DIY Crafty Gamer, Issue 4

[NOTE: I AM ACCEPTING DIY PROJECT SUBMISSIONS! CONTACT ME. MORE INFO AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.]

This week there are four projects to feature. FOUR! We’ve got a clay project for board games, a clay project for tabletop terrain, a wood carving project for board games, and a wonderful digital art project for role playing games!

Jenn Cartagena is sharing some ADORABLE donuts and balloons that she made to upgrade game pieces for Doughnut Drive-Thru and Dreamwell.

To Play Is Human: Why did you decide to do this project?
Jenn: I needed something to make to get into my JumpingClay hobby and the board game pieces were small and simple enough to do so.

TPIH: How long did the project take and what kinds of materials did you use?
Jenn: The projects took less than an hour. The material I used is JumpingClay, a special clay that is smooth and soft and air dries naturally. It is lightweight, so when it dries, it feels like Styrofoam – that’s how light it is! The clay also bounces and is jasmine-scented.

TPIH: What is your favorite thing about crafting for games?
Jenn: My favourite thing about crafting for games is personalizing the game to make it YOUR own. No one else would have the same game pieces as I do. I like personalizing everything!

TPIH: What game have you played recently that you loved?
Jenn: I love Escape the Dark Castle, a Kickstarter from Themeborne. It’s challenging and satisfying when we get to the end of the game!

TPIH: What game is a longtime favorite of yours?
Jenn: Arcadia Quest! But I need to commit at least a good 4 hours of that game for set up, playing and clean up and in case I want to play another scenario right afterwards because once I start it, I don’t want to stop!

Check out Jenn’s other projects on her Instagram page!


Melanie Olsen Hansen also uses clay, but she sculpts tabletop terrain pieces. Today she’s sharing a set of gravestones. I am in awe – these gravestones look amazing!

TPIH: Why did you decide to do this project?
Melanie: I made these for our Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) group. They could be used for many tabletop games. I made them to use with 28 mm scale. My family just started playing D&D 5E. I wanted to make something to bring the stories to life on the table.

TPIH: How long did the project take and what kinds of materials did you use?
Melanie: The main material used in this project is polymer clay. I used Super Sculpey Medium Blend. Other materials are acrylic paints, polyurethane sealer, Sculpey Liquid Polymer, Citadel Skulls and moss.

This project was completed in several stages. I made and baked the headstones. After they cooled, I made the bases for the gravestones (three large graves and three small bases). I used Sculpey Liquid Polymer (Sculpey Bake ‘n Bond will also work) to adhere the headstones to the bases and baked a second time.

28234838_10213651886885604_9067574400022744866_o

I painted the gravestones with acrylic craft paints. I did a base coat of dark gray followed by a liberal dry-brushing of light gray and a light dry-brush of ivory. I finished with a light black wash.

I added some Citadel skulls to some of the gravestones. I painted them with ivory and added a brown wash to the skulls. I added some small bits of moss to areas of the gravestones and sealed with a matte polyurethane spray.

I would say the project took me about three hours of work time to complete.

TPIH: What is your favorite thing about crafting for games?
Melanie: I love to craft and I love working with polymer clay. I also love playing games. Finding new ways to use my crafting skills to make our games better has been so much fun!

TPIH: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into clay sculpting?
Melanie: Start with a few basic tools.  I recommend a clay machine or pasta roller to help condition clay and be able to roll clay out to a consistent thickness.  A clay cutter, a pointy tool and dotting tool are useful. Experiment with different types of polymer clay to find what firmness works for your needs. I am mostly self-taught and just experimented with clay to find what worked best for me.  There are a lot of tutorials on You Tube and other sources that can provide information and techniques to help you get started. My best piece of advice is, don’t be afraid to get started.  Keep practicing until you get the results you are looking for.

TPIH: What game have you played recently that you loved?
28548151_10213675988808137_473571036_oMelanie: We just started playing Dungeons and Dragons 5E and Firefly the Board Game. They have both been a lot of fun.

TPIH: What game is a longtime favorite of yours?
Melanie: I’ve played DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) for about 9 years. Our friends have recently gotten us into play tabletop DnD.

You can find more of Melanie’s work on her Facebook page: Red’s Little Bits.


Rich Maass has done some woodcarving to put his mark on his games. Today he’s sharing some chess pieces that he carved, as well as the cutest little meeple canoe you’ve ever seen.

Chess Pieces 1

To Play Is Human: What kind of DIY project are you sharing with us?
Rich: I’ve been woodcarving since before I started designing board games, but the two hobbies have grown together, as you can see here! I started carving a chess set of mythological creatures a few years ago, and I have completed 6 of the pawns so far, 3 each for the light side (leprechaun, gryphon, and faun) and the dark side (minotaur, basilisk, and undead skeleton). These pawns are each just under 3 inches tall with 1-inch-radius circular bases, and I plan for the “back row” pieces to scale up in size to 4-inch-tall kings and queens. I have been toying around with different ideas for how to finish them, but haven’t committed to any particular finishing style yet.

Meeple Canoe

I also found a place for wood carving in one of my own board game designs. I tend to be very hands-on when constructing prototypes of my board game designs and I think thematic elements can play a big role in creating the kind of experience for players that a designer intends. In Expedition: Amazon, players journey up the Amazon River in a canoe, and so I decided to carve a little wooden canoe for the meeples in the game. It certainly doesn’t hurt the game’s table presence and thematic immersion!

Chess Pieces 3

TPIH: Why did you decide to do this project?
Rich: I first started carving the chess pieces because I was looking for a new hobby that would be relaxing and creative at the same time, and this perfectly fit the bill. It’s great to have something productive that I can do while watching sports or reruns on TV… it’s a lot more fulfilling to create something than to just watch passively.

Chess Pieces 2

TPIH: How long did the project take and what kinds of materials did you use?
Rich: Each chess piece took somewhere between 20-30 hours of total carving time, spread over several weeks. The meeple canoe was a much smaller undertaking but a fun addition to that game, and it took about 5 hours total. I carved all of these from basswood using a set of hand-held carving knives and gouges.

Chess Pieces 4

TPIH: What is your favorite thing about crafting for games?
Rich: My favorite thing about crafting for games is how it combines fun in the present and the future: creating something new that you can be proud of in the present, and something that you can then use when you play games in the future. Plus, it really personalizes your game to have special handmade components to spice it up!

TPIH: What game have you played recently that you loved?
Rich: Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Coral Islands, which will be coming to Kickstarter from Alley Cat Games this June! Coral Islands contains two colorful games in one box, both of which prominently utilize dice-stacking mechanics. The “Coral” game, which I designed, sees players revitalize a depleted coral reef by stacking colorful translucent dice. The “Islands” game, designed by Rohan Dargad, sees players reclaim land lost to rising sea levels through cardplay and dice movement. Both are a lot of fun, and I can’t wait for gamers around the world to get to play them!

TPIH: What game is a longtime favorite of yours?
Rich: Ghost Stories by Antoine Bauza and Repos Production was the game that opened my eyes to what modern board games are capable of. Its in-game mechanics do such a great job bringing its theme to life by creating a sense of tension and foreboding, the threat of constantly-spawning ghosts drives teamwork organically in a cooperative game, and its difficulty level makes it so satisfying when you pull out a win!

You can find out more about Rich’s games and craft projects on his Instagram profile.


Michael Fitzhywel has a BEAUTIFUL digital art project that I am in love with! He has designed over 100 item cards that cover basic equipment for role playing games. Such a fun way to infuse your game with art and reference tools.

To Play Is Human: What game(s) is the project/upgrade for?
Michael: The cards are going to be system agnostic in a fantasy way, but created with an eye on Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. It will contain spaces to be customised and become system specific, as well as room to add other additional information that may be important to your game.

TPIH: Why did you decide to do this project?
Michael: Initially I just wanted to make a few items for my own game, and as some basic concept practice. However the response to the item art was overwhelming and I decided to knuckle down an make it an actual product.

TPIH: How long did the project take and what kinds of materials/resources/software did you use?
Michael: It’s ongoing, I just finished item 65. But all up the project will have taken about 3 months full time. I mainly work in Photoshop, but there was also a lot of photo reference I shot, and for about 30% of the objects I made 3D models first.

First 50

TPIH: What is your favorite thing about crafting/creating for games?
Michael: Filling holes. Honestly for me it all about the stuff the basic rules don’t do, and making stuff that streamlines and fills those holes so that come game day, there is less work for more reward.

TPIH: Do you have advice for anyone looking to start making things for their games?
Michael: It’s trite, but practice. I see a lot of people try creating things as if they are going to be great out the gate – the ‘natural talent’ deception – and then give up when they don’t instantly succeed. In reality, quality requires practice and patience.

TPIH: What game have you played recently that you loved?
Michael: 5th edition D&D is my current addiction. I’ve been playing RPGs since 1st edition and Dragon Warriors. Then I kind of gave up feeling the games had become grind-like and bulky. 5th edition changed that and made me a convert again.

TPIH: What game is a longtime favorite of yours?
Michael: Vampire the Masquerade. 2nd edition. Hands down my favourite RPG.

You can find more information about Michael’s work by following him on Twitter.


CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Do you have a tabletop gaming project that you’ve created? Contact me with some information and photos. No project is too big/small — as long as you made it yourself and you use it when you game, it is eligible for submission! I would love to see projects for board game upgrades and accessories, RPGs, miniatures (I would love to see mini paint jobs!), terrain, dice towers, custom playmats, custom dice, or anything else you have made.

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