In this ongoing blog post, I am going to show you how to use real maps, like Google Earth, to transfer real sceneries into a wargaming table of any scale. In this case I am going to use 6mm, or 1/275 scale, but the guide is applicable in any scale, as long as you convert the distances appropriately. This project is going to be split into 2 or more parts as it is an ongoing project. I will add the progress, lessons learned and instructions as I go along.
For this project your are going to need to have access to image editing software, ideally one that uses vector instead of bitmap. I used Adobe Illustrator which I definetely recommend.
If you missed the progress you can check out the previous parts in the links below.
For the board I used sheets of expanded polystyrene. A single sheet is 8′ x 2′ so cutting it in half gives us two 4′ x 2′ which are perfect to make the 4’x4′ table. It was a simple case of gluing the two pieces together with PVA glue.
Before I go ahead to lay out the templates I printed in part 1, I wanted to get the elevation of the zone right. Corfu Town has a rather noticeable hill towards the southern part and I wanted to render that into the table. Google Earth has an elevation indication in the bottom right of the screen that corresponds to the position of your mouse cursor, so I used a few key points on the map and from that I extrapolated the curve that I would need to model on the board.
Thanks to my trusty CnC foam cutter, I had a fairly easy time cutting the bevel into the two polystyrene sheets. Without it I would have to spend a fair amount of time manually cutting pieces until I got the bevel I would be happy with. I added one more piece on the area that I felt (from personal experience) that should be even taller and then I left it to dry for some time. Once the glue cures I will go ahead to smooth out the areas where the different bevels meet in order to create a more realistic, yet subtle, hill.
At the last minute I decided to further increase the elevation of the bottom left corner to better showcase the hill at that point. This area represents one of the most iconic plazas in Corfu town and, even though the elevation so far was a correct rendition, I felt that exaggerating it a little bit could really add to getting the feel of the area just right. It might have to do with the fact that I went to school on that exact hill but I definetely didnt want it to feel like fairly level. Generally speaking, if you are personally familiar with the area you are modelling you can do these exaggerations to draw attentions to dramatic locations.
Now it is time to glue the templates on the table. As the templates will have to be discernible, we can use PVA glue to attach them on the board. Even if we have to apply glue on the top of the printouts, the printouts will still be visible as PVA goes transparent when it cures.
I am happy with how the table is turning out so far. The elevations seem to correspond fairly correctly with the real world so now it is time to move to the next phase – laying out the sidewalks, roads, grassy areas and, most importantly, sites of non standard geometry. For the latter I am talking about statues, fountains, arches, parking lots, parks and so on. I am going to use sheets of thin cardboard to define walkways while grassy areas are going to be covered in pva and fine sand. We’ll look into all of these in Part 3.