Somewhere between painting up the miniatures included in the core set and getting the scenery counters started I had a look at the printed game mat. It is a 20"x20" folded paper mat depicting an intersection somewhere within the zombie apocalypse. "Fixed" terrain representations don't normally interest me but in the big picture it's intended to be modular with other map releases that can be butted together to make varied game areas.
Without any buildings or other prominent landmarks included I think that it would work quite well. Unfortunately I am a hobby snob and have a bias against paper terrain that runs pretty deep so I decided to try and build a three dimensional representation of the paper mat. The basic layout looked like it had potential enough. Unfortunately I didn't have any idea of what subsequent map expansions would look like so I didn't want to alter anything and make my terrain piece incompatible. It's worth mentioning that some people have shown me paper terrain that has been changing my preconceptions but I'm not there yet.
I started by ripping a piece of craft board down to a square of the same dimensions and copied the contours with foamboard. Once the main roadway was laid down I added the two sidewalk parts and designated the grass areas. I glued the roadway level down with carpenter's glue then bonded the two foam board sidewalks to the first layer with styro glue. All of the foam I was using was sandwiched between paper faces. I wanted to texture the visible foam faces so prior to gluing everything in place I had stripped the paper from the foam by soaking it in water and then scrubbing it to lift the paper off.
Once everything had set in place I got out my hobby knife and scored pavers, kerbs and cracks into the foam. The "green" sections of the map and hole for the sewer grate were also cut out. Finally I used my brass brush and textured all of the "pavement" by pressing into and scouring the surfaces.
I manually brushed cheap black acrylic paint over all of the terrain piece. I didn't apply any sprays to it until I sealed the project but when dealing with foam it is a good practice to cover all foam over once thoroughly so the propellant from any cans won't eat it to pieces. This was followed by a dark, medium then light gray layering. The dark grey was a heavy overpaint to establish complete coverage. With the other two layers I used less paint progressively and rather than ladening the brush I touched up areas hoping to create texture. There was a combination of drybrushing and stippling to get where I ended up.
Once the pavement was surfaced I used the map as a cheat sheet again and copied the traffic markings. I was a little rough but wasn't disappointed because I didn't take the time to mask anything. I finished up prior to sealing by adding a brown-black wash. I applied mostly around the lines I'd added to make them appear dull and worn. For the green areas I drybrushed to lighter values of brown over an warm, dark brown basecoat.
Once the board was sealed with Testor's dullcote I added clumps of and loose static grass as well as some low lying foilage in one area. I wanted to set the scene but didn't want anything I added to the board to be overly intrusive so I could plop down anything, anywhere onto the board when setting it up to play. To finished things off I dropped some scale news sheets and tissue leaves.
I like it. The majority of time spent was waiting for paint to dry and the only attention intensive component was removing the paper backing from the foam. The terrain is only 20x20 so carrying it and small collection of similar pieces around would be very easy. For someone with my attention span this was an excellent board building project. It was very small scale, easy and quick to complete so I can go back to painting models now instead of dicking around with all of this other junk.