Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Flexible Roads

Flexible roads are one of those things I've wanted to have a go at for years, but have never quite gotten round to trying. My stop gap measure and one that has worked perfectly well for years, has been my felt cloth roads that I've used for Bloody Big Battles and on occasion Honours of War. Whilst the work really well they lack a certain aesthetic alongside my other terrain.

So last night with an hour to kill and not in the mood for painting, I decided to have a go at making some flexible roads, using one of my felt ones as a basis. The following photos will show you how I went about making a trial piece.

The basic felt road, which is 1" wide and 12" long. Also seen are some pva glue (the one builders use for mixing in wide cement, plaster etc) and some beige water based emulsion paint.

I mixed some of the paint in with the pva glue, diluted it slightly with water, and then applied this liberally to the felt. I wanted to make sure there was enough for the next stage. Note that this was all done on a piece of polythene plastic to make sure it didn't stick to the backing.

I then added some very fine sand in the middle section, the sort you find for children's sand pits, then some of my usual basing mix to the left hand section. This was then left to dry overnight.

The result in the morning after the lose sand and grit had been removed. As you can see, the finer sand has stuck to the pva on the backing sheet, but this was easily removed.

I then gave everything a simple drybrush, using the beige emulsion as a basecoat. some highlights were added and a few darker bits on the middle section.

My standard grit mix, whilst fine, is too coarse for a road surface but would work well for 28mm figures and vehicles.

The fine sand mix worked a treat and with more TLC, would look pretty good I think.

Some drybrushed felt that looks like, well, drybrushed felt!

The proof of the pudding so to speak. The test is pretty flexible, even over a relatively sharp edge as can be seen here.

The only down side, if one can call it that, is that it leaves a gap, as can be seen here, which you don't get with purely felt roads. However some addition of pieces of lichen would cover this up and not look out of place.

So my verdict? The test worked as well as I hoped it would, even for a quick paint job, it looked pretty good. The main question going forward is do I really need to make roads like this when i rarely use them going over a hill, given that I have perfectly usable mdf roads as it is? I need to have a think on this as as always, my time should be spent on painting figures rather than making more terrain!

For another approach that works equally well and with probably less effort, check out Jon Bleasdale's Blog to see how he approached this subject. I think you'll agree that it's pretty damned effective.

Thoughts on a postcard and as always, keep healthy and stay safe!


  1. Looks quite effective to me. Great to see you back into the swing of regular blogging!

    1. Thanks Jon. I certainly feel more back in the swing and things, which is good:).

  2. Right or wrong Steve, I don’t know - but I always imagine dirt tracks and/or paths going up/over hills, whereas more modern (tarmac) roads I see as skirting around the hills. However, whatever you decide, all that matters is when you ask yourself “does it look right?”.
    Sometimes you have to try (something) even if just to prove to yourself that that particular thing is not the way you want to go. If you catch my drift.
    All the best,

    1. I think you're right that modern roads tend to go round hills or through them. This test was more for use in my 18thC & 19thC games, when sometimes they had to go over a hill. Also some of the scenarios from the Grant & Asquith books require roads going over hills.

      This test has certainly given me plenty to think about. If the colour were beige on the felt, I think I would probably leave them as they are. Much to ponder.

  3. Very good. I’d be interested to see how they hold up over time. I also popped over to Jon Bleasdale’s blog to have a gander at his idea. Good for thought.

    1. Thanks. I'm not sure on durability as pva does dry rock hard over time and even caulk dries out too. Jon's solution looks to win hands down on the durability front, plus it's damned quick to make compared to the felt route.

  4. Thanks Steve a helpful idea that seems to work. I have simple felt at the moment for the 10mm games. I have seen lots of different options the builder caulk always appeals but I have never got round to trying ?

    1. For my Bloody Big Battles games, that need loads of roads, felt wins hands down. As mentioned above if the colour were more beige, I'd probably be happy with that. However they didn't have that in stock when I bought this and some other colours.

      I may give the caulk roads a go at some point, but I think they work better for the larger scales IMHO.

  5. Very nice roads especially as I always have problems with roads and hills.

    (I don't know why I'm not locked in here)


    Amtmann B.

    1. I'm glad you liked them. No idea on what Google/Blogger issues might be causing you problems, as lots of others have been affected over the past few months.