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I recently finished my first piece of scatter terrain! I used it as a test for a bunch of techniques I'd been learning from The Terrain Tutor YouTube channel. I used two boulders that I had cast using the Woodland Scenic rock molds (I think one was from mold C1233 and the other from C1230, but I could be mistaken) and Durham's Water Putty. I had painted them up previously for practice, and noticed that together they made a pretty nice split boulder. I had an extra 3' x 3' foam core square from my ongoing dungeon tile project, and decided to make some scatter terrain as a diversion from all the Bones V waiting to be painted.
A picture of the finished piece with a Reaper goblin mini (77024) for scale.
Process - Sculpting
I started by peeling off one side of the foam core paper, and used a hobby knife to create a shallow slope around the center. Then, I used Liquitex Modeling Paste to create a big glob in the middle for the boulders to sit in, fill in all the cracks, and smooth out the transition from stone to foam. I deliberately let some of the paste squeeze up into the crack between the two rocks to create the impression of a smooth arc of soil that had built up over time. The paste can be mixed with paints, but due to the way I wanted to apply texture later on I decided against it. Once the paste had dried, I moved on to applying texture and painting the ground.
You can see that initial soil arc here; I sculpted it a bit further to achieve a more realistic look.
More sculpting and slathering to mask the edges of the rock and create the illusion that it's buried in soil.
Process - Ground Texture and Painting
The next step was to add texture and paint to the ground. I first applied a layer of Burnt Umber acrylic that had been mixed with a bit of PVA (white glue; the Elmer's stuff. I got a two pack at Dollar Tree that works fine. Don't get the school variety as it's extremely watered down and doesn't stick nearly as well). Then I drizzled on a "soil" mix I had made from: mostly fine sand, some coffee grounds, and a little cat litter. Ideally, the paint/PVA mixture should be laid on thick enough to absorb all this grit and cement it in place once it dries. I didn't apply enough of it, so as an additional measure I spritzed the whole thing with a 6:1 water/PVA mixture. This worked in sealing everything, but made the piece extremely damp and necessitated leaving it to dry overnight.
After everything was dry, I put on a layer of Raw Umber to darken the soil, unify the grit, and cover up any exposed bits of white modeling paste. Once that was finished, I did a quick dry brush pass with a lightened Raw Umber to bring out the texture of the soil. With that, the ground was finished!
I must admit, at this point I had what looked like a great riverbed and boulder on my hands and was tempted to do a deep pour water effect! But I quickly reigned myself in since that was not the goal of this project. Soon though, soon...
The ground texture anchored in the paint. Bits of this came off at various points during the process,
but the PVA did its job quite well, considering.
The Raw Umber did a good job of tying everything together, and let bits of the Burnt umber through
for some lighter patches.
Process - Boulder Paint Touch-ups
As much I wanted to get to the main event (flocking!), I needed to touch up the lower edge of the boulder; there was no way I could hide all of it. So I did a quick and dirty touch up with the same wet technique I used to paint them initially: a base coat of grey, and once that's dry, watered down browns, greens, and blacks to create color variations, moss, and dirt. Finally a quick homemade black wash added the final touch. I also used the black wash to mark out some rivulets that would have carved their way out from the crack and create a bit more variety in the soil. Then finally, I could move on to the most anticipated bit: the flocking!
The initial stripe of grey paint across the bottom of the boulder. I wasn't too meticulous; the water
from the next layers smoothed out the transitions between the existing paint job and the new one.
An example of some of the blotches and colors I was applying. Unfortunately I don't have a picture
that includes the black wash.
Process - Flocking and Final Touches
The flocking itself was relatively simple. I used three shades of Woodland Scenics Fine Turf:
Burnt Grass - T44 (highlight) Green Grass - T45 (base) Weeds - T46 (shade)
First, I applied PVA glue that had been slightly watered down, just enough so it's almost a liquid but not quite. Then, I sprinkled the highlight into the more open areas where the grass would be drier, the shade into wetter and more covered spots, so near the rock and crack, and then covered everything with a healthy dose of the base. I didn't use a lot of the highlight because I was worried I'd overdo it, but I could have used more as the base really takes over if you let it. I tapped off the excess flocking that hadn't been absorbed by the PVA before using a tiny bit of Coarse Turf (Medium Green - T64) to create a little bush in one side of the crack, and one out in the open. I used a toothpick to drop a bit of regular PVA where I wanted the bush to go, and then just stuck it in place. After about an hour elapsed, I sealed the whole thing by spraying it with the 6:1 water/PVA mixture and leaving it to dry overnight.
The final touch was to use black paint to seal the white edges of the foam core. I'm very pleased with the end result, and it's solid as a rock. This will certainly be able to stand up to some abuse without losing any flocking or texture. Thanks for reading this far!
Two more glamor shots of the finished piece; this is the first one. You can just spot the bush peeking out
of the crack in the middle, and some cat litter "stones" in the field.
Here's the other side, with a bush on the left and a "wetter" appearance around the crack. Some of the
lighter Burnt Umber is also peeking through at the front left edge.
At the beginning of 2021 I bought a couple of Woodland Scenic rock molds for terrain work. Unfortunately life got busy and the projects I wanted to use them for got put on hold, but I did spend a couple of days researching and experimenting before storing everything, and I thought it might be useful for someone if I do a bit of a postmortem (and I think they're pretty neat to boot!)
(A selection of finished pieces; overall I cast and painted around fifteen
or so from various molds to get a feel for the molds and putty)
These were cast in January of 2021 outside in warm, dry weather, and painted a couple of days later. I used basic, watered down acrylic paints, and did not seal them in any way, including the bottoms. Since then, they've been stored in a sealed plastic container in the garage.
For the casting material I used Durham's Water Putty, of which a 1 lb. can cost about $2 at my local hardware store. I really like this stuff! It's readily available, very cheap, and easy to work with; just mix and pour. It also can be watered down or thickened as needed without affecting anything except drying time (within reason, of course. It won't do well if it's a homeopathic concoction). It dries to a light tan color and is quite durable from what I've observed. No pieces have chipped or flaked off with the exception of flash around the edges, which is to be expected, and I haven't been particularly delicate with them. Despite being a water-based putty, it seems to handle the moisture of paint and water well. The putty didn't lose its shape or slough bits off while I was painting, and dried quickly afterwards; I see no evidence of water being retained under the paint.
I've got two minor quibbles with Durham's. First, since you have to mix it thoroughly before pouring, little bubbles form constantly and almost every piece I did had some visible bubbles. I suspect my technique's the culprit here, and I'll need to experiment with more mitigation techniques to see if they can help. They aren't very noticeable though unless you're looking for them, and I think these are absolutely tabletop ready.
(You can see some of the small bubble artifacts in this rock outcropping)
My other issue with Durham's is that it's not really suitable for large pours because it starts to harden very quickly, which limits how much you can thoroughly mix. This may also be possible to remedy by measuring out the quantities of powder and water ahead of time, but it seems a little more difficult to overcome. Another final quibble is that sometimes, especially for larger pours, it takes quite a long time for everything to dry suitably; overnight or even several days. Not a huge deal, but it's something to keep in mind when planning in advance.
Overall, I like Durham's a lot. It hits a lot of boxes for me, and I think its issues can be mitigated with practice and patience. I don't think much needs to be said about the Woodland Scenic molds; they're high quality, very detailed, and cheap ($8 - $10 on average).
I used basic acrylic paints, nothing fancy. A layer of undiluted grey, and then watered down spots of browns, greens, and black to give everything texture. The putty takes paint pretty well, but especially on the edges and corners it's very easy to strip the paint off. I think this is partially down to my haphazard and hurried approach, since I did them in batches and wanted to finish quickly. Once all the layers dried, I did a light drybrush of grey. I did not seal these with anything.
(The left picture's a bit blurry, but you can see on both how the grey and tan underneath is peaking through on some of the more exposed edges)
Overall, these seem pretty sturdy! I'd feel comfortable having these out on a gaming table as scatter terrain or as part of a larger piece. There has been some minor paint chipping on a couple of pieces, but it's not very noticeable and again, these haven't been sealed and are banging around a tupperware. If they were sealed I don't think I'd have any issues at all. My only concern with sealing them would be moisture; if the putty isn't bone dry I imagine that could spell disaster later on.
(Last two; there isn't really any visible damage on these, just more wear at the edges)
They aren't made of diamonds and can be snapped without much effort, but unless somebody drops a heavy metal mini or spaceship or something on them, I think they'll hold up pretty well.
Thanks for making it this far! I'm proud of these experiments, and feel like I've got a good set of basic knowledge for actual terrain projects. My idea for these loose rocks is to turn them into bits of scatter terrain for some dungeon tiles I'm currently working on. I'll show them off once they're complete!
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