Custom Tiles - Greywolf's Under Construction Page
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Greywolf's Under Construction Page

CUSTOM TILES

 

This is very much a project in progress, but I thought I'd go ahead and post a few photos of my initial work. Basically, I wanted to make a few custom floor tiles for an RPG, and do it quickly. For truly "professional" work, a great deal more care should go into making sure that things line up perfectly, and I'd be using better mold-making material, but since these are for a fairly limited run of pieces for personal use, I figured that expedience is the top priority.

Basically, my latest project consists of a number of "custom tiles", some constructed with existing Hirst Arts tiles, and others made with pieces of plastic from various broken toys (acquired in thrift stores), pieces of plastic sprue, some putty, and/or pieces of mat board.

RoboRally Tiles Robo-Rally Tiles
What initially prompted this building spree, was receiving news that Wizards of the Coast's "Robo-Rally" miniatures/card game might be re-released in mid-2005, through Avalon Hill Games. I've played this game only a couple of times, but it's a lot of fun, and I think it would benefit greatly from playing boards with 3D elements. I don't think it would be feasible to try to perfectly replicate the existing factory floor tiles, since they very much rely on the fact that the features are presented in 2D - and hence there's little concern about the details in each square of the board crowding out the miniatures that are also supposed to occupy that space.

Still, I figured I could at least tackle some of the basics. For a basic floor plate tile, I used a plain 1"x1" floor tile from the "Station Builders" mold set, and ground "rivets" along the edges. For a conveyor belt tile, I used another "Station Builder" plain tile, but this time I glued several pieces of plastic sprue from an old model kit to make the rollers. For the belt itself, I will simply cut out pieces of paper (printed off with arrows on them as appropriate) that I can glue atop the castings of the conveyor belts.

The tile with the disc on it is supposed to represent a "spinning" tile, though I added a bunch of mechanical-looking junk around the disc, since it covered only a little of the tile - and I wanted to have a level area to support a miniature's base without it wobbling too terribly. Lastly, there's a "grate" tile, which would serve the purpose in Robo-Rally of designating a repair shop tile - by gluing on a one-wrench or two-wrench "decal" (paper, run off from a laser printer) as per the original board game.

I also imagine that the grill tile and rivet tile may be of use to recreate floor plans for Games Workshop's "Space Hulk" game.

Skematic Tiles Skematic Tiles
Another idea bouncing around my head was to use the Hirst Arts "Skematic" floor tiles to make some Mage Knight/HeroClix scale floor boards. These would be useful for alien floor plans ... or else, painted differently, to represent cyberspace for a "netrunning" scenario. The trouble is, the original Skematic tiles are 1" squared, and the Mage Knight/HeroClix scale is 1.5" squared. So, I took a few of the basic Skematic Tiles, and padded them out to 1.5"x1.5" with some of the narrow .25" wide segments from the "Station Builder" set. I used a dremel to continue the grooves out to the edges, and then tried to use Magic Sculpt and a bit of sanding to fill in the gaps and smooth out the edges. The final castings will probably be noticeably not smooth, but hopefully it'll still look neat enough for my purposes.

Space Hulk Tiles Space Hulk Tiles
I've actually been kicking around the idea to do something like this for a while now. The "grill" tiles from the "RoboRally" picture above would be useful, but I also wanted a variety of other floor tiles with "tech" details on them, such as conduits and cables running across the corridor ... and I wanted to sloped pieces to serve for the walls. The "wall" section (2" wide, 3/4" tall) consists of a plastic piece from a broken Star Wars MicroMachines set - one that was supposed to transform from Darth Vader's lightsaber into the "Death Star Trench". The interior of the toy had a lot of nice paneling with little "techno" features, so I've used bits from it for some techno texturing. Here, 2" of it are glued atop some "Station Builder" half-floor tiles (.25" tall, 1" wide, .5" across). The plastic piece itself has been dremeled a bit to smooth out the edges and get it to attach at an angle, while I used some mat board and Magic Sculp to fill in the remaining gaps.

Other bits here include a "techno door" (1" wide, and a bit taller), a "techno floor tile", and a small "RoboRally wall section" (a Station Builder "half tile" piece meant to be put up on its end to represent wall sections on a RoboRally factory board - with a "caution stripe" pattern etched onto each side). I made another "techno floor tile" as well, but it was glued down to another part of the board I was making the molds from, so it wouldn't neatly fit in this picture.

Now, the 2" wall section doesn't quite deal with problems such as those caused by turning corners ... but I can make some additional pieces to cover that, provided that these molds work well enough to warrant further construction.

HeroClix Tiles HeroClix Tiles
For my "Superior City" campaign, I've been using a bunch of my "Mage Knight" Hirst Arts floor boards, plus some additional ones I've made for the purpose of a more contemporary setting. I figured I could use some smooth floor tiles (or at least some tiles that are mostly smooth), to use for floors for building interiors and such. So, I have one 1.5"x1.5" tile built up from various "Station Builder" tiles to start off with. Another flat 1.5"x1.5" tile is made from layered pieces of mat board. (I thought the slight bumpiness of the mat board would make for an interesting alternate texture. Plus, it would be sure not to have the seams that are bound to show through on the Station Builder tile despite my best attempts.) A larger "grill" tile is made from layered mat board and a piece of "cross-stitch grid", with some putty to fill in gaps. Lastly, the bottom piece is meant to be one side of a modern door. (It's mostly featureless, but I just pretty much wanted something with enough weight that it could stand on its own. Details will probably be added in the form of printer-made "decals".)

Next, I started making latex molds for all of these, using "Mold-Builder". This took a while, and, I should note, "Mold-Builder" is really only a good idea if you're going to make castings of fairly "organic" models - that is, things that, if they should warp a little, won't be all that noticeable. Statues, rocks, wreckage, treasure piles, piles of debris, alien fungus, etc. - mostly rounded shapes, and not necessarily uniform - would work. "Machined", flat, regular surfaces really don't work so well. I've been able to get some halfway-decent results with very shallow items (such as custom tiles) on occasion, but I've discovered that even when things are fairly nice and flat - reducing the chance that the sides will bulge out during casting - the rubber may still suffer from some warping during the time of curing, after the master is removed, and even over time, after multiple castings.

Alas, that's been happening with these molds. Still, I figured it might be worth showing off some of the pieces I put together for my games, with that cautionary note.

Cyberspace Tiles Cyberspace Tiles
These are some castings of the modified 1.5"x1.5" "Skematic" tiles, basically with some "padding" added around the edges. It no longer gets quite the same effect as the original dazzling Skematic patterns, but I think it suffices to make a playground for a "cyberspace" setting for an RPG - or a game of HeroClix. The tiles are built in 6"x6" sections (that is, 4 squares by 4 squares), on foam-core board. I arranged the tiles so that, on every outer edge segment, there were two connecting lines running to the edge of the board, but no connecting lines running off the board at any of the corners. This way, the boards can be rearranged, and oriented any which way, and they'll still match up.

The tiles were first painted with dark brown house paint (since that's the closest to black house paint that I had handy at the time), and then, once dried, drybrushed with white acrylic paint over the "lines". Once that dried, I went over all the "techno lines" with "neon green" acrylic paint. This stuff is very watery and translucent, so it was necessary to give a white undercoating first. (In retrospect, I might have gotten an even nicer effect if I had drybrushed with white, then drybrushed with yellow, and then applied the neon green.) The neon green paint was allowed to seep into the recessed grooves, since it adds to the "luminescent" effect. Finally, black acrylic was used to paint the surface of the tiles outside the "glowing green" pathways.

These could be floor plans for, say, some kind of "Danger Room", or perhaps part of an alien starship, for a HeroClix battle. Wall dividers could be constructed from the Skematic set. However, they could just as easily be used as-is, for an odd "labyrinth" scenario: figures could be forced to move along the pathways, and not across intervening gaps. I'd have to add some consideration about whether ranged attacks would be allowed across the gaps (probably not), and how flying and leap/climb would be handled (probably useless here). "Phase/Teleport" would probably come in pretty handy in this sort of environment!

HeroClix Scenery HeroClix Scenery
A few more items for superheroes to toss around! I decided to try painting up some trash dumpsters with "graffiti" for added color appeal, and to make some alternate drink brands (other than just "Cold Cola") for the soda machines.

These are examples of items that don't generally make for very good molds to do with Mold-Builder or the like, due to their depth, and predominance of smooth, regular surfaces. Fortunately, I added enough layers that the molds had some degree of built-in rigidity, but over time (and use), the molds are doomed to warp. (If I were doing this all properly, I would make a fiberglas "shroud" for each mold, to help hold its shape while casting, but I was basically just toying around while I was making the floor tile molds: it wouldn't be worth the added expense and effort.)


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Castlemolds is a trademark of Hirst Arts. "Dungeons and Dragons" and "RoboRally" are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast. "Mage Knight" and "HeroClix" are trademarks of WizKids Games. "Space Hulk" is a trademark of Games Workshop. "Ironclaw" and "Jadeclaw" are copyright Sanguine Productions Ltd.. "Magic Sculp" is a trademark of the Franklin Co. This is not an official site, and the contents of this site should not be considered indicative of the quality of Hirst Arts products. With the exception of the "Castlemolds" logo, and except where otherwise noted, all artwork and all articles on this page are (c) by T. Jordan "Greywolf" Peacock, and may not be reproduced without permission.