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Making Tiles by KJ

General Idea:

I make prototype tiles like a sandwich made of 4 or 5 pieces of card stock. 4 pieces will come out about 1 mm thick. If the tiles are large (e. g., 2 inches across), you might need 5 or 6 I'd guess, or use paperboard to replace all the center layers.

This method works for a few copies for play testing purposes. I wouldn't want to make a test production run this way.

Materials Needed:

110# Card Stock
1-2mm Paperboard (optional)
Spray Glue (3M Super 77 is recommended) or other Glue
Spray UV Protector Finish (e. g., Krylon) (optional)
Some old paper to spray on (much larger than the card stock)
A piece of cardboard just barely smaller than your card stock pieces
Rotary wheel cutter

WARNING': Follow safety recommendations for any spray glue or finish you plan to use! Spray only in a well-ventilated area. Best to do it outside in my experience.


floor tiles

Go to Lowe's and get a 12" X 12" linoleum floor tile [they're only $.35!]. It already has the glue on it. Print out your tiles on standard paper on your inkjet, then laminate the printed sheet. Attach the laminated sheet to the floor tile, then cut using whatever method works best for you [I use xacto with metal ruler].

The laminate sticks to the tile wonderfully and because the face is laminated also, you will get years of use out of it. Also - when you laminate your printed stuff [especially if you have a laser printer], it makes the colors pop!

Stiff sticky-back felt

You can buy sheets of stiff, sticky-backed felt at Michael's and probably other craft stores. I buy 9x12 inch sheets. I print my artwork on standard 8.5x11 paper, stick the whole page to a felt sheet, then cut out the tiles with scissors. The result is tiles that are light, stiff, and easy to pick up and handle. They are easy, cheap, and quick to make. They can be almost any size and shape: I've used this material for 3/4" square tiles, for Settlers of Catan-sized hex tiles, and for an odd semi-round shape in one of my current works-in-progress.

The drawbacks: Tiles can have artwork on only one side (although you can choose different colors of felt, if that matters to your design). The edges remain just a bit sticky, so this method might not be best for tiles drawn from a bag, or placed with edges touching and then frequently moved. The felt cuts easily with scissors, but you'll need to pause once in a while and rub accumulated goo off your scissor blades. Finally, the results are great for prototypes but not professional-looking enough to sell to customers.

Rapid ideas for quick prototyping square tiles -

Cheap glue your paper to teabags (almost square) or wetnaps (close enough).

I still am searching for a decent quick hex!

And, as I am not much of a crafts guy nor am I a "tool man" (I really don't like the task of making the physical prototype until it's done). I generally will use rubber cement on existing cheap tiles I have.

I bought 6 copies of Delta V for $5 each when they had the Christmas sale at Fantasy Flight '07 and I have put those copies to good use. Maybe others prefer I higher standard, but I'm happy with that decision.

Matboard, and Glue

I typically use matboard (available at most craft shops and any place that does framing) for tiles in my games. I bypass all the layering this way, although for quality's sake I still cut the tile design sheets out separately and glue them to each tile. It is *possible* to glue the design to the matboard and cut through both, but the risk of nicks and tears is substantial unless you are very skilled and the blade is very sharp. I would use sticker paper (often sold as full label paper) if I wanted to go this route.

Spray glue is probably the best route, but the brands I have tried lack much adhesion and the paper comes off too easily. You can use craft glue if you a) dilute with water b) brush it on, or c) rub two tiles together with the glue in between to smoosh it flat. Otherwise it will bulge in spots and look unprofessional.

Foam sheet?

I've printed prototyping tiles on two pieces of cardstock - it works well but still isn't thick enough for placing tiles together. I am considering picking up a bunch of 8.5x11, 2mm foam sheet, and then gluing my cardstocked designs onto each side of the sheet.

I haven't done this yet but it's definitely a possibility for my next prototypes.

Foam sheets work well.

I saw a prototype at a convention that Tom Wham was working on. He had used foam on the backs of the board and tiles, and it worked out really well. That's how I plan on doing my next prototype, personally. It gives a really nice thickness, prevents sliding, and is relatively easy to cut.

Foam questions

If I did foam on my prototypes, I would sandwich it between two pieces of 110# cardstock - some of the tiles are two-sided, and I can always make a uniform back.

Were those tiles coated and finished (similar to the how-to above)? Do you think 2mm foam will be thick enough to slide the tiles next to each other properly?

Re: Foam (2mm enough? yes)

2 mm is pretty thick. I think it's more than enough for tiles, especially prototypes. My prototype tiles are often just 3-5 sheets of #110 card stock, which comes out not much more than 1 mm thick.

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