Author Topic: Custom battletech gaming surface  (Read 2090 times)


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Custom battletech gaming surface
« on: 21 March 2017, 15:58:55 »
I have been working on some gaming mats for a local wargaming club. I started working on cloth playing surfaces because I was sick of watching them play flames of war in a lush green field while forces more suited to the Russian steppes were clashing. I noticed there were not many stores selling mats beyond 1:28 and volunteered to work on something that worked in 1/100 scale. I dusted off my little knowledge of photoshop and came up with these two images: a muddy, war-torn area and a frozen battlefield, for someone whose soviet troops had snow as a main element in their basing. To be printed in 100dpi, 120*180cm.

Then, people from the club started asking me for other mats, such as a sea map for Sails of Glory and several city maps for games in the 28mm range. There are some out there, but I guess they liked having mats tailor-made to their specifications for free instead of buying commercially available ones. No, I'm not shocked either xD

One of the 28mm mats was themed in near-future zombie dystopia, so I went for the standard city planning style you find in modern european areas or american cities. The second one was intended for a World War Two ruleset, so I went for an old european city style of planning, no roadmarks, and included paved areas easily turned into ruins by adding just one or two broken wall fragments, in addition to extending the sidewalks for intact buildings as usual. I pushed to 150dpi in these, 120*180 cm as well.

And now, someone asked me to create a map for Battletech. I've never played myself (I have always been deeply tempted by the universe and the genre, but I find the quality of the plastics really lacking. Turn the Mechwarrior Online models into plastic battletech miniatures and you will have my money, game company!) but since I've been playing Mechwarrior Online since open beta started, I was dying for such a commission. The catch was the person who asked plays in a weird scale, so his hexes are twice as big as those in the usual mapsheets. 30*30 or so hexes are the most a table can fit in that scale

Since I know most people in the gaming club use standard size hexagons, however, and I'd hate to design something only one person would find any use to instead to providing for the whole club, I decided to design a map 60*60 hexes in size anyway, at 300dpi and cut it in four, so the club can use it while the person playing at twice the scale can print it whole at 150dpi and either have a huge map 300*360cm in size or choose any of the four quadrants to print, getting four differen mats instead of the single one he asked for. That meant going the extra mile with detail so the scaled-up 150dpi 30*30 hex mats don't feel lacking, while avoiding things so small that would be lost when printing at standard size.

I tried to design so the possible terrain missinterpretations were kept to a minimum, sticking to the axis of the hex grid as I laid the road. As requested by the club goers, only ground level features are... featured. Any mountains or buildings are to be added by the players in the form of 3d scenery as they see fit. This is only a canvas to make the table pop with as little effort as possible (and incorporating the hex grid into the playing field)

I was given little direction by the club member who asked for the mat regarding the lore of the planet he intended to fight for, so I went for a small colony, an agricultural one with little value and limited infrastructure. Mainly farming grounds with some very small industrial areas and population centres.

I decided I wanted at least two groups of buildings connected by a road system. I thought one of them could be an industrial area taking advantage of a river to dump waste and distribute cargo. Or maybe the water in this world has some component the industries extract and export.

The second one could have originated organically around a small spaceport. Not a big spaceport, barely enoug for a Leopard to land, but capable to receive and launch cargo to orbit. This spaceport is be the main hub where technology, luxury goods and spare pieces for machinery would come in in exchange for foodstuffs and whatever the industry extracts from the water. The planet has low population, but the hypothetical thing that makes it worth fighting for provides money for good infrastructures.

The industrial river area, the spaceport area and whatever other important places scattered over the planet surface would need to be connected by a motorway, while the rest of the zones would have a much more humble road network, shrinking progresively up to a single lane for farmland.

Said farmland would also need a network of irrigation conducts bringing water from the river. That's something I had not thougt about until I started writing this summary, but it feelt mandatory. I went for an open-topped look, in the style of the irrigation networks built in Spain during the muslim occupation. They were a ground breaking innovation back in the day and are still in use, nearly one thousand years later.

I intended to design the two populaton centres in ways that encourage different playstyles. The spaceport lanes, in the south, will be an open area surounded by buildings, while the industrial area, in the north, will be smaller and tighter, with buildings located in the centre of its quadrant, surounded by open space.

The other two quadrants will be much simpler. Farmland for the first, with no features past some roads, hoping the players will add mountains to the open spaces. The last quadrant will be similar, but a river will be splitting it in two, hopefully encouraging players to aproach it in a different way.

I am by no means a photoshop wizard. I barely used it during my education beyond the most elementary photo manipulation. Anything I do is new for me. (I had no clue of how to create a water surface for the river, for instance) so I was learning on the fly following any online tutorials I deemed suitable for this proyect. In addition, working with files this big (180*150 cm at 300dpi) is not something my computer can easily handle, and the "2gig max psd file size" limitation prevented me from working in a single psd file, forcing me to split several layers as individual files.

In the end, here it is: Full gaming surface:

Some closer shots:

And finally, some detail shots:

I am in no way as good as LeftoverNoodles (man, those are GORGEOUS) but I'm pretty proud of what I accomplished :-)

Simon Landmine

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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #1 on: 21 March 2017, 19:38:20 »
Looks nice to me! I'd be honoured to have my mechs faceplant on those roadways.

(Very good non-hex maps, too, by the way.)
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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #2 on: 22 March 2017, 10:37:45 »
The maps all look awesome, and I especially like the way you did the hexes on the Battletech map so that they aren't too obtrusive.
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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #3 on: 20 April 2017, 04:29:18 »
Not going to lie, I think this work is criminally underrated.  I think it's brilliant and would love to know more about the process.

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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #4 on: 21 April 2017, 03:14:51 »
Wow! Very nice looking.  It has a more realistic look it than most game matz with the layout the fields and the roads and such.
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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #5 on: 05 October 2017, 12:38:53 »
After getting the gaming mat, I started building scenery to play on it. Polystyrene rocks in two levels, and cardboard buildings. I went through several huge sheets of cardboard creating buildings in different shapes until I felt I had enough. This week I finished the last one.

So, here it is: all the scenery I built, on a quarter of the whole gaming surface I designed.

It is ovious I did not build enough scenery for the whole gaming surface. Buildings and mountains barely fill the big city. They make this portion of the full mat pretty playable (It's equivalente to 4 standard battletech maps), but I won't have enough scenery to play with 2 to 4 times the ammount of gaming mats, the full gaming surface.

I'd like to add some forests but these hexes are already tight to fit a miniature base. I don't really know if it would be feasible due to the lack of space to get something built that was sturdy and durable as hell (thats my priority when it comes to scenery) If you have any ideas, I am all ears.

In the end, unless I build more and more scenery, I am quite confident that I won't be able to play with the full mat, but I feel a single quarter of the mat is a pretty good surface to play, and that gives me four different surfaces to play on. If I ever try to build more buildings, I might make a tutorial out of it, but I am pretty tired of building scenery by now and would like to let it go for some time, specially as I have enough to play comfortably.

Now, the only thing left for me is to get some miniatures to play the game with xD

Ronin Actual

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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #6 on: 05 October 2017, 19:16:35 »
Looks great!


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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #7 on: 05 October 2017, 19:23:33 »
That looks amazing!

For trees, try and get a thin, flat hex as a base, and put trees on 2, 3, or 1 hex corner. That way you can fit a mini on. Consider using different trees, and a different colour hex base, to tell between light & heavy.

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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #8 on: 05 October 2017, 20:45:25 »
Fantastic work there - you've definitely off to a great start and have a more than adequate board to start with. Hope you keep going and build out the other maps!


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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #9 on: 06 October 2017, 13:08:15 »
Those buildings are absolutely awesome!  :o
Would love to see similar items for sale.

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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #10 on: 07 October 2017, 04:33:34 »
Wow... this looks incredible. Very very well done. Now make me a set. 😁 (jk!)


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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #11 on: 08 October 2017, 09:38:15 »
Super cool. :) It's really challenging to build a terrain with that scale and practical use of hexes. Classic Battletech forever.


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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #12 on: 09 October 2017, 12:48:53 »
These are some of the best that I've seen. :o  ;)


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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #13 on: 18 October 2017, 16:51:32 »
Very very nice!


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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #14 on: 26 October 2017, 17:17:47 »
Wow... just... brilliant!!


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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #15 on: 26 October 2017, 19:29:53 »
Looks really nice! I like the buildings!


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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #16 on: 11 December 2017, 05:02:53 »


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Re: Custom battletech gaming surface
« Reply #17 on: 09 January 2018, 14:53:04 »
Those are very, very good maps!  All of them, the non-Battletech and the Battletech ones.  I'd love to get a copy of the files to print them myself - (yeah, I know, get in line  ;)

Have a wonderful day and may your dice like you!