Hex mold trial sculpt - Topic name change - Who wants exterior tile sets?

Hex mold trial sculpt - Topic name change - Who wants exterior tile sets?

Bruce Hirst
Registered User
Joined: 02 Jun 2005, 11:36

10 Sep 2014, 21:15 #1

Hello everyone!

My next project will be making some hex molds. However, I'm having a little trouble with the texture of the tiles here. Here's a photo:

These hexes are only 1" across from flat to flat. My main concern is that the texture should be useful for its intended purpose which is to be used for D&D for outside terrain.

But first, let me shed some light on the grand plan here.  My intention is to start with rock textured hexes in sizes of 1", 1.25", 1.5", 1.75" and 2" measured from flat to flat. The 1" hexes would be used for outside terrain for D&D. I also imagine the same scale of miniature would be used for the 1.75" hexes, which is the size of "heroscape" hexes.

The 1.25" and 1.5" hexes would be used for Battletech scale in which a 1.5" tall robot would be the size of a 2-story house. I'm not sure about the 2" hexes, so I don't know if I will make the 2" hexes or not.

By looking at the texture, I believe that what I have carved would work well for the Battletech scale, especially when you see it on larger hexes than these. However, I'm not so sure that the texture you see here works very well for 25mm scale D&D figures.

I think the main problem is that it is not possible to create a natural looking rock surface in the "hex" format. With that in mind, the best I can do is to make the nicest looking rock surface possible. And I don't know what the nicest looking rock surface should look like. It's not a problem when you're trying to create floor tiles where you expect square or hex shaped slabs of rock.  But you would not expect it outdoors.

Several people have also asked for grass or dirt hex tiles.  I don't know what they would look like either. I would think that a plain flat hex tile with green foam glued to it would be more acceptable, in which case the texture is irrelevant. Dirt would be glued to plain tiles as well or perhaps glued onto these rock tiles, in which case no other hexes would be needed besides these rock hexes.

Another thing to bring up is that I cannot make the tiles rise and fall as natural ground would. Miniatures would fall over and you couldn't make a continuous slope out of separate hexes. All of the hexes you see here have several points around the outside edge that measure exactly 1/4" tall.

So back to my main question. What should 1" wide natural rock hexes for 25mm figures look like? Is there something better out there than what I have come up with?  I feel that there is but I just haven't found it yet. While we're at it, feel free to discuss any other ideas for hex molds and textures for them. In the meantime, I will probably go ahead and use this texture for the Battletech scale hexes and start carving those. I think it works pretty well for that. But I just think there is something better out there for the D&D scale.


Bruce Hirst
Last edited by Bruce Hirst on 13 Sep 2014, 12:42, edited 1 time in total.

Registered User
Joined: 22 May 2010, 05:46

10 Sep 2014, 21:34 #2

I personally think these look great for a rock texture. While I really like the hex format, I'm probably too vested in the 1" x 1" tiles, and my OCD tendencies makes it a struggle for me to have 2 different formats. I do look forward to seeing what else you come up with for the hex format.
Hirts Arts Molds:
Sci-Fi: 270, 271, 272, 273, 276, 277, 278, 279, 300, 301, 302, 303, 320, 321, 325, 326, 327
Castle/Gothic: 40, 43, 44, 52, 54, 60, 63, 64, 66, 200, 201, 202, 203, 230, 235, 240, 245
Fieldstone: 70, 701, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 260, 261
Cavern: 281, 282
Egyptian: 90, 92, 95

4BOT-Industries Molds:
Alien: A01, A02, A03, A04, A05
Alien Cavern Crossover: G24, G25, G26, W16, W17
Catacombs: G28, G29, G30, W31, W32, W33
Caverns: W04, W05, W06, W07, W08, W09, W10, W11, W12, W13, W14, W15, G13, G14, G21, G22, G23
Cavernous Lake/River: G17, G18, G19, G20
City Builder: W22, W23, W24, W25, W26, W27, W28, W29, W30, W31, W32, W33, G23, G27, G28, G29
Desert/Martian: G15, G16
Lava/Damaged Ground: G04, G05, G06, G07, G08
Sci-Fi/Modern:  G09, G10, G11, G12, W01, W02, W03, W18, W19, W20, W21

Registered User
Joined: 02 Jun 2005, 19:26

10 Sep 2014, 21:39 #3

I like em as they are.

A bit of blue paint and inks, maybe a coat of envirotex, and you have a ford-able river crossing.
It's NOT denial. I'm just very selective about the reality I accept. -- Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)

Registered User
Joined: 02 Jun 2005, 21:47

11 Sep 2014, 12:33 #4

The general idea of the textures shown is excellent, but having the individual rocks run over the edge of the hex into the next means that it won't always agree with what's adjacent. The larger rocks show the shape of the hex a bit too clearly, and are too squared off on the edges to fit naturally against the stones on the adjacent hex. I'd try to make the pattern on each hex "self-contained". Individually, those hexes look good, but they don't work all that well as a group.

As for Battletech, although the miniatures are 1/285th scale, the standard BT mapsheet is NOT. A 'Mech figure is supposed to be up to around 12 meters tall (there are exceptions up to 13-14m), but a hex is supposed to represent 30 meters. Either the hexes need to be about triple their mapsheet size to match the figures, or you need to "scale down" the hex for playing purposes. The texture might work for a rocky planetary surface at "Mech scale", but not that well at "map scale"; the rock features are rather large.
Last edited by Kovax on 11 Sep 2014, 12:35, edited 2 times in total.

Dragon Scales
Registered User
Joined: 14 Jun 2010, 03:23

11 Sep 2014, 16:12 #5

I have dreamed of Hirst Arts outdoor terrain sets for years. I have put a lot of thought and effort into creating my own sets as well. I was never happy with them, but I am not a sculptor.

I don't understand why anyone would want hexes for D&D. I do understand why they would for a myriad of other games, but for the most popular D&D version out today, Pathfinder, they are useless. Everything is tied to the square grid.

That said, I would be interested in square terrain pieces. I don't see why both hexes and squares couldn't be produced side by side.

As to the textures, I absolutely want grass and dirt and all the parts that are defined as different pieces of terrain within the scope of the game. I know it won't look "real" but I can do that easily enough with parts from the train and modeling genres available now. What I need are tiles that my players and I can quickly identify and allow me to rearrange them often.

I will lay out what I envision for a set of forest tiles:

A tile that represents just dirt, maybe a few leaves.
A tile that represents light undergrowth.
A tile that represents heavy undergrowth.
A tile that represents small trees and light undergrowth.
A tile that represents small trees and heavy undergrowth.
A tile that represents massive trees.

I don't care if the above takes a 2-3 molds for tiles and another 1-2 for the massive trees.

For light undergrowth, I envision small vines and sticks, maybe a rock or two.
For heavy undergrowth, I envision larger versions of the same.
I figure I will paint one mostly green and the other mostly brown to help identification. I can live with the same tiles being painted different colors for identification.

For the small trees, I envision a few stumps sticking up that the minis can stand on. It would have to be at least 3 so that the minis will be stable. They only have to stick up 1/4" or so. Any large minis (2" or bigger) might be a little lopsided if they are standing on it, but that won't be a problem.

For massive trees, I envision just under 1" diameter, 4" tall "trunks" with no branches. Something that makes the trunks unique would be nice, like knots, holes or a small forest animal. Painting will be the main tool to make them different. In Pathfinder, the mini can't take up a square that the tree is in. If it is flat on top, I can use it to represent the mini in the tree's canopy.

As to the elevation, again, I have no problem solving that on my own. The key is to have the texture on the sides of the tile as well. If you can do that, I can represent the heights just by stacking (I hope to show how real soon).

I don't need or want my D&D table to look like a masterpiece. I want the players to be able to identify the terrain, each square of the terrain, without me having to explain each square as I see fit, each and every time I lay it out. I can easily deal with tiles whose textures don't line up perfectly.

Currently I use a digital projector for many of my maps and terrain. Over a 48" table, the resolution is only about 25 dpi. That makes it very difficult to show differences in the types of terrain. I have solved just about every other presentation problem that the game presents. If you solve the terrain problem for me, I will throw money at you.

Just my thoughts, your mileage may vary.


Registered User
Joined: 01 Aug 2005, 05:06

11 Sep 2014, 19:02 #6

there is a KS project that was doing heroscape hex style pieces. maybe something there would help overcome the "sculpting-block"

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ye ... s?ref=48hr

Registered User
Joined: 02 Sep 2011, 00:13

11 Sep 2014, 21:42 #7

I have used hex maps in dnd and path finder just fine. as far as the rules go basically a hex is the same as a square you don't have to treat them any differently.

I actually bought the keebler mold to make hexs with and have used them for ruins and other stuff.  the nice thing with hexes is you can move more naturally and don't have to special rules for moving diagonally

That being said. I like the textures on the hexs you have done. While the sloping that you get may not  to do able with out making it so the minis tip over its ok to "flatten out" the texture.

a cracked rock texture , granite  or what bing lists as mountain rock http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Mou ... ORM=IRTRRL might work well

A dirt forest floor  or may be cracked earth.  possibly even water tiles with some  waves and  crests would work.  the main thing I think is that the tile needs to give the impression of what it represents.

looking forward to see what you do decide to come up with as to be honest I prefer hexes to squares.


Dragon Scales
Registered User
Joined: 14 Jun 2010, 03:23

12 Sep 2014, 00:29 #8

I understand that you can change the rules to make the hexes work, but they don't work within the rules. In hexes, there are only 6 adjacent spaces rather than the 8 that squares provide. How many hexes does a large creature take up? 4? 7? It gets really tricky as you move up in size. Something that is 4"
x 4" won't fit nicely in any set of hexes and it surely won't be symmetrical. Figuring out spell areas of effect would be a nightmare.

I don't think we should be looking at how to change the game to fit the terrain but rather make terrain that fits the game.

Believe me, I am not asking for squares over hexes, I am asking for both. Many games use hexes just like many use squares. As the textures would basically be the same between the two, I don't think that R&D would require much more effort. Surely not double the effort.

I know I could see using terrain hexes as huge 3D campaign maps for my game room. I think that would be absolutely awesome!


Bruce Hirst
Registered User
Joined: 02 Jun 2005, 11:36

12 Sep 2014, 13:06 #9

Thanks for all the replies so far!

While working on these, several things had occurred to me. First, I do agree that both square tiles and hexes should be done. I have come up with several new ideas that I'm testing out. I'm pretty sure I can end up with more usable ideas than my first trial sculpt here.

My intention is to make every square (or hex) in such a way that a miniature could stand on it without falling over. I think my biggest problem is trying to picture this terrain in use. How many games exist where you actually move on every square and each square has a different terrain type that effects the game? Is there an extremely popular game that uses this method which I should be targeting? What size and scale of squares or hexes should be done? What standard "terrain types" would be most used such as rock, grass, water, forest and what types would be more effectively done by just gluing stuff on top of rock?

I'm familiar with Battletech and the main reason for the hex terrain is to try and offer a method to make a really stunning game board that is also playable for this game. I've looked all around at the "home made" 3-D game boards for Battletech and I believe it's possible to make something better looking with less work.

Maybe a few of you can point me to some rules (besides Battletech) that actually use and need different terrain types in a square or hex format. It would help if I could picture the game play in my head. Perhaps there are some youtube videos showing this or pdf's of the rules somewhere.

The trick is to always find the balance between looks an playability. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made on both sides. Gaming groups will always use their own "house rules" when dealing with terrain that doesn't fit with their game perfectly. Part of the fun is trying to push the line on both sides and see how far you can cheat to get both to work.

OK, let me try and describe this "cheat" thing. The trick is to try and bend the rules as far as you can to get something to work. Most people have a set idea in their head and it's really hard to change that idea. However, if you sidestep this idea sometimes you can find a solution to the real problem. First you have to figure out the which parts really matter and which don't.

The main rules of this terrain project are:
1. Make the terrain look as natural as possible.
2. Allow figures to move in a hex or square format without falling over.

Then you throw all of the other rules out the window:
1. Many people picture the entire game board made of squares or hexes. What about just making a few features that set on top of a printed game board instead? Why would you make your whole board out of plaster?

2. Most people would picture the terrain built from individual hexes. What if there were premade random "groups" of hexes instead? The mold does not have consist of individual hexes.

3. Many people picture the surface of this terrain to be made of perfect squares or hexes. Does that really matter?  What if the terrain only gives you a general idea of where the square or hex is so you know where to move? For that matter, is it really that important for these groups of hexes to fit together perfectly also? Maybe these groups of hexes could just set next to each other and be joined together with putty?

4. Many people picture standard 1/4" thick slabs of hexes that they stack up. Does variation in height matter? Is it really that important to be able to build on top of it? Could some squares step up severely while other step up or down at a more shallow or random angle? Maybe there are other methods that could be used to put a building on top of this rocky hill if the top of this hill is not flat.

If I "cheat" by throwing these last 4 rules out the window, this frees me up to make the terrain in a more "natural" manner. It's important to keep in mind that we're making "outdoor terrain" and not castles. Many of the standard rules we follow can be disregarded such as pieces fitting together perfectly. However, I still need to try and picture this terrain used in gameplay. Any help would be appreciated.

Bruce Hirst
Last edited by Bruce Hirst on 12 Sep 2014, 13:13, edited 1 time in total.

Dragon Scales
Registered User
Joined: 14 Jun 2010, 03:23

12 Sep 2014, 16:37 #10

Greetings Mr. Hirst.  Please take anything I write after this with the utmost respect.  I write this as an interested consumer and fan. 

Here is a link of what I use to represent forests with a projector now.  It looks fine at 150 dpi, but the projector is limited to about 25 dpi when blown up for table size, makes the room dark, and still limits modularity.  You can see how each of the tile types I mentioned in a previous post are represented. 

I think your main rule #1 is a mistake.  These products are available.  Games Workshop makes some really nice looking trees.  They work great for war games and displays, but there is no place for my D&D characters.  Here is a beautiful game board, but playing Pathfinder on it would be a nightmare. 

Main Rule #2 is very important.  I agree that this is a major factor of creating terrain tiles.

The other rules you mention:

Rule #1:  Making a few features that fit on top is how most people play now.  It works, but it isn't awesome.  My buildings are awesome (thank you for that).  I would make the whole board (5' x5') out of plaster because it would be faster, better and awesome.  It would not be 3600 tiles glued together.  It would not be 3600 separate tiles.  It would be a modular mish-mash of terrain set to follow the Pathfinder rules.  When I need certain things, I would make those things.  I guess my 'sets' would range from 1 tile to 4 x 4 tiles.  This is what I currently do for modular dungeons.  My 'sets' cover 4.5 Sq Ft. that I store in custom Battle Foam storage trays.  I would do the same for outdoor terrain.  It would take a while to produce, but when it came to game time, my players and I would just lay out the tiles.  This is far superior to printed maps if each of the terrain elements were possible.

Rule #2:  This is exactly what I would do.  I would like you to make them individually, or 2 x 2 at the most, so that I can randomize them the most.

Rule #3:  I do not know about many other games, but D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder rely heavily on the 1" grid.  It is paramount to "correct" gameplay.  I know a lot of hand waving goes on, and many don't care.  But when the rules, skills and feats that define the character's abilities rely so heavily upon the grid and the terrain, ignoring these rules actually means that half of the game is ignored.  Who cares if the Ranger can pass through terrain without impediment at 7th level if he has been doing since level 1 because there is no terrain to speak of?  No one picks the feat that allows someone to take a 5' step into difficult terrain if nothing is ever difficult terrain.  That is what happens at most of the tables I have played at for the last 25+ years. 

Rule #4:  I would love textured tiles for elevation.  That said, I want thin pieces that I can glue to foam or MDF "cliff walls" that I make.  I will handle all the actual elevation changes.  I can use books, boxes or products designed just for it.  I imagine that the terrain tiles will stop where the buildings begin.  I try to build everything on the 1" grid for that reason.  I will make sure that the terrain around the building locations is flat enough that I can place it or fill the negative space with flat terrain.  It is easy enough for me to handle short steps or hills by stacking spacers.  The 1/4" edges are where I need the most help when it comes to elevation.  I envision the work of Deuc08 to be extremely popular with a system like I describe. 

I have attached a DM planning sheet that I made for Pathfinder a few years ago for adding terrain to the game.  It only includes terrain pieces that are defined by the rules.  There are hundreds of combinations.  I think it will shed some light on just how detailed the rules can be.

The hardest part of D&D/Pathfinder is presenting the game in a format that enables fast and easy identification of terrain.  Solve that problem and like I said before, I will throw money at you. 

Thanks for all your hard work.  My players and I appreciate it!