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Resin Rocks

Large Rock Outcroppings (3)
Product #
Suggested Retail Price
US$4.25 unpainted
US$7.50 painted

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Dreamblade Repainted

Hundvig Fezian is not a real big fan of pre-painted minis, and he positively despises randomly-packed "collectable" ones - so why is he writing this article?

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I met the good folks from Tactical Conflict Systems at GenCon, but didn't have the long talk with them until TriCon. When they heard I was doing this series of articles, they rushed me a box of terrain products.

Supplies sent by TCS

We'll start with: Rocks.

Bag of rock outcroppings

Product #158 is "Large Rock Outcroppings, all scales," and is available both painted and unpainted. The two smaller pieces are roughly comma-shaped, and though not identical, have about the same proportions: 3" in length, 1.5" in width, and about 1" in height. The larger piece is only a half-inch longer and taller, but is more massive over all. Two pieces in my sample were made of a reddish-brown resin, while the third was of a greyish resin.

Gretchin posed among unpainted rock outcroppings

These pieces look as though they'll provide good cover on the battlefield, giving my Gretchins somewhere to hide...

Preparing the Rocks

The grey rock-piece would probably look fine on the tabletop as is, but I decide to be a perfectionist and paint the things.

An inspection shows that all of the pieces have a few tiny cavities, small "bubbles" that in the molding process didn't get filled with resin. This is ordinary with resin castings, and in the case of rock outcroppings, the pinpricks don't look too out of the ordinary.

However, the imperfections are also easy to fix, so I decide to be a perfectionist and do so. The secret is to take a pinch of baking soda, drop it over the pinprick or cavity, smooth off the excess with your finger so that the baking soda fills the hole flush with the surface, and then drop a tiny amount of superglue onto the soda-filled hole.

It works like magic. The baking soda absorbs the superglue, and fixes the hole. It's almost foolproof. If you drop too much glue and it spreads over the piece, just mop it up with a piece of paper towel.

I also use a flush cutter to snip away a few extra, "flat" bits of resin along the bottom of the pieces. The bottoms of the pieces have been pre-filed flat, so there's nothing needed there.


On general principles, I wash the outcropping pieces in warm soapy water, and let them thoroughly dry.

Next, I prime them with a light spray of flat-white paint. Long ago, I used to use commercial primer paints, but I got out of the habit when I discovered that a cheap can of paint from the local hardware store seemed to work just as well. I've never had my "cheap primer" peel from a figure, never had trouble getting later coats to adhere to my "cheap primer," and I've never noticed any loss of detail.

(However, I'm now told that primers made for miniatures are actually thinner paints, designed to coat without obscuring detail. Maybe I'll give them a second chance someday.)

I want these rocks to look "real," which to me means they have lots of shading on them (as opposed to looking like I spray-painted them some unvarying shade of grey). The technique which gets this for me in the easiest manner is to apply a wash of paint, over a coat of white primer. A wash should coat the rock unevenly, but generally gets the low spots with the most color, and the high spots with the least.

I stir up some dark gray acrylic paint with a good quantity of water, and apply the thin wash to the rocks. Things go wrong. For some reason, my wash turns frothy, the pigment gets caught in the bubbles, with the final result that I've got very heavy shading in the depressions.

I figure I'll correct the problem by applying a "thicker" wash of medium gray, which should tone down the highlights and maybe brighten some of the shadows. It mostly works, and the shadows still show through the second coat, but the highlights are too subdued -- the rocks look too much like lumps of gray.

My next answer is to dry-brush the rocks with some light gray. (Dry brushing is when you take an old brush, put paint on it, wipe most of it off, and then paint with it - the raised surface areas take a very light painting.) I don't have any light gray handy, so I mix some up (white plus medium gray), and start dry-brushing. Ah, much better.

Gretchin posed among finished rock outcroppings

(This is an example of how a good plan failed, but I kept trying until something finally worked.)


Lastly, I brush on a protective clear coat. These rocks are likely to see a lot of tabletop action, and I want to protect them against scraped paint.

Normally, I'd spray on a coat of flat clear, but I happen to be out. However, I do have this bottle of Decorator Specialties-brand Matte Sealer, so I decide to try it out. It brushes on, and has the consistency (and look) of watered-down white glue.

The experiment turns out a failure: the Matte Sealer has some kind of mild interaction with the paint already on the rocks. A few spots have gone pure white, as if the Sealer ate the paint right down to the primer. Fortunately, it's only a few spots, so I do some touch-ups...