I mentioned about a week ago about the problems I had with making a terrain mat. With the mat bleached to a terracotta kind of color, we continue with our hijinks...
While trying to figure out what to do with this piece of cloth, I decided to try making a second gaming mat with a cheap(ish) canvas tarp I got at Home Depot. This time, I was going for a European fields look. But no washing after the dye went on - I finally learned that lesson!
So, first I did wash the tarp in the washing machine. Hot water, detergent, you know the bit. Just to get any sizing off the cloth to avoid mistake number one from the first mat. Then I got two cheap spray bottles and filled them with two different colors of liquid dye. I used RIT Dark Green and Apple Green. I added some Dark Brown later.
Armed with trusty spray bottles, I misted the colors sort of randomly all over the tarp. Once I had the color down, I squirted a little clean water on the tarp to mottle the colors. Then I let it dry in the sun. Next day, I added more color and cold water. I ended up using too much of the dark and not enough of the lighter green, and the mat looks more like jungle than European fields and grasslands. So I guess I made a Venusian/jungle mat. But I learned a few things I would use later.
Back to the Martian terrain...
I bought some scarlet liquid dye (again, RIT brand), mixed it about half and half with water in a spray bottle, and went to town. Lightly misted the whole sheet, getting a good red tone to the mat. Then I went back over it with dark brown and then with tan. Again, I watered down the dyes some. The tan I had to mix from powder, but it turned out fine.
The dark brown I allowed to make bigger drops, not just a fine mist. This caused it to look like hunks of rock or broken ground in the red and tan landscape.
So, for about $50 in cloth and sewing, $3 in spray bottles, and $20 in dye (not including bleach to un-do mistakes), I have two good size canvas mats (5'x9' and 6'x9'). The Venusian was cheaper, but the cloth is not as good, has pills, that sort of thing, and I don't think it will last as long as the other. But it was about 1/3 the price, too.