May 26, 2017

When Wargamer’s Magpie Syndrome pays off

Upplagd av Minondas

Let’s face it, we all suffer from it to some degree – new period catches our interest, a new range of minis is released, a book or a movie gives us ideas for a cool scenario or campaign. When this happens, small parcels start being delivered by postal service to our doors. I’m sure that vast majority of wargamers is far more disciplined than I am and manages to put contents of those parcels onto wargaming table within a couple of weeks… In my case though, these newly acquired ‘treasures’ are as often as not inspected, admired, put in some box and then doomed to linger, half-forgotten, in my basement storage room. Sometimes for years, sometimes for decades.

Every once in a while though, a small miracle happens and my interest in the period or theme awakens again. As for example, with the WWII skirmish due to ‘Chain of Command’ ruleset. As I started to seriously consider putting together last week’s test scenario, I realized that I really didn’t have much terrain suitable for such game. And then I remembered… sometime in late ninties I’ve bought a shedload of bits and pieces from Gamecraft Miniatures. It took some effort, but after a small archeological excavation I’ve managed to dig up a bag of resin walls and stones. I am pretty sure that a dozen or so resin buildings are hiding somewhere, so the search is not yet complete!

Anyway… getting these walls and stone formations ready for a game seemed like a plausible goal over a period of two weeks I had for preparation of the game. In ‘raw’ form, the terrain pieces are made of off-white resin. So the first step was to wash them in luke-warm water with some detergent. An old-fashioned toothbrush is quite useful for this task.



While the resin lumps were put aside to dry, I started to wonder how to approach this particular painting job. Normally, I start with a coat of Vallejo (or these days Plasticoat) grey primer and then get to work with acrylics. But in this case we’re were talking about stone. In nature, both stone walls and outcrops have a lot of subtle tonal variation, but in a limited color range. Browns or greys shift in saturation due to varied exposure to elements – to get a realistic effect, I would have to do a lot of blending and washes. And I have to admit, after all these years blending with acrylics is still a challenge for me. And so, I arrived to a somewhat surprising decision – this time around I would go ‘old school’ and dust off my old Humbrol enamel pots!


Enamels may be an unfamiliar medium for ‘younger’ wargamers, but they were pretty much all we had before acrylic ‘revolution’ of early ninties. They are not water-solvable and need either white spirits or terpentine to thin (and wash the brushes). They stink (especially some of the older Humbrols can make your nose hair curl in panic as soon as the lid is off) and they take forever to dry. So when acrylics arrived on the scene, enamels didn’t stand a chance. But… this last drawback – long drying time (and I speak about several hours) is under certain circumstances a blessing in disguise. It allows for blending and lifting off techniques (that’s what I call painting and then ‘taking off’ paint from painted surface) that one only can dream of with acrylics.

I started the painting process with an uniform coat of Humbrol 98 for the stone formations and Humbrol 118 for the stone walls. Once this was done, I let the pieces dry over night.

For stone formations I next proceeded with building up several thin layers of 72 and 187 mixed in different ratios. Darker shades were applied all over the stones. I did however try to let the dark base color to get through here and there. That’s where ability to pick off the paint with the brush was very useful. As I successively lightened my mix, I blended it with underlying layers in the areas that would be exposed to sunlight and elements. For final highlights I added some light grey Humbrol 64. Addition of light neutral grey desaturated the mix. It was added to the sharp edges and surfaces that were visibly raised. Normally this step would be done with drybrushing technique. However, since enamels don’t dry in a blink of an eye, I had plenty of time to do proper blending.

I did however switch over to drybrushing once I started working on the walls. Blending of individual stones would simply take too much time. So a heavy drybrush of Humbrol 26 was applied to the raised stone areas with a flat brush, followed by lighter passes of Humbrol 187 and 72 in irregular patterns.

Next, I returned back to the stone formations. I dilutted heavily the dark brown Humbrol 98 with white spirits and used it as a wash, applying it to lower parts and around crevices of stone formation. Once done, I left everything to dry over night.

Last painting step consisted of a wash with Vallejo’s acrylic washes, which I applied on the walls in an attempt to bring out the detail of the walls. I mixed together Black and Oily Earth and applied it all over the walls. Not entirely happy with how this step turned out, but it did add a bit of variation in color tonality.

Once everything was dry, I flocked the terrain bits with turf and foam clumps from Noch/Woodland Scenics.

Overall, I am not entirely happy with how the walls turned out – the reddish tone of Humbrol 118 that I used as base color looks a bit unnatural to me. But from a couple of meters away the walls look perfectly serviceable. On the other hand I am totally delighted over the visual effect of stone formations. The stones have subtle but clearly visible shifts in color, which is exactly what I was after and the dark brown wash that was added in spur of the moment did a lot for creation of ‘natural’ look.

It was a very happy return to an old medium of enamels, which I’ve neglected almost completely over last two decades. For the future, I will have to remember about their special characteristics and positive properties.








7 kommentarer:

Bill said...

Everything looks really good - while you may not be wholly satisfied with them, I'm blown away by how good those walls look. They look exactly like the stones of the fireplace in my parents' house.

JOHNBOND said...

Nice work,I particularly the scatted rocks,
I use to use enamels for a long time till I switched to Acrylic paints.(wife and kids complained about the strong smell in the house)
cheers John

Napalm said...

The natural look is very nice, especially on the rocks.
Long time I haven't painted with enamels, but I use enamel washes (mig/ammo/Ak, all that recent modelism brand making nice products), and lots of pigments.
Last good things for all the stuff you've made: they're pretty generic and can be used in lots of games :)

Jerry J said...

Great Post ! and a great finish!

Anonymous said...

Looks great! There's nothing like finding stuff that's really useful (i.e. your resin stash) and being able to finish it by using paints already on hand.

Thomas Nissvik said...

They look fantastic! I'm not going back to enamels even for that, mind you, but the look great!

Pat G said...

Those look great (And I liked the smell of Humbrol)

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