Saturday, August 29, 2015

3D Campaign Maps - Part 3

Well, the natural progress for these prototypes was to add rivers\water.

I decided to take a stab at a shoreline with a harbor based at the mouth of a river.

This is my first dual layer map with a blue (ocean\river) foam sheet below the standard green sheet.

I'm trying to see if this second sheet will add stability to the map.

Step #1 - I painted the back side of the blue sheet with Mod Podge glue to hopefully stop warping. (Not pictured)

Step #2 - I left the middle of the long side of the maps open for a possible river exit. In this sample, I have decided to make a 1/4 inch width (3 strokes of a Sharpie side by side) leading to a harbor, and an island in the harbor. Initial drawing below.

Step #3 - Use an Exacto knife to cut out the patterns. Here you can see the lower portion of the land south of the river, cut out.


Just tossed that lower half onto the beautiful blue water! I can already tell I'm going to love this.

Cut the rest out and took some more photos. I'm not going to glue the island on the water, so that I can add different islands or remove them all together.

Then I put some hills on the terrain. I wanted to mimic some cliffs (lower left of the photo), but that just isn't going to work very well here. I plan on putting sand down in certain locations indicating "safer" landing locations. I could also put out some "rocky" locations where no landings can take place.
Step #4 - Glue the mainland to the water.
Step #5 - Add roads and toss hills into the map to see how things fit.
Step #6 - Add a bridge (removable as I may want to be able to destroy it). Or it could be removed and that is the ferry spot.
Step #7 - Add other terrain gluing some and leaving others free to move around. You will be able to add hills and other terrain around edges and corners as those will be the areas most free of other glued on terrain.
Step #8 - Add a Beach? This turned out pretty cool so I may keep doing this. Beaches designate where larger amphibious invasions can happen tempered by campaign rules. I used Woodland Scenics "Fine Brown Ballast" for the beaches. You could dry brush them to make them lighter if needed. It would likely be much easier just to paint the beaches on the foam.

Ballast placed in small areas of glue to dry. This is the sloppy part. (Hey, did you notice I put a dock on the town in the harbor?!) Not sure the dock is something I like or not.

Beaches dusted off.

Rocky coast line and rugged mountains? I tried to add some bigger ballast to indicate "No-Go" zones on the craggy hill near the bay. Let me know if you like that look. Not sure I like it. Maybe if I dry brush it a bit grey. Notice the new trail and hill fortress on the heights.

The finished look

Added a small battery on the island to protect the harbor.

I still need to add forests and crops (I'm going to paint them on this time to see if it produces less warp). I do like using the foliage clusters for the forests, but if you wanted more flexibility you could get darker green foam sheets and cut out forest to lay on your maps.

Well, I'm very happy with how my first two boards turned out. In my next post I hope to have 4 to 6 boards done and can show you the mass effect. For a commando raid or a Viking raid I can see having just 1 or 2 these maps.

I will be thrilled if this inspires others to try their hand at making their own 3D maps.

Happy gaming


  1. Lot of work, but it looks super, Eric. I could especially see doing something like this for an "imaginations" type project, where you might use at least part of the set up several times.

    Have you considered the storage issue?

  2. Looks like you are having fun experimenting. Keep us in the loop in this project.

  3. Looks great and keep up the good work. I second Peter's question about storage?

  4. Hey Eric,

    That looks FANTASTIC! Thanks for sharing not only the concept, but also how you achieved the final look. If you're looking for further inspiration, check out "The Perfect Captain". Their "Battle Finder" campaign supplement has many tabletop maps that could easily be created with your idea. I certainly intend to do so!


  5. Hi Martin, I have had the Battle Finder maps for years. Never thought of converting them to 3D but that is a GREAT idea.

    Storage. Hmmmm .... I'm not sure yet. I could use a simple paper tray, but these maps are larger than letter and legal. I could just put them in a box, but I'm not sure how that will work long term. If I do mount them on the double thick foam core, then I could store them on their sides, like books.

  6. Peter, I do want to mention that this is _not_ "a lot of work". It is so easy especially if you don't do flocked woods.

  7. These are looking great! I am inspired to do some of my own. I usually do digital maps, but I like the looks of these. The craft foam is a great material to work with.


  8. Thanks Chuck! These were so easy to make. I'm a bit busy with miniature gaming right now, so I will have to get back to this project in the near future.

  9. I think the "no go" area would look better if it were just limited to the coast. With it all the way up the hill, it looks a bit unnatural, like someone bulldozed a lot of rocks across the contours to smooth them out. If you kept the bulk of them on the coast, I think it would look like rocky shoreline. You could perhaps glue a few stray pieces on the contours to show the rough terrain continued on up from the coastline.
    Overall, a great idea.