Friday, December 20, 2013

painting deadzone terrain

To start with, I sorted my tiles into two piles: one for wall pieces, barricades, and vertical connectors, the other for floor tiles. I am not going to be painting the right angle connectors here. That's partly because most of them will be invisible once the tiles are clipped together, and partly because the ones you can see won't be coloured that differently to the tiles anyway. This is a speed run. But if you want to spend hours painting all the clips, go for it ;)

Next, I blu-tacked the tiles onto sheets of cardboard. Note I only have a dozen or so tiles on each sheet. This is because this was the test run to check the colours ad techniques all worked and looked good. But you save more time the more tiles you stick up each time, so I'll be doing twice as many tiles at a time in future.

Its important to keep the vertical sections all aligned the same way. So the top of every wall is at the top of the card sheet, the bottom of every wall is at the sheet's bottom. It doesn't matter which way you line up the floor tiles.

Once the sheet is full, I took them out to the garden and primed them black. Most of the time I tell people it really doesn't matter what colour primer you use. But here, its important to use black. Any black - GW, Army Painter (which I use), or Halfords. But Black.

Check those corners
 As you do this side of the tiles, its important to make sure both sides of the bevelled edges and all the insides of windows and viewports are well covered. Thats because later, when you come to paint the other side, you don't want to be blowing paint back onto this finished side. So be thorough. Get the edges and sides.

When the primer is dry, I sprayed the tiles with Humbrol Acrylic Sea Grey. This is a dark grey, almost black.

A slightly uneven paint job will give your tiles 'character'

A smooth finish is not vital here - you can afford to be a little patchy. This may be counter-intuitive. You're always told that you need to get smooth layers of paint on models. But this is large scale terrain and a little variation in tone and texture is normal and natural and will make your tiles look better and more realistic when you're all done. I'm not saying leave parts of the tiles blank or to skimp on the paint. Just that you don't need to plaster the plastic trying to make every square millimeter of the thing a flat matte uniform shade. 

I also spray the paint down onto the tiles. I don't mean just holding the can above the tiles, but firing it from the direction that is at the 'top' of each tile. This is most easily done by holding the sheet of card with my hand at the top of the sheet, and then spraying away. What this does is put a bit less paint on the bottom of any raised surfaces on the tiles. Doing it this way you get a 'drop-shadow' effect. It means you have shaded the tile without even trying and this is why you needed to make sure all the tiles were lined up the same way and primed with black paint. Again, this effect will be helped by not blasting every tile with paint until it squeals for air.

Note: this effect is probably easier to achieve with an airbrush than a spray can. But speed is more important right now.

So now we have a sheet or sheets of tiles, all primed, and all base-coated. Now its time to apply the main colour.

At this point I switch to the airbrush.

I would guess that at least one person reading this now is thinking'airbrushes are expensive' or 'airbrushes are for expert painters' or something like that. Let me assure you, neither of those statements are correct.

My airbrush is really basic. It was a cheapo ebay purchase - £75, I think, for two (!) brushes and a compressor. For that I got a half-decent compressor and two basic airbrushes. It literally pumps air through the brushes and forces paint to go along too and thats it. No fancy gizmos, no variable apertures or trigger resistances.  It is one step up from what I would recommend anyone unable to get what I did - a GW spraygun. I think these are around £15 now and you'll need a can of compressed air too. Either of these systems will do for this, giving you the ability to spray much finer layers than a can and much smoother, more even layers than a brush. 

Now its time to talk about the coolest part of the process - salt masking. Salt masking is using chunks of salt to mask areas of your model so they don't get any paint on them in the next layer. Its a fantastic technique to simulate wear and tear on painted surfaces. There are other ways to do it but salt-masking is the coolest. It looks like cookery but feels like magic when you do it right.

You will need:

  • salt, proper rocky or crystallised salt, the sort that goes in a grinder, not table salt. I use Waitrose Coarse Sea Salt Crystals.
  • hairspray. Get the cheapest stuff you can find. I use Tesco Value. 
You then take one of your sheets of tiles and spray the bejeezus out of it with the hairspray. I highly recommend doing this in a well ventilated room and possibly with a filter mask on. You want the hairspray to be a liquid layer on your tiles. While it is still wet, sprinkle on the salt. All over is good, particularly on the edges of raised areas, corners, and the edges of the tiles. Anywhere that looks like it might get knocked about as that tile holds up a building or gets walked over. Then you let it dry.

Ready salted.

When it is, load up your airbrush or spray gun with the main colour for the tile. I used Vallejo Model Air Pale Grey Blue as it seemed like a nice match to the Deadzone mats.

In theory Model Air paints don't need any diluting. In practice I found the Grey to be a little thick, so I did cut it with a tiny bit of Tamiya Thinners. You want a fairly even coat here, but as with the previous step, a little patchiness is quite acceptable. Take note, some of the salt will probably fall off here, so make sure you're painting on a surface you can collect it from easily afterwards. As with the base coat, spray the wall tiles from their top side to accentuate that drop shadow effect.

Once this layer has dried, you will need a pot of warm or hot water and some cotton wool. Dip the wool in the water and use it to wipe off the salt crystals from the tiles. Now check out that magic! Say to yourself, 'Boy, can I paint!'. It doesn't matter if you scratch the paint as you go, or find slightly thicker areas where the light grey paint peels or rubs off. The more damage you do to it the better really.

Boy, can I take photo's.
 So, you should now have a set of tiles that look like they've been through some wars. At this point you could just stick that stuff out on the table and enjoy playing with it. 

But all that grey can be a bit overpowering though and make a table look a bit washed out. Don't get me wrong - a collection of salt masked tiles put together will make some impressive looking scenery people will love playing on. But for a little extra 'pop' I added some accent colour and used the salt mask technique again.

For my first batch of tiles I chose Vallejo's Game Colour Gold Yellow. At first glance this seems like a really strong colour. But you have to bear in mind the cold/hot colour model. That is, if you use lots of 'cold' colours - greys, some blues, some greens, - you can accent it with a contrasting 'hot' colour. In this case I have cold greys everywhere, so I am contrasting it with the warm yellow. Reds would also work, and probably some browns and purples as these also have red pigments in them.

I used Tamiya's masking tape to protect most of the tiles, then salt-masked the tiles as above before airbrushing on the yellow. Here's how they look when I wash off the salt.

You don't need to do this accent step to every single tile. I did it to every one of the first batch just so I wouldn't need to do it again. If you did do it to every tile, well, you'd lose a bit of that individuality and leave your table looking all uniform again. I'll probably do a few more of the barricade tiles, just because it seems to make narrative sense these things would be painted to stand out a bit. But not every single wall and every single door needs to be marked out the same. 

Note I only did this on the vertical tiles too. For the floors I did a quick wash with GW's Steel Legion Drab and dabbed it all over the tiles. Steel Legion is great for a generic 'dusty' look and here's how the dried tiles look.

Its probably a good idea to give the tiles a coat of varnish at this point and I used Army Painter's Matt Varnish. These things are going to get a lot of wear and tear as they get put together, played on, and taken apart again.

The next step should be obvious: take the tiles off the board, turn them round, and do it all again to the other side. I might not even bother doing the floor tiles again though. One side is all you're ever likely to really see and that's done.

Take care when spraying paint on this second side though. Don't forget you have already painted the first side and you don't want paint creeping under the tile and ruining your paint job. A little stray paint won't hurt, just don't spray the tiles from extreme angles. 

The most time consuming part of this whole process then is tacking the tiles onto the cardboard. Spraying the first two coats takes maybe five minutes. Spraying on hairspray and sprinkling on salt takes a bit longer, particularly as you have to wait for the hairspray to dry. Masking up areas for the accent colours is a little time consuming. But if you do a big enough sheet of tiles you only need to do it once. Get big tape. All in all, it is quite possible to paint scores of tiles, on at least one side, in an afternoon.

edit:for those put off by airbrushing or salt masking go here for a guide to similar technique that uses neither. 

Hopefully then, this guide has been useful to someone and I'm always open to questions or ideas for other ways to do things so feel free to leave a comment and, if you liked the guide, please click on the ad at the top right :) 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Quick n Easy Gore


  • PVA glue
  • A pinch of flour
  • A few Rice crispies- other cereals will probably work too :P
  • No this is not a recipie! Well kinda
  • Red paint- I've used Crimson Gore
  • A purple wash - Leviathan Purple in this case
  • Some kind of body part- I've used a bolter
  • Gloss- I've used G.W gloss but a coat of PVA would probably do
This was made off the cuff today in a couple of minutes, the measurements aren't exact and you'll know when to add more or less ;-) Mix some PVA glue with the pinch of flour, add some red paint into the mix, it will turn pink but just add more red until you get a satisfying blood colour Crush a rice crispie and add it to the mix, add how ever many you want until you get a good gore consistency ( i put in a whole one for good measure ) 
With everything still wet add some purple wash to give the gore some meat
When dry add some gloss to give a moist effect!
If anyone tries this out let me know how it worked for you and please adapt it and post some pics! :P

Friday, November 15, 2013

28 terrain 1/35 kits

8mm scenery from 1/35 diorama kits

Hi again,

This week I thought I'd show a bit more on how I made the 2 warehouses in the background of last weeks figure shots.

In a nutshell, they are made from a single Miniart Workshop kit in 1/35th scale. These are great kits as they contain loads of vac formed brick walls, roofs, rafters and injection moulded doors, windows and lamposts etc. Many purists would say the bricks are too large for 28mm but I think they look fine for gaming puposes.
As I said, this particular kit has enough brick sections to make the inside of the building as well so all I did was glue each section to thin plasticard and made 2 buildings instead of having internal bricks.

The tiled roof building is pretty much standard and the tin roof one was made using the extra bits. I had to make a new tin roof from thin corrugated card and used some of the supplied rafter sections to make the wooden planked loading bay door section. Sadly, you only get one double industrial door so I had to scratch build the two doors for the tin roofed building but this didn't take long. The roofs are removable and there's plenty of room inside for gaming.

For the painting I undercoated them both with dark brown emulsion then simply used matt emulsion tester pots in shades of terracotta and green for the painted wood and codex grey for the concrete areas. I used a few GW brown washes to dull things down and rubbed some white chalk powder over some areas of brickwork to simulate paler cement (this makes a big difference to the overall effect).

Overall, I'm really happy how they came out as they are great for all sorts of periods and pretty sturdy as they are plastic.

Laters Si

instant mold sedition wars

If like me, you got a bonus Reaver body (from Biohazard-level Kickstarter for Sedition Wars) but need his arm and gun, you can use instant mold and green stuff to duplicate a gun and arm for him.

Here's how mine came out:

Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

Not perfect, but as they say, good enough for government work.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Zombie Animals

Survival horror movies and video games have introduced us to the concept of animals afflicted with diseases, mutations, etc that turn these normally quite familiar and even beloved creatures into things of purest terror. When you think of it, we surround ourselves with fluffy friends and innocent animals as pets and food sources and take them for granted on a regular basis. So, when these things suddenly become a threat it the terror is sometimes even greater than that of seeing our neighbors shambling lifelessly down the street. I wanted this in my minis games.

Once again, I turned to what I had. I had dogs and pigs, a couple of horses. I wasn't quite ready to dive into zombie horses, just yet (though I'm sure I will) but the dogs and the pigs sounded like they'd do the trick. Pigs are wicked enough as it is and the idea of them suddenly turning into flesh-craving fiends was enough to make me jump at the chance to make it happen.

So, I had eight, skinny 15mm dogs from an old Essex minis set of Mayan Dog Handlers and three pigs from Irregular Miniatures. These would be my start. The process of converting them to horrid undead called for, in my opinion, a bit more work than simple repaints like I had done on the Peter Pig pirates. I decided that the most likely and simple place to show they were walking dead would be on their sides. Below is the quick and nasty recipe for zombie animals.


Step One
Figure out where you want to have them gored up and take your hobby knife and gouge out a few good chunks. If you are gouging the sides of the animal, make sure you keep the knife blade relatively vertical against the side of the creature and don't be too concerned with leaving vertical knife marks at the edges of the gouge (the reason for this will come later in the painting stage).

Step Two
Mix up some putty. I find that the softer putties work best for this as you are going to be working REALLY small here. Then, take the putty and push it in to the areas where you are making the gore. I formed the putty into the general shape of tears, entrails, and hanging flesh. Don't worry about being too specific in this stage. If it looks like a mangled piece of dog or pig, it's fine, just don't let it look too neat.

Step Three
After the putty has hardened all the way, prep the mini for painting like you normally would. I found that after I primed the animals, the putty work looked a lot more intrigrated into the whole minis and really came to life.

I won't go into too much detail on the painting process as everyone has their own style. I use a simple drybrush/wetbrush quick and dirty method with a few washes, afterward. The key point I'd like to make here is that you really need to look at the gore at this point. Much of it may be nondescript until you paint it up.

Remember those vertical knife marks? I learned that knife marks left in haste and carelessness made the perfect details to pick out with a little bone color as broken and exposed ribs. These really stand out and break up what otherwise, at this scale, looks like a bunch of red gore. Also, on one pig's face a mash of mangled putty at one side of his face was made all the more chilling by the picking out of a few spots of white to represent the still-present eyeball and teeth in the gore there. On one dog, I accomplished a nice hanging, disjointed jaw, by shaving off the existing lower jaw and repainting a hanging piece of putty with cleverly picked out teeth done in bone color.


I cannot street how much the painting part of this makes the animals. On every one of them, the gore bits came alive as soon as I picked out a few bony bits. Whether it was ribs, teeth, a leg bone or that milky white eyeball, the animals became truly terrible when I added those details. This could also be said for human zombies, but the figures I was using left fewer opportunities for me to do serious gore (with the exception of a few gut-hangers and limbless zombies).

Sunday, November 10, 2013


lots of questions on how I did the glue effects on the dwarven forge tiles

lots of questions on how I did the glue effects on the dwarven forge tiles

I didn't paint the slimes - I got colored glue sticks from amazon - just make sure you get the correct size for your glue gun, most colored sticks are for the mini glue gun.... only a few are made for full size glue guns...(don't try to stick the wrong size in a glue gun).  ;-)  here's my learning xp on trying that(and how to fix the glue gun afterwards).  change glue sticks for the mixed colors.  kind of mix them together slowly.  red/burgandy is great as it looks like it just ate something

the extended "reaching" look   put on the glue and let cool enough so its not running, but still moves, tilt the tile and use gravity.... careful if its still too runny, as it will want to keep going and detach like a drip.... i found i had to keep tilting it back and forth if too running and even flip back and go back in, then try again when not so runny.
One on the right used this gravity effectfrom tilted tile  to reach out, one on the left, just dripped glue down the wall

webbing was just adding a thin strip of glue at a time and layering

layered thin trail slime effect

And the folding looking part - is carefully blowing on the glue to warp it a bit ( you can use a straw so you don't get your face so close)

bottom of slime below gravity effect - used a straw to blow the glue into the crevices and get the warped folded look

Various slimes

Various slimes

slime with skeleton bones rising up to take a peek

slime with skeleton bones rising up to take a peek

Watery slime with blood mixed in

slime with an arm sticking out

green slime

green slime

entrail colored slime that ate a dice

slime with skeleton bones rising up to take a peek

slime with skeleton bones rising up to take a peek

large slime with depression that a medium mini can fit in - here eating a trollop

large slime with depression that a medium mini can fit in - here eating a trollop

slimy green slime rising up to eat a trollop

green slime with blood in it

green slime with blood in it and clear parts eating a trollop

green slime with blood in it - think this was one of the best - blood and green mixed nicely

green slime with blood in it - think this was one of the best - blood and green mixed nicely - eating a trollop

green slime - arm reaching out

green slime eating a trollop, body can be vaguely seen in it

green slime eating a trollop body parts can be vaguely seen in it


dome or rising / aggressive slime how too

dome or rising / aggressive slime how too:

start with a puddle of hot glue and cut off a piece of glue stick from another stick at an angle - let it cool for a few seconds so that its not quite as runny, but still liquid enough to stand your glue stick in it.  

let it cool

add a small layer on top - not too much or you will just melt your glue stick

let it cool and keep adding layers after each one cool, don't add too much to any layer, or you risk melting your earlier layers.

starting to take shape

now if you want it to be colored use the color you want - not too thick if you want the opaqueness to come thru nicely on the dome

let it cool

the opaqueness shows up nicely - as you add the layers of green, mix it with more clear/opaque to make a nicely mixed watery slimy looking puddle

viola - it looks like that slime is rising off the table to come and get you

green slime

turned out great!

Final step once you're done and slimes are all cooled - i always wait until at least the next day.

Is to seal the slimes - you can paint 1st if you didn't use the colors you like, but if you don't seal, the slimes will take fingerprints and fuzz can stick to them - this depends on the hot glue you use of course - some glue is better then others.