Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Terrain Boards Pt 4 - Adding some colour

Laying a base colour

Now that everything is dry you can start painting. But before you whip out the paintbrush you'll need to undercoat the board. You can use a brush to do this but spraying the undercoat on is a much better option - it dries faster, gets into the cracks easier and doesn't obscure detail (unless you seriously mess it up). With this in mind you should make sure that you use a matte/flat finish spray, not gloss. A gloss undercoat will look terrible and be difficult to work with, with the exception of terrain items that you want to have a gloss finish (e.g. windows, orbs, shiny buildings etc.). In these cases you should use masking tape to mask off areas that you don't want to be painted.

Another thing you have to consider is the colour of the undercoat. In the boards in this tutorial I've used a matte black undercoat, which is great for 90% of terrain, but you could use green if you want fields (over which you'd put flock [fake grass]), white for snowdrifts which you could then put a wash over (for depth) and then cover it with a coat of 40% PVA to 60% Water (to leave it shiny and protected), burgundy for a martian surface or for land near to a vortex/chaos gate/red food dye factory, and so on.

Washing VS Highlighting

There are many methods that you can use to give depth to the surface, though typically it's easier to use one of two methods - washing or highlighting. Using washes you start off with a lighter tinted undercoat and then apply a wash. Once this is dry you drybrush a highlight colour and viola, you're done. The highlighting method (the one shown in this tutorial and my preferred method) you start with a dark base and then build up a fews layers of highlights by drybrushing. The highlighting method tends to work better as the dark corners are really dark and you then just build on it, applying several layers using less paint for each successive layer. You can then use washes for select points of interest, if you like. This way you get more depth and don't have to wash entire boards just to get dark spots. That said use whatever method works for you, but I would suggest that you try the highlighting method first.

What paint?

As for paint you can use whatever you like, but I'd recommend buying some sample pots of the colours you want to use from your local paint or hardware store. They're usually around $6 and are around 250-400ml - far cheaper than using specialist miniature paints (though these are great for smaller details such as a marble or granite effect, war debris, weapons and armour rusting from an old war etc.). This much paint should last you quite a while, using the method here one pot should last me around 50 boards (which would be an impressive sight to behold). The paints I used in this tutorial are - matte black spray, shadow grey (a bluish dark grey), fortress grey (a brightish grey) and skull white (pure white, only used in very small amounts). If you've got the specialist miniature paints in the right colour you can take them down to your local paint supplier and they should be able to colour match it for you. The resulting paint isn't really good for miniature painting but it works great for bases, terrain and boards. NB: The images supplied of paints are only for illustrative purposes as they are easier to photograph than bigger paint pots.

Drybrushing (aka your new best friend)

Drybrushing is a really simple method of applying detail to textured surfaces and was probably one of the first methods you learned painting miniatures. It is fast, uses a small amount of paint and leaves a great finish when layered correctly. To drybrush you have to do a couple of things -

Wipe paint off the brush!
- Keep getting rid of paint off the brush until you don't leave obvious streaks of paint anymore. Most newbies 'load up' their brush (the term for putting paint on a brush) and then only wipe off a little paint. This results in a far too heavy coat, a complete lack of detail and far less highlighting. The key is to start small - load a little bit of paint onto your brush and then wipe if off until you can't see any more paint coming off. Then drag the brush lightly over a textured surface, only letting it touchs the ridges/raised areas. You'll see that paint still comes off on the undercoat and leaves raised areas highlighted. Once you've gotten comfortable you can put slightly more paint on the brush and apply more pressure, perhaps even stippling the surface. It's easy to build up more highlights but it's hard to undo them. Start slowly.

Build up layers - For the boards in this tutorial I've used four layers (base black, base colour drybrush, first highlight, final highlight), which gives a great effect. You can adjust the number of layers as you please, but I find four to be the best compromise. The base colour drybrush should be fairly broad in coverage - this gives the board it's dominant colour so its applied fairly liberally. Each successive layer after this should you far less paint with the final layer just highlighting the utmost raised areas (i.e. corners of buildings, big rocks, high points etc.).

The images above and below have been highlighted/drybrushed once in most areas (that look more blue) and twice in some (which look greyer and have greater depth.

The images below show the final, fully painted game board. You can add or subtract a layer of highlighting as you please, but again I find 4 layers to be the best compromise.

Once dry you should have a board that looks great and is ready to play on. However, some extra detail can make it look great and really adds depth to the final boards. Part 5 - Details, Details, explores this.

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