yellow) sponged on the markings.

Sponging on the markings
Once all of the main colouring was complete a ran over the whole board with a VERY light dry-brushing in a much lighter grey, literary just enough to catch the corners of the squares.

Dust Tactics Custom Gaming Board: Finished, without terrain.
All in all I was very pleased with the result. I have a few more specific pieces to make, two open water boards, one submarine and some customer 'blocking' terrain pieces. The table is likely to get a public outing  as a friend of mine and I are putting on a Dust Tactics display game at the Eastern Front Wargames Show on Sunday 27th July 2014 in Norwich.

Dust Tactics Custom Gaming Board: In Action

25 comments:

  1. That is one hell of a cool board dude.
    Awesome work.
    How did you make that building, it's really nice.
    It's all come together very nicely Adam.

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    1. Thank you kindly Bob, glad you like it. The building is one of the official Dust tactics Warzone Tenements. A snap together plastic kit that I've simply added a few very simply extra details to. the 'roof' of. I've got quite a few of them now and they're pretty cool and can be used for a variety of periods

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  2. That is one heck of an impressive looking table, well worth all the effort you've put into it.

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    1. Thank you sir. I really enjoyed building it and it's been great to use so far.

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  3. That is cracking work sir, very nice!

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  4. You've done a fantastic job on it, Adam. I could certainly see it working well in other games, but especially Judge Dredd.

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    1. Thakn you Bryan. I'm very keen to put together a table for Judge Dredd and plannig has commenced. I just need to try and finish this and some of my other rprojects first. It is definitely on the cards though!

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  5. Fabulous I think that is a great tutorial. Will try that with some idea or other. Well done.

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    1. Cheers Bob. Glad it's helpful. It'd be great to see what you do with it. If you have any questions about any aspect, just ask!

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  6. Great job mate, the board looks fantastic

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    1. Thank you sir. I was pretty pleased when I saw it all together for the first time.

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  7. As mentioned... this is quite awesome. Good work so far.

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    1. Thank you Johnny. There's still some to do beforie it's 'finished' but it's progressed nicely

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  8. The table is terrific. It's awe inspiring even in 2D, without buildings.

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    1. Thank you Baconfat. It certainly makes me want to play more games, which is a huge win in my book! :)

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  9. Stunning work, inspired and beautiful!

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  10. Hey sexgod, cant wait to see it at Eastern Front. I'll be there!!!

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    1. Hey Matt. Fantastic, it'll be great to see you there mate!

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  11. Ad, I've nominated you for a Liebster award dude. Details on my blog.

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    1. Hey Bob, that's EPIC, thank you very much indeed!

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  12. Thanks! Great modeling project. I'm going to get in the back of the line of your Followers.

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    1. Hi Jay. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Glad you like it.

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  13. Did you know that you can create short urls with AdFly and get cash from every click on your short urls.

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