Monday, 7 December 2015

Door mat versus teddy bear fur

Last week I set up a game with some large areas of heavily cultivated ground, ground that represented small fields bounded by walls, hedges and ditches and containing standing crops, orchard and the odd farm building. Now, at the ground scale we war game this type of ground cannot be realistically represented because it would entail having a wall or hedge every couple of inches, orchards represented by a single tree in a small enclosure, and buildings represented by small chicken coups and the like. 

Troops prepare to cross an area of rough 'heavily cultivated' terrain

I chose to represent this hotchpotch of agricultural ground with a wheat field bounded by a single hedge. Any troops within the field would count as in cover, in difficult terrain for movement and with a limited line of sight. It wouldn't matter where in the field they were standing as the field represented terrain that was much more dense than it looked on the table. This way of doing things works well. The area is clearly delineated, has a little hint of it's make up within the bounds of scale and, most importantly, is fairly easy to move the little lead men around in - it also stops troops packing arbitrary hedge lines to gain cover.  

Previously I've used coir door mat to represent corn fields but I didn't have enough of the stuff to do what I wanted for the game. A few blogs I've recently visited have shown teddy bear fur used to represent cornfields. It looked pretty good in their photos and certainly looked practical.  I did have a large piece of teddy bear fur, so I cut it up and laid it out on the table. It looked O.K., to be honest it looked like teddy bear fur. Next day I went to ebay, I bought a couple of rubber backed coir door mat off cuts (sold in meter lengths). 

It arrived on Friday. Yesterday I cut it up and painted it with household emulsion and a 2" brush. I used diluted (1:1) Dulux wholemeal honey #1 as a base coat, then dry brushed it with neat Dulux golden umber #4. The whole job took about an hour with a couple of hours drying time between coats.

I cut the mat up into various sizes. I made ten of 6" x 5" pieces, two 12" x  5", two 12" x 12" sections and two 12" x  8" pieces. The reason why most of the sizes are not square has to do with the size of my field boundaries which are mostly in 6" and 12" lengths. Given that I want fields where the boundaries cross over at the corners, allowance must be made for this - most fields are based on the 12" x 10" not 12" x  12".

The game we are currently playing is ongoing so I exchanged the pieces I could. The problem with mat is, that unlike teddy bear fur, it will not 'mould' itself to any contours. As one of my fields was originally put on a hill (pics below, top left) I have not been able to replace it for this game. I've taken a few shots to show the difference. To my mind the mat looks a bit better. 

So this was how the teddy fur looked.

This is how the mat looks.

 The fur.
 The mat.
Some of the new pieces, the left overs, next to my original paltry stock of very yellow 'wheat'. It doesn't really go with the rest, so I'll paint it verdant green, like the piece by the church in the shot above, at some point in the future.
Four 6" x 5" pieces making a 12" by 10". The open, un-hedged side, of the field is at the table edge but you can see how well the field fits within the boundary sizes I have.

So there it is. I now have plenty of wheat fields. 

I bought two 1 meter lengths each 30 cm wide. Cutting to a chosen size rather, than the size of each mat, meant a little, acceptable waste, but the cost, including the paint, was only about £16 - bargain!


Anonymous said...

"poultry stock"? Must be for chickens.



Too much thinking about farming! Edited.

fireymonkeyboy said...

If there is one thing, about which I know positively nothing, it is agriculture.

nobby said...

I think that with wargaming the closer you get to model railway type realistic scenery, which does often look beautiful, the more difficult it is to retain the illusion when troops and vehicles are crossing the crop.
With Teddy bear fur the little chaps crush it down nearer to ground level and, to my mind, the teddy bear fur looks like a crop with the breeze blowing through it, and it can be shaved to different heights.
Otoh, I rather like Bob Cordery's almost abstract representation of terrain in some of his small games. :0)

Ray Rousell said...

They do look rather nice, I must admit. Postie uses the Teddy Bear fur for some of our games. It does look good but looks better if you rough it up a little so the height varies. But then of course you flatten it back down when the troops march through it??? Ho hum!

jmilesr said...

I like the door mat over the Teddy bear fur - not really sure why

Paul O'G said...

I think they both look good, as does having two different shades of the mat - variety is the key, I'd use a bit of them all on the one table :-)

Pat G said...

I like them both. Teddy fur for fallow fields or tall grass, coir looks great for more regimented furrow planted crops.

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

I use both methods as both have their pro's and con's. Teddy Bear fur works great if the whole table is covered in it at various lengths and colours and gives the most realistic effect if done that way. Otherwise matt is more practical and works the best in sporadic sections and one off pieces.



I think everyone is of the same mind, just about. The mat looks better without troops on it and troops look better on fur. From the practical 'moving lead soldiers across a surface' point of view there isn't much to choose between them: six of one and half a dozen of the other.

I'm not sure how good the fur I have is - it's an old 'hang off a radiator' cat bed that the cat never took to. Had it for years and usually use it to make thatch. I hear the really good stuff is very good. I'll keep my eyes open for the good stuff the next time I go to a 'cloth shop'.

Chris said...

Another way to show agricultural endeavor, in this case ploughed ground, is to use one-sided corrugated cardboard. Most of what's around is of course two-sided, so you would have to peel off one side, which is a pain; if you're lucky, you'll come across corrugations that are not sided at all, used as packing material. This can be glued to a base. In any case, you then paint it dark brown (or dull red or whatever the local dirt is); as for extra flair glue green flocking to the top of the rows. The end result looks pretty close to a ploughed field. To some extent, one size fits all (scales), but for very small or very large scales you can use thinner or thicker cardboard.

Best regards,

Chris Johnson

Simon Miller said...

The fields look great, especially when hedged! I prefer the mat to the fur.

Subedai said...

Personally, I prefer the door mat; it takes drybrushing well and looks more like standing crops. The only problem is -as you say- it doesn't follow contours all that well.

For the ploughed field look I use dark brown carpet tiles from our local Poundland -you get 3 300 x 300mm for £1. A quick drybrush and some flock and you are away. The only downside is that they are self adhesive so will need a base.

Scheck said...

Interesting variation you have chosen. I follow your arguments, but the teddy bear fur can also be dry brushed taking enough color it will be hard and bristly.
What you did, looks good!!

Michael Peterson said...

Both look good, I would have to say. It helps that your troops are painted to such a high standard that any terrain that looks even half decent just enhances the illusion.
I've found that plain door mats without rubberized decorations and writings in the middle of them are quite hard to find. I snagged a few years ago, haven't seen many since.


Hi Michael,

These days it's easy to get hold of. You can get it on Ebay. Sellers do it by the 1m or 2m width, selling it like carpet (think those big door mats inside shop doorways rather than door mats for home use). It sells for about £18 per meter square (inc. postage) and that's quite a lot of wheat field.