Part 4 - Rock Tiles

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Here’s my fourth entry in my ongoing customized hex tile tutorials. Below are some of my finished rock tiles in play. A step-by-step on how it’s done follows.

You will need spray mount, matt board or illustration board, xacto knife, printer, large rocks, small rocks, gravel flocking (the same color that you use to flock your rock hex tiles with is best) and glue (tacky glue and for the larger rocks, a hot glue gun).

Step 1: Making the base
The first few steps are exactly like the tree/forest tutorial. First you print out the base template. I have made the hex shapes on the templates in such a way that they will perfectly fit onto a Heroscape hex tile without any overlap. You can download the hex template on my Hex Sheet page.

The next thing to do is to “lightly” spray mount the printed template onto a sheet of illustration board or (in this case, grey) colored matt board. Only spray the back of the printout, not the illustration board. The idea is temporarily hold the template onto the board while you cut it out. After you have spray mounted the template to your board it’s a simple matter to trim it out with an xacto knife. Use a metal straight edge. Peel off and throw away the printed template after you have trimmed out the hex base. (See the Tree Tutorial for more information about using my hex templates.)

One thing you do not want is to have the white edge of the board showing up against the terrain you place it on. Therefore you have to color in the edges of the base. The best way I’ve found is to use a broad tip marker such as a Design Marker to draw in the grey on the edges. Cool Grey Value # 5 works very well. Simply go around the edge of your base with the marker. It’s that easy.

If you’ve used illustration board the next step would be to paint the base with the same paint that you use on your tiles. In the case of my tiles I got a little more “artsy” and painted a dark grey first and then proceeded to dab in lighter and lighter areas of paint. I did this by mixing a grey with Mars Black, Titanium White and a little bit of Burnt Umber just to add a little dirt color to the mix.

Step 2: Planning the scenery elements:
The rocks that you use you will have to find. For the smaller debris surrounding my larger rocks I use grey gravel that I happen to have in some of the pathways around my house. These should be small (I’ve shown them with an xacto knife so you can get an idea of scale).

The larger rocks you just have to keep an eye out for. The best ones come in two colors, grey and brownish light grey. If they have one side that is flat all the better. It’s that side that you’ll glue to the base. Also look for rocks that look like scaled down versions of bigger boulders. If the rock has a layered sediment look all the better.

Next take your rocks and plan how they will fit on the base. By using real rocks you add weight to the scenery which in turn keeps it from being knocked around easily.

Step 3: Gluing it all down:
Now comes the easy part, gluing everything down. I use both Tacky glue and a hot glue gun. The Tacky glue works best to hold the smaller rocks down with. I use the glue gun to place the larger, heavier elements since it dries much faster and holds the rocks in place. It would be best (in the case of the Tacky glue) to let all of this dry overnight.

Step 4: Flocking:
Next comes the gravel flock. I try to spread the glue onto the base in a way that looks like piled up gravel. This is a great way to hide any glue that might be showing around the edges of the rocks or other imperfections. Afterwards dip the base into your flock and press it down with your finger if you need to. Refer to my previous customizing guides for more information about how to apply flock.

Here’s a couple of finished one hex rock tiles:

Once that dries then you can add in some dirt colored flock or grass if you’d like. You could also add bushes and static grass. I like to keep the other types of flock off of my rock tiles so I can use them to represent rock formations inside of caverns. I am, however, working on a set of rock tiles that will be used in forest settings by flocking the edges of the rock tiles with my grass flock and adding in bushes and grass.

Here’s some samples of some of my 4 hex rock tiles to give you ideas:

One last thing. Sometimes, when I’m done with a rock tile, I might brush a thin black wash of paint over areas that look too light in color. This helps tone those areas down and if done correctly will deepen the shadow areas.

That’s it! I’ve got more terrain ideas up my sleeve so stay tuned.... Meanwhile here are some samples of my tiles in play.

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