Monday, July 03, 2006

Upgrading the basics

Kinda on a whim, I decided to paint my felt terrain sheet yesterday. As you do.

Well actually I'd been intending to do something with it for a while. I'd picked up a 7 foot by 5 foot sheet of felt from a craft store some time ago as a base for desert games, in a light buff. I'll add at this point it's much cheaper to buy this stuff from source, than it is to let a wargames show trader cut it into 6x4ish lumps for you and sell it on. It's served well for a year or so, but increasingly I thought it looked a bit plain. It looked like I'd not made any effort; moreover, it was rather stark compared to the painted figures running around on top of it.

The method for this was partly experimental, though I'm sure many a wargamer has done it before, I didn't bother looking for any tips in books or on the web, simply got down to it. I took an old bit of sponge and a couple of tester pots of emulsion paint. Tester pots incidentally are a great way to get terrain paint cheap; £1 or so in places like B&Q for 75ml pots of generic household colours, and around three quid and you can have any shade you want blended for you in a 250ml pot.

Armed with my sponge, a tin of summery grass green, a pot of beige to lighten it with, and a gutted pizza box to mix it on and contain spills; I set to work.

It didn’t bode well at first, dabbing produced an effect that whilst the paint was wet looked too akin to polka dots; I tried rolling and the results were little better. The pressure of my fingers was forcing concentrations of paint down in regular 'fingerprint' sized blobs. It also took ages to cover any sort of area, five minutes per square foot, and I had 35 sq feet to do!

Thinking that at least the other side would remain fine, I persevered. and sped up, quickly discovering that scrubbing the sponge over the surface with more or less out of paint produced faster and better looking results. It also made it easier to build up graduated tones. The rest of the sheet took ten minutes to get a basic 'dry brush' styled coat on it.

Now I attended to the original blotchy areas, figuring I could turn the worst offenders into areas of greener growth by scrubbing over the top. this seemed to help too, and to balance the sheet out some similar areas were added to the other parts of the sheet. Finally I started to blend beige into the green and over dabbed and scrubbed areas to build up some highlights, and reduce the starkness of the boldest green blobs. A final pure beige scrub gave a few areas a lighter than base colour.

Once it'd dried I was pretty happy with the finish.

You can see the difference to the folded over untreated side. Next I may move on to improving my green sheet below it, I gave that a brush of the green a while back, but the brush strokes were harder to mask than the scrubbing of the sponge seems to have been, and one coat of green seems to have left it looking still too dark. Theres a couple of my Japanese bits on the table for interest, though to be honest the picture quality is not up to showing them off at this range.

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