Tutorial: Building a Bushido Board

Bushido is played on a 2 foot x 2 foot board. I have plans to make a very fancy temple garden board, but I also wanted to play right away. What else could I do, but make a quick and simple play surface?

I started with a sheet of hardboard. I use pieces of this for basing terrain all the time. It is cheap and light.  A 4x8x 1/8" sheet is only $8 at any big box building supply store. You may even be able to get them to cut it down for you if you don't have access to a table or band saw.

I measured out a 2x2 square, and headed down to my local guitar repair shop to use their bandsaw to cut the board. After cutting the pieces off, I cut the scraps into smaller pieces that I can cut and shape at home for basing other projects.

Before doing anything with the board, I loosely planned things out on a scrap of paper. I decided to keep this very simple. The plan was for a large open field with some muddy wagon ruts going through a part of it. The design is meant to let any terrain pieces be the star of the show. I carefully applied glue and kitty litter to mark the tracks.

I added some sandy areas and rocks to break up the monotonous grass.

I primed the sand/kitty litter/rocks, and added some preshading. Hardboard takes paint fairly well, but can also warp if you get it too wet, so I tried to keep the priming to a minimum. I used Vallejo Surface Primer through my airbrush for this.

Next, was a layer of brown in my standard dirt color. I have been using Golden Raw Sienna (also through the airbrush), recently, and I've been quite pleased with the results.

I wasn't happy with the tracks. I really wanted them to look like dried mud. I made a paste of a dark brown pigment powder, sand, and Secret Weapon water effects. I added a little plaster powder to this to help make it clumpy, and I blobbed it all along the tracks. After it dried, I stippled a couple lighter shades of pigment into the mixture.

At this stage, I also painted and drybrushed the sandy areas and rocks.

I laid some terrain on the board to make sure I was moving in the right direction. I think this is an important step. Make sure everything fits before you get too far along in the process!

I bought a LOT of static grass in 3 different colors: medium green, light green, and harvest yellow. I mixed these in a plastic container to get the exact shade I was looking for. I added a small amount of dark green flock to the static grass.

I made a bucket of watered down PVA glue. It was a 1:1 mix. I used a large brush to spread it around the board and laid the static grass. I did this by hand because I don't have an applicator, and I wanted the grass to lay in multiple directions instead of all straight up.

After I did the initial layer of static grass, I wanted some areas to be more lush. I used a spray bottle with the watered down PVA mixture to wet down any areas I wanted to thicken, and added more static grass. I also used this method to smooth out any transitional areas where the color mix looked a little different.

From this angle you can see some of the texture. At this point, there were still some clumps of grass that I needed to shake off. To save this grass for future use, I laid newspapers on the ground, and tapped the board on them to knock the loose pieces off. I then used the paper to funnel the extra grass back to the container.


Almost done! I added some flowers, tufts, and bits of dead grass around the bare patches.

And that's it! It is super simple with lots of terrain potential. Look for it, covered in new terrain during this week's upcoming Bushido game!

One note- I went a little heavy on the watered down PVA, and the board warped a little. Since it is so small and is freestanding, it's not an issue. It would be fairly easy to add thin cross bracing along the bottom to flatten it out, but I probably won't bother.



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4 responses to “Tutorial: Building a Bushido Board

  1. Looks rad! Neoprene changed my views on terrain boards in terms of portability, but there’s something special about a nice handmade board, like practical fx vs cgi. ;) Where is the big Torii from? I really dig that piece.

  2. Neoprene is great, but I love the tactile feel. Texture is important!

    The big Torii gate is an old aquarium piece I have had sitting around for 10 years or so, I’m not sure where it came from. It’s a big wooden piece and I haven’t modded it at all.

  3. Very nice!
    Looking forward to seeing this in action. Love those muddy ruts.

  4. thanks! We’re using it for the first time on Thursday.

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