As someone who appreciates the aesthetic qualities of wargaming, I like 3D terrain, or as non-Warmachine players like to call it, terrain. So, in order to celebrate the completion of my huge Necromunda terrain project, I decided to do the logical thing and buy some more terrain. I saw a pack of barrels and crates from Micro Art Studios for the game Wolsung, and thought that they would be perfect for walls in Warmachine.
Of course, that means I had to paint them. A little while ago, I wrote an article on how to paint on woodgrain textures onto flat pieces of plastic. That’s all well and good, but sometimes the sculptor has done the work for you and sculpted in some texture. What do we do then?
I picked up the five pack, which came with five pieces for a bit under $40 CAD. Three are the pieces are long and wall-shaped, while two of the pieces are more square. They’re all pretty good sizes for a game of Warmachine, though you may want to make a bigger wall by lining up a wall shaped piece and a square piece. They come in a hard, heavy resin which seems to be pretty good quality, and there aren’t many mold lines to speak of. It may be a touch on the expensive side if you aren’t a total terrainiac, but in terms of detail and quality/sharpness of the cast, you get what you pay for.
Painting – letting the sculptor do the work
If you remember in my previous wood painting article, I talked a lot about sketching in the value first and using semi-transparent paints to add the colour after. This is the same thing, but since the woodgrain is already sculpted in, we can take advantage of that to make it super easy.
For this project, I started by priming it with white, then spraying it all over with P3’s Armor Wash, which is a lot closer to a true black than something like GW’s Nuln Oil. I sprayed on a heavy coat, because I wanted to get it in all the recesses and shadows. I suppose it also may have worked to just prime black, but I wanted to try it this way.
Next, I took out my trusty big makeup brush and some titanium white artist heavy body acrylic paint. There are a few different brands out there, but you can get this from art stores. It excels in this application for a couple reasons. First, titanium white is the whitest white you can get, so if you want coverage, it’s a good start. Second, unthinned straight out of the tube it has a pretty thick consistency, perhaps not quite as thick as Citadel’s dry paints, but pretty good for dry-brushing.
So, we’re going to dry-brush the heck out of it. Like Bob Ross cleaning his brush, you want to really go at it. In doing so, it’s good to go across the grain and allow the brush to catch on the ridges. When you’re done, you should have a pretty good value sketch in — dark recesses and shadows, and white highlights and ridges. And we did all that without using any details or special techniques, we just sloppily slapped some wash on and hit it with a giant dry-brush.
Now, before we want to go all out on applying our wood tone, let’s think for a moment about shadow and light and our good friend colour theory. We want to shade some brown pieces of wood, so what’s the perfect colour for that? Well, blue contrasts warm browns quite nicely and is a cool colour, so load up your airbrush with some Drakenhof Nightshade or your favourite blue wash and spray it into the shadows and the bottoms of the barrels; if you’ve mounted them on pill bottles, it’s easy to do sort of a reverse zentithal with your airbrush.
With that dry, it’s time for the main attraction. Get a brown ink and load it up into your airbrush and spray. I like to use Scale75’s Inktense Wood ink for this. Use your trigger to control the spray so you don’t overwhelm it, and just lay in the colour as light or as dark as you want until you’re happy. Don’t pull back all the way; spraying at a high pressure, just pulling it back a little bit will allow you to tint the barrels the exact shade you want. Let it dry for a while, as Scale75 is a little notorious for taking longer than other brands of miniature paint to dry.
Now, we have something pretty good, but it’s got a lot of shine to it. Don’t despair though, we can fix that with our good friend Agrax Earthshade. A quick spray of that will add a little more depth to the recesses and knock the shine right out.
This terrain also has a lot of burlap sacks leaning up against the barrels. We could spend a lot of time worrying about this, but I’ve got a solution here as well. Simply grab a stiff brush and do something in between a regular brush and a dry brush to apply a very light grey (I used Reaper #09090 Misty Grey) to all the ridges of the burlap but leaving the texture readily apparent. Follow that up by spraying with a brown wash overtop.
With that done, there’s just a few little details to pick out — metal barrel bands and ropes, and from there, it’s just a matter of varnishing it and it’s ready for the tabletop.
With this, we have some pretty nice terrain that didn’t take that much skill or effort to do. By letting the sculpt do most of the work and almost exclusively using inks, washes, and dry-brushing, the only kind of tricky part to this is maintaining trigger control on your airbrush with the thin inks and washes, but that’s something you should probably be learning anyways.