The making of a six player Settlers of Catan Board.
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Step 1: Hexagon Tiles
The first stage of the journey is the making of hexagonal templates to be the bases of each resource tile. I wanted the templates to be as accurate as possible so after some careful measuring of the original Catan tiles I settled on a regular hexagon with side lengths of 4.55cm. Each 3D tile requires space at each edge for the placement of the roads and at each corner for the placement of towns and cities. I therefore designed a second hexagonal template at a 4mm inset to the base hexagon and at each corner a circular cut-away to allow for the placement of roads, towns and cities. These I quickly sketched out in Word, printed, then cut out.
Each 3D resource tile will first be designed in clay. The best modelling clay for this is a polymer clay. This clay will not air dry and once a design is complete it is baked in the oven at 110 degrees C for 30mins. The best I found is Fimo clay sold on Amazon 350g white £8.84. As long as one doesn't go wild two of these should do for the 8 tiles needed. You can get cheaper polymer clay but it doesn't sculpt as well. The 8 tiles are the five resources: clay, wheat, ore, brick, and wood, a desert tile a port tile and a water tile.
The clay can be rolled simply using a rolling pin. To ensure a uniform thickness formers are needed either side. For the main base I used 3mm formers and for the inset I used 1mm. I used baking paper under the clay to stop it sticking to a surface and for ease of movability. Slightly damping the paper with water prevents further sticking. Also a slightly damp rolling pin prevents the same. Once the clay was rolled out I dried the clay and placed on the appropriate template and cut round it. I left the main base where it was on the baking paper but used water to soak off the inset and carefully placed it on top of the main base. A gentle roll of the pin bedded one to the other. Lifting the whole tile with the grease proof paper I placed it onto a baking tray and baked it in the oven. Beware of finger prints on the clay as these will also bake in. Use a wet finger to smooth out any bumps.
Step 2: Tile Modelling
Once the Base of the tile has been baked this gives a good solid base to begin modelling the 3D Catan resource tiles. I am personally not so good at creating my own designs so have copied the designs of another big thanks to Karim Chakroun. I started with the Clay tile and my wife Cath with the Sheep tile. The modelling was done using small pocket knives for the shaping and cutting and a table knife and needles for the texturing. Once each design is complete it is baked ready for the moulding process.
Each tile requires a flat area to seat the number disc, on the clay tile the number disc sits above the lake. On the sheep tile the number disc sits nicely between three of the hills. Cath's Sea tile will be used to edge the board instead of a frame like the original. The Ore Tile the number disc sits nicely on the small clump of trees.
Step 3: Casting the Pieces
The silicone, resin and release has now been ordered and received. All from www.tomps.com. The photo below the wheat tile and I sanded down the edges to try and straighten them up slightly so that all the tiles will fit together well. Next I made a small strip of cardboard from a cereal box with a thickness of 5mm above the height of the wheat tile and 30cm long. Folding the strip up into 5cm lengths I produce a hexagon that fits around the wheat piece with room to spare. The idea is to use the minimum amount of silicone possible without causing a lack of structural integrity. I found the best way through a few trials and errors to make a base to the cardboard surround and selotape it to the edging strip this ensures the silicon doesn't seep out. (The pictures shows my first attempt of gluing the surround to a glass plate.)
Next I placed a length of cling film over the top of the mould to waterproof the cardboard and poured water into over the mould filling up the cling film up to the top of the cardboard. Lifting this out I decanted into a pot so that I could better guess the volume of silicone needed. Placing the pot on the scales I put in part A of the silicone up to a mark I made when the water was in there and weighed the silicone. Then dividing the value by 20 I added part two of the silicone and mixed thoroughly.
A quick spray of the mould and cardboard with the release fluid will ensure the clay piece pops out of the silicone once dry. Once the silicone was mixed I pour it over the top of the piece, filling from the lowest point at the edge and slowly over the tile right up to the brim of the cardboard and then left it for 24hrs.
Step 4: Casting and Painting
Right so where we left off was the making of silicone mounds. Once those were all finished we moved on to making the pieces themselves. Lots of little tips to tell. Firstly to work out how much resin to use for each piece. To do this for the first time I filled each silicone mould with water and weighing out exactly half I poured this into a plastic container and marked the level with a pencil putting in the same volume again I marked the second level. These two marks I was able to use as levels for the resin that comes in two parts.
Once a piece had been made I could then weigh it separately to get the exact weight for successive resin pourings. Make sure for the first time you have some little mounds available to use up any excess resin like a road piece. The resin once the two parts are mixed together it goes off in about 4mins and so don't hang around pouring into the mounds. Air bubbles can be a problem and so its also best to start pouring the resin slowly into the smaller parts of the mould even tipping the mould to ensure the resin flows into the smaller areas without trapping air bubbles.
So it also turned out if you very careful with the silicone 1kg did all the moulds but I have calculated that we will need 3.7kg of resin to make all the pieces for a 6 player game that's a total of 206 pieces.
The pieces were then painted with acrylic paint and then I sprayed them all with a clear gloss to protect the paint work.
Finally we made see through counters. We ordered plastic discs from an online company and then printed the numbers onto projector transparencies and glued them to the discs.