DIY Star Wars: X-wing miniatures playmat

I have wanted an X-wing playmat from the moment I invested in the game. I couldn’t justify the cost of buying a mat when there were cheaper alternatives to marking a 3 ft x 3 ft play area; our favorite was guesstimating a 3×3 area on our dinning room table.

I had researched and reviewed a lot of posts regarding DIY X-wing playmats and playing areas. Let me preface this brief review of other DIY projects by stating that I am constantly blown away by the innovation, creativity, and skill of people involved in this hobby. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a project that I wanted to recreate. Anything made with linen or felt just looked cheap or too lightweight to me. Additionally it didnt provide the grippy and stable surface I was searching for. The bright side to linen and felt is that it is cheap, widely available and comes in variety of colours and patterns. Plywood 3×3 areas seemed cumbersome, and didnt add anything to that thematic feel I was searching for. Custom ordered low static polyester fabric with open cell sponge rubber, or simply mouse pad material, yielded some of the best looking custom mats that I had seen. After finding the mouse pad material in an appropriate size and colour, the cost of materials and shipping was comparable to buying an officially licensed play mat from my FLGS.

While shopping at our local big box store I discovered a non-adhesive grippy shelf/drawer liner in black (CAN amazon/AMER amazon) that came in a 20 in x 4 ft roll. The material is nonporous and features non adhesive grip on either side. Its incredibly easy to cut, and is even machine washable. I purchased two rolls in order to create two 18′ x 36′ rectangles that combine to equal a 3 ft x 3 ft square. Even after being rolled up the material is heavy enough that settles into laying flat quickly, while being light enough to roll back up and pack around with out being cumbersome. The only draw back to this project was having to attach to two separate pieces together, which created a crease line across the center of the field.

Finished Project 

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Materials & Cost

Easy Liner ($8.99 CAN)

Self healing cutting mat ($21.15 CAN)

Preferred cutting tool (scissors, X-acto knife, utility knife etc.) ($4.99 CAN)

Square ($9.99 CAN)

Ruler ($4.05 CAN)

Paint ($3.49 CAN)

Tape ($4.99 CAN)

Total Cost not including taxes: $66. 64 CAN + taxes.

Cost of an officially licensed mat: $86.99 CAN + taxes + shipping.

The only thing I needed to purchase for this project was the easy liners. All the other materials I had on hand before beginning this project. This meant that my investment into this was much smaller than the indicated in the total cost. This project could be made even more cost effective by forgoing the use of cutting knives and a cutting mat, and just using scissors.

Project Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

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Materials

Step by Step Process

  1. Lay out material

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2. Measure and mark 2 in x 36. This removes 2 inches from the length while marking the width that you’ll need to achieve the desired 18 inch x 36 inch rectangle.

I’ve used silver acrylic paint to make my markings on the black surface. FYI this material and acrylic paint take well to each other, meaning that custom paint in the future is a viable option.

3. Measure twice & check with a square.

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I cannot stress the importance of using a square enough. If you want straight cuts, get a square.

4. Cut

Cutting along the length of the square from either end of my measurement left uncut material in the middle. I folded the cut material down and set a ruler between the cuts, resting against the folded material to ensure my cut was straight and clean.

5. Measure and mark 36 inches.

6. Measure a second time and check with the square

7. Cut.

8. Lay the finished piece over the next roll. Make sure your marked side is face up.

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9. Mark the uncut piece following the edge of the finished piece.

10. Check the measurements

11. Check them again and verify with the square.

12. Cut the second piece.

13. Stick the two pieces together in whatever way you prefer. I used funky duct tape I had laying around.

And VIOLA!

A 3 foot by 3 foot playing area for x-wing or any other tabletop game your heart desires!

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My First Painted Miniature

Last Sunday Gareth and I embarked on a road trip to check out a small Xwing event hosted at FLGS (shout out to Game Quest). Unfortunately there wasn’t enough space for us to play Xwing that particular day. However as luck would have it Game Quest is well known for their used video game selection and trade in deals, and we happened to bring along an assortment of long neglected PS3 and PS4 games to trade in. After some intense bargaining, which involved us staring at the guy price and sort our games, and chatting idly about some of the titles, we came out a $100 richer (or $69 for you Americans). We promptly, turned around and purchased Star Wars Imperial Assault, and the expansion Twin Shadows.

And with that we had unknowingly entered into the world of painted miniatures. But we like to think of ourselves as the frugal type, and I was not prepared to invest in a complete palate of Citadel Paints and high end paint brushes.

I browsed a few Imperial Assault painting guides and started to feel fairly confident that we could indeed paint a miniature, maybe not well but we could do it. Then I found the perfect guide on reddit. Not only was this a guide written by someone who had never painted before, but they had even done it with supplies purchased from WalMart. This is was it. We were going to do it.

And so it began with the AT-ST.


Many guides recommended sanding and filling small imperfections left behind during the moulding process, but I went ahead and skipped this step, for no better reason than I didn’t feel like doing it.


I did however understand the importance of priming. Just some good ol’ rattle can primer used here.


Here we can see the *gasp* “paints” I used for the first of many grey washes.


Using those very same paints I did a black shadow wash and dry brush for highlighting purposes.


And finally I sealed the piece using water based satin varathane. Nobody in Canadian Tire really knew what to recommend for a project like this but assured me it would be okay to paint over acrylics with the varathane. I chose a less glossy finish to hopefully hide some of the imperfections and mistakes in my brush work.

There you have it. Anyone can do it, and hopefully with practice one day we’ll be able to do it well.

– Jen