I’ve been a bit of a digital demon over the last few months. Only really because I have moved house, and still haven’t got round to unpacking my hobby stuff properly yet. So here is yet another post where I mess with the computer to end up with some hobby-related product!
This time it’s a Guild Ball pitch.
Pre-Match Pundit Waffle
I was one of nearly 900 people who backed the KickStarter which ran in early 2014 for a new game called Guild Ball. Now I had a bit of a dilemma at the time, as most people did, which team/teams do I get? The artwork for all the teams looked amazing and the renders of the first models looked fantastic. So what do I get? I decided to take a bit of inspiration (mixed with a lot of artistic licence) from my home town and surrounding area.
There is a place near where I am from called Workington; every Easter a game of medieval/mob football, called Uppies and Downies, is **cough** played through the town. Now I may be a little off with my history here, but… The town is basically built on a hill that runs down to the sea. The Uppies are the residents of the town up the hill; the Downies live down by the docks. The object of the game is to get the ball to the top of the hill if you’re a Downie, or to the harbourside if you’re an Uppie.
The main industries in the area used to be coal mining and steel making. There was also plenty of fishing and farming too. So the first team I picked was the Fishermen. I grew up on the coast and spent a lot of my teenage years knocking about in boats, easy choice, and it represents the Downies living next to the harbour. So what would I pick to represent the Uppies? Basically I figured the Masons would be the best fit for coal miners and steel workers (I liked their art more than the engineers too). Side note: I also bought, but later on sold, a brewers’ team. I thought that was quite fitting as there is a Jennings Brewery close by too (there used to be one in Workington).
Oh dear God, he’s written a back story!
Now these teams needed a pitch to play on. No simple green fields for my teams. So here’s a little back story for the two Guild teams I own.
On the North West coast of the Empire of Free Cities is a small town called Old Port. Only two Guilds have a prominent presence there, the Fishermen’s Guild and the Mason’s Guild. The rivalry between the two Guilds is intense and match days between the two always turned into really bloody affairs. As the game was played through the town a lot of collateral damage occurred and the townsfolk started complaining to the Guilds, and claiming compensation. The town’s Guild leaders realised that over time this was costing them money and revenue. The Mayor of Old Town came up with the idea of purpose-building a pitch within the town so that damage in the town would be kept to a minimum (just the post-match drinking). However, nowhere suitable could be found at first. The available land next to the river and sea was prone to flooding. The market traders objected heavily to the town square being used for matches. The remaining land within the town limits was either too steep to build a pitch on, or too small, or didn’t allow enough access for spectators. One day a group of blokes were drinking in one of the many pubs in the town, the Middle Tap, when one of them came up with an idea. It would, however, need the members of the two Guilds to work together to pull it off. The blokes took the idea to the Mayor who bartered the deal between the Guilds to enable the pitch to be built. It required the Mason’s stone-working and building skills, and the Fishermen’s boats and seamanship skills to build the new pitch. This was because the new pitch was to be built in the harbour as an extension to the current docks. A square stone quay, large enough for a pitch, was to be built in the middle of the harbour. On non-match days the town’s fishermen could use the quay to tie their boats up to and land their catch on, mend their nets, etc. On match days the spectators could watch from many places; up close from boats moored alongside the quay, from temporary stands built around the dock, or from the many pubs that had gardens or yards overlooking the harbour from up on the hill side. The game has prospered in the town ever since, drawing in different Guilds from the surrounding area to play regularly too.
Okay, if you managed to read that, I hope you have got the idea: a Fishermen and Masons themed pitch, which represents a quay or wharf in a harbour.
Getting the Excuses in Early
Now I had this idea back in 2014, but didn’t start work on it until I got the models in 2015. I also started building the pitch in a more traditional way, using cork tiles and sections of resin-cast paving I had scratch built. I’d decided that I would build the pitch before I painted any models as a way to motivate myself to get it finished, rather than letting something new and shiny distract me and not finishing what I set out to do. That was a bit ambitious for me and I actually burnt out trying to build it and, with that, I lost interest in the game. Here’s a couple of shots of my first attempt at Old Port’s quayside pitch.
Above is the full 36″ square pitch base, made of nine 12″ square cork flooring tiles. You can see I’d marked out the pitch in pen, and started laying down the edging ‘stones’ and the first section of ‘stone paving’, all resin that I had cast. The wooden coffee stirrers are there to level out the different thicknesses of resin and stiffen the final tile.
This is still early in the building process. I’d actually completed those tiles and started on the middle three before I came to a grinding halt.
A close up of the first completed section with Masons team sporting the matching resin base inserts I am so fond of making. The Fishes also have the same bases. If I ever get round to unpacking the box this got moved house in, I’ll take a picture of how far I got. It’s getting on for about half way complete. I just ran into glue shrinkage and warping problems, which really drained my motivation for the project.
A Game of Two Halves
Roll on to about a month ago, I don’t know what sparked it all off but I thought I would have a go at designing my pitch and get it printed on mousepad material. I have just bought a game mat for Infinity, well any sci-fi feeling game really, and was really impressed with it. So I did a little bit of searching the web and I came across a post on the Steamforged forums which was doing exactly what I doing. One of the contributors to the thread mentioned a UK based printer, that would print on neoprene. So with that information I started designing the mat in earnest. As it turns out I was unimpressed with that printer’s customer service and have instead used Deepcut Studio to print my mat.
First up, I generated the pitch markings in a SVG format using a program called Inkscape. This allowed me to incorporate the Guild Ball logo and get the dimensions right, as I wasn’t sure how to do dimensions in Gimp, my image editing program.
Above is a screenshot of the pitch markings created in Inkscape.
I then did a lot of Googling for images I thought I could use to detail the pitch. The majority of the pitch was fairly straightforward. After an image search for ‘seamless stone textures‘, I eventually found the main textures seen on the pitch. I took those images, resized them to an appropriate scale and tried to make as seemless a pattern as possible to fill the whole pitch. I did this with a number of different stone textures to allow me to fill different parts of the pitch markings with them. I wanted the actual pitch markings to be a dark-ish sea grey, with the main block of colour having a sandstone-like colour. So I adjusted the colours of the images where necessary. I’ve included some examples of the textures I found on the web below.
Once the playing surface was completed I needed to add some details, to try and give the pitch some flavour to tie in with the back story above. So I searched for the following images:
- Mooring rings, and shackles.
- Sea life, such as crabs and starfish. (If you look hard enough you’ll find some on the pitch.)
- Seagull shit; (yes that’s right I looked for images of bird droppings too. No seaside scene would be complete without evidence of those buggers.)
The last things I searched for were images I could use to show the two Guilds’ involvement of the pitch. The most obvious Guild association I could do was placing the Guild’s symbol at the areas of pitch marking the goals, easily grabbed off the Steamforged website. I also decided to make the symbols look like they were a different colour stone inlaid into the pitch. So I searched for different coloured stone textures too. I ended up with these:
However, as the pitch goal markings should get covered during a game by a goal marker I decided to add some Guild-associated graffiti to areas around the goals. I ended up with a few cool pieces of artwork for the Fishermen, but I was struggling a bit for the Masons. I didn’t want to go down the ‘Fraternal Order’ route, so I have ended up with a rather lame castle and some Latin I hope translates roughly into “Hammer Time”. That said, I’m happy with the overall end design.
Above is the Mason’s castle pitch graffiti. I’d just picked up the new Season 2 Captain; he was the inspiration for the motto.
There’s actually more than one piece of Fishermen pitch graffiti. I’d searched for things like ‘Kraken’, ‘Pirate’, and ‘Shark’. I’d got loads of useful stuff to use and the image above is one of my favourites.
Now I mentioned earlier about the customer service from Deepcut Studios being much better than the UK based printer. Well, the reason I needed help was because, although I knew that there was a required bleed around the edge of my artwork, I didn’t know how big it needed to be. I was expecting a few mm, however I actually needed an additional 15mm overall. To fill this space around my original design I thought that it would be good to add water around the quay. It would also be the quickest and easiest way for me to enlarge the design too. After a final search of the internet looking for sea textures, and some quick editing, the final design was ready to go to the printer.
A reduced resolution version of the file that was sent to Deepcut Studios.
Full Time Score
If you’ve read all the above and made it this far, you deserve a medal. I don’t have any to give away, so you’ll have to console yourself with a picture of the finished pitch hot out of the box.
Post Match Banter
Next part of the project – terrain. But that is definitely for another post!