Sunday, 4 September 2011
The Dead Marshes: Part 3 – “Solid Water”
After painting the marshy terrain boards, I had to add the final component – water. I’ve used a variety of modelling water over the years. My preference is for water resin, which comes as a two-part mixture of resin and hardener and dries very hard as a permanent feature. You can find modelling water which is just poured into terrain and forms a slightly springy jelly on the surface and which can be peeled off, but for terrain boards the mixed water resin/ permanent variety is my strong preference.
I’ve purchased a product called “Solid Water” from Deluxe Materials in the UK for about eight years now. I can strongly recommend it (although I’m sure there are others which are very similar). It’s easy to mix and stains quite nicely with normal acrylic paints. You can pick “Solid Water” up from many craft suppliers in the smaller scaled packs (50, 90 and 180 ml), but as I wanted a fairly extensive amount of water on the terrain boards, I settled on a couple of the 350ml packs.
I find it a bit difficult to estimate exactly how much water resin you need in a model until you’re actually at the pouring stage. However, I think the trick is to over estimate slightly, especially if you are pouring into deep recesses in the terrain.
Mixing the resin is straightforward (2 parts resin to 1 part hardener). You’ll get quite a few air bubbles in the mixing process, but these never seem to have been a problem for me when the resin dries – they just seem to float to the surface and disappear (The note which comes with the Solid Water” packs says you should try and avoid getting a lot of air bubbles in the mixed water resin, but as I mentioned this hasn’t been a problem for me by the time the mixed water resin is dry).
I add in any stain at this point so that the mix is consistent – for this project, I stained with Vallejo Russian Green and Vallejo Black, although I’ve used a variety of acrylic paints in the past. You can also get some interesting “swirly” stain effects if you pour the mixed water resin onto a model and trace your stain (using a paintbrush) through the resin …
But that wasn’t the effect I was aiming for here. I was going for something less pleasant, less artistic, entirely more corrupted…. In fact, a ”dismal outlook, the waste of treeless, houseless, greenless landscape, destruction incarnate, the all-pervading smell of stagnant shellholes, with their frequently dreadful contents, and the ever-present expectation of a sudden “area shoot”, a storm of high explosive and shrapnel breaking out at a moment’s notice; and one marvels that any human being could live through such conditions and keep sane” (Major R L Bond, DSO, MC, 23rd Field Company, Royal Engineers).
I stained each of the cups of mixed resin with a faint green tinge. Enough to look suitably thick and viscous as it pooled in the deep hollows of the shell craters, but not too opaque to conceal all detail at the base of each of the craters.
Pouring the mixed resin can be done in a number of ways. I have found the easiest to be a syringe (for small, detailed applications) and a small plastic cup with a pouring lip (for larger applications).
It’s best to pour from, or inject into, the centre of the location where you want the resin. In addition to the obvious reason (that’s where the water pools) it also helps ensure that any drips of resin from the syringe or cup can be covered over with more mixed water resin later. I then steered the mixed water resin into the edges of the shell crater using an old paintbrush …
I try and keep the layers of resin thin – this helps drying. This is the reason why I carved out the shall craters fairly shallowly in the design stage of the terrain boards – I knew in advance that if the craters were authentically deep, this would result in needing a very high number of mixed water resin layers at the Solid Water” stage. I don’t think you really need the full authentic depth anyway as the resin is very good at creating an illusion that the craters (or any water feature) is deeper than it actually is.
It wasn’t always possible to keep the layers super-thin, however, partly because of the odd shapes in the terrain boards I ended up pouring and injecting the mixed resin into. But I aimed for a covering about a couple of millimetres in depth for each layer. This has worked fairly well in the past. You’ll see from the photos in this Blogpost that a number of small stones show through the water. This is because the first few pourings of the mixed water resin may not cover all the surface detail and surface undulations completely. By the end, though, they should all be submerged, but I’m anticipating that it will take quite a few return visits with fresh resin layers to finish the job. (I’ve probably got a couple more pourings before these terrain bases are fully finished, but to keep the Blogpost momentum, I thought you’d like seeing these pictures now).
After pouring the mixed water resin, I always double check that the terrain bases are completely level.
I try and leave them in a corner of the garage where no one’s going to touch them, and just keep a check on them from time to time just in case something like a stray fly or moth lands in them before they’re “set”. Oh yes, bitter experience there, folks!!
Any spare resin can be used to trace some puddles in appropriate places, such as down the sides of trenches.
Hardening takes about 24 hours, but I try not to wargame on water resin bases until at least 72 hours have passed. I also took extra time with the special features, such as the arm of the Fallen soldier entombed in the mud and slime….
Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby's scheme). I died in hell -
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards; so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.
(“Memorial Tablet” : Siegfried Sassoon)
That’s it for this post. I’ve a very small amount of micro-details from the bases which I’ll post next time. After that, I’m not quite sure what I’ll cover next. Possibly some suggestions for rule adaptations for Third Ypres (along the lines of the “Rolling into Action” article I put in the TFL Christmas Magazine last year), or maybe some photos as I finish the German heavy weapons and artillery teams I started last month. Whatever it is, I hope you’ll join me then.