Salutations Grimdarkers! I’ve been putting together some basing schemes for a Traitor Guard project lately that I thought had some interesting elements to share with you all. It being well into October, the classic Halloween elements in this project seem appropriate. I started this project with the idea of a mass procession of lumbering steel and corruption. I wanted to call back to all that old GW artwork featuring almost religious parades of horrible human and mechanical abominations. I wanted to push these ideas to the proverbial eleven with a Chaos corrupted human (ish) military force. I was also taken with the grim look of an ancient battlefield graveyard.

Overgrown with grass and random grave markers from a long bygone era. I thought I could illustrate the unstoppable, and ignorant force of a driving traitor force by adding the visual proof of its effects on that landscape. Tank treads crushing over dirt and gravestones, grass, and bodies without thought or respect to their resting places. This was also a super great excuse to play with some static grasses, and some more natural basing elements.After creating an exploratory diorama I needed to transfer the ideas and tactics to the base-able elements of the force.  The elements from the dio were pretty straight forward, so the process ended up being pretty quick. Other than dirt and rock textures the only elements I needed to procure were the tombstones and some scrappy wire fencing. Creating a repeated recognizable tombstone was an issue I needed to address.

I made a few tombstones out of wood strips glued together and carved with an exacto knife. I wanted these markers to be weird, tall, and damaged from their long exposure to the elements around them. After a making a few of these I need an efficient way to make copies of them. I went with a Japanese Thermoplastic product called Oynmaru (Hinodeashi Oynmaru) These plastic chunks melt when you put them in hot water for a few minutes and harden when the reach room temperature. This stuff is great and can be reused over and over again. Oynmaru also known as Blue Stuff is great for a technique I’ve heard  referred to as Press Moulding. After heating cut down chunks of this plastic stuff in a coffee cup of boiling water for a few minutes, I pressed it over the wooden tombstones making sure to press it around all the edges of the shape. The wooden tombstones were brushed lightly with Vasoline and sat, writing side up,  on a flat surface. I then quickly pressed a good sized glob of the heated Oynmaru onto the piece, making sure it was completely covered. I take care to cover every exposed edge of the piece by squeezing and pinching around it against the flat surface. After the blue stuff returned to room temperature I lifted the whole situation from the counter and carefully removed the wooden stone from the mold. This stuff is super flexible and easy to peel away from the lubricated wood. I made multiple molds of my stones so that I could reproduce them quickly. Now it was time to create the stone pieces.

I’ve had some experience with many different sculpting mediums and resins with Oynmaru. Green Stuff and Milliput work really well for capturing fine details in a press mould, but of course they take a bit of time to cure fully. Cheap Plumber’s Putty, on the other hand, cures into a rock in about 15 minutes. The fast curing time makes it great for quick filling tasks on conversions, creating textures on bases, and making tiny tombstones .  This stuff, while stinky, is great and I recommend you get to know it. It also cures into a grey stone type finish and can be sanded or scraped with a blade into a concrete looking finish. Perfect for the ancient grave markers I needed. Most of the time I use this stuff I’ll slice off a disk about 4mm thick. The putty comes on an unmixed roll of both of the polymer elements. Then I’ll cut this portion into quarters. I then mix and use the putty a quarter at a time. I feel like this keeps me from wasting huge chunks of it.

After mixing a portion I’ll cram it into the mold with a spoon sculpting tool, squishing and working the mould to properly fill all the interior sections. I try to keep the sculpting tool lubricated with Vasoline to prevent it sticking to the putty. This can be removed with alcohol later. I try to sculpt the back of a stone into the soft exposed back and corners of the piece to cut down on the clean up process later. I also try to corner off the bottoms of each piece to resemble a break in the stone or a base for it to protrude from the dirt. This stuff hardens so fast, you’ll get about ten minutes to manipulate each batch if the proportions are correct. I’m usually able to make multiple separated pieces in each mold.

After those have properly cured, I flex the Oynmaru mold to separate and release the stone pieces. Ill then trim and scrape the piece with an old scalpel blade, reinforcing the corners. This gives the surface a more carved stone like texture. I decided on only one upright marker, and as it was taller, I drilled a pin to the base to reinforce its connection.

I started with some classic GW bases, a 40mm and 25mm. These bases have collected some layers of Milliput and Green Stuff from previous sculpting duties to vary their surface a bit in height. This would be a great starting point for our rolling hilltop setting. I then added a mixed quarter portion of Plumber’s Putty to the surface of the bases pressing it evenly into the base and smoothing the edges and surface with my fingers and some Vasoline. Then before the putty had fully cured I used some tank treads from tank model kits to roughly press some  tracks into the base. I try to vary these as much as possible.

The underneath layers of cured Green Stuff help that a lot here, I even threw a few chips of plastic card in there to look like some buried rubble detail beneath the tread marks. As the tread layer cures it is easy to cut and carve any excess putty from the base and get a connection point for the figures to stand sorted. I also attached all the stones to the bases now with thick and medium CA glues and a little baking soda. I situated the figures on the bases now to plan where I wanted to add rubble and dirt textures to tie everything together.

This project wouldn’t veer too far from my usual order of operations as fas as texturing bases goes. I keep a few containers of texture mixes I’ve created to make this process go quicker. I always start with the bigger textures that would represent larger stones and rubbley trash. This is a mix of sand, a few different sized ballasts, the contents of a water filter, chips of bark and cork, you get the idea. The second container is a mix of craft sand and Baking Soda (about 60/40). I sprinkle the larger mix pretty selectively with a drinking straw cut at an angle to make a spoon. I’ve found the best glue for me here is a thick CA applied with a toothpick first. Next up I’ll add a bit of medium CA beneath those sections of texture and apply the second mix over the entire base. I want all that smaller texture to fill all the gaps so I find it better to cover the whole thing. The baking soda sets the CA pretty instantly so I’ll dust the base off with a stiff brush to remove the loose material. I’ll repeat any of these steps as needed to get the appropriate amounts of texture. When I’m happy with all this I brush the whole thing with some alcohol to get rid of any left over Vasoline and loose texture.

Now I’m ready for some paints, here comes the supply list!

  • Earth Brown (Rust-Oleum)
  • Black (Rust-Oleum)
  • Camo Dark Tan (Testor’s Camo Colors can)
  • Camo Sand (Testor’s Camo Colors can)
  • Burnt Umber (F.W. Acrylic Ink)
  • Black (F.W. Acrylic Ink)
  • Paynes Grey (F.W. Acrylic Ink)
  • Zhandri Dust (Citadel)
  • Aged White (VGA)
  • Neutral Grey (VGA)
  • Strong Tone (Army Painter)
  • Seraphim Sophia (Citadel)
  • Agrax Earthshade Citadel)
  • Streaking Grime (AK Interactive)
  • Dark Brown (Tamiya panel line accent color)
  • Factory Dirt Ground (AmmoMIG powdered pigment)
  • Light Yellow Ochre (Vallejo powdered pigment)
  • Yellow Earth (Secret Weapon powdered pigment)
  • Old Yeller (Bragdon Weather System pigment)

I base coated everything with a matte burnt umber rattle can (Rusto Earth Brown) paying close attention the any shadow areas. Then I sprayed them from above with Camo Dark Tan(Testor’s). Then I dusted them from the top with Camo Sand (Testor’s). This stuff is great! Its super matte and dries pretty quickly. While I was at it I held the bases upside down and sprayed the stones off the cone of a matte black rattle can. This is way easier with an airbrush but I was being lazy. Just something to differentiate the stones from the dirt.

From here i shaded each section with its corresponding tone. I hit all the dirt areas with a quick wash of Army Painter strong tone mixed with X-80 thinner and the stones with a Paynes Grey ink thinned the same way. Then I dry brushed the dirt areas with Zhandri Dust (Citadel) mixed with Aged White (Vallejo Air) and stippled the stones with a mix of  Neutral Grey(Vallejo Air) and Black Grey (VMC). After all this is blocked in I go over all the deep tank tracks with burnt umber ink(F.W.) with my air brush then I reinforced those shadows a bit more with a raw umber(Liquitex).  Then I lightly dry brushed the dirt with Aged White and a small amount of Zhandri Dust. Then Sprayed them with a little Testor’s Dullcoat.

Now it was time to add my static grasses. I wanted the ground to look a bit overgrown so I used a mix of 4mm,7mm, and 12mm static grasses from Woodland Scenics. I mixed two colors, mostly Straw with a small amount of Light Green. I applied some PVA glue neat with a brush in the areas I wanted the grass to attach and used an electric static grass applicator to apply the grass. I used a cheaper applicator I found on Amazon that’s worked pretty well for me so far. It has an AC adapter that seems the make the thing pretty powerful. This is definitely a method to play around with before getting to the final project. As pictured, there were a lot of tests.

It took me a few passes to get the coverage I wanted and let them dry overnight to ensure the PVA glue was properly dried. The next morning I lightly teased and shaped the attached grass into a believable shape and removed any stray unattached pieces of grass. Then a put together two mixes of Tamiya X-20A thinner, matte medium, and a small amount of flow aid. The proportions are about 3 drops of medium to one drop of thinner. I then add a drop of ink to each mix one with burnt umber ink and the other with a mix of black and raw umber. I add the Burnt umber tinted mix to the base of the grasses and selectively to shade some of the dirt a bit more. While that mix was still wet I added a bit of the darker mix in a few areas to reinforce the shadows a bit more.  This heavy matte wash will help hide any PVA shine at the base of the grass as well as vary and dirty the grasses color a bit.

When that was dry I mixed a few powdered pigments together. I added a small amount of that mix to a paint pot of Denatured Alcohol and mixed it well. I applied this mix with a dropper to the base of the grasses and some of the areas I wanted a bit more effected by soil. While that was wet I added some of the dry pigment mixture with a small brush. The alcohol will act as a binder to the pigments making them look naturally attached to the base of the grasses and tombstones. While I was at it i applied this method to the feet of the models.

If this stuff is way too extreme when it dries, I’d blend it back with a brush and some alcohol. Then I wanted to get some more textures so I turned to some tooth brushes to splatter a few layers of some classic washes and thinned down ink. Starting with Seraphim Sephia (Citadel) I carefully applied a few speckles. It really helps me to try it out on a notecard before I start, or mask any areas I don’t want to splat. It’s a good rule for me to stop with each color as soon as I notice it. I have a tendency to get carried away.

Now that I have a bit of variance on the bases I break out some enamel weathering products. I can use the Tamiya Panel Liner neat from the jar here but I need to thin the Streaking Grime a bit. I want the two tones to be similar, so I go with about 2/1 on Streaking Grime to spirits. I start with the streaking grime mix focusing in the deepest recesses of the track marks and deeper areas of dirt. I try to blend this in with a little pure mineral spirits so the transitions are a little more subtle. With that wet layer down I can poke a few select areas of pure streaking grime in to darken the color. I let that sit for about ten minutes and come back in with the Tamiya panel tone. This stuff is slightly darker, more like a Nuln Oil, but an enamel. I go for the absolute deepest areas of the track marks here, only the most stark shadows. I shaded the stones a little with this too. After the enamels had dried, I came back in with my toothbrushes and splattered in some Dried Blood(VFX) one neat pass and one slightly thinned with a little alcohol. Next I mixed a small amount of Factory Dirt Ground powdered pigment with a drop of Dried Blood and a brush load of Blood for the Blood God on a pallet. I thinned this muddy mixture with some alcohol and carefully added it to the deeper recessed ares of track dents. I tried to vary this as much as possible. I wanted some of the under layers of the dirt to still look wet with blood. I’m calling it “Blud”. The alcohol helps this stuff run into the recesses a bit so I don’t have to be too stressed with this.

Finally I mixed some Yellow Earth (Secret Weapon) and Light Yellow Ochre (Vallejo) powdered pigment about 50/50. Then I thinned that down with some Tamiya X-20a thinner and applied it to the highest points with a flat brush. I try to be pretty careful here because I don’t want to cover any of my previous Blud work. Gentle taps seem to be the ticket here, and I do a bit of the same to the attached models.

Here are the models in their new environments. Other than some matte varnish for the models I feel like they fit in great. I hope this encouraged you to try out Oynmaru to make some of your own little details and maybe sculpt with some cheap construction materials. Hell, just try out some new weird stuff you haven’t tried yet. Learning is really the only thing that will make us any better so we have to get in a do it. Untill next time, check me out at witchhammerstudios.com and @witchhammerstudio on Instagram for all the little details. Stay awesome Grimdarkers!

 

 

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