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You will need black acrylic paint, Elmers glue in a squeeze bottle, water, a medium, flat paint brush, gray, tan and green paint, three types of flock and a set of Heroscape hex tiles.
The flock should be stored in large, Ziplock freezer bags. I will discuss the paint and the flock colors in a minute.
Step 1. The sides of the hex tile:
The idea is to make the tile look more like mud and rock without doing anything to impede the tiles ability to slip together. Too much paint will throw off the tolerances and not allow the tiles to fit together properly. Even after they are painted correctly they might be a little tough to get together for the first few times. As the paint wears off it only adds to the look so don’t be concerned if some of it chips.
I used Mars Black acrylic paint thinned down to the consistency of ink. You can stack many hexes of the same type and hold them together with your off hand and simply paint the black on the edges. You’ll want to leave some of the brown showing through and if your paint is the right consistency it will bead up and crawl around on the surface exposing some of the brown. Again, keep it thin.
Step 2. The top of the hex tile:
The next step is to paint the brown portion of the hex the color of the type of tile it is. Green for grass, gray for rocks and tan for dirt. I did not want to mix this paint from the acrylic paints that I had. The problem would be matching the colors months later when I had the time to flock another set. I realized that I would be better off using a craft paint straight out of the tube to achieve this. Acrylic craft paint comes in a wide range of colors and I thought I would have no problem finding something that not only looked good but also matched the color of the flock I had picked out. As it turned out it actually took me a long time to find what I wanted. Most craft colors were too pastel or intense or simply looked bad. After a lot of trial and error I arrived at these three paints:
Green Grass: Delta Ceramcoat - Seminole Green
Tan Dirt/Sand: FolkArt - # 237 Fawn
Gray Rocks: FolkArt - # 425 Medium Gray
At first I was just going to paint the brown on the hex tile since the flocking was going to be covering the actual tile area itself but as I was working on it I starting thinking about what would happen in the future if the flocking started to wear off in small places revealing the original tile color underneath. At that point I started painting the whole surface. However I did use thinner paint on the raised molded surface of the tile just to save a little time and to stretch the paint a little. It a great idea to let some of the paint fall down the edge of the tile onto the sides. When they are all stacked together this looks like moss growing on the cracks of the rocks. Don’t overdo this however, it should only be done slightly.
Step 3: Gluing the flock:
Flocking is available at most hobby stores that carry model railroad supplies. There are a lot of different colors of flock to represent the different types of ground cover railroad enthusiasts model. Again, I needed something that looked good and closely matched the paint I was using. My final choices were:
Green Grass: Green Blend - Blended Turf T49
Tan Dirt/Sand: Earth Blend T50
Gray Rocks: Ballast - Medium Gray B82
To glue the flock on I used Elmers glue (with the orange cap) in a mid size bottle for ease of handling. I needed to be able to control exactly where the glue was going and with the orange cap I could literally “draw” with the glue. The idea is to draw a bead of glue around the edges of the raised portion of the tile and then loosely fill in the middle part of the hex. I then used an old, flat paint brush to spread the glue around the hex evenly. You want the glue to be thick without being too thick. My only suggestion if you try this is to experiment on some scrap cardboard first. Too much glue and the flock will sink into the glue and dry with a hard look, too little and the flock will simply not adhere.
I keep my flock in large, freezer size, gallon, zip lock bags. If you’ve never worked with flock before it is very fine and can go everywhere. I work on a large piece of white paper. That way, as it spills, I can pick up the paper and pour the flock back into my zip lock bag. After you’ve got the glue on the tile it’s time to push it into the flocking. Simply bury it into the flock being careful you don’t get any glue on the inside of your zip lock bag. Move it around a little bit under the flocking, pull it out and then shake the excess off by tapping the edge of the tile onto the table. Don’t be surprised if a lot of flocking falls off.
If you find some of the flocking clumps up you can take your finger and lightly press it down into the glue. I usually go ahead and do this anyway as a personal preference.
I found that on the larger pieces I could spread glue around on five or six hexes before I would stick it into the flock. If you do more you run the risk of the glue glazing over and not allow enough flock to stick to the tile.
The other concern is that you have to make sure you don’t get glue on the nonraised section of the tile. If you do the flock will stick to this and once dry it will interfere with the tiles ability to stack with another tile. This is especially important on the rock tiles since the rock you are glueing on is thicker than the grass/dirt flock material. If you get too much glue on the tile or if the glue runs simply wipe it off with a corner of a wet paper towel or scrap it away with an exacto knife.
Depending on the amount of glue you use you might see some of the flock sink in and leave white areas on the surface of the tile. This is not a problem as the glue will dry clear.
Here’s a photo of some finished tiles:
Step 4: Sealing:
As you play the miniatures will knock the flocking off. It’s a simple fact of miniature wargaming. You can do a lot to keep this from happening by sealing the flocking with a spray varnish. However, some varnishes, like Krylon for example, change the way the flock looks in undesirable ways. The only spray varnish that I have found to work is Testors #1260 - Dullcote. And even then you don’t want to spray it on too thick and you don’t want too much of it on the sides of your tiles. I generally lock all of my tiles together in one flat spread and spray the varnish on in a wide side to side motion.
A note about warping. I have found that if you do not store the hex tiles stacked together and flat they can warp slightly. This is really true with the rocks if you’ve used a lot of glue. The glue shrinks slightly when it dries and it can warp the plastic slightly. The only solution I have at the moment is to very carefully try to bend it back to it’s original shape.
That’s it. In future installments I’ll talk about modeling better looking trees and rocks and dungeon rooms. If anyone has any modeling tips they’ve tried with these tiles I would like to hear from you. Hope you find this useful!
Here are some shots of my finished tiles in play: (From a multiplayer Melee/Wizards game, the "Battle of the Orb", all figures are from my collection and most are old GamesWorkshop figures.)