When I first got back into Blood Bowl the first thing that interested me was the miniatures both collecting and painting. I recovered a lot of my old collection and went on a spending spree to get new teams and individual players. I then starting painting again at a rate of 3 or 4 teams a year, mainly all done in the winter months. A while ago though I started to look into other aspects of the hobby and my recent experiences at Gert Bowl have only increased my desire to customise my Blood Bowl playing experience. I started to create a pirate ship pitch using strips of cardboard and PVA glue and have some green felt in the cave ready to be turned into a pitch. These are on the workbench in the cave in need of some more attention, pushed aside while I focused on painting. At the games club a few weeks ago a fellow BBer said that they could access a printer capable of printing on vinyl. The mind started racing and before I knew what I was doing I said that I’d try to create a custom pitch that we could print out for the club and for the ExeBowl tournament…
The big problem with this is that I am terrible with graphics programs. I’ve used computers all of my life but graphics programs have always been alien to me; I understand some of the basic concepts but actually achieving them is beyond me. Despite this I thought I could do it.
I wanted a pitch that combined the dugouts and markers as well as some of the more frequently used table such as the weather and kick off tables. It was always in my mind to combine these into one mat but it was reemphasised to me at the tournament because table space is limited. We have this problem at the games club too and all to often I’m struggling to get everything on the playing table comfortably. I also wanted a pitch that I could customise to some extent and ultimately theme.
The basic Blood Bowl pitch is very simple – it’s a 26 x 15 grid of 29mm squares. The dugouts need markers for each team to be able to track turns, rerolls and score as well the boxes to be able to clearly identify players in reserve, players knocked out and players that are hurt or injured. Other nice things to have are the scatter template, the throwing template and tables and references.
I started trying to do it all in Photoshop which isn’t really designed for vector graphics like this. I quickly found that this was a pain and turned instead to Illustrator to create the main grid, dugout and marker shapes and then pasting them into the Photoshop image as smart objects. Once I had the main layout I added the background colours to the dugouts and endzones and other pitch embellishments. These are all done as individual layers so changing it down the line is a quick process. I also added the thicker pitch and wide zone lines as separate layers. This was learnt through trial and error a little bit as aligning the grid and the other markings was the hardest part of this whole design. I was having to learn all sorts of things about sizing, resolution and alignment and getting it precise was hard work initially. I originally wanted a pitch with the main grid marked out as little crosses at the corner of each 29mm square but I just couldn’t get it right. I created the pattern that I wanted but matching it up with the outline properly was time-consuming. I will come back to this in a future version.
Here is what I’ve put together so far.
The next steps are to get some samples printed up so that I can check how each of the layers work and how the colours and textures look together. There’s still lot that could be done with this but getting a version completed and printed on vinyl is the target. When I know that the proportions all work together I’ll be able to put more effort into themes and customisation. I started with grass texture from a link to a tutorial that I was sent and although I like the grass pitch I think I prefer the granite style one.
There’s no intention to sell these, it is just a bit of fun and a way of the club and the club players having some more interesting games. Because of the way that the turn, score and reroll markers are sized it also means that I will be making some custom tokens for us to use. The squares are each 20mm so I’ll be making something with square bases. To start with it will be painted and weighted bases but they will be customised with painted miniatures and other goodies over time.
Big thanks to @Big_6Z and @SteveLemky for sharing some of their work with me whilst I worked on this project. I didn’t end up using any of it in the final design as it is a project that I wanted to do myself. But their input was timely and helped me understand the processes required and pushed me to work it out for myself. Thanks guys 🙂
When I’ve got the finished product in hand I’ll share some pictures. If we can get it all done and it doesn’t end up breaking the bank then I would love to be able to give one of these pitches as a prize at ExeBowl in October.
If you’ve got any comments or suggestions about the pitches then I’d be happy to hear them.