Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

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Whiterook
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Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

Postby Whiterook » Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:27 pm

Simple Foamcore Board can be the simplest solution to making a quick space combat battle mat...the hard matting stuff used in picture framing. It can be bought in archival quality, and black core, with black paper sides; it's a little pricier than white foamcore, but is the perfect backdrop for a little space art. The core, by the way, is foam.

I buy mine Michael's Craft Store, as they usually have a 40% off coupon on their website for non-sale items!

Elmer's Tri-Fold Foam Display Board

This is the stuff you see your kids use to make Science Fair Presentations and such, for instance. Brillaint! (<--- the material, and me :mrgreen: ) It is basically the same foamcore board used in picture framing, and comes with black core and black backing. But best of all, it is a self contained unit that folds to be more compact, and protect the useable surface, yet folds out to an impressive 36" X 48".

Sweet!!!

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Re: Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

Postby Whiterook » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:09 pm

The Elmer's Tri-Fold Foam Display Board costs about just under $15.00 USD, and had 40% knocked off to sweeten the deal!

Next up....what to draw the hexagons in. Being black paper foamcore board, I knew I wanted the hexes to be either white or silver. I briefly considered a silver Sharpie Marker....the kind the Celebrities use to sign their autographed photos and memorabilia. It certainly would have done the trick for permanence, but marking against any kind of guide, ruler or jig would be a real mess. Imagine trying to get all that permanent marker off your hands and elbows!

A paint pen is a winning idea for foamcore....and a lot more controllable than a broad-tipped Sharpie marker!

I quickly found a DecoColor Opaque White Paint Marker on that same trip to Michael's Craft Store, and best of all, it was on sale in their Discontinued section, which I picked up the marker for about $1.00 USD.

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Re: Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

Postby Whiterook » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:15 pm

How to draw that many hexes?!?

The typical scale of spaceship miniatures seems to be roughly 4" end to end, and systems I've read seem to allow for up two hexes on larger ships. So, that means a 2" hexagon would be the magic answer. And geeeeez, I knew exactly how I would draw them as soon as I determined that!

I was going to make a jig....a small hexagon shape....which I would have used as my rule to draw against. And I just had happened to keep the punch-out tree from my Memoir '44 game's terrain tiles, which were 2" hexagons! "Hey, I might need this someday", I told myself.....and my wife wanted me to throw it away!!! Paaaaaah!

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Pretty sweet, hunh? ....that one was FREE!!!!!! :!:

As you can see above, it worked like a charm. I found that if you flip it on one specific side, the steel rule die used to punch these sheets at the Days of Wonder factory made a rounded beveled edging on that one side; so when the marker is placed against the edges, the cardboard to drawing surface friction didn't cause a capillary effect to draw the liquid paint under the cardboard jig!

Excellent!!!

You can alternatively, make your own jig template out of cardstock or cardboard,

The paint marker itself has a bit if a ferrule to it, which glides against the jig; you depress the ferrule into the drawing surface, which primes the marker and releases the paint. It's a little tricky to get used to at first, but represents a quick learning curve to not hinder your progress.
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Re: Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

Postby Whiterook » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:18 pm

I would carefully lift and place the jig to new positioning, to get columns of hexes drawn, and then relied on a metal straight edge ruler with a cork strip backing to keep the metal ruler elevated above the drawing surface....again, to avoid capillary effect of drawing the paint under the metal rule and blooming into the surface of the paper. The straight edge I had picked up at the Dollar Store! Here are some progress pics to that point....

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Re: Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

Postby Whiterook » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:20 pm

So drawing the hexagons ended up going very well and easy, and I just took my time while jamming to my I-Pod! Once all the hexes were on, it was time for the next phase in this part of the project.....

The board now had hexes drawn in, but it was just set against black space....we needed stars. That was to be the next step; adding all the stars, along with constellations and such, all applied with an artistic style called "pointillism".

Taking your time and working in small sections (say, no more than 4-6 hexes at a time) so that you can step back (literally or figuratively) and gain perspective and balance, I applied in a series of varied sized dots and hand drawn art with the same pen used to make the hexes.....

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Re: Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

Postby Whiterook » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:24 pm

This is a pretty big board, but it needs to be for the fleets I plan to game!


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As you can see here, I basically went at this in a very random pattern for the starfield. It's a LOT of space to cover, so to speak. I worked in one hex at a time, in small grouping of hexes (as mentioned above). This allowed me to 'develop' the space around each grouping so as not to get noticeable *seams* between groupings. That may sound complex, but think of it this way: It would be very easy to get lost in the stars and start to loose consistency through the broad canvas that is this mapboard....working slow and in a small grouping of hexes, you work in manageable sections (chunks of space) that all *tie in* together seamlessly.

It's also very easy to get carried away with too much. As with most things in life, less is generally better than more. It's getting a feel as you go of knowing when to stop. I am more than happy with the results!!!
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Re: Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

Postby Whiterook » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:27 pm

Another trick I figured out early on was, density in the links. What I mean by that is, where the hex lines meet at corners and intersections between each other, make the dense stars more-or-less center on a point and expand in varying degrees into the "meat" of the hex. To me, it looks more like the hex grid is superimposed on the starfield; rather than the starfield superimposed on the hex grid.

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A last point on the mapboard....

I did consider putting some planets in there. I am sure someone out there is thinking .... "Hey man, where are the planets?" I didn't really think they were necessary. Plus, I don't want my fleets fighting around the same planet(s) ALL the time....that's just a bore!

So there you have the starfield mapboard upon which my great fleets will ply the darkness of space.
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Re: Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

Postby Whiterook » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:30 pm

And some pics of the final product....

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Re: Space Battle Map: A Simple solution

Postby Whiterook » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:32 pm

Some sprawling action scenes, opposing forces closing on each other....

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Hope you found this quick tutorial handy!
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