Inexpensive Roads

I've been getting more involved with 1/285 micro armor gaming and have been expanding my forces as well as my terrain. I was walking through the local DIY store when I saw this tube of "Cedar Tan" caulk and decided it would be a great start towards making some much needed dirt roads. I made sure to get the kind which I could paint.

I then cut off the end so I could get a nice thick application of caulk. I also crushed the end to get the material to lay flatter as I administered. Perhaps I might find some cheap cake icing applicator in the future. But not this time!

I then took an extra piece of rigid plastic from my bits box and cut the desired cross section of my roadway into it.

I then applied a run of the caulk to wax paper (you can use what ever material you want to serve as the backing for your roads - newspaper work well) and scraped it into my roadways using my modified bit of plastic. I'm sure if you put some thought into it you would come up with a better technique, but even this crude method worked rather well.

With a single tube of caulk I was able to make all these lengths of road about 3/4 of an inch across and some five plus feet in length - probably more. You have the option at this point to cover them with a fine sand to add texture, or to jab them with the ends of brushes to make craters, etc. Main point is to get them into the shape you want them to harden in to.

I was fortunate to have a work space over my garage which heated up like an oven during the day. I left the road lengths out to dry for a weekend and by the time I came back they were nice and dry. I was then able to gently peel the soft rubber strips from the wax paper which mostly let go. Using newspaper may be more of a mess in peeling off the sides, but the underside will have a nice coating of paper. Just make sure if you opt to peel you don't tear or over-stretch your road section.

I then placed my road sections on the cutting board and made sure to cut at right angle to the center line of the road. Since I used my scrape tool I know all my ends will line up to be the same width which made things easier. I also put the ruler on the side of the road which would be waste so as not to make unwanted impressions in my "good" sections.

With the road sections dried and cut I have the option of painting them with spray paint or dry brushing. This is completely up to your taste - do as you think best. As you can see below the unpainted roads look a little too fake for my taste.

I've used this excellent texture paint before and thought it would be great for adding some needed color and character to the roads sections.

Just spread the road sections out on a piece of newspaper and give them a hit of the texture paint as needed. I try to keep the ends of the road similar in density of texture to reduce the meeting joint line between a thin and heavily sprayed section.

Finally a finished product! These roads are easy to make and paint. I'd store them with some wax paper between them to ensure the caulk does not merge due to time/heat/pressure, but otherwise they behave just like thin slices of rubber. Now to make some black top roads....

You can also make road sections of different widths or for different scales. In the past I've added fine grit sand and spray painted with touches of matte finish dark gray, brown, and light brown. I'm sure a similar technique would lend itself to making some very nice rivers, and I have even started experimenting with using it to make hedgerows, or at least the bases for hedgerow brush to grow from. Cheers & enjoy!

© 2011, Gabriel Landowski