Saturday, June 4, 2011

Shapes and Colours

It occurred to me as I contemplated patterns for drawing hexes, that if I'm not drawing full hexes, it wouldn't really matter if some of them were a little bit wonky. The table would still be split into areas with the right overall patterns. A half inch here or a few degrees there wouldn't matter, the distance would still be 3 hexes and within the hex pattern defining a certain arc.  While on one of my morning walks, it also occurred to me that the surrounding fields and pastures are full of variations and especially little lines of colours where a bit of taller grass grows in a damp patch or where a path has been trod and so forth.

A row of hay that got missed in the foreground, line of bushes between fields in the background.

 A track, a stream and pond too small to play a role in anything but a skirmish game and some bushes, all good hex angle or side markers.
Another line of bushes (and trees) between fields. Very common here and in the areas where many of the War of 1812 battles were fought. 

Yellow flowers (ok weeds for those who don't care for dandelions amidst other wildflowers) help change the colours of the field in the foreground vs the one in the back, beyond the ubiquitess dark green line of bushes.  

Its times like these that I wish I had a stronger artistic bent and some training, or at least that my sister lived closer to advise me. As bright a green as my table seemed to me when I painted it, its still too dark but the  only things as bright as the brighter green that I highlighted with, were some patches of ferns that I passed. More tans and yellows are needed with dark green.....hmmh.... highlights is not the right word, darker contrasting patches.  Of course, this is all for a Spring table. Many of the 1812 battles I'll want to fight took place in the Autumn so really a lot of yellows, browns and tans suitable for dried grass and dead leaves ought  to predominate but I'm not going to repaint my table for every battle so will settle for something suitably bucolic.

A soft medium/dark green paint would have been good but I was in my usual "Irregular D" uncontrolled advance mode and started with what was to hand, a green felt pen. Anyway, perhaps this fall I'll repaint the base coat and start over again but for now, I'll just keep slowly working on  it and experimenting with colours in between some test games. The goal is to breal up the monotones and to have the hex grid clear enough to play in but not as "in your face" as a clear printed grid.
8 singly based 40mm figures fit comfortably. If based shoulder to shoulder on multi-figure bases, 12 figures per hex should work for the Scruby, Zinnbrigade and my own homegrown figures should I wish to go that route. I need to determine what a "unit" will be for the War of 1812, I expect about 1/2 or 1/3 a battalion or 200-300 men.
25mm Persians experimenting with a proposed 3 x 60mm bases per unit, occupying 2 hexes. If this works, it would allow the use of existing 25mm troops without rebasing onto something "odd".

I also forgot for a short spell, to stop  and measure to make sure that my template wasn't creeping too far off true. Oh Well, once the clouds of smoke start drifting across the field, no one will notice. If I get some hills cut this afternoon, tomorrow, I"ll roll some Dice!


  1. Ross Mac,

    I like the idea of drawing just enough detail on your terrain cloth to define where the corners and faces of the hexes are. One possibility you might consider is putting a large dot for each hex corner, and a dash in the centre of the hex face so that a hex side looks like this:
    . - .

    The dot will be easier to draw that your current 'Y' shape, and the dash is easily drawn with a rules half way between each dot.

    One idea that I have seen used to break up the uniformity of a terrain cloth was to give it a very light spray of different colours (brown and tan on a green cloth) from a distance. The resulting patches are thin enough to let the original colour show through. I understand that this process needs a bit of practice (as well as an open space and somewhere to hang the cloth whilst you spray it) but can produce some excellent results.

    All the best,


  2. Ross mac,

    Sorry that my last comment was from 'Anonymous' but for some reason IE keeps making me sign in to my Google account ... and then saying that I don't have one even though I am using it!

    I have switched to Safari for the moment to cure the problem.

    All the best,


  3. Bob

    I had the same problem earlier this week when posting from work, I think Bill Gates is out to get me.

    Looks good

  4. Good work Ross - I've tried doing something similar with my plans for scatter on a green hottz mat. I think I'm a bit too much of a cowardly cowardly custard to take sprays to them though.

  5. Ross,

    For different seasons you might consider getting a couple of 4'x8' sheets of the thinnest (to hold down weight) MDF board at your local hardware/building supply store.

    Have them cut them up so that you can make a variety of tabletops that you can lay on top of your existing table.

    This way you can have a wide variety of table top surfaces . . . Spring, Fall, Desert, Water, etc. (remember that each board has two sides).

    Finally . . . if using different colored blotches to "shape" your table top, do not limit yourself to single-hex shapes; the multiple-hex shapes will work well too.

    -- Jeff

    -- Jeff

  6. Bob, that's ok, I would have known who you were :)
    The over spray is a good idea, I do that on terain clothes but this is my actual table surface. My wife is very sensitive to sprays so any experiments in that vein will have to wait till she goes away for a week.

    What I would really like is an airbrush and the talent and skills of a graphic artist.

    Conrad, just practice on something else 1st, an old sheet, the kitchen table cloth.....

  7. Jeff, good idea, storage is a bit of a problem so I was planning on using various cloth coverings for seasons and different climes but the boards are still a possibility, esp a water ones, hard to get cloth to look right whereas a board could be varnished. I don;t do much in the way of naval games but the occasional amphibious landing is tempting. So a sea board with an island or beach over lay is attractive.