Thursday, June 26, 2014

Portable Game Table: Flora

Entering the final stages of the Portable Universal Gaming Surface (PUGS), it is time to flock some base-layer greenery onto the folding table.

In the hope of needing only one basic game surface for the different games I play, I am attempting to create a universal base-layer for the different terrains that will be used. Reversing the design logic of some of the more successful camouflages in service around the world, particularly that of Crye's Multicam (really good stuff, even if I can only afford a ball cap in it...), I am theorizing that camouflage intended to blend into multiple environments would also work well to represent the different biomes as well. The thought behind a universal camouflage pattern is that it is better to blend in decently well in more locations than to hide perfectly in only a few select terrains. The same logic should make a very versatile gaming surface.

With Multicam, the pattern was developed on substantial research into color theory, as well as into the psychology of human sight and perception. Firstly, the colors used are quite average, and are natural mid-tones observable in most land environments on earth. While extreme environments have some chromatic extremes, working with the average earth tones makes a more adaptable pattern.
The brain does a great job of filling in the blanks of what it expects to see based off the visual clues it takes in. Good camouflage (and game tables, hopefully) simply offers it some helpful suggestions as to what it thinks it is seeing.
Putting theory to work, I begin to apply the flocking material to the game table with watered-down white glue in a dollar store spray bottle.
I use three shades of green flock, ranging from pale dusty olive to a darker and richer forest green. The greens are applied one shade at a time

The first color applied.
The watered-down glue in a spray bottle technique worked mostly well, but gummed up the spray nozzle after a few minutes. Several days of soaking did not fix the issue, so I had to purchase an extra bottle to finish the job.

When the first color of flock had dried in place, I sprayed it again with the water/glue mix to hold it in place better.

After the sealing layer of glue is dry, I spritz the green areas again, then lightly tap my containers of flock onto the fresh glue. I blend the two other greens into the existing areas, creating smooth transitions between the colors.

Once again, I spray the flock with water-glue mix after it had set. Testing with a finger, some of the flock still comes off too easily, so I hit the board with a dull coat spray paint, being more generous to the green areas.

Here you can see the blending of the turf within one of the green areas...

... and here you see more of the macro pattern I've been making.

The finished tabletop sits on my camp table. You can see my green "saddle blanket" which is still a necessary to the deployment of the terrain board, to protect the table beneath, and help level the panels. I plan to add furniture pads to the bottoms of the board so that it can be used as a self-contained unit. Also still to come are some more latches, to hold it closed, and a handle for transport. Stay tuned!

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