By Theresa "Minipaintmaven" Mansfield
I was skulking about on the Privateer Press Forums when I first saw the Terrainthrall’s terrain making contest. I am not one to back down from a challenge so I decided to give it a go. I first went to their site to see what kind of stuff they have been doing. I looked at all of the tutorials and made a list of what I like about each one in hopes of incorporating a few of their tricks into my piece. I liked the way Dori tackled painting dirt and Scarab’s use of plaster and waller’s mud. I liked how Matrix was able to make something he needed out of putty and the loose style Nobody used when making and beveling his base (I think square bases look kind of sterile).
So with list in hand I spent the next two weeks figuring out what kind of piece I wanted to do. I don’t own very many of the published works. I only have the Remix and the Hordes rulebooks. Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on most of the books by borrowing from everyone in the group that I play with. I poured over every page and came up with a few good ideas. Then I bounced each idea off of my gaming buddies. After some deliberating and advice from the group I decided to do a dead skorne warbeast scene.
The next hurdle I needed to cross was the fact that, besides a hammer, screwdriver and an Xacto blade, I don’t own any power tools—hey, I am a girl, I wasn’t birthed clutching a chainsaw (you’re welcome mom!)—but my Step-father has a small workshop in his garage were he makes beautiful furniture. So I called Roger and asked him if I could use some of his stuff and he said okay as long as he could hover to make sure I didn’t cut of any fingers or anything. The following is how I did it.
Plaster of Paris
2 disposable baking pans
I started with the remains of the creature before doing the base because I wasn’t sure how big the whole thing was going to be. While surfing the internet I read about a product called Sintra (I think that is how you spell it). The author said he got it from a signmaking company so I called around the greater metro area until I found someone that would sell me a piece that was about ½" thick. When I got there I talked to a nice guy named Mike who asked me what I was planning to do with it. When I told him he went into the back where I heard a crash. When he returned he held a 14" x 14" chunk that he had obviously broken off a bigger piece. He said it was from a sign that a client rejected and that he would give it to me for free. I remembered reading in economics class reading about the guy who started Dominoe’s pizza and how he treated his suppliers well so that they would WANT to continue to work with him. I gave Mike $10 and we both came away happy.
When I got home I sketched the ribs and vertebre onto a piece of cardstock, then cut them out and traced them onto the Sintra. I then cut them out on a jigsaw. It is here that I promised Roger that I would mention that when using power tools you should always use eye and hearing protection and if you are going to be doing something that creates a lot of dust you should wear a smock and particle mask.
I then sanded off the fast food ad and shaped the bones using a belt sander. Roger’s machine had a flexible (looked like some kind of cloth) belt about 2" wide. Total time: 2-1/2 hours.
Creating a foundation—$16.00
I showed Roger a couple of bases the Terrainthralls did and he explained how they probably did theirs. I didn’t go out and buy a sheet of Masonite because Roger had some scrap pieces. He did tell me that it ran about $16.00 per sheet. I laid the bones out on the wood and traced a loose shape around it with a pencil. I then used the same jigsaw to cut and the same sander to bevel the masonite. Total time: 1 hour.
I liked the way Dori did her base on the Terrainthrall’s site and set out to try to get that look. I bought a couple of disposable baking pans ($2.99) and some plaster-of-paris ($7.00). I wanted the stones to slope up out of the soil so when I mixed up the plaster I propped up one end of the pans so they would be thin on one side and thicker on the other and poured the plaster.
The next day I removed the plaster from the pans and broke off a few pieces and used and Xacto knife (yes, my tool!) and started carving away at the plaster. It still had a little moisture in it and it carved up beautifully. I then glued the pieces and the base together using white glue. Total time: 2-1/2 hours.
The most problematic part of this piece was the skull. Nobody seems to make old skorne warbeast skulls anymore, especially in the size I was looking for (sigh!). I asked everyone in the group who suggested a few site that suggested a few more. I then went back to the Terrainthrall’s site and a piece that Matrix did that had sandbags. I printed it out and took it to my local gaming store to ask what that stuff was. The guy said he thought it was Aves Apoxy Sculpt so I ran home and looked it up on the internet. Ooooo, coooool! I hurried and bought some and let’s just say that waiting for it to come in the mail was the longest five days of my life! I immediately sat down, red the directions and scooped out a couple of small handfuls and stared mixing it together. Then I started forming into the shape of a skull with just my fingers and voila!—a skull. Total time: 2 hour.
Hit the ground—$3.00
I mixed the cornstarch with water to make a runny paste. I then shredded some old newspaper and coated each strip with cornstarch and applied it to the base. While it was still wet I made a 1:1 solution of white glue to water and brushed it onto all of the dry areas that would receive dirt. I then covered the entire piece with dirt. Total time: 2-1/2 hours.
At this point I went back to mom and Roger’s place for an undercoat. I knew I wanted it to look kind of like Dori’s Sacred Ground piece, but I really wasn’t what colors I would need to get there. I looked through Roger’s spray cans and found a can of cream, beige and wood. Roger made me wear a respirator as set me up in his spray booth and I gave the overall piece a good coating of cream. I like the way it was looking so while it was still wet I hit it with some random shots of wood and then some beige. I let that rest for a minute and then hit it with some touches of cream again. Mom made dinner for everyone which allowed the paint to dry before I took it home.
Highlights and finishes—$2.00
To finish it off I mixed some ivory with white and applied a very gentle drybrush to all of the edges of the rock and to the higher dirt areas. I like the way the spray made the bottom parts of the bones look dirty so I applied the ivory/white mix to the bones without painting all of the way down to the dirt.
I then added white to the mix and painted the highlights on the bones. I then used plain white to do the lightest highlights.
The entire piece cost $68.00 because I was just starting out and didn’t have any of the items. Most of the stuff I bought has a ton left over that can be used on other projects. If I amortized what I used it would probably be closer to $12-$15. The project also took 13-1/2 hours to complete (not including drying the plaster over night).
I am happy with the way it turned out. I kind of stumbled into the ground color, but it turned out better than I had hoped. I would like to say thanks to Roger for letting me use his shop and for putting up with a clueless chick. I would also like to thank Doug, Matt, Lors, Jim and Jules for the ideas and problem-solving help. You guys rock!
Here is a photo with a bottle of paint to show scale.