Terrain time! Wooden crates and barrels

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?

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This. Do this.

The walls

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.

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Primed and washed

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.

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Dry-brushed with titanium white

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.

Adding colour

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.

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Oooh, blue shadows… it looks cool and ghostly now

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Hit with the Inktense Wood

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.

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Sprayed with Agrax

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.

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Details and burlap sacks done

Conclusion

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.

Sector Mechanicus: My 10 step method for awesome looking industrial terrain

As part of my foray into Necromunda, I ended up eventually breaking down and getting the core Necromunda: Underhive box. While I parted with the Goliath sprues, due to a mispack that I had to go through GW customer service to resolve, I ended up with twice the terrain as usual, in addition to the massive pile that I bought because when I get into something, I go all in.

Of course, this meant that I needed to find a way to get all that terrain painted. Now, because it is terrain, that means that I could relax and just do something tabletop quality. Unfortunately, because I’m kind of anal-retentive about my miniatures, my definition of tabletop quality is a little different from most people’s, which can be both a blessing and a curse. After a little trial and error, I think I’ve hit on a pretty good method to banging out masses of pretty good looking terrain for the Sector Mechanicus/Zone Mortalis stuff that is commonly used for Necromunda.

So, I’m going to do my own version of a Warhammer TV Duncan Rhodes video. But, since I’m not as photogenic as our lord and saviour of two thin coats; I’m going to do it in my own style: an incredibly wordy article, and also forgetting to take pictures of all my steps.

Also, just as a warning, this method does involve heavy airbrush use. An all-purpose airbrush like the Patriot 105 is a great tool for this sort of work, especially when you’re trying to bang out a lot of terrain in a short time. If you don’t have an airbrush, you could probably adapt some of these techniques, but it may be a better idea to go look up one of the Duncan tip of the day videos. Just don’t think you need to stick to the Games Workshop family of products. Even in this guide, I mention a lot of specific products, but aside from a couple which are so good you probably should be using them anyways (Vallejo Metal Color for airbrushing metallics, for example), feel free to substitute paints from your favourite paint brand.

The Method

1. Clip it off the sprues and assemble it. Duh. The Zone Mortalis stuff is mostly one piece bulkheads that just need some feet glued on, so it’s easiest to just assemble it all up front. For the big complex Sector Mechanicus terrain pieces, it’s probably best to work in sub-assemblies where you have to but leave it unassembled for now where you can, but it’s not hard to figure out the best way to do something like this.

2. Prime it in Stynylrez black through the airbrush. You could use a rattle can of black primer if you want to, or airbrush a different black primer if for some strange reason your primer of choice isn’t Stynylrez. However, airbrushing primer is much easier than using a rattle can, and it can be done inside in all kinds of weather.

3. Airbrush it with a base coat of Vallejo Metal Color Steel or a similar dark silver colour. Someone asked me recently what the best acrylic silver paints were for airbrushing, and Vallejo Metal Color (Not Vallejo Model Air) is a great answer. It has nice fine pigments, sprays like a dream, and covers in one coat. Right now, it’s the only metallic paint that goes through my airbrush.

4. Pick out brass bits. One thing I like to do is incorporate some visual interest in big metal things by having a mixture of grey metals and brass. It’s why I like painting steampunk stuff so much; I get to throw in a lot of brass bits to add some contrast to my metals and machinery. I generally use P3 Molten Bronze for this, but you can use whatever brass paint you like.

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VMC Steel (airbrushed) and P3 Molten Bronze (brush painted)

5. First dry-brush. Get a nice, big, soft makeup brush and a bright silver and go to town. It doesn’t really matter too much if you get the silver on the brass bits; it can actually make for a nice effect as the highest highlight on brass should be silver anyways. Feel free to be heavy on the dry brushing here as we will be taking it down a notch in a later step, and those errant, chalky dry-brush marks that are why real hardcore srs bsns painters use more advanced techniques and leave dry-brushing to noobs (note: my tongue planted firmly in my cheek as I write this sentence) actually make for a decent representation of scratches and scrapes and other sources of visual interest. Don’t be afraid to really beat the devil out of it and take out your frustrations on this terrain.

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My weapon of choice

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Before (bottom) and after (top) the first dry brush. See the difference; it’s looking pretty good already.

6. Pick out non-metallic details. Things like wires, hoses, etc., which are non-metallic. We’re doing this after the first dry-brush because we don’t want to spend a lot of time picking these out only to hit them with our violent, heavy dry-brushing in step 5 and ruin out work. Do them in nice, vibrant colours; it’s better to err on the side of more vibrant, because we’re going to knock it back in the next step.

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Some non-metallic details such as the tanks and hoses picked out.

7. Wash time! Drop some Nuln Oil into your airbrush and spray. Using the airbrush to apply these GW shades is fun; you can build up the shade and let it get everywhere, and if you don’t go too heavy on the trigger, you don’t end up with the coffee staining issue you normally get when you try to apply the shade with a brush. For more visual interest, follow up with some Drakenhof Nightshade in some random areas to get a nice subtle worn mottled look between blue-grey and brown-grey, and/or something like Agrax Earthshade for brown patches.

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Post-wash, note how the washes really dulled it down.

8. Second dry-brush. With the same makeup brush, do a subtle, controlled dry-brush just to pick out some of the edges but without going all over and messing up your non-metallic detail. Focus on the upper portions of your bulkheads and supports and the like, so it looks like they are getting more direct sunlight.

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The effect is difficult to capture in photos, but the second dry brush can really help bring back some of the highlights which faded a little in the wash.

9. Add finishing touches. There are a few things you can do here to take it up to the next level. If your terrain piece is sticking out of the ground like the support pieces for the walkways, you can add some crud to the bottom where dirt, debris, and standing water during floods might congregate. I like to use Typhus Corrosion for this part, which is basically GW’s technical paint that consists of brown with bits of crud floating in it. Basically, apply it to the areas close to the ground with a big wet brush and feather it up and out. This will give the impression that the areas close to the ground have gotten dirty through years of flooding and add a little bit of dynamism and visual interest. If you want, you can also add a little green corrosion to your copper and brass bits with a touch of Nihilakh Oxide. If there are any lights on your terrain piece, you can get a cool, simple OSL effect by painting the light source white and then spraying some artist acrylic inks in the colour of your choice overtop, allowing the overspray to represent the reflected light. You will look like an awesome painter who takes the time to do super advanced and crazy difficult techniques like OSL on your terrain; just keep the fact that it was actually super easy between us.

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Some quick glow effects with white paint, an airbrush, and some artist inks.

10. Varnish. You’re going to be handing these terrain pieces a lot and you’re probably not going to take as good care of them as you do your army, so give it a coat of satin varnish, which is a nice happy medium between a bright shiny gloss and those super dull matte varnishes that makes you wonder why you even bothered using metallic paint in the first place. Again, I like to use my airbrush for this because it makes varnishing much easier than either trying to brush it on or use a rattle can.

The Results

From there, you can start assembling your terrain. I found it’s good to assemble it in modules; this way, you can build your table in multiple ways, but you aren’t taking an hour to quickly lego together some rickety terrain pieces every time you want to play. When you do this, it’s good to think about how pieces might logically go together. Furnaces and the like may have big smokestacks, which should be the tallest things on the table. Pipes shouldn’t go to nowhere, especially when they’re being placed vertically as supports for flooring. Terrain should have enough supports that it looks stable, which has the advantage of actually being stable and not collapsing onto your nicely painted miniatures. It also may be a good idea to make some concessions towards the practicalities of playing the game when you do this — where you place your ladders, how you can get nice cover, and how you can make your terrain such that it can be interacted with and is meaningful enough that it matters in-game, but not so unbalanced that whoever has this terrain piece on his side of the table basically gets a free win.

Finally, once you get it together, you may need to touch up a few areas with paint. Places where you got some glue where you didn’t mean to could use a little love. Further, with OSL and weathering, you may need to add a little bit more for it to make sense. For example, if you have a clean pipe coming out of a dirty tank, you may need to add some grime to the pipe to make it look more consistent. Or you may need to dry brush on a little more OSL if you end up with a glowing bit that is facing another surface.

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This is my terrain setup; it has a few major pieces, but can be arranged and rearranged in a number of ways. The two stories of the section with the large white tank is not glued on, so I can take it off and place it on the gaming surface to have two single story terrain pieces. Also, the large chimney on top of the white tank is removable, and the pipes can be arranged in any number of ways. I think I’m going to get a battlemat to go with it; I was thinking the Cryx Necrotite F.A.T. Mat would be a good choice as it would go with both Necromunda and Warmachine, and could be set up with forests and more natural terrain and not look too shabby either. I’ve also got some fully painted Zone Mortalis terrain; the sort that comes in the Necromunda: Underhive box painted with the same technique to go with it.

As you can see, this painting technique works quite nicely. You end up with some good looking terrain, but because the washes have dulled and blended some of the colours together, it has enough contrast that it still looks good, but not so much that it overpowers the miniatures, who should be the focus of the game.

This isn’t the only technique I used though; on some of the larger pieces, I also did some chipping using the hairspray technique. That would be its own article though. If you want to do this, I would suggest to do the chipped sections first and mask them off while you work on the rest of the terrain piece and be careful about your colour choice; orange and brown rust doesn’t contrast red paint very much.

Conclusions

When you’re painting large things, effective use of an airbrush can be key to getting it done fast and good. This technique here is a nice way to get some awesome looking terrain, but for your projects, you can feel free to adapt it any way you want. Picking out brass bits and other details is really the only time-consuming part of this project. I kind of went overboard on some of the details for mine, but if you just want to get it done up to tabletop standard, paring back on the amount of details you put into the brass and the non-metallic bits you picked out can be a real time-saver.

Good looking terrain is an aspect of miniature gaming that is often undervalued. As we naturally want to focus on getting our armies painted, terrain often lags behind in both painting quality and actually getting it finished. However, there is nothing more satisfying in the hobby than seeing two nicely painted armies duking it out on an attractive table.

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Simple Custom Warmachine Flag

In Steamroller, the standard tournament scenario packet for Warmachine, there are a number of scenario elements, including zones, objectives, and flags.  Usually players just use a round disk or extra base in the appropriate size, but creating your own custom objectives is a good way to add a little visual interest to the tabletop and make your battles look a little more cinematic.  Here, I’ll show you how to create a simple statue that can serve as a flag marker in SR2017, which uses only some simple techniques such as basecoating, dry-brushing, and washing.

For this, you will need:77303_w_1.jpg

  • A 40mm Base
  • A Male Paladin (77303) from Reaper
  • A Warmachine infantry model that would look good as a statue
  • Your usual modelling supplies (brushes, glue, pinning supplies, etc)
  • A few paints, including a dark purple, some dark brass colours, some greys, a dark wash, and GW’s Nihilakh Oxide

The first step is to assemble your model.  Take a sharp knife and separate the Male Paladin from the base that comes with the figure, and then throw the figure himself in your bits box.  We don’t need him; we’re using the base that he comes on as a plinth for the statue, which should fit perfectly onto a spare PP 40mm base.  Glue the plinth onto the statue, and then pin your model on top, trying to cover up the area which the Paladin was kneeling on.  Make sure you clean the mold lines well, because with the techniques we’re going to be using, any missed mold lines will stick out like a sore thumb.

From there, you can prime your model and start by base coating your model with a very dark purple.  I’ve used Reaper’s Nightshade Purple, which is just a hint away from black.  Rarely when painting miniatures do you want to go all the way to a straight black, and I feel that purple shadows tends to give some nice contrast with brass things.

IMG_1964.JPGNext up is a heavy drybrush with a dark brass colour.  I used P3’s Deathless Metal, which is one of the new paints in their Grymkin set.  This, along with their purple ink, were the new paints I was most looking forward to.  As a very dark brass metallic, it is a welcome addition to their line.  I suspect it will be very useful for true metallic metal techniques as it extends the range of their top-notch gold metallics into something much darker.  Now, if only they would replace their terrible, terrible paint pots with some nice dropper bottles…

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Finish up with a light drybrush of a slightly lighter brass colour, such as P3’s Molten Bronze, and we’ve got a great start for our bronze statue.  At the same time, feel free to start working on the plinth, base coating it grey, then giving it a dark wash and dry-brushing it back up to really show the shadows and highlights on the stone.

Now, on the statue, we could stop here, but I wanted to give it a more aged look.  One thing with these copper/brass statues is that over time, they tend to oxidize and form a green patina which you can see on all sorts of old statues.  Fortunately for us, there is an easy way to apply this effect.  Grab a pot of GW’s Nihilakh Oxide, which is one of their technical paints (a line specifically designed to make certain effects such as blood spatter, rust, etc. easy to create) and, well, I’ll let Duncan explain the next steps.

Finish off the stone, clean up the base edge, add a layer or two of varnish and maybe some vegetation around the edge, and we’re in business!  We’ve got a great little flag marker that can add a little more visual interest to your tabletop than a round disc or extra base.  And, in a pinch, you can just drop it on top of a large base to serve as an objective.

Since we’re using a lot of simple techniques such as washing and drybrushing, you can easily and quickly bang out some nice looking flags for your next Warmachine game!

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