15 February 2019

Making a Kill Team Board

By way of a side project, alongside my A Tale Of 3 Armies kill team building, I decided to make a Kill Team board and have some new terrain for it. I haven't managed to complete my last two board projects, but somehow this one seemed very do-able, even given the limited time I have these day. Once I'd started I got the bug to get it done. I took inspiration from the Malifaux board I made all those years ago, mimicking the potato printing process to create patterns and textures.

I bought a piece of 4x2 6mm MDF and cut the length down so it was 30cmx24cm – slightly wider than the 'official' kill team size of 30cmx22cm (which is a really odd size and surely just so it will fit in a box), but I'm ok with that. I bought a trolley full of tester paint pots at the same time, in a variety of colours, and chose a dark brown to base coat the board. I used a roller so that I would get some subtle texture, but not too much – I made the mistake of using some filler to texture my Malifaux board, and it proved to be quite an issue.

I gave the base coat 24 hrs to dry thoroughly (not a quick process in a cold garage). Then came the fun part!

I cracked open the other tester paint pots and found myself an old car washing sponge. I used a fork to rip up the surface of the sponge so it was very ragged but in a random, natural way, filling the floor with bits of sponge in the process!!

I went back to my original dark brown paint and dabbed it quite heavily over the basecoated board, to fill in any bits I'd missed and to add more texture.

Whilst this initial pass of brown was still wet, I poured different tester pot colours into my paint tray and used the sponge again, letting the colours mix naturally as I dabbed, trying to keep the coverage as random as possible. There were blues and greys and browns and greens, and gradually they began to mix in the tray and on the board, so each application got more subtle. I tried to keep the lighter colours concentrated near the centre of the board, as that is where most of the action would take place and it would become the natural focal point.

After tidying up the incredible mess, I left the board for two days to dry in the chilly garage – even that was only just long enough (the paint on my sponge was still very wet!). I brought the board indoors to put some terrain on it and photograph it, thinking it was done. But something didn't feel quite right – it felt too light in colour, not grungy enough.

My solution was quite extreme.

I managed to find some old bottles of Windsor & Newton ink – Nut Brown and Black. I mixed the two in a bowl, with only the smallest amount of black, as I recalled it was very strong. I added some water and a bit of old matt medium and washed the entire board using a sponge, making sure as best I could that the coverage was even and there were no lines. The board was almost black – I could hardly see any of my sponged on patterns!!

With the ink still wet, I got a clean sponge dipped in water and started dabbing it lightly and quickly around the centre of the board to thin the ink coverage. It was a very gradual process. I kept going until I felt I had the right balance and the results were looking grungy enough for me. I then (gingerly) brought the board indoors to dry thoroughly in the warmth.

I have to say I love the final result. It has surpassed my expectations and I have created a new board process along the way. I will probably add some furniture pads underneath to protect whatever surface I'm playing on, but aside from that (and a coat or two of protective varnish) we're done.

I did consider adding scenery elements (skulls, discarded weapons, etc.) to the board but I want this to be easily stored, so purposefully kept it as flat as possible. Similarly, I thought about printing tyre tracks, footprints, explosions, etc on there, but again decided to keep it neutral so it can be used for any game. The scenery placed on top will create the real atmosphere for the gaming and I wanted the board to be nothing more than a backdrop for that.

Expect to see this board a lot on the blog in the future!!


  1. Beautiful! Fantastic technique and results and so simple! I'm a sucker for adding texture to my boards, which makes things take so long to get finished!

    1. I think it’s very easy for a project to become a juggernaut that is crawls along at a snail’s pace, and in my case is never finished before the enthusiasm wanes. This project has proved to me that I can get excellent and achievable results in a very short timeframe if I think more practically, and a little outside the box.

  2. What a gorgeous looking board, a great show of techniques.