A GUIDE FOR MAKING SMALL SCALE VIGNETTES
CONTENTS 1 - Introduction
49 - The Tree
3 - Forced Contrast
51 - Painting the Base
5 - Hairspray
53 - Gardening
9 - Salt
55 - Figures
11 - Pigments
69 - Final Touches
13 - Artist Oils
71 - The UN-Invited
17 - White Glue
73 - The Fallen King
19 - The Exercise
75 - Bad to the Bones
31 - Groundwork Part 1
77 - The Pigs of War
37 - Planning
79 - Strv. 104
39 - The Building
81 - Taking the Scenic Route
45 - Groundwork Part 2
83 - Knock Knock - Whoâ€™s There?
mere mortals could ever achieve something remotely similar to those models. Today by using fairly simple techniques we can all achieve the same quality and in some cases even go beyond what the old masters did. To create my models I use many different techniques to achieve the effects that I want. The picture above shows several of the techniques that I use and I will try to explain each and everyone as detailed as possible. The techniques used above are: 1. Hairspray 2. Salt 3. Artist Oils
Modelling has moved a long way since Francois Verlinden and the likes of him did their masterpieces. I can remember how I stared at those centrefolds in the Tamiya catalogue where Verlindens dioramas were displayed. I could not dream that anyone would be able to do better than him, those models were so realistic and it was unthinkable that we
4. Acrylic Paint 5. Pigments 6. White Glue
In this little guide I will also show you how to make a small vignette complete with a vehicle, a building, some groundwork and of course figures. If you are unfamiliar or feel uncomfortable with some of the techniques I use here I recommend that you have some practice with them first before applying them to a real model. The most important thing, even more important than practice is the desire for experimentation and to discover new and interesting ways to work and above all to become a better modeller by daring to try out every new technique that comes along. It does not take very long before you will have your own set of favourite techniques that you will use on all of your models. With this booklet I would like to thank all of the modellers out there who have inspired me and taught me everything I know today. Thanks!
When painting small scale vehicles the most important thing for a successful paint job is to make sure that they have enough depth and contrast. Without it the model will appear flat and two dimensional.
2. The topcoat is applied by spraying each armoured panel or other large detail by itself starting at the centre of it and moving carefully out towards itâ€™s edges. The easiest way is to hold the airbrush fairly close when starting at the centre and slowly moving it away from the model when approaching the edges of each individual section of the vehicle. By doing this you get less paint close to the edges letting the black base coat show through and that gives you instant shadows and a perfect contrast.
I use what I call the two meter rule which basically is that I put the model on a table under normal lighting conditions and back away about two meters. If I can still see a good depth in the model at that distance it has perfect contrast and need no further work. To achieve this depth I use a painting technique which I call â€œForced Contrastâ€? and it is very simple to apply to the model.
On this Le Clerc on the opposite page you can clearly see how the technique works and how the vehicle should look like once the paint has been applied to the model.
Forced Contrast contains the following steps:
The stronger you make the effect the harder it is to lose it when you continue with the weathering. If you make it too strong you might end up with a vehicle that looks like it belongs in a cartoon so practice to find the right level for this effect that suits you.
1. Airbrush a darker base coat. I normally use black because it gives the best shadows but you could use other darker tones too. If you for instance are doing a sand coloured vehicle you could use a very dark brown or if the vehicle is green you can go with a dark green.
One of the most popular techniques to do chipping is by using hairspray. It is fairly easy and if one follow a few simple rules there are some very cool effects to be had.
By dipping a stiff old brush in the warm water and starting to carefully rub the area that I want the chipping to appear I slowly dissolve the hairspray between the two layers of paint and after a few seconds the topcoat starts to break and small sharp edged pieces of it starts to come off looking just like the real thing.
For this Panzer IV I have used the hairspray technique and the steps are as follows: 1. Base coat Black (Vallejo Air)
Depending on the amount of water and the pressure I apply with the paintbrush I can do very small chips or large chips. By using for instance a sharp needle I can do long scratches and a toothbrush can be used if a lot of the topcoat needs to come off.
2. Two thin coats of hairspray (any brand) 3. Topcoat Yellow (mix of Vallejo Air) 4. Once the topcoat of yellow is done I fill a cup with some warm water and find some old stiff brushes, toothpicks and other items to damage the topcoat.
This technique is very exact, you get the chips exactly where you want them and with a bit of practice it becomes very controllable and easy to work with.
First I select a section of the vehicle that I will start working on. Itâ€™s a bad move to try to do the whole vehicle in one go since water will reach places that I have not yet started to work on and that will make the hairspray dissolve and once it has done so, thereâ€™s no way of getting the topcoat off in those places.
If you are very careful you can use several layers of hairspray to achieve very interesting effects. The possibilities technique.
The hairspray itself is something I bought at the local supermarket. The amount of different brands are staggering so I bought this can since it was one of the cheapest ones and it seems to be doing the job without any problems.
Here are some of the tools that I use for the hairspray technique. Perhaps the most important of them all is the cup of warm water. I always have one at the workbench so I can dip the brushes or whatever tool I chose to use when I do the chipping. By using warm water the hairspray dissolves a little easier.
When it comes to how long you can wait after you’ve applied the hairspray and the top layer of paint I can only say that I have not found this to be very time sensitive but the sooner the better would be a good rule to follow.
If the hairspray should dissolve by accident in places that you not yet have started to work on it can be extremely hard to remove the top coat of paint. A tip here is to use some decal softener but it should only be tried in extreme cases, Then there’s the tools and shown here is just a selection of what can be used for making the damages and chips in the paint. It’s basically up to you and your imagination to chose what tools you think work best and feels most comfortable to work with. I have tried steel wool, needles, all sorts of paintbrushes, scalpels, sandpaper and a whole bunch of other things.
The salt technique is probably the most unpredictable effect of them all. It’s very random and it is very difficult to apply it in exact positions. Using salt is however good if you look for an effect to be placed over an entire vehicle in a random fashion like on this ISU 152 which was given the salt treatment.
3. Sprinkle regular fine table salt over the model in the areas that you want the effect to be seen. I chose to do it over the entire model since it’s very difficult to control where each individual grain of salt lands. 4. After the water has dried the grains of salt sticks to the surface and will act as a mask for the next coat of paint which in this case is a lighter version of the first coat of green. Depending on how much difference in brightness you have between the two coats of paint you will get a more or less prominent effect of the chips.
Here are the steps for the salt technique: 1. Paint the model in a slightly darker version of the base colour. 2. Spray a very thin mist of regular tap water over the model. Be careful not to flood the model completely with the water. If that happens you can soak up the excess with some soft tissue paper. The surface should just have a very thin film of water, too much and the salt begins to melt. The point of using the water is to create a surface where the grains of salt can get stuck. If you don’t have enough water, the grains will be blown off when you do the second coat of paint so it’s a fine balance that requires some testing before you actually try it out on your model.
5. Once the last layer of paint has dried it is time to carefully rinse the model using some tap water and a very soft brush. By carefully removing the grains of salt the underlying darker paint will show through and create the illusion of random chips all over the vehicle. This technique is a very quick way of getting your vehicle to look used and abused.
you make a mistake and the pigments wont fall there you want them, just blow a little and they will be removed letting you have another try. To fixate the pigments you can use a large soft brush and carefully press the pigments into the surface or you can fixate them with various fluids like thinners or window cleaner. If your aim is to have some structure on the dirt, then the wet fixing is to be preferred. By using a small paintbrush carefully add the thinner next to the pigments and let the fluid soak the surface around it. The pigments are then joined with the surface but keeps some of it’s structure. This is ideal for mud spatter.
Pigments are very useful for us modellers and there’s a lot of different ways they can be applied to the model. The most common way to apply them is to rub them in to the surface of the model with a brush. There are however many other ways to apply them and I will show a few of them here.
There are many manufacturers of Pigments and many of them can be found within the realms of modelling but you can also find pigments and chalks like the ones I use in regular artist supply shops.
By tapping a brush loaded with pigments I can create a snowfall of pigments over the vehicle. This is great if you want some random dust and grime over an entire vehicle. The downside is that it’s not very exact. If
The cost for “artist” pigments and chalks are usually lower than the brands aimed at modellers but if you are like me and want to
experiment a little bit with different chalks and textures of different pigments I recommend that you check out your local art supply shop and see what they have to offer. I can say that I visit the arts shop more frequently than the hobby shop...
We can also fade colours with them thanks to their amazing blending abilities. What I will show here are a few other effects that are very easy to do with these artist oils. To create rain marks and rust streaks just place some small blobs of an appropriate oil colour straight from the tube with a small brush at the location where you want the effect to be shown. Rust streaks placed below grab handles or where the chipping is severe can be a very effective but as with all effects they should be applied with moderation and a fair amount of logic to look convincing.
Artist Oils are perhaps the most versatile thing in the modellers toolbox. Their best characteristics being that they are slow drying and very easy to blend.
This effect can be used on all surfaces to create more life and irregularity. A single coloured vehicle will look very boring if thereâ€™s nothing happening in the paint.
Depending on the amount of thinner we mix with the oil paint we can have everything from subtle filters that alter the appearance of a colour to strong washes to enhance lines between panels, bolt heads and other details that needs more contrast.
To create an irregular painted surface the basics are the same as when you do the rain marks and rust streaks. There are however two differences and the first one is that we use several colours instead of using only
one for rain or rust effects and when we fade the colours we move the paintbrush in a more uncontrolled manner instead of in a downward direction like when we fade in the oil colours. Once we have placed out all the blobs of oil paint itâ€™s time to fade them in and to do that we use a soft wide flat brush dampened with thinner. As I said earlier, the rain and rust effects are often vertical effects so therefore we slowly drag the brush in a downward motion to fade the oil into subtle streaks and marks. For the irregular effects a soft stabbing motion works quite well but other techniques work just as well. Experiment and see what works best for you. Remember that the brush should only be damp, not fully loaded. If it is it will just remove all the oil paint in one wipe. I keep a cloth next on the workbench so I can wipe off the excess thinner from the brush.
Perhaps the most interesting effect is to make mud spatter with the help of artist oils. I have a large flat brush which I have cut down the bristles to about a third of their length to get some more stiffness in it. Another tool that works well is a tooth brush which also has a good stiffness in itâ€™s bristles. To apply the effect is simple, load the brush or what ever tool you chose with plenty of paint. Then do a â€œtest shotâ€? on a piece of paper to check that the consistency of the paint is correct by dragging your finger over the bristles while aiming for the paper. If it looks OK you are good to go.
The number of methods for doing chipping effects are quite a few but I think one of my favourite low tech ways is with artist oils. It gives the same control as with hairspray but does not look as realistic since the edges of the chips are rounder compared to the hairspray version which have sharper edges but with some oil paint straight from the tube and on a small brush we can still make some pretty convincing chips. Be careful not to use the same colour all over the vehicle. Alternate between some darker and lighter shades to keep it more life like.
As I mentioned earlier, the thickness of the paint controls the appearance of the effect quite a bit. Having a thin mix will let you create small drops that will look like the spatter from when driving into a hole filled with some dirty water. A really thick mix is more like real mud and with this we can build up textured layers of muck and filth on the vehicle. A good tip is to make some protective masks to cover those areas of the vehicle that you
up so it’s better to be safe than sorry and ending up with a completely ruined model. I would also like to recommend that a few practice sessions should be held in order to learn how the effect works. The factors of paint thickness, strength of the bristles on the tool we are using and the force we use to drag our finger over the bristles all play a part in how this effect will work so I will say it again, practice before you start working on your model. Be aware that this technique requires lots of experimentation when it comes to the consistency of the paint. If the paint is too thick you will get small lumps and if it is too thin it will be like airbrushing the model so experiment with different types of paint thickness and also with various tools to get to grips with this effect. With a little practice you should very soon be able to hit what you’re aiming for.
don’t want the spatter on. I just cut some from regular printer paper and hold in place while I do the effect. The reason for this is that it behaves a bit like real mud spatter, you never really know where it’s going to end
White glue is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when you are about to weather your vehicle but it is actually quite useful when you want to make thick layers of dry mud.
The shape of the brush and the hard bristles are one of the key factors in order to succeed. It’s also very important that you wash the brush directly after you have finished the job otherwise the paintbrush will be ruined.
I use a standard white carpenters glue for this effect which I bought in the local hardware store. The bottle contains 1 litre of it and that should be enough for quite a number of vehicles. I also use this glue in a mix with wall filler and small stones and sand to make my bases and they become virtually indestructible thanks to the addition of white glue in the mix.
As the first step I grind up some pigments in various mud colours, ranging from light to dark and have them ready in separate cups on the workbench. Then I start to dab on white glue on the areas that I want to build up the mud effect on. I use quite a lot of glue but I apply it carefully so I only get glue where it’s supposed to be since it’s a bit messy to remove if I by accident apply the glue to unwanted areas of the vehicle.
White glue is a slow drying glue that is great to work with for an effect like this. The first few minutes after being applied the glue stays wet and soft but after that it becomes more and more rubbery until it hardens. It’s these first couple of minutes that we are going to take advantage of when doing this technique.
There’s no time to sit and admire the nice and shiny white glue that has just been applied, the clock is ticking so I start right away to apply the pigments with the same brush as I used for the white glue.
I have cut the bristles of a fairly large round brush which I use for all steps of this technique.
I stab the pigments into the white glue, quick decisive stabs, in and out. I also reload the brush with new pigments often and alternate between the different tones. As the glue dries, the stiff bristles of the brush creates a rough texture into the glue which is very similar to real mud. Once dry I can leave it as it is or I can apply washes and varnish to make it look wet.
The vehicle I will work on is the Revell 1/72 scale Le Clerc which is a perfect vehicle for applying all sorts of effects to. It has large open areas and also some complicated angles that makes this very interesting.
S E T
As you can see the vehicle is fully assembled. The only thing that I have not glued is the turret since I havenâ€™t decided yet which way the gun should point.
The first step is to apply a base coat.
S E T
In most cases I use black as it gives me the best results for contrast and shadows but other darker colours work too.
Since the model is fully assembled it requires a little work to get the paint into all the hard to reach places of the vehicle but with some acrobatics with the airbrush and a sharp eye it should in the end look like this.
The Forced Contrast technique is used to apply the green layer of paint. Note how visible the shadow effect is between and around the separate panels of the vehicle.
S E T
I have added some extra contrast to some of the smaller parts of the vehicle by using a brighter shade of green. This will however not be seen since the vehicle will be painted white.
S E T
Before the white paint is applied I airbrush two coats of hairspray which is left do dry for a couple of minutes, then the white is applied in the same way as the green using the forced contrast technique.
S E T
The white coat of paint is carefully damaged with a stiff old brush to create chips and scratches all over the vehicle. I work on one section at a time to prevent the water dissolving the hairspray in places that I havenâ€™t started to work on yet.
S E T
Here I have done some detail painting and added the decals. I never use gloss varnish for the decals, just a lot of patience and bucket loads of decal softener. Once they are dry I spray a coat of matt varnish over the entire model to blend them in
S E T
To tone down the very bright white colour I apply a very thin filter made from artist oils and low odour thinner. The colour I chose for this filter was Raw Umber because it both looks dirty when applied and pulls towards yellow.
S E T
Some Raw Umber and Buff Titanium artist oils straight from the tube was dragged vertically from top to bottom on the side armour and the sides of the turret with a flat brush dampened with thinner to create rain marks and streaks.
S E T
With the airbrush I spray a very thin mix of a light brown Vallejo Air to dust the model. I concentrate on the rear of the vehicle but the rest gets a light coat as well. Even though the mix was very thin we can still see that the dusting has changed the tone of the vehicle further towards yellow which is where we want to go since the vehicle will be set in a very dirty environment
S E T
Some panel lines and other details has been enhanced with some diluted Vallejo black since the dusting with the light brown has lowered the contrast of the model a bit. I have also done some mud spatter in the rear of the vehicle using various artist oils. The running gear has also received itâ€™s first wash made up from Raw Umber and Lamp Black artist oils.
S E T
The last step is to add pigments. Iâ€™ve added these both wet and dry. The running gear gets a liberal wash with pigments mixed with window cleaning fluid and the rear part of the vehicle gets pigments sprinkled carefully on the side armour which then is fixated with thinner. Further adding of pigments with a large soft brush binds it all together.
S E T
There are many ways to make a base to display your model. It could be just a simple wooden base that draws all the focus to the model or as in this case a base with some groundwork so the vehicle can be shown in itâ€™s true element.
A Wooden Base. I buy them at a local craft shop and this particular size is perfect for making small vignettes where a single vehicle and some groundwork is displayed.
The things we will need in order to make this base are the following items:
A regular standard off the shelf wall filler works nicely and gives a good and realistic structure to the groundwork.
In order to make the groundwork hard as a rock I add white glue to the mix. The glue binds everything together on to the base and prevents even the smallest details in the groundwork from falling off when I handle the base.
You can find these fillers in different variants with finer or coarser grit. I believe this one is a medium coarse version and it works perfectly for most applications.
Once dry itâ€™s very hard to do any changes so make track marks and such before it has hardened.
I have an old, quite large flowerpot which has not been watered for years. The flowers are beyond salvation but the soil inside it is a real gold mine when it comes to finding interesting things to put in the mix for the groundwork.
To make the terrain rougher I can add small pebbles of various sizes into the mix. Sand of various sorts are also very usable for making the terrain a bit more rough.
Hereâ€™s dirt, small rocks, pieces of bark, small sticks and things that looks like bushes. Honestly speaking, that flowerpot is one of my best modelling accessories that I have.
I can also add larger rocks like these into the mix. They can also be added after the mix has been applied to the wooden base by gently pressing them down into mix.
Ideal if the vignette is depicting an urban environment. I do these with an air drying clay which I flatten and once dry I break it into smaller pieces.
Useful if you want to make an effect of debris from trees in a forest that lies scattered on the ground. I crush the spices with my fingers to make small pieces.
Comes in many sizes and is the best way to simulate grass. I highly recommend that it is painted after it has been fixed to the base since the original colour of these types of grass often looks very unrealistic.
There we have it, all the components that we will ever need for making some groundwork. There are however so much more that could be used for making groundwork that I have not shown here. I think that our imagination is the only thing setting the limits to what we can use and with a little ingenuity we can adapt many household items into perfect groundwork components. Another good thing is to always have one eye on the ground while taking a walk in the park or forest because thereâ€™s a lot of interesting stuff lying around that could be easily missed. Dried plants and roots, different types of soil and seed are just some of the things to be found and whenever I find something interesting on my walks I collect it in small plastic bags which I always carry with me.
Water. Last but not least, water is an essential part of the mix and with it I control how thick the mix is going to be. It also helps the white glue to travel upwards through the layers of the groundwork during the drying process to bind all the small bits and pieces that has been strewn over the base.
One day my finds might come in handy for a project that needs a special looking terrain so I store everything in small plastic containers. Now itâ€™s time to do some thinking...
The next step before mixing the components together and starting to work on the base is to sit down for a while and try to figure out some important things regarding the layout of the base. 1. At which angle is the vehicle going to be placed on the base? 2. Are there other things to be included like trees, buildings and other details that will take up space on the base?
there’s room both in front and back of it so I can add more details if I wish.
3. Will there be some height differences on the base or will it be flat?
Another thing that I usually think about at this point is the title of the piece. Maybe it’s a bit early to decide what to call it at this stage but I like to have it ready and let it guide me through the rest of the build.
4. Is there a story to be told here or is it just a way of displaying the vehicle? While pondering over these questions I move the vehicle around on the base to see from which angle it looks it’s best and try to envision in my mind how it will look with the other details that I might use for this vignette.
I don’t really care much for titles that says “Panzer IV Ausf J - December 44 - Early Dawn” Instead I like to play with words and use feelings that comes from the piece. For this particular piece I have come up with the title “UN-Invited” which will reflect the
Something like this could work. The vehicle has an angle that is appealing to the eye and
overall feeling of the vignette and also play a little word game with the viewer.
Another drawing will be printed out later to be used as a template for cutting out the parts from foam board.
When I came up with the idea of the title I realized that I would need to add one more component to the vignette in order to make the connection stronger between the title and what was actually happening on the base.
So here is the final version that I have decided to use. As you can see Iâ€™ve also added a tree to fill out the empty space and create more balance to the vignette. Hopefully it will look slightly better once the house and tree is ready and the groundwork mix is in place on the base.
A building was designed using an illustration application called Freehand. The drawing was printed on paper and cut and folded to make a mock-up of the finished building.
the type of building that I will be doing.
Another drawing has been printed and the separate parts are cut out from the paper.
This material is mostly used by architects and photographers but is very good for making buildings and other types of structures.
With the help of a ruler I carefully scribe a brick pattern into the foam using a sharp wooden stick. The pressure I have to apply to the surface is very small since the foam is very soft so a light touch is recommended and if the scribed lines appear too shallow, I run the tool through them a second time to make them deeper.
Once all the parts has been cut out from the foam board itâ€™s time to remove the carton on both sides to reveal the foam core. This is fairly tricky and Iâ€™m not sure this method works for all makes of foam board.
I have seen people using special tools to punch out each individual brick of a wall or stone on a paved street but I havenâ€™t got around to doing my own tools yet but once I have, this job will be so much easier.
On the foam board that I use, the carton is glued to the foam core with a glue that is sensitive to heat so the best way of removing it is by applying a fair amount of heat to it. I use an old desk lamp from IKEA which gets crazy hot and by holding the board very close to it, the glue softens and the carton can be pulled of.
The walls will be fairly undamaged but some minor damages and cracks will be added to make it look a bit worn.
These parts are then taped on to foam board which is a material that is covered on both sides with carton and has a foam centre.
The surface texture of the foam is very similar to concrete or stone so it will be perfect for
I put the building together using CA glue and it was very tricky since the parts can start to melt if they are pressed together too hard and that would be a disaster. The boards for the windows and the door was fixed with white glue and the fence was fixed in place using CA glue. The painting procedure when doing a house is not much different from doing a vehicle. There is however one thing worth noting before starting to paint the building and that is that the foam repels all paints that has been diluted with too much water so If thereâ€™s too much water in the mix, the paint just turns into little drops and will fall off the foam almost like rain falls off your newly waxed car.
With all the pieces of the building assembled I add some further details from wood for the door and windows. I have also added some plumbing and a photo etched fence for the open room at the bottom floor.
I start out with the black base coat using Vallejos black primer which I use straight from the bottle. I had to repeat this step three times before I got a decent coverage. This is because the foam material acts like a sponge and just sucks up all the paint that I can throw at it.
Extra care must be taken when gluing the parts of the building together. The foam material isnâ€™t very friendly to many types of glue.
Once the base coat is dry I can start using other colours, also those which I mix with a lot of water because the slippery surface of the foam is now completely gone and is covered by the base coat giving the next layers of paint a good surface to stick to.
plumbing. I also painted the bricks in various red tones to make them more interesting. Next step is to give the whole building a liberal wash of Raw Umber artist oil mixed with thinner. I was a bit unsure how the foam would react to the thinner so I tested it first on a left over piece and there was no reaction so I could proceed with the wash.
The painting proceeds with a forced contrast bright beige layer of paint and then I do the details like the door, windows and the
Here the house has been glued to the base and I have also done the roof and some details for that as well.
I thought the house looked a little bit naked so I decided that the house should be some kind of a small shop so to brighten it up a bit I added some signs to it which I did in the computer.
The sidewalk was something I just tested but since Iâ€™m going for a village setting and not a city centre I will not use the sidewalk.
To prevent the printout from being pixelated the signs were printed out on a sheet of glossy photo paper to get the maximum resolution possible out of the printer. These signs were then coated with a layer of matt varnish and weathered with some artist oils and pigment powder.
The sign was done in Arabic and I used Google translate to get the Arabic text which I copied in to my design program. I can not vouch for the correctness of the translation but it should read something like â€œThe Lazy Camelâ€?.
So hereâ€™s the result of the work with the paper signs. All weathered and in place on the building. I think details like this brings so much more life into an otherwise boring building.
Well, the house is ready, itâ€™s been glued to the base, all the details are in place and all the painting and weathering has been done so now itâ€™s time to take a deep breath and do continue with the groundwork.
I use a regular disposable plastic bowl to mix all the components for the groundwork. For this particular type landscape I use wall filler, white glue, pebbles and some fine sand. The mix is then diluted with water until I get the consistency similar to a milkshake.
As this will be a flat base I only add a thin layer with some minor differences in height
I apply the mix to the base using a wooden spatula which works well for covering larger areas in a short time.
If the layer gets too thick thereâ€™s a chance that it will crack while drying so I always keep a small amount of the mix in a jar just in case.
To smooth the mix and to get it into difficult places I use a large flat brush which I moisten with regular tap water.
Larger rocks and other debris are added before the mix has dried to make the groundwork become more alive.
If the brush isnâ€™t moist, the mix will stick to the brush and be pulled off the base.
A smaller brush is used to gently push the rocks and other debris into the mix. I also go over the base correcting minor mistakes and clean up the edge as well.
Here is the base with what I think is an OK looking groundwork. No further work is needed.
The base is set aside to dry for about 10 minutes and then the vehicle is pressed down into the almost dry mix. The reason for letting
it dry for a while first is to avoid that the vehicle removes half of the groundwork once itâ€™s removed after the track marks are done.
To relax a bit from the dirty job with the groundwork I decided to start working with the tree that will be added to the right side of the base. During my travels deep into our local forest I found some dried up plants that are perfect for making trees and bushes. The plant has some seed capsules on each of it’s branches which I cut off and I also trim the branches so they become a bit more even. For the foliage I use a product called Heki Flor which is small bits of foam stuck to a very thin almost invisible mesh of nylon threads. It’s very strong and quite easy to work with. Once I’m happy with the shape of the tree I paint it and then I cut an appropriate piece of the foliage material. The Heki Flor can be pulled and torn to reach the exact size that I want for the tree. To fix the foliage to the tree I put a drop of CA glue on each branch and carefully place the material making sure it touches all the branches.
Since the foliage material is very soft and very easy to damage I use the good old hairspray to stiffen it up and preventing the little pieces of foam from falling off. Before the hairspray dries I can also shape the tree a bit to make it look even more alive.
I have used a mix of a darker green Vallejo together with some skin tone to get what I think is a nice warm green perfect for this type of tree.
Since the tree is more or less soaked with the hairspray to make it very hard the drying time is about half an hour.
When the tree is painted, the moisture from the paint dissolves the hairspray a little so once the painting is done it is sometimes required to reshape the tree slightly before it has dried.
As with all scatter material and static grass it needs to be painted to look more realistic.
Here I have started to paint the groundwork. I use a 50/50 mix of paint and water and slowly build up the colour that I want.
By using lighter shades of the base colour I pick out individual rocks and stones to make the base a bit more life like.
This process takes a while because of the thin paint but I feel it gives me more control of where things are going.
At this point I feel that thereâ€™s quite a bit of structure missing in the groundwork but I decide to continue.
The last step is to apply a wash of Raw Umber artist oils to further enhance the textures and here it becomes very clear to me that the base needs more structure so I let the wash dry and carefully brush on a mix of white glue and water and sprinkle some fine sand over the base.
Once that has dried I go back to the beginning of the painting process and redo all the steps. Above is a good picture of the new rougher texture compared to the old smooth one that can be seen in the lower right part of the picture.
My little miscalculation with the texture of the groundwork was fortunately saved by some luck and fine sand.
Each one of these grass tufts sits on a soft and sticky little base and the idea is that they should just be pressed down into the groundwork and stay there.
Now when Iâ€™m happy with the look of the base itâ€™s time to add some grass and the tree.
I had to go about it a little differently since I first had to repaint them so they would blend in better with the rest of the base and to do that I peeled them off their backing paper and placed them on a regular white paper before I painted them in the colour that I wanted.
I have used ready made grass tufts from MiniNatur which are perfect for scattering around the base like I have done here.
After the paint had dried I peeled them of the paper and discovered that the adhesive had lost some of itâ€™s strength so I decided to use CA glue instead to fix them to the base and that worked very well. The tree was up next and to fix that securely I drilled a 1mm hole in the trunk and glued a brass wire in the hole. Then a corresponding hole was drilled in the base. Several drops of CA glue was added to the brass wire and to the bottom of the trunk and it was then pressed firmly into the hole in the base. Now the tree can withstand any storm.
A vignette or a diorama does not come alive until there are some figures on it and if there’s supposed to be some sort of story to be told, figures are a definite must have.
The first figures that will be made are the two crew members of the tank. They are mildly converted Preiser US Tankers which I have decapitated to make them look at a specific point. The arms are also altered to fit both the tank and to enhance the story.
On a vignette the most common scene is a tank on a piece of land and in the commanders hatch there’s a guy pointing towards a point in the distance. Maybe there’s a guy on the ground having a conversation with the guy up in the hatch and that’s it. Not much of a story and too often seen as well.
The painting starts with a base coat of Vallejo Sand Yellow, then a mix of artist oils straight from the tubes are painted roughly on the faces. This thick paint is carefully wiped off with a soft flat brush. I move the brush from top to bottom only and for each wipe I clean the brush on a piece of paper.
I always try to incorporate a special story into my vignettes that will make the viewer stand back and say to themselves, Hey! What’s going on here then? And once they realise the story of the vignette my hopes are that it puts a smile on their faces. My ideas are not always easy to make, mainly because of the lack of appropriate figures in this small scale and many times I’ve had to scrap projects just because of this.
After a few wipes the features of the face becomes clear and some further detailing are done with the three artist oils.
But there are ways to solve the problem, some are easy and some are a bit harder.
Last step is just some regular figure painting to make them look decent and fit the scene.
Sometimes my ideas go beyond what is available in small scale figures and to solve such problems I often need to do some major surgery on an existing figure.
I stick the body parts together using some Tack-It to try out the pose and see if everything looks natural. When Iâ€™m pleased with the pose I remove the Tack-It and shave off most of the protruding details like pockets and belts and such. Then I glue the body parts together in the desired pose and leave it to dry.
Preiser figures are excellent when it comes to more advanced conversions since they come with separate arms, legs and heads. The first thing I do is to find some suitable body parts that roughly fits my idea of the pose.
The secret of Green Stuff is to constantly add water to it whilst manipulating it to avoid getting fingerprints and dust particles sticking to it. Once the putty has hardened for a few hours any blemishes could be removed using a fine sandpaper. The idea is that the woman is pouring some kind of garbage from a bucket so I added one made from photo etch and I also fixed three thin copper wires to the inside of the bucket which I will use as a guide where the garbage will flow.
By using a material called Green Stuff I can now sculpt new clothing and details over the figure that I just made.
The gooey garbage was done using regular household silicone which I applied in thick layers with a paintbrush and after I had covered all the copper wires and the inside of the bucket I fine tuned the goo with a wet paintbrush.
Green Stuff consists of two parts, yellow and blue, that are kneaded together. Once the putty is properly mixed it turns green, hence the name Green Stuff. I cover the upper part of the figure with the putty and by using various tools I roughly sculpt the clothing of the figure. I only do the upper body since the figure will be standing in one of the windows and only the upper body will be visible.
The last step before the painting of the figure begins is to give it a base coat. A Vallejo light brown is airbrushed on and this will be a good base for the next few steps in the painting process.
Here I have the finished figure. Itâ€™s all painted with various Vallejo colours and once finished it was given a coat of matt varnish. Some gloss varnish was used to highlight the garbage so that some parts of it is shiny to simulate different textures.
Here the woman has been glued in place in the window and the angle of the garbage has been slightly changed so it is more directed towards the tank. The colour has also been brightened up a bit since it almost disappeared against the bricks.
With figures of this quality Itâ€™s really important to go that extra mile when painting them so none of that amazing detail is lost.
To make the vignette really come alive I felt I must have some additional figures to populate the scene and to my rescue came Michael Cremerius from Germania Figuren who provided me with some amazing figures from Nikolai sculpted by the very talented sculptor Erik Trauner.
In this section I will give you a more detailed description about the different techniques I use to paint figures.
The first step is to prepare the figure before the painting starts. Mold seams and other imperfections are sanded down and the figure is given a bath in some water with a little detergent to remove oil and dirt.
The second step is to apply a suitable base coat. For figures I always use Vallejo Air Sand Yellow. This is applied with my airbrush.
For the face and hands I make a mix of three different artist oils, Buff Titanium, Burnt Umber and Cadmium Red. The three are mixed together without any thinner on an old newspaper.
The mix is applied with a regular paint brush to the face and other unclothed parts of the figure. At this stage it looks terrible but thereâ€™s no need to worry, it will get better.
Before I use the mix I let it rest for a few minutes on the card board. The reason for mixing it on a newspaper is that it sucks up some of the oil from the paint and once it dries on the figure it will be less glossy.
Once the mix is applied to all the parts of the figure I switch to a wide flat brush and start to carefully wipe away the paint. I only wipe vertically and go from the top to the bottom of the head.
The face has now a good contrast and to improve that further I use the three artist oils to create more depth to the face using the pure buff for highlights and the Burnt Umber and Red for shadows.
For each wipe I carefully clean the brush on a piece of paper. If that is not done regularly I will just move the paint from one place to another on the figure.
As the bottom layer is oil which has not yet dried it is very easy to blend in the shadows and highlights. Please remember that no thinners should be used in this step, it will just make a huge mess.
Even though the faces were pretty tricky to do I think that the hardest part when doing these figures was to chose which colours their clothes should be. I finally decided on some pastel tones which will go well with the rest of the colours in the vignette. The clothes were painted entirely with Vallejo Model colours. For each of the different colours I used I also added a small amount of skin tone to make the figures blend well together. When painting figures with Vallejo Model colour I normally thin the paint with 50% water to make it flow a bit easier but also to make it slightly translucent.
Here are the finished faces on the figures that will populate the base. I have also painted the beards using the same technique as I used on the faces.
Once the thinned paint dries, the translucency of it helps me to see where I should put the shadows and highlights since the base coat can be seen through the recently applied layer of paint. For the shadows and highlights I thin the paint even more. A mix of 25% paint and 75% water is a ratio that works for me.
The highlights on the pastel coloured clothes is a mix of the various base colours using blue, green and orange together with skin tone. The white clothes are highlighted with pure white.
them when I handle them and also to remove any unwanted glossiness. One thing that I promised myself never to do with my figures was to show heavily zoomed pictures of them. They are not intended to be seen in this size but I thought it would be good fun to show how they really look up close and personal.
Most of the shadows comes ready made since the thinned first coat I did collects more pigments in the folds and once it dries it gives a darker appearance.
Now the figures are ready to be placed on the vignette to further enhance the story and to bring some more colour into the scene.
Once all the figures have dried I give them all a good coat of matt varnish to both protect
We are now getting very close to the finish line and with some additional details like the baskets of vegetables and some other small details added I can now glue two of the remaining figures into their places.
The the windows on the second floor felt a bit unbalanced since the centre and left one was completely empty. To fix that I made a small flowerpot with some nice flowers that I placed in the left window. Finally itâ€™s done. The tank has been glued to the base with CA glue and the remaining figures have been added as well.
The Fallen King
Bad to the Bones
The Pigs of War
Taking the Scenic Route
Knock Knock . Whoâ€™s There?
I would like to give my thanks to the following people for assisting me with this booklet. Paul Giles - Proofreader Extraordinaire Richard Karlsson - Content Consultant Michael Cremerius - Supplier of Figures Ping and Elina - Bad Mood Removers