Over the last years I've got many mails asking questions about how I did my fur mats, what materials I used and where to buy the synthetic fur. I am just working on a smaller terrain mat (1,20m x 1,20m) for a demo and gaming table to be used on the RPC (RolePlayingConvention) in Köln. It will be customized to show off some buildings and other terrain-pieces from Stronghold-Terrain (www.stronghold-terrain.de)
. This is a small company I run with my friend Mirco. We are producing and selling high quality terrain pieces for 28mm - 32mm miniatures. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do a detailed tutorial with tots of WIP pictures. The synthetic fur
I want to start with some infos about the synthetic fur I use. It is called Edelpelz Antilope/Bär. I regulary ordered it from Lifesell, a german online shop. Here is a link to the fur in their shop: www.lifesell.de
The groundcolour is a warm midbrown. For my taste this colour is a perfect base to tint the fur. It can easyly be coloured with darker tones like greens and browns. These are the most common colours in moderate climate zones. When being tinted, either with an airbrush or a brush, the upper parts of the fibers get most of the paint. For this the lower parts of them tend to show (more) of the original colour of the fur. The midbrown looks like dried grass. The clothlike material didn't get much paint either (apart from being cut extremely short and getting hit with lots of paint) and the brown is also good to represent the colour of the earth. When using fur in a lighter colour like beige of white for example the remaining groundcolour of the fur didn't look right. On the other hand darker fur, like darkbrown or black for example, is much more difficult to tint. It is very hard to brighten a dark groundcolour with a lighter tone because much more paint is needed to do this and it is much more likely that the fur will tend to stick together and ruin the special effect of the fur terrain.
The length of the fur is 14mm. When used with heroc 28mm miniatures the vegetation will reach a man up to the hips. This is a good hight to represent cornfields, high grass or medium reed. But it works also very well with 15mm miniatures as you can see here on some older furmats: LINK
The fur is very soft and miniatures and terrainpieces weight down the fur. It comes as yard good in a breadth of 140 cm.
The other materials, tools and paints I used will be described in the following chapters.The Plan
This furmat was specially build as a demo and gaming table to show off some of the actually existing terrain pieces from Stronghold-Terrain. My friend and business partner Mirco also wanted our new copplestone roads to be included. We decided to do a crossroad as a place, where the beginning of a small hamlet around a tavern has been settled. So we put the prime components on a table an repositioned them until we were satisfied with the result. A quick snapshot worked as a scatch for the further building process. A printout of this can be seen on top of the untreated fur in the next picture.
The first step was to position the different road parts on the original fur. I used some spare casts of different coloured testcasts to determine the exact position of the road. These had been drawn on the fur with a black marker.
Here is a link to our shop if you are interested in the copplestone roads: LINKThe shaving
As mentioned above, the fur has a length of 14mm. This is the maximum height the fields or meadow can have but most of the fur has to be shortened. This can be done with a small scissor or with a haircuttingmachine for animals. After cutting my first big terrain mat by hand with a scissor, I brought the cuttingmachine for animals (dogs). This can save a lot of time but isn't cheap. I tried two models for human hair but they didn't worked with the ultra fine and dense fibers. Some effects look better when done with the scissors, so I always use them in a second step after I roughly cut the fur with the machine. The special scissors in the middle of the next picture is to thin out the fur (normaly human hair) and didn't worked to well.
This time I wanted the different pieces of our copplestone roads to fit perfectly on the mat so I started cutting the roads with the cuttingmachine. I cutted the fur as short as possible (2-3mm). The dirtroad has been roughly cutted in this step too. Now as I had devided the area of the furmat in four parts it was more easyer to plan the length of the fur for the smaller areas.
I left two smaller areas untouched to represent cornfields later. The other areas had been cut to different length to generate some varity and make the mat look interesting. I cut the cultivated areas to a shorter and more uniformly length than the natural ones. With the scissors I cut areas of patchy fure. I also left a small stripe of higher fur next to the roads. The final result after shaving can be seen in the next two pictures.WARNING:
I want to give all of you who might try a furmat for yourself a warning. The process of cutting the syntethic fur is very very littering. I learned from my first tries to don't do the cutting in the home, not even in the hobby cellar. The synthetic fibers are lightweight and levitate all around by the least waft. I always do the shaving on sunny and windy days in the open. Most of the cutoffs can be collected and put in a bucket but the smaller fibres are blown away.The following picture shows the cutoff from this relatively small project.Airbrushing the cornfields
The next step was to colour the cornfields. I often start with the colours that are lighter than the original groundcolour of the fur. As mentioned above it is much more difficult to do this without clogging the fine fibers of the fur. Any mishaps can be repaired by shortening the affected areas and/or colour them in a darker green.
This step is best done with an airbrush. It is very difficult to achieve the effect with a brush. I use the VEGA 2000 airbrush and a compressor. The paint is an acrylic colour from LUKAS. I diluted the paint with water in a 1:1 ratio. The colour tone I used was a light ochre.
I applied the paint in several very thin layers and let each one dry before I started the next. Even though the synthetic fibers sticked together a little. The change of colours is not very obvious but modified the colour tone from bownish to drab, as you can see in comparison to the small piece of untreated fur in the next two pictures. Airbrushing the meadows
Tinting the fur with different kinds of greens was much easier because there is fewer paint needed to obtain a bright or dark green colour. I used different shades of green and also added some ochre or darkbrown at some times. Again I used diluted acrylic colours from LUKAS and applied them with my airbrush.Excursion: If you don't have an airbrush:
This step can also be done with a big brush with synthetic bristles from the DIY shop. The green and brown colours are darker than the groundcolour of the fur and more intense than the ochre from the last step. For that reason fewer paint is needed for tinting. When using a brush it is most importend not to add much paint to it. The painting technique is similar to drybrushing. Only take a little paint to the brush. If necessary remove the excess by whiping the brush on a piece of paper or a paper towel. More infos and some pictures of these technique later.
The next pictures show some detail shots of the result after airbrushing the main areas. As you can see I took care to vary the shades of green. For my taste this looks more interesting and natural than doing them in nearly the same colour tone.
The following two pictures show an overview of the result after applying the basic colours with my airbrush. In this pictures the graduations in colours from a bright ochre over many geens to a dark brown-green are clear visible.Burning the dirt road and the earth grounds
The next step was to prepare the areas that don't show vegetation. They had been cutted very short in the cutting process. I learned from my privious attempts a simple trick that pulled up the result a lot. I used a lighter to scorche the remaining vibers. They singed to tiny globules and resulted in an interesting surface that looks like sand or grit when painted later. I strongly recomment a lighter for fireplaces as seen in the next pictures. Otherwise a normal lighter gets hot as hell after a few minutes. I know it because I've learned it the hard way. To be continued ...
I hope I could give some of you some useful hints und you like the result so far. Comments and criticisms are welcome.