Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Laser cut roofing shingles for 28mm terrain

After the dismal failure of silicone mould making, but the tedious task of scratch building roof sections for our board game terrain, we decided to try laser cutting lengths of roofing tiles (rather than etching the entire, flat panel) to make our 3d models looks a bit more, well, 3d.

Using our scratch-built roof as a guide, we made each tile 3.7mm wide, 6mm high and spaced them 4.233mm apart. This means that a 4" strip of tiles can easily and cleanly be cut into 1, 2, 3 or 4 inch strips, to match any width of building.

Making the image didn't take very long at all using Inkscrape.
Our first roof section was just three inches wide, and we're unlikely to make any buildings more than 4" wide (they would take up too much room on our relatively limited 6x8" board sections) so 4" strips just seemed sensible. If ever longer runs are needed, it's no trouble to join two strips end-to-end to make longer runs of tiles/slates for a roof.

For a regular (modern, well-built, slate) roof the tiles work well when placed in a row and by simply overlapping (and offsetting) one row above the previous one. The red lines in the image below show where they can be cut to create a 4" wide section.

For a slightly more old-fashioned roof, just a single strip of repeating tiles gives quite a nice effect. We nudged a few up and a few down, and rotated some by just a few degrees. The tiles are all still roughly the same size (on our scratch-built roof, the tiles were all different sizes and fitted like  jigsaw to get them to overlap properly) but the end result is still a pretty rough-looking surface.

To avoid repetitive patterns, the higgledy-piggledy row of tiles can be cut off at different places, so the pattern starts on a different tile at different places throughout the roof section. The tiles can, of course, be flipped over, to make them lean in different directions. And then, there's always the possibility of mixing shorter sections of straight and wobbly tiles on the same roof to create an old slate roof - generally regular, but with the old slate slipped or out of place:

The designs appear to work pretty well onscreen.
All we need now is access to a working laser cutter to give them a try!
Here's a pdf of the roof strips - load into Inkscrape and copy/paste whichever parts you need:

The top two rows are ready for laser cutting. The bottom two rows allow you to ungroup each individual tile (and the connecting strip) to rotate/resize/respace as necessary. When done simply select the entire row of individual tiles as well as the connecting strip and select "path -> union" from the menu, or hit Ctrl & + to join all the shapes into one single shape.