Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stadium Renovation Pt. I: How to Make a Customized DIY Blood Bowl Pitch

My oh my, has this post been a long time in coming. Way back in 2012, when I first started this blog, one of my very first posts was about how I wanted to make a custom Blood Bowl pitch our of foam board.

A lot has changed in that time. For one thing, I picked up a real Blood Bowl pitch on the cheap. That meant that I didn't need a cheapo DIY solution anymore - if I was to make a custom pitch, I had better make it fancy.

For another thing, I happened to inherit a 2' by 3' whiteboard.

So over the next couple of posts I'm going to show you how I made the first thing out of the second thing. Note, however, that this technique can be used to great effect for skirmish boards as well, as Orlygg so aptly demonstrated here. I do, however, take it one step further, as you will see.

So, materials:
  1. A whiteboard or bulletin board. Best if you inherit it, but they can be had for around $30 at an office supply store.
  2. Foam Core. I chose this over Orlygg's plasticard because is is cheaper and can be easily carved to achieve squares (or cobbles, or whatever)
  3. Some kind of filler. I used woodfiller.
  4. A buncha PVA
  5. Some sand
  6. Craft paints
  7. Screw-on rubber feet (optional)
  8. Picture hanging wire (optional. If you dabble in sculpting like me then you probably have some around.)
  9. Picture hooks. (optional)

So for the first step you'll want to prepare your foam core by stripping all of the paper off of it. Here's an astoundingly easy method for doing so. 

Once that's sorted out, you can smear some PVA onto your board. You don't actually need that much, but coverage is important. I used a scrap of cardboard as a kind of putty knife to get a smooth, even layer.

Lay the foam on there. Lay some books on there too. Some big, heavy ones.

Now let it dry for at least a day. 

Just like basing a mini. Imagine the cavalry figure that would go on that base.

When you come back it'll be time to fill, carve, and texturize the surface of the foam. The first part of that is easy. Just fill in the cracks with your wood filler/spackle/putty.

Next, you want to create the squares on the board. In my opinion, the best custom pitches have squares that are carved or cut into the surface rather than drawn or marked on. I find that more markings cause greater visual distraction, making it look more like your figures are playing on a board and less like they're playing on a hard-packed stretch of earth and crushed opponents.

So using a carpenter's square and a soft pencil, lightly sketch the grid onto the board. Follow over it with a ballpoint pen, pressing hard and scoring the line two or three times to get a nice deep impression. You'll want to keep using your square even though the lines are marked, because your pen is going to want to wander off course. (You could get really fancy and use an x-acto mitre to cut actual angled grooves like this, but I opted for the far simpler method - though my board is not nearly as impressive as Thib-0's. That guy can really craft.)

Once your grid is down, you can apply the sand. Pretty straight forward really, just watered down PVA and sand. Staple of the hobby. (Okay, I guess you could use coffee grounds or tea leaves if your worried about damaging paint jobs.

My workshop table, as sprawling as ever.
Now your board will look something like the above. You're going to have to walk away again, I'm afraid.

Once it's dry, it's time for paint. I didn't prime mine because I couldn't be bothered to mask the frame. You can do that if you like. Then hit it with a bunch brown craft paints and follow it over with washes of various yellows, greens and dark browns for a nice mottled effect. Finally, you'll probably want to drybrush it. It's a slog, though, so be warned.

Check out my proud coach's headgear top left.
Above you can see the beginning of the endzones and score tracks. Masking tape works okay, but be prepared to do a couple of thin coats (another staple of the hobby) since applying too much at once will result in the paint bleeding under the tape and requiring touch up (which is odious, and a pain).

I'll be back in the next installment with pictures of the painting and flocking process. In the meantime let me know what you think. Note, however, that getting fouled while in the comments box may result in penalty kicks.


  1. Great stuff! You've been busy while I haven't been paying attention. I really like your SoBH character cards too. I', also really shocked that you don't have more followers. Your stuff is too good to not be out there more.

  2. Cheers, Sean! It's true that I don't have a ton of followers, but at least they like what I have to share. Thanks very much for the kind words.