This is a quick and easy way to create decent-looking, durable tiles or boards for board games and role-playing games. I use foamcore to give them thickness and to give transparent plastic book wrap something to wrap around, making them thick, hard and durable, as well as relatively waterproof.
- Properly scaled images ready to print, you can find many on DriveThruRPG, and even on Pinterest
- If you wish to make your own tiles rather than use some from a website, you'll need a more advanced image editor. Anything from paint.net to Photoshop will do, including CorelDraw, Clip Studio Paint, InkScape, Gimp and so on
- printed tiles (you can find some online, both free and paid, or make some yourself (I made mine myself))
- foamcore, I recommend 3mm (1/8th inch) thick (I understand dollar shops often have some, otherwise look for it at your local hobby/arts supply shop, sometimes bookstores have it, it's also used by architecture students)
- standard PVA/white glue, stick may also work, avoid too thin/liquid glues
- transparent adhesive vinyl film, most bookstores should have some as at least around these parts it's used broadly to reinforce school textbooks
Step 1: Print Your Tiles
You can make your own tiles (look up terrain texture/sprite tutorials for 2D games on youtube) or you can get some online. There are some on Pinterest, but it might be very hard to scale them properly, alternatively you can definitely find many for free on DriveThru RPG, and there are also many more on sale for a small fee. Printing in good quality ink can be a big factor, I wouldn't go cheap on that.
For 1 inch tiles (the standard for 28mm miniatures used in wargames and RPGs), you can find templates online (for example this sample is ready for the task)
Step 2: Glue to the Foamcore
I place th glue in a zig-zag pattern and then use a toothpick to even it out over the surface, small gaps aren't a disaster (since we'll be wrapping it in book dressing later), but make sure it's not so much or so thin that it soaks into the paper, it can get wrinkly (i.e. don't water it down). Be aware that white glue tends to dry very fast when spread thin, this shouldn't be a problem for A4 prints but it's good to know.
Step 3: Cut Out the Foamcore
I recommend you first cut out the whole paper and then go on to cutting out the individual tiles/components, so it's easier to handle, it also helps if you cut it into smaller sections instead of directly working on each component, as you minimize the number of corners you'll have to cut. Using a steel ruler can help cut straight but it can also give a false sense of security and lead to a big ugly cut if you don't hold it down firmly and press too much against it.
Step 4: Prepare the Adhesive Film
This generally comes in a roll, so you may want to have some heavy items around to keep it down and flat. Cut out a strip that seems to be of appropriate width, then place the tiles/pieces on it leaving a one-inch gap between them, and a half-inch gap between the edges. One to one and a half centimeters for those using metric. This is so you can be sure it'll wrap all the way to the underside. Note: only expose the sticky surface (i.e. remove the paper it come stuck on) after you have cut it down to size (next step), as it may still warp and stick to itself or other stuff.
Step 5: Cut the Wrap Into Individual Sizes and Wrap Them!
Before removing the back surface, cut the wrap to the right size (half an inch from the edges) so you can handle them easily. Stick each piece to the wrap, cut out the corners of the wrap so it's only to the sides of the tile, and fold it so that it wraps around securely to the back. While going around the sides, press firmly against them so that they don't create noticeable bumps.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Your tiles are now thick enough to feel like they have some weight, hard enough to rough-handle, and the wrapping gives them a nice glossy finish comparable to actual boardgame pieces. Furthermore, they are reasonably waterproof (don't submerge them though!) so they definitely warrant the extra effort compared to sticking with just the print.
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