Field Testing – Snowscape Part 1

The Field Testing series will focus on testing out and showcasing new hobby products, with a big focus on painting and hobby in general. The aim is to show just how these products work in a real world environment, using very simple techniques and an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ style of testing. They’re experiments first and foremost, aimed at showing the capabilities of a product, not step by step guides on the best way to use them. Questions are always welcome, so if you’re curious about anything don’t hesitate to ask!

Welcome to our first Field Test!. Today we’ll be laying the foundations to do some testing of the new Dioramas range from AK Interactive. This will be the first in a series of articles focused around these products, but it’s not exclusive to them and we’ll be using a few different products here as well. I won’t be using any of the Dioramas products in this article, but I thought it was important to show my full method before just jumping straight into it. Don’t worry, we’ll get right into them next week!

Some of the products we’ll be testing over the next few weeks.

We’ll be focusing on creating a snow board for the first two articles and move on to some of the more urban stuff later. Rather than creating a landscape from scratch with foam we decided to use some tiles from the Secret Weapon Tablescapes range. Partially to save time, but also to see how well these products stack up on these popular boards. I’ve chosen one of the Rolling Fields tiles to use as my snow landscape.

I did some tests on a sheet of ABS before starting. This is straight out of the tub.

We’ll begin by laying down some primer on the board. I’ll be using an airbrush with a grey AK Interactive Microfiller primer, this stuff is really awesome and probably the best airbrush primer I’ve come across. You get a nice fine result out of it and it’s not as susceptible to temperature and humidity as other primers can be. It’s not water based so be sure to use appropriate cleaners like the Xtreme Cleaner from AK or even just some white spirit. Regardless, any primer would do here, the key thing is the light grey colour, which will allow us to create some depth to the final snow look.

Field Tip: Always use a high quality mask when doing any airbrushing and allow adequate ventilation at all times. This applies to water based paints too!

As my initial test on a piece of ABS card showed, the snow does show through the bottom layer a fair bit, so I wanted to be sure we had some colour down before putting the textures on. With that in mind I grabbed a selection of three Badger Minitaire airbrush paints. I find badger paints to be quite nice for simple base colours when airbrushing – but any acrylic of similar colour will do here.

Badger is my first choice for simple Airbrush ready base colours

Where to paint these colours was easy, the sculpted board already had some detail on it so I just chose the areas where it felt right. I started with the darker “Bark” first before highlighting the areas with “Rotten Wood”. I chose to focus on the areas where the snow would be thinner, around the rocks and where the terrain was more recessed. The hope here is that this will create more contrast when the final snow textures go down.

Feeling the grey was probably a bit too dark, I gave a few more highlights around the raised areas using “Snow White”. I worked from top to bottom here, spraying a heavy coat on the high peaks and then easing off the airbrush trigger as I sloped towards the brown areas to create some gradation. I’m happy with how it turned out, despite going heavier than I’d like on some areas.

Adding white to the raised areas really gives it more of a snowy look

To finalise the preparation stage – I grabbed some similar colours from Vallejo and painted up the large sculpted rocks scattered around the board. As you can see it’s all fairly rough, the primary purpose here being to ensure the board has some points of interest and isn’t just one flat colour. It’s actually my favourite thing about painting terrain and landscapes, you really can just sort of go with what ‘feels’ right most of the time and there are less restrictions than painting a building or miniature.

Picking out the details with some Vallejo Acrylics.

Now that the base colours are all set we’re ready to crack into those big pots and lay down some snow texture. You’ll note I’ve opted not to do any washes here as I wanted to see how the stuff would work with even the simplest of paint jobs. We’ll have to see how it turns out, I might regret that decision later…

Check back same time next week to see the last few stages, it’s definitely worth the wait and we’ve got plenty more to go with some of the other products. Check out the teaser image below to get a taste.

Exciting things to come!

Thanks for reading, if you’d like to know more specific details about anything in this article just ask in the comments below.

– Mike


2 thoughts on “Field Testing – Snowscape Part 1

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