Before getting too much farther ahead, I wanted to get some soil down on a tray to get a feel of how easy the process is. Getting paint, glue and soil between all the mini’s might be tough (it’s a little tricky in areas) and could affect my density of minis going forward.
First a base coat. The sculptamold soaks thin paints like a stain on wood, but that leaves the high points a little lighter colored. I’ve tried to find a color that would match the soil, but even a mottled look should be ok.
Having done a lot of reading on high end terrain/diorama artists I’ve consistently seem them use fine soil (actual soil) for their basing. The scale is much more appropriate and depending on the look desired, it comes pre-colored. (You can add pigments to it if you want to alter the color.)
Since this will be my technique for all my future terrain work, this is a great time to start practicing. I dried a cupful of soil from my garden and then sifted it, and sifted it again, and then made my own ultrafine mesh to get the particle size small enough. I punched hundreds of very small holes (~.5mm or so) in a sheet of copper screen for crafts. Sifting was too slow so I punched another hundred or so.
Between making the screen and all the sifting, it took a little while.
It took two applications to get good coverage. Using thin glue, it didn’t cover the high points very well (similar to the paint). Extra challenge – get it all covered before areas start drying. I want to get this down to a single application if I can.
First layer was soaked with dilute pva and before it was dry I sprinkled on the second layer. Second layer was much faster as a result and I might adopt the technique for the first layer using a syringe.
This photo shows the color pretty well but it’s not exactly right. I’ll need to white balance my camera for the next shots.
I really, really like the effect. So much more natural and realistic. If you soak the second layer to lock it down the color darkens a lot. Looks like damp soil. I though it was too dark for my tastes so I left the soil as is on the trays. It seems to be bonded pretty well once the loose bits are brushed off.
Styrene strips have arrived so tray assembly ‘should’ go quicker now.