Blood Bowl Pitch Tutorial

I'm a big fan of Blood Bowl. I really do consider it to be one of GW's finest moments - Games are fast and furious and always fun. One thing ive always been dissappointed about tho, is playing on the Cardboard pitch - It always felt lacking to me. So i finally decided to bite the bullet and build myself a pitch!

The first step was planning. In reality i've spent over a year now considering various ways to put together a pitch. The key problems are marking the squares, so that the grid is the same size as the standard pitch. Many options were considered, including marking out spaces with map pins, using tile spacers in each corner, as well as more esoteric options, such as using square monster bases!

The first practical stage was to gather together all of the materials required. Last thing i wanted was to run out of the necessary parts half way through! You can see all the flocks / static grasses and glues that i used in the photo below:

I used two types of glue. The first is normal PVA glue. Generally this was watered to about 75% water to give a very thin consistency similar to skimmed milk. The second glue is Woodland Scenics scenic cement. This is a very thin, ultra tacky glue which can be sprayed from a spray gun, or used on a brush. I'm a very big fan of this glue - although normally used for model railways, the sticking power for use with scenic materials is immense. You use it in two passes. The first sticks the scatter material down. The second is applied after the first is dry and is simply to seal the flock or scatter material in place. Because the glue dries absolutely clear and matt you get a good hard finish, but without any adverse changes to the flock colouring...
For application of the scatter materials I used a Noch grass applicator and a spray gun, again from Woodland Scenics. For areas where i wanted extreme control i would load up the end of the steel ruler in the picture and gently tap over the area to be covered.
The other important thing to mention was the material i used for the base itself - this was Dow Corning Blue Board ("Blue foam"). The board is approx 0.75" thick. I bought a big sheet of the stuff (2' x 4') and then cut down the board to a suitable size (obviously having measured the squares on the main blood bowl pitch)
Sooo... Firing up the airbrush i dived in. The first job was to airbrush the entire board in GW Goblin Green, leaving patches clear where mud would be. These remaining areas then recieved a coat of Vallejo "Earth" again via the airbrush to give basic deliniation to the dirt / grass areas.
You can probably see in the above images that the airbrush coat doesnt completely cover the blue foam underneath, but tbh its really not that important. The green is just there so that any areas that start to shed scatter materials after some time wont show through as stark blue.

Once the basic areas were mapped out, i then masked off the pitch area (it doesnt show on the photos, but this area was actually marked on the board in light pencil), and applied spray glue to the dirt areas. Dont worry about being too neat for this, grass / mud is not regular in nature, so hard edges are very rare. Try to feather the glue spray across the boundries.

Once you have applied your "dirt" scatter material to the glue (I used GW sand as a base) allow it to dry fully. Once it has dried apply another coat of the Scatter Cement and now leave it over night. Although doing it this way does take time (about 2 weeks in my case) you will end up with a very strong board surface to play along.
I continued applying scatter materials in this way, working from the darkest grasses up to the lightest, making sure that I feathered the edges of the areas the scatter covered. Finally the scattering is done:

After having applied all of the scatter material, and letting it dry thoroughly, I masked the main pitch off and applied a uniform flock to outer area to delimit the pitch from the "table". Once that was dry,
i then went back with my initial sand and dirt materials and applied an extra coat in the end zones and along the edges, where most of the combat usually happens. This gives those areas a more recently churned up feeling

The next stage is to begin to mark the pitch out. To achieve this i took a packet of small panel pins and working from one corner moved around the outside of the pitch pushing a pin in to the foam at each junction. I ended up with a pitch surrounded by panel pins at regular 30 mm spacings

I then took some thin cotton thread and passed it between alternate pins giving a grid. This was the worst part of the whole project in all honesty - It relies on you keeping tension in the string at all times the moment you release the tension the whole lot collapses and you have to unthread a big chunk and redo it....

Once the grid was marked i grabbed a new sharp flat brush and using thinned Vallejo white paint began to mark the intersections of the squares, the end zones and wide zones. This was slow work. I tended to work on blocks of four squares at a time, complete them and then move on. I found the best technique to use it to dab the paint on. If you pull the brush around the paint smears and lifts the flock from under it...

Once the markings were finished, I removed the cotton, leaving a (hopefully) perfectly marked grid...


The pitch was then given a very heavy coat of the scenic cement to seal it in place. Heavy = about half a bottle sprayed on! I left this for about 48 to dry completely.

In the mean time, i moved on to the score board. The score board was built from some scrap balsa wood i had lying around and an old fridge magnet. The first stage was to cut a main piece of balsa wood and sand the edges off to be rounded:

I then cut two strips of the same balsa wood and filed them so that they curved in opposite directions. These were glued to the score board to provide the legs and two small balsa triangles were glued to the front of the legs for stability. This whole assembly was then glued to a spare strip of foam board to provide a base

Whilst the glue on that was drying i cut out 12 squares from a thin piece of balsa. The whole lot, plus the score board were then undercoated with Vallejo "Earth" and dry brushed with Vallejo "Kahki". The base was painted in Goblin Green and then flocked with the same flock as was used on the board surround. Notice in the later photos that i also did the edges of the foam board aswell to make sure that they blended in with the pitch.

Finally i painted white lettering on to the score board and numbers on to the "score cards"

Next i took the fridge magnets and cut 12 squares from it, just smaller than the "score cards". Each score card then had a magnet stuck to its back. Similarly i cut two slightly larger pieces that were stuck to the score board. The later were painted with Vallejo Earth and had "0" painted on them (so when there is no score you dont put a score card on). To change the score you simply take the old one off and put a new one on. The magents grip each other just enough to hold the score card in place, but not enough to make it hard to remove. Here is the finished Score board:

All in all i think the project went really well - the board looks great, it has room for placing dugouts (of which more in a later post) and a magnetic scoreboard!
Here are some pictures of my undead team taking to the field. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial... Comments and questions welcome as always



Matt said...

Thats awesome. I dont play blood bowl, but if I did I would want to play on that field (pitch). Excellent work.

eriochrome said...

Great work but where are the fully modeled dugouts. Probably not the best board to travel with. I only played a game with someone who had a roll up mat.

Also real blood bowl is played on astrogranite not grass, but I have to say that the Styrofoam board is a pain since it is pretty uneven.

Paul Chana said...

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the comments.

Eriochrome - Dugouts i have left for a later post (as they are quite detailed and really need a topic of their own). Part of the design on the pitch was that i had to be able to store it flat under the sofa and that it had to have no easily breakable parts - hence the seperate score boards. There is space on the board for placing the dugouts...

Matt - If you have never played blood bowl, i really suggest you grab the LRB from the GW site (its free!!!) and print up some card players (as they did in the original game). I promise that you wont regret it!

oni said...

I don't play Blood Bowl, but that looks excellent.

The Inner Geek said...

Nice pitch! I also made a custom pitch a couple years back. Your field looks better than mine did by far. I actually upscaled mine so that a big guy would fit in a square correctly and it made the whole game seem a little more 'epic' in size. The only problem was upscaling the passing template. But, I'll definitely be borrowing some of your techniques for field texturing in the future!