Thursday, 29 May 2014

EXT: Ruined Tower

I loathe painting scenery. It's my thrifty Scottish blood - 8 square inches of plastic woodwork seems to absorb two thirds of a pot of paint. Before I know it, there's no brown left and all my spears get orange handles shaded with black ink.

However, needs must when the devil drives and your stock of models is low. If I'm going to be remote hosting battles on my kitchen floor (Mrs K is delighted that I've taken a renewed interest in mopping it), I need something more than British Survey Map standard icons drawn on paper.

This might do.

You probably spotted this Dreadstone Blight in the last battle report. It's been lurking in the back of my cupboards for some time, half-assembled and undercoated. I undercoated it Astronomicon Grey, which is exactly the same colour as GW sprues. If ever paint felt wasted going on, that was it.

Coming back to it, I discovered I'd assembled it wrong. I'd got it in three sections - the base and ground floor walls, the first floor and its planking and then the remains of the second floor with its planks. I couldn't understand why it wouldn't fit together properly, or why the rings were different sizes until I looked at some pictures on the net more closely.

Despite the rebuild, I still managed to get the door in the wrong place. It's supposed to be 90 degrees round the corner, aligned with the stairs. Good luck getting in. 

Tearing it apart and re-gluing it was fun, if hair-raising. You never know if that cracking noise is the joint you're applying force to or the nice fragile detailed bit just next to it. Luckily, I got away without any non-seam fractures, and stuck it back with the planks sitting just inside the upper edge of each floor's walls, as it actually required.

I left it in sections to paint it, so I had at least a small chance of getting to the details inside the walls properly. There are lots of nice ones, some of which (unusually for GW) aren't skulls. The interior drain, the bricked-up evidence of cult worship, the tombstone plaques on the exterior - all very nice.

No worse than the posters I had on the wall as a teenager, in fairness.

Paintwise, the main bricks stayed grey with a few patches of red brick. The windows and plaques got Wych Elf Flesh, then a dark blue wash for all of it to give it a slate-like look. Drybrushed up to Skull White from that. Packed skulls got my usual brown ink over Bleached Bone treatment, also with white highlights.

Inside, I washed the walls heavily with green, rather than blue, so it looks damp and moldy. I applied lighter green patches with a sponge to heighten this.

As shown here. Sponges are a great way to give texture to a flat surface, I think, and very easy. I'll use this again in the future.

Now, my army bases are sort of boggy tundra, the idea being its spring and the snow is melting. So I had a crack at a new snow technique for this - GW's snow flock is pretty hard to get a good finish with unless you use about 90% PVA.

This stuff is salt, ground fine and mixed in with about 50-50 PVA and then a dash of white paint. It makes little rubbery, wet pellets that you can squash down into cracks and crevices. Two batches gave me a rather uneven look, sadly, but with a lick of gloss on top it does the job well enough.

After the explosion, the cottage cheese factory remained derelict.

Not satisfied with this, I also made a base round the edge, featuring two patches of ice round the drains. Those are made of discs of laminating plastic superglued on to black painted card - the dried superglue looks like trapped air bubbles.

Or are the superglued bits the darker areas? I forget. 

Finally, the real killer touch - ice. Mrs K has a stash of amazing modelling stuff from her prop-making days. I'm not normally allowed anywhere near it, and certainly not for frivolity like this. But all that kitchen floor mopping must have paid off, as I was allowed to have a go at using the transparent bioresin.

This two-part mix is just as toxic as it sounds, and I've lost a couple of fingerprints in an attempt to wash the adherent strands off. And it didn't work brilliantly - it stays very loose and then suddenly goes clatchy and burning hot without warning as the chemicals react. After a couple of trials in paper cups, my first actual attempt went rubbery as I was pouring it into the centre of the magic circle, leaving a weird plasm effect. Not bad, in some ways, but not what I wanted.

I think the magic circle is one of the best bits of the model. The colours might be a bit bright for a ruin, but it needed brightening up. Maybe Peter Andre has been in. 

At least it wasn't impossible to remove, and came out in one lump. Which I then chopped up and glued about the place as icicles instead. The second batch had too much hardener in it, and weird crystals crackled visibly through it after I'd poured it in. Again, not what I was after - I wanted to be able to see the rusting clockwork I'd painted in the middle hole - but this instead looks quite a lot like cracked ice. And it's set extremely hard, so that's what I'm getting whether I like it or not!

Frosty! And you can just see the clockwork if you squint. Honour is satisfied. Also: squinty. 

No idea, in passing, why they've taken this off the shelves. Broken mould? New line of competing scenery about to come out? Who knows. It's a shame, it's a cracking piece and was pretty affordable for their stuff. You can probably still find it on eBay or other stockists if you look, though.

Even model towers.

I didn't, in the end, hate this as much as I thought I would. So I've got plans for more tundra swamps, woods and broken towers, some of which will be in my Reaper pack. The fluff will be along the lines of this being the remote and ruined castle my WoCs were once the proud guards of, now fallen into decrepit horror even as they have. Then I just need a modular hardwood board to stick it all on...

Not the kitchen table, of course, it's not modular.
Yet. There's a hacksaw around here somewhere.


  1. That's some darn fine scenery right there - I love the snow and icicle effects, and the frozen water by the drain is a very neat touch.

    This has always been top of my scenery wish-list, and now it appears I left it too late.
    *trudges off to trawl eBay*