Sunday, 24 July 2011

Flexible Roads

Every terrain layout in wargaming has to have roads, and they're always a bit of an annoying compromise. The most annoying bit is that they stand proud of the ground, when they should really be blended into it. Roads are usually a little bit higher than the surrounding ground so that they'll drain properly, but most resin road pieces are much too high. And of course resin is rigid, so the roads always have to lie flat. A few years ago, we started to see latex roads which could be laid over rolling terrain. They're hard to paint; it's all horrible compromises, really. And even though they're usually quite a bit thinner than resin, they still sit on the table rather than blending into it. I got so fed up of looking at the effect that when I bought up all my Hexon, I decided to build the roads directly into the tiles. It's making the tiles more work than I'd hoped, but it is a nicer effect.

Which is all by the by, because today I tripped over a way of making nice, thin flexible roads. I'd made the roads on the tiles by painting PVA glue onto the tile and then sprinkling sawdust over the glue. When the glue set, I worked thinned PVA into the sawdust to seal the top. This darkens the sawdust quite noticeably and then a dry brush of light grey gives a passable simulation of a dusty gravel road. I was in such a hurry to get at least some of the tiles looking right that I didn't prime them properly, or even wash them, so when I chipped at one end of the road to get some gunk off the edge of the tile, the whole mess of glue and sawdust lifted off the tile.

And it hit me; you could make a perfectly good flexible road this way. Paint the glue onto smooth plastic, sprinkle on the sawdust (or sand, sand would work well), seal it, dry brush it, seal it again, and then just peel it off. Hey presto, completely flexible low profile road for essentially nothing but your time. Being so thin and light, it would tend to shift on the table, but heavy resin roads tend to shift as well, and you can't store twenty feet of resin road in an envelope.

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