Sunday 24 July 2011

20mm Omaha beach 3

A full week on the beach project has seen it progress well. The polystyrene was carved and sanded to shape. I tried to add indentations and softened the cliff faces a bit so they weren't a regular shape from one side of the beach to the other. There are still loads of gaps and unevenness to the landscape but it will all be OK.
Once I was happy with this stage then I get on with starting to make it look good. I use a ready mixed grout and glue product that is designed to stick wall tiles to internal walls of houses. It is a pretty high spec so when it dries it is rock hard but it takes 12 hours to dry so you have ages to work with it.
beach covered with grout
fortification close ups
I pile the grout on the surface and spread it with a trowel until it covers the whole board. In the process it has filled all the gaps and smooths the whole landscape. I find, though, however hard I try I can't get rid of all the trowel marks so I sprinkle sand all over it and then put a painting roller all over it. That smooths things down and adds a small texture to the surface which is great when you come to paint it. If you don't put sand on first, the rolling motion seems to draw water to the surface and then you get peaking in the grout just like a Christmas cake and it looks useless. The sand is very important.
You can see from the photos that it is really taking shape now. You get to this stage but then have to leave it for 24 hours to dry off when all you really want to do is get on with it!
Up to now I follow this procedure with all my terrain boards but from now on things change depending on the finish the customer wants. In this case we are using the Rapid Fire D Day supplement as inspiration and the beach in the photographs showed painted sand for grass so this was next.
sand added everywhere except the roads
sand around fortifications and sandbags added

All I did was cover the boards in slightly watered down PVA glue and then covered it in sand making sure to miss the roads and anywhere else you don't want grass. This dries pretty quickly so you can then paint it but I like to coat it in watered down PVA glue to give it extra strength and durability. This adds at  least 24 hours to the job, allowing it to dry, but I feel it is worth it.
Once the grass is down the temptation is to start painting but I had to resist until all the detail I wanted was added. You can see from the picture above that I added sandbags to all the trenches. I make them from Das Pronto- I make a sausage of the clay about 1/4" across and then gently roll it with a rolling pin to flatten it a little. I then cut it to sandbag length and stick them where I want them. I like adding sandbags as when they are painted they add an eye catching contrast to the rest of the landscape.
I then had to add the sea wall and shingle bank which was polystyrene cut to shape with loads of cat litter sprinkled on and glued in place.
All is now ready to paint. I always feel that I go a step backwards here as my base coats tend to be quite bright and really clash with each other. The grass is very green, the earth is a dull brown and the concrete and fortifications are quite a dark grey. The whole board gets covered and again you need faith that it will all be OK in the end!
the full colour palette in all its glory!
it looka no better when you have another look!
Every inch is covered and in paint and I push my doubts that it will all be Ok to the back of my mind.
Finally, for this post, probably the messiest bit of the whole process occurs once the base coats are dry. I cover the whole thing in diluted raw umber paint- every crevice, grain of sand, inside and outside bunkers; everywhere.
brown everywhere
where did the bright colours go?
This coat of paint starts to bring the whole project together. There is now a common colour running throughout the landscape that blends all those individual colours together and suddenly they look happy together. You can see from the photos that the brown is heavier in some places than others but that is fine and nothing to worry about. The whole thing does look dull and all life has left it but somehow everything now belongs together. The final stages will be to bring it to life again and and bring out the details to give the landscape some variation.
I am away for a couple of weeks now so will post the final edition of this project when I get back. I will also ask my customer to send me some photos of the board in action when he gets his figures on it playing because terrain always looks at it's best 'in action'

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