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"Progress with realistic rock surfaces, some results" Topic

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616 hits since 29 Apr 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Baranovich29 Apr 2017 8:24 p.m. PST

I really dove into new territory with this. I was never really a diorama builder so I never concerned myself with that sort of super-realistic quality of rocks that you find in model railroad layouts and military dioramas. I was content with doing the usual gray basecoat with white highlights for wargaming tabletops.

So I finally decided to at least bring some element of that diorama-type quality into my wargaming terrain.

After following Terranscapes on Youtube for some time, I decided to follow his broad technique of applying paint washes over a foam or plaster rock formation that has been covered in some kind of white acrylic medium or paint.

Link to his tutorial:

YouTube link

For this experimental terrain base I used white acrylic gesso over rocks carved from pink insulation foam. I thought about attempting my first use of tempera powder paint which is used in model railroading for cliff faces. However I first wanted to see what I could achieve with a wash made from ordinary craft paints.

I was pleasantly surprised. The white gesso shows through the wash creating the rock color. The wash was made from a mixture of brown and black craft paint.

After using gesso for the first time, I can see the need in the future to thin the gesso with some water so that it has the consistency of paint. I used it full strength which proved to be a bit too thick.

However, the technique overall results in a pretty realistic rock surface. I think this technique can be applied to doing a larger cliff face-type terrain project.

Some pics:


nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Apr 2017 9:04 p.m. PST

Like this?


Baranovich30 Apr 2017 5:58 a.m. PST

Indeed, you do amazing work nevinsrip!

Early morning writer Inactive Member30 Apr 2017 7:06 a.m. PST

Curious process using gesso, reasonable results.

Though with 50 years of model railroading experience, I've never heard before of anyone using tempera paints for terrain work. I'd say the most common paints used are acrylics, either house paints or hobby paints – I like to use artist's acrylics because they have the basic colors – sienna and umber with basic black and white. And one trick that works a charm is just the barest of hint of blue for gray rocks – like yours. But don't overdo it, even seriously underdo it to get it right.

That nevinsrip piece is nice – seen before i think.

I focus on cheap acrylic house paint for my base color and build from there for my miniatures hobby terrain. And on 'smooth' surfaces, I glue clean play sand down before painting. It provides the necessary 'tooth' for dry brushing techniques. I do work exclusively in 15 mm, though, so a coarser element might work better in larger scales.

Baranovich30 Apr 2017 3:51 p.m. PST



I have to report that I now understand what you were referring to!

It seems that Terranscapes was experimenting with using gesso as his white undercoat. It was a variation on the Bragdon Cliff method. He does powdered tempera paint over a plaster casting.

After doing my own experimenting I have to say I understand now what you mean about the gesso. I don't really see the point of the gesso at all, I found that white craft paint serves the same purpose. And indeed the gesso actually seals the foam so the wash can't penetrate!

I used washes made from craft paints which works well, but I'm curious about trying powdered tempera paint as well.

But I think I finally am getting it down in achieving something close to the look of your pieces!

Some pics of my latest test pieces:


nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Apr 2017 8:22 p.m. PST

Just trying to save you some extra, unnecessary work.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP01 May 2017 12:34 p.m. PST

Instead of paint, try using inks, mixed with Isopropyl Alcohol,
not water. Test on broken pieces or underneath, until you get a mix you're happy with.

By the way, feel free to contact me with any questions…..Bill

Baranovich01 May 2017 8:33 p.m. PST

Thanks for the advice and help nevinsrip, much appreciated!

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