Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Regimental Fire and Fury - The Table Part 3

Hello out there!

Last time I posted the painting. Now the table is done, and ready for the Civil War project to sit on top.  Let's just get into the how! There is a lot going on, and a lot of it doesn't make great play by play.  So if you have any questions just drop me a line. 

First thing, a lot of flock!  It is important for realism to have a large pool to draw from, for variation.  I won't use even most of the container of many of these, but it is important to have a lot of different types for variety, just like in nature. I personally prefer realism over the "gaming tabletop" style of look, although the latter is totally valid.  Just not my style.  If that is what you are after, stick to just a few very solid 4mm or so flocks in good colors.

It's really hard to show the process for this, because the two biggest tricks are one, knowing that the glue has to dry and whatever you do will not look the same the next day, after the white of the glue has dried.  Two, that you are painting with material essentially, except instead of direct application the glue is your medium and the flock the pigment.  I really don't like hard edges on flock, so I put down glue past where I want the edge and then apply it fading out.  It takes practice and you might warm up on a painted and textured 1x1 or something before doing a whole table.

If you kneel down and look close at real grass and hay, it has many layers.  It has a lot of dead almost woven dry stuff, with the live taller grass coming up.  Real fields have this layer, and it is to me what separates that "gaming grass" look and something more realistic.  So to start is a base, 2-4mm many different dry colors.  Side note, a guy could go from here and keep the top layers dead as well for what from here would end up more an arid look.  This only looks potentially finished because it is zoomed out, it needs more either way.

Starting to come up with a little green, and defining edges.  It is a many stage process. Can't get too obsessed with the end, but where you are.

Spray bottle, shop vac and a little beater static grass applicator, flock stands in and on flock and grows up.  The variation and realism got me excited so I tried to take a picture of the cross view.  Make sure you have a shop vac with no bag and sweep every time you take a swing at it.  Not just to reuse the new mixture you get for variety, but keeping it clean for applying glue.

Getting there on the grass and low layers!  Again, nothing really to it than just being loose about how you put it on, and focus on variety.  I keep plastic trays nearby and mix small quantities on the fly and on a whim.  Nothing the same.

With that, it's time to make some trees!  I want a lot, so I got these Supertrees from Scenic Express.  I have seen these often but not yet had a reason to use them, so I was excted to give them a try.  It is a process, and I tweaked the instructions a bit to what seemed good for me.

I still haven't bothered to look it up, but this is some sort of plant, like a weed.  This is the backside of the clump when you open a box.  But whatever it is, it sure looks like trees when you break them apart.

All of the broken off trees hanging.  You use a matte medium to soak the plant and make it solid.  In my head it makes sense, and I have done similar things with PVA and epoxy with fibrous materials like paper and books.  It is the same idea as fiberglass - you take a fibrous material and soak it in an adhesive, and it becomes really strong.  Keeps the new trees from drying out, and makes them flexible.

In the instructions, you do all of this in one step.  Soak the tree for a bit, and then flock it.  I did the soak as one step, seen here, and then apply flock later.  It would probably work, but I would rather keep flock off the "trunk."  If that makes sense.

To hang them I used clips on hemp cord between two chairs in our enclosed porch.  Nothing about this smells, but it makes a mess and the air was warm and dry.  I bought two giant bags of closepins, to hang them and some I added one to the end to help straighten.  Another benefit to doing this in two steps.  Doing that with flock on would mess it up.  I don't mind a few bendy trees, will come in handy and look realistic in some places.

Time to flock them!  I used a lot of different kinds, and trays to catch the loose and make new mixes from the scrap.  I also had a few cans of spray, to vary up the trunk color a little.  Not really necessary in the end, but worthwhile if it's sitting around.

Dip, flock and hang!  Trying to really vary up the color from light to dark, and some dying.  It was pretty fun, and I would say worth it if you need a lot of trees.  It isn't really a cost saver unless you're making a huge board, and being able to control the variety is a bonus versus say, buying 200 of a few identical varieties.  Fun experiment, which worked out and was fun.  Never needed eight feet of treeline, but I hope I do again.

Two boxes makes a LOT of trees, but I will need them!

That is a big box.


Now that the trees are done, back to the table.  To apply them, I just punch a hole with a nail, and dip the trunk in glue.  Another benefit to making the huge batch is duds and ones I don't really like can be torn up to make a lot of variety of hedges, brambles etc.  I not only made a ton of trees, but tons of variety of undergrowth.  Compared to just buying trees at least.

Making a big mess.  Shop vac earning it's keep.  For bushes I take a big random handful of whatever, and with scissors cut off a flat bottom.  For me, the most realistic look doesn't come from planning, but just making a shrub or something from random one at a time, getting it ready, and then seeing where it belongs.  Same for trees.  Everything ends up with a perfect place and ends up made for a reason, and more fun that way too.

The water is wet.  There are a lot of ways to do water.  You do not have to use two part epoxy unless you are doing deep water effects.  Here, I went the patient and easy route since this will be thin. I used plain old gloss varnish in half a dozen layers.  Use enough thin layers and anything will have depth, just don't use too much at once.  I want a "it just rained somewhere north,"  frothy Appalachian stream look, so I painted on a lot of it over a couple weeks and then did the final top layers of churn with gel water effects, some white paint in there to taste.

A good sweep and putting away all that stuff, and all done!  Ready for the huge project to sit on top. Speaking of which, the Union infantry are almost done, and just in time.  I am hitting blocks that will need this bigger table just to photograph in whole!  Only gets better from here, and see you next time.  Enjoy the photos and drop me a line if you have any questions on the table.