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 back to field test everyone. This week we’ll be looking at some of the snow products from AK Interactive’s Dioramas range and finishing off the snow tile we began last week. We’ll be looking at two products in particular, Snow Terrain and Snow Sprinkles. Let’s get stuck in and experiment!
I began with the Snow Terrain which is basically just a white acrylic paste. Unlike some of the other products in the range, this one doesn’t really have a lot of ‘grit’ or texture to it, it’s more like wet caulk with a very clean white colour. Having tested the product separately already on some ABS plastic I knew it wasn’t particularly thick so I chose not to thin it down and just start slapping it on with a large paint brush.
The stuff went on smoothly, behaving just like an acrylic paint would and moved over the surface with very little effort. I can also confirm that the product is quite thin even straight out of the jar, as my initial testing suggested. I’ll note however, that I was really spreading it out until my brush was basically dry. Using more of the product and a different application method will net quite a different result as we’ll see later.
To remove brush strokes and achieve a softer look, I used a damp paper towel and dabbed away at the texture in random patterns. This worked well and, combined with my underlying paint work, gave an almost ‘ice’ like look which you can see in the image below.
I honestly could have stopped here and had a very presentable board. If you were aiming for a subtler winter field, applying a thin layer as I’ve done here would be a great way to use this product. All that said, we don’t call this series field test for nothing, so I wanted to push the product a bit further and see how it reacted when I added more of the product on top. I’ll note here that as the initial layer was quite thin, the texture had become touch dry within minutes.
This time I essentially loaded up a big chunk of it on my brush and really, just placed it on the board. I did this in a few select regions of my landscape – aiming for the areas where I’d used a lot of white in the airbrush stage. I then followed up with some paper towel again to help blend the texture and soften the sharp edges.
This looked a lot better, but it still wasn’t quite to my liking. It was a little too much like ‘paint’ to me at this point, So, what now? That’s right, more texture!
I just went all out here, repeating the above process everywhere except the darker coloured spots. I also choose to focus my attention on one corner of the board and really pile this stuff on, just to see how much I could get away with.
As you can see, the top right corner has been heavily built up, again I just used a brush here and kept adding until it was thick. A set of sculpting tools would be useful here, but I wanted to see just how much I could get away with using just the brush. You can tell it would react well to sculpting when it’s built up this way, the product remained very malleable and you could easily make clean slopes and flat areas. Even just using a brush I could blend it down towards the thinner areas convincingly. Being quite happy with where I was, and not wanting to go too crazy just yet – I decided to put the brush down and let this dry before doing any more.
As you can see, the product looks very nice when it dries up, giving a very convincing snow texture and colour. I decided not to add more of the product at this stage, happy with the result and keen to see how the different layers would look once I added the next texture over the top.
The Snow Sprinkles was next up and, based on my initial test, was something I was really looking forward to seeing in practice. Application was very straight forward, I dipped the brush in the pot and painted it on without dilution, simple as that. Just like the terrain paste, it went on smoothly. Once the board was fully covered, I used a small pointed brush and added a little drop on the top of some of the stones.
The only major difference I found was that while I could spread out the terrain paste quite thinly, sprinkles didn’t go as far, requiring more product overall in comparison. I actually used most of the pot just doing this little 1×1’ board. I’d recommend thinning it with water to make it go further, or simply being more selective rather than going for full coverage. I can see this working quite well for putting snow on the tops of houses for example, I’m also fairly certain that’s what AK intended for the product as well.
Regardless, once dried the result was very impressive. I’ll be honest and say I really like this stuff and will definitely use it again. Check out the result below.
Two things really stood out to me upon seeing the results. The first was the way it interacted with the initial Snow Terrain and softened some of it’s harder ‘ice’ texture. The sprinkles seem to dry with a very natural looking softness, pooling with itself and adding that touch of realism which can be difficult to achieve with snow. The colour is part of this as well, being slightly more grey allowed it to contrast well over white and give it a little bit of a ‘dirty’ look. AK clearly intended for these products to be used together, I was quite impressed with how well they complement each other.
The second component is unfortunately a little hard to see in photographs. If you look closely you might notice that there are tiny little specs of bright white all over the place. Those specs are actually tiny reflective sprinkles and the obvious reason behind the products name. These simulate the way snow tends to glisten in sunlight and is an effect commonly achieved with crushed glass or glitter. Incorporating it into this texture past is a stroke of genius for AK and really makes it stand out amongst many similar products by other manufacturers. I’ve used several different methods to achieve this same effect with varying results, but this one takes the cake for me – saving a lot of time and providing a consistent result easily. I can see myself using this on everything from buildings to miniature bases whenever I want to achieve a simple and realistic snow look.
To finish the board, I added some Army Painter winter tufts around the rocky areas and gave them a very light brush with the Snow Sprinkles. I followed this up with a small drop of Realistic Water from Secret Weapon to blend the two together and ensure the tufts looked wet once it was all dried.
I left that for 24 hours, painted the edges black and called this little Snowscape complete.
Thanks for sticking with me for this one. Hopefully you’ve learned something from my little experiment and you’re keen incorporate these products into your next project. As always, I’m here to answer any questions you might have in the comments section below.
We’re not done here either, next week we’ll be looking at using this range to create some more urban environments, as well as a little bit of oil painting and some enamel washing. If you’re after a sneak preview of those pieces, plus the final Snowscape from this article, all of them will be on display at Cancon in Canberra this weekend (27th-29th) at The Combat Company’s trade stand. I’ll also be around to have a chat as well if you’d like to know more.
That’s it for this week, as always thanks for reading and I’ll see you all next time.