Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Terrain Mulligan

Terrainaholic’s recent Hobbython was the perfect opportunity to stroll down redemption lane. Ben decided to re-tackle a classic D&D environment – caverns. After all, this terrain was the very first Hirst Arts product he’d ever tackled…there was plenty of upside to be had. Plus, he was determined to learn from lessons past. Let’s tear open the envelope and take a look at his early redo results.
Blast from the Past
Ben was immediately captivated from Bruce’s elaborate booth display at Gen Con 2007. He felt the cavern molds were a great place to start his new-found terrain romance. His optimism and innocence were adorable. The good: he was armed with a great online tutorial from Bruce and a convention pal’s tips. Still, as you can see – intimidation won the first round. You’re always your worst critic but this attempt paled in comparison to the intended results.
Feel It
Why the sudden about face you ask? A sensational Super Dungeon Explore thread in the Hirst Arts pictures forum really energized Ben. Its author, Deuc08, is a master terrain craftsman with a keen eye. Even better, he included tons of rich photos, detailed assembly steps and specific product links. Everything Ben needed was staring him right in the face! It was time to get busy craftin’ or get busy dyin’.
Mold It
In terms of molds, everything you need is covered in #81 thru #84. The two traditional cavern molds blend nicely with the two rock molds.
Paint Scheme
Casting and gluing are sorta Frankenstein steps. So everything always boils down to a great paint scheme – the hardest part of any terrain project in Ben’s humble opinion. Master the colors and you’re sittin’ pretty. Ben is still toying with the floors so this week’s post will focus on the cavern and rock walls.
Prime It
Everything starts with your primer coat. Thankfully ol’ Deuc08 absolutely nailed it. Valspar Satin Brown Velvet (85044) gives you the perfect dark brown base. You can get a can at your local Lowes. The spray is a little sticky when it goes on so be sure to wear some gloves. The cavern pieces have all sorts of nooks and crannies so some of this color will actually carry through all the way to the end product.
Base It
Next comes your heavy dry brush color and for that, you’ve got to head over to your local Walmart for their ColorPace brand. Simply print out and hand them this paint formula. You’re going to hit the pieces hard with this color but don’t apply it like a base coat. You want glimpses of that Valspar brown to occasionally sneak through.
Stalagmite It
Here’s where some fun differentiation and contrast comes into play. Cover the stalagmite portions of your pieces in red and green. The Americana paint line is your pal. Try Georgia Clay for the red and Avocado for the green. Deuc08 even tried blue (Williamsburg Blue) but Ben hasn’t tried that one just yet.
What’s critical here is the selected colors complement each other perfectly. Doubt will reign supreme initially but once you drop the final highlight on, satisfaction will take over. Be sure to use a narrower dry brush and don’t go overboard. Simple is better.
Highlight It
You get a nice economical pick here by utilizing the Toffee color from Americana. This paint is very, very close to a GW’s Polished Bone. Ben visited his local Hobby Lobby for all these paints but Amazon is always an option. You just want to do a light dry brush and try to hit all the raised edges on the piece.
You certainly can stop right there but consider some subtle details to bring it home.
You certainly can stop right there but consider some subtle details to bring it home.
  • Moss: Apply to the undersides of some of the rocks.
  • Stone: Make scattered little piles.
  • Sand: Dust a few spots here and there.
Note: Citadel’s PVA glue is too lumpy and non-sticky. So Ben took a page out of CatataFish’s immense terrain book and nabbed a couple bottles of LePage premium white glue. It’s only available in Canada but DungeonMaster Johnny and Robert “kitchen” Shears helped Ben transport a couple of magic bottles to little ol’ Chandler, AZ.
Seal It
Now it’s time to protect your new pieces and keep that loose flock firmly in place. Krylon Low Odor Clear Finish is all you need. Seals the piece and dries clear. Ben grabbed a can at Home Depot but you can always order it through Amazon.
Water It
The cavern pieces have all sorts of little spots for water. Simple enough…just paint the appropriate areas with Regal Blue and then pour on a little Woodland Scenics Realistic Water.
Test It
You can remove a lot of hobby anxiety by intentionally making a small set of test pieces. By taking this extra step, you’ll be more relaxed and willing to take chances. Ben even writes notes on the back of these pieces as friendly reminders.
Enjoy It
And just like that you have your own cavern set: simple steps at a reasonable cost (both time and effort). Ben’s pieces may not be museum-worthy like Deuc08 but they still came out fantabulous.
Ben’s game group is on the cusp of entering the Pyramid of Shadows. He wants to expand the adventure by adding several hidden, underground passageways and rooms. Thankfully, he’s got a new terrain environment to dress the part.
Next week: DIY rubble piles or forest ambush? Hmmmmmm.
Questions to Ponder: How do you like the new color scheme? Do you own any cavern molds? What did you think of the blue stalagmites? Got any other finishing touch suggestions?

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