Grass Tiles

The classic Table Top Terrain Tiles.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2021-12-03 | update: 2021-12-30

Intro

Yesterday we had built the Lava Tiles and learned a few things. Most beginners start their first Dungeons & Dragons adventure not in a hell, but in the forest or on a meadow. First the players have to get familiar with the rules and this can be done best in an environment they can imagine themselves. If a group of adventurers meets a group of hostile orcs in a meadow, this is easier to realize (not only for the dungeon master) but also for the game group (if it consists mostly of beginners) than a complex situation in a dungeon with traps, corridors, branches and locked doors. Therefore, today we will build super simple grass tiles.

Build

First, we cut the 3” x 3” tiles with a sharp modeling knife. We can also read about this again in the Lava tiles article if there are any questions about it. This time we need some stones, which you can buy at the Dollar store or find yourself in nature1. I took Foamcore again, because there are supply chain problems and I can’t get hold of certain material. Everything is difficult right now. In a pinch, you can also use strong cardboard and rebuild the tiles later.

Since I always like to try something new and not always just copy what others show in their articles and videos so I tried today whether I can glue with superglue stones2 on the Foamcore surface (if the paper was not removed). It works quite well and I didn’t expect it to. Otherwise, cardboard and superglue is rather difficult to combine. According to my experience so far, but maybe I just used too cheap cardboard until now.

After the superglue dries, we can apply brown paint as a base. I used Army Painter Dirt Spatter, but you can also use simple Dollar store acrylic paint. You’re probably asking yourselves why we should paint the tile with brown paint when we’re about to flock everything with the artificial grass again anyway, and that’s a good question. The answer is that the flock does not stick one hundred percent everywhere. Maybe when you applied the craft glue, you missed a very small spot. When you see brown color, the human brain thinks of soil that you see under the grass. On the first photo you can see such a small spot on the left tile. This is not a big deal and looks just as natural as our artificial grass tile.

Otherwise, yes you always paint stones to make them look nice. but this is also something you learned later when you built some dioramas or tabletop elements. Less is more and sometimes you don’t have to paint natural materials to make them look like … natural materials. Since I wanted to try out how light colored stones look with the green flock, I didn’t paint the stones, but left them in their original state.

Every tile, no matter how simple its nature, should have some visual interests. It’s the details that distinguish your models and terrain from all the other built things. On a grass tile you can do that with tufts. I once bought some from Army Painter that I’m going to use here, these little tufts look like flowers growing in a meadow. This can be used well, so that your grass tile does not look boring. Again, you have to make sure to leave room for your minis. Less is more. These are self-adhesive and can simply be glued from the adhesive film on your tile.

For our last step we need wood or craft glue. A cheap dollar store brush and the homemade grass flock3.

We coat the whole brown surface of our tile with the wood glue. Make sure to work neatly, but it is not a problem if a small spot remains free. We do not need to work quickly, because wood glue remains sticky for a long time. When we have covered the whole surface of a tile with wood glue, we hold it over our bucket of green flock and sprinkle it with a whole handful. Then we turn the tile over and flick the bottom of the tile a few times with our finger so that loose pieces of flock fall off by themselves. We seal the tile with a mixture of water and wood glue that we put in a spray bottle. With this we are almost done. Just paint the edge with black acrylic paint and let it dry. In a few hours, the tile can then be used for your first adventure.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen, this is a quick and easy way to create tiles for your first adventure. This doesn’t have to be a 3” x 3” size either. You can also build a small scene with maybe a few trees and a campground where your adventure will take place. Tabletop, model making and mini paint can get expensive, but it doesn’t have to because first and foremost you need your imagination. Ok, actually the Dungeon Master needs the imagination to make the game work well and for you to imagine it well. But you can also use these parts for other games than D&D.

Warping

Actually, I thought that the tile would not warp, because it still looked straight after a few hours. Unfortunately, this changed during the night. When I looked at the tile again in the morning, I could see the bent corners very clearly. Too bad. Dollar store Foamcore is not suitable for use as a tile. Until I finally have XPS foam on my desk, I decided to use the 3D printed tiles. This works quite well and I can also paint the edges better and easier. Maybe I will stay with the PLA tiles.

Footnotes


  1. If you want to get materials from nature and use them for your modeling projects, you have to keep a few things in mind. Natural materials such as stones, branches or bark from a tree can contain bacteria and other microorganisms. These have no place in your models. So you have to dry all materials in an oven at 160° for two hours (or 170° for one hour). Then all bacteria etc. are gone and you can use the materials safely. This process is called dry heat sterilization.↩︎

  2. Something you should also consider when gluing the stones. Leave space on the tile so that the minis can stand there. It looks great when everything is full of stones, but then no figure can stand on the tile. I leave space for at least two minis, so that they can fight on a tile without it looking too strange.↩︎

  3. The homemade flock is so beautiful. I like the color very much, because it reminds me of the old Warhammer models from the 90’ when everything was still so unprofessional and cool. Of course, with washes or Airbrush can adjust the grass tiles, but I let the first time so natural.↩︎


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