Thursday, April 22, 2010

Realm of Battle: We’ll Call It a Draw

It is finished –or rather, it is as finished as I intend for the foreseeable future. In all, I’d call it a modest success, but one that was very nearly a tremendously expensive failure. Given the ups and downs, really, I’d be happy to call it a draw with a slight tilt to my favor.

So. In two great bursts of energy on Monday I managed to take my third, and I suppose fourth, swipe at the Realm of Battle Board (one in the morning and one when I had some time later in the day …and yes -that means that as I began posting this series, I genuinely didn’t know whether I’d be able to salvage the project). Having scrubbed the pieces back to their chalk-toned base on Sunday, I basically resumed from the same point that I’d found myself on Saturday afternoon.

This time, however, I mixed in a bit of Water Color Medium into the Dr. Martin’s Water Concentrated Water Color. In theory, this is designed to help the water color flow a bit better, but it also supposedly adds a bit of strength and resilience to the colors as well. This last item was what I was looking for, particularly after seeing how quickly the water colors came up when I started scrubbing out the static grass and glue. I wasn’t too worried about “flow” as I basically slathered the stuff all over the boards in a few quick layers. Strength is what I’m hoping for.

The Water Colors spent the better part of the day drying while I went about my usual business. Later, I attacked the whole mess once more with the Benjamin Moore paint samples and the basic GW brown that comes with the basing kit for the boards. I’d run out of the Ochre that they give you in that kit, so the final result doesn’t have the same yellow-ish tint to it, which is a shame really, as I really liked the way it looked against the purplish undertones. But again, I’m quite happy with the results. Given that I’d very nearly sent the whole thing down the drain, I wasn’t really prepared to quibble at this point.

One note on static grass: I was looking at this month’s White Dwarf and noticed that, in the battle reports, they’ve basically covered their entire boards with Static Grass –which makes me wonder why they bother with the Brown and Ochre colors that you can’t actually see anywhere on those boards. Moreover, what they give you would never, in a month of Sundays, cover the boards to the extent that they have in the magazine. Finally, I’ve used some kind of static grass or another on nearly all my models, but I’ve never seen it do anything like what I saw on Sunday. Is this normal? The whole bag was basically a series of these little clusters, and some of them won’t really break apart even when I try to sift them with my hands, etc. I’m a bit stumped; however, I can say with almost irrefutable certainty that I’ll never (ever) try to use static grass so ambitiously, nor over such a wide area again. Lesson learned.

So, all in all, I’m quite satisfied with (and a little bit exhausted by) this project… but did I stop there?

Not a chance. It’s an affliction.

This may cause some dissension, but I’ve never been too happy with the pit of skulls that pop up at various points on the board. While I generally enjoy painting all the little skulls on GW figs (I’ve no idea why) these ones just didn’t ring my bell. It’s just too much of a good thing, I suppose. Regardless, I’ve never cared for them and had an idea about how I might deal with this nagging little detail.

And so, I took yet another gamble on this bad boy with a technique that I’ve never used before -resin. I used this simple one-to-one stuff, and added a drop (maybe two, but not a breath more) of blue and flesh ink. I was careful to make sure that I’d erred on the side of equality or more with the hardener, as I’ve heard stories of resin casts that never quite set properly. I’d have probably flung myself off a cliff if I ruined two of the six tiles after all of the above.

Well, I then poured the mixture into the pits, tapped around a bit to sort any air bubbles, and waited for the whole thing to dry. In order to set properly, the resin takes at least two days, they recommend three, so I wasn't entirely sure that I'd pulled this off properly until this morning. phew. Now might not be the best time to say this, but I’m considering adding one more clear layer in order to “top off” the pits, and make the surface level (or close to it) with the rest of the table. This might add a lovely bit of depth and invoke more of the water effect rather than “tar” effect that we see here. Still, I'm really quite happy with what's actually on the table, and so...

I’m also thinking that, at this point, I shouldn’t press my luck. Perhaps I’ll see what the wife has to say on the matter -and listen to her this time.

Here's a photo or two of a mock battle scene, with promise of more to come:

Thanks for stopping by and for all the kind words of support as this developed. It's been emotional. See you tomorrow for the next installment of Hailed vs. Hated.


Da Masta Cheef said...

I was worried when Thursday came about and no post on the RoB, was fearing for the worst! Looks good in the end. I like the 'tar pits' too given the lack of grass, that may be better than a watery look.

In the future, just try rebasing the trees rather than something as large as the table!

Grizzled Gamer said...

You pulled it off with flying colors!

I saw that picture in the magazine, and I think that they used the static grass in the tubs - not that horrific stuff you have in your hand.

The Dark Templar said...

I'm loving the blue of the 'tar pits' and how they contrast with the brown earthy boards – look really good!

Rabidchild said...

Any battle board you can walk away from is a good one, just like any landing. I think this is more than a draw, it looks like a win to me. The table is less yellow and less purple than the first try, but that desaturation is no bad thing. The addition of the tar pits (which I like better than water) adds a bit of contrast as well. This is fantastic, well done and kudos for documenting the whole process no matter how painful.

Big Jim said...

I am loving the water solution to the skull pit issue. It is what I plan to do with my board. Which I just primed.

I think the whole project turned out great. Thanks for sharing you process with us.


HOTpanda said...

Turned great in the end and I think you are the one who came out on top. As for the static grass well to me they look like Ork Spores and I fear the worst for you for at this point...

Brian said...

@ Cheef. HA. I didn't even mention the trees. It totally slipped my mind. Your advice is duly noted.

@ I don't know what happened with that stuff. Generally, I sincerely believe in the adage that "it's a poor workman who blames his tools," but that stuff is extraordinarily bad. They must have used about 50 of those tubs, because the big bag that they give you with the basing kit would likely only covered about less than half of the tile to the degree they show...

Well, lesson learned.

@ Dark Templar. Thank you... and good luck tomorrow.

@ Rabidchild. Thank you very much. I was genuinely worried that you guys would all think I'd really blown it by covering the tar. I'm pleased to be wrong about that.

@ Jim. All I can say is, be brave. I hope to see how your board turns out, and I hope that your process runs much more smoothly than my own.

@ Panda. Haha. Brilliant. You should be alarmed if I announce that my next army will be green and toothy.

Brian said...

Thanks to all of you. I really appreciate the support and the encouragement through this one. It's nice to get out of my comfort zone, but also a bit distressing at times.

I genuinely appreciate all your kind words.

RPiazza said...

I think it turned out great. I agree with the skullpits I find them to be way over the top. I'm planning on a lava approach for them on my board. Good call on the water color medium I will add that to my own mix I love Winsor and Newton paint products very good results and quality. All in all I think you came out just fine and created some new techniques for future projects.

Papa JJ said...

Really fantastic work on the gameboard, I've enjoyed following your progress on this. I just started work on my Realm of Battle on Thursday and I also plan on filling in the skull pits... just too much for me, as well. I decided I wanted to flock my board but now I kind of wish I hadn't as the first panel looks too uniform. In contrast, I really like the naturalistic variations you achieved with yours. Congratulations on an awesome board and thank you for providing me with some much needed inspiration to finally get going on my own project.

Max said...

Just read all three posts, and that was a bit of a tense moment on the second part there. Glad to see that it all turned out ok... and your wife sounds like a very smart lady.

Brian said...

@ Piazza. Lava!!! Great idea. I can't wait to see how that turns out. I've only just recently taken my first stab and lava (you can find it on my Daemon Prince conversions), and I have to say that I really like the effect. Again, looking forward to seeing yours.

@ Papa JJ. Thanks. I've sworn off static grass on all but the smallest of bases from these days forward.

@ Max. She is, and I'm not just saying that in case she reads these. (ahem. love you, dear).

Wyatt said...

I like that easy cast stuff. Its what I used for my ice weapons that you liked.

Brian said...

That's good to know, Wyatt. I intended to ask you sometime in the relatively near future as I intend to try my hand at some casting inspired by your Wolves.

...(knock on wood), but so far it's been treating me really well.