Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hobby Highlight - Making Swamps

I just finished putting together some swamp templates, and thought I would share how I put them together. It was quick and easy, with the end results looking pretty decent in my opinion.

Some readers may remember that I recently started a small Blindwater Congregation army. Blindwater armies get to place on the field two bonus 3" swamp templates. In addition, the warlock Bloody Barnabas can cast a spell to place a 5" swamp template. These swamps are beneficial to the amphibious gatormen, and can cause problems for the opponent. In particular, the 5" spell Swamp Pit prevents models sitting completely within it from being targeted by ranged attacks. Super useful, as I found out the first time I played against a Galleon!

Anyway, I had been using as templates some plain brass rings from an art/hobby supply store. These are commonly used by Warmahordes players since they're cheap and can be dropped right over the top of models if needed. But, they're pretty boring. I picked up Blindwater for the modeling and painting, so I thought I'd step it up with my templates. Here's how I did it:

First, I used my wife's circle cutter to cut out appropriately sized circles out of plasticard. The circles are uneven since the cutter tended to slide around on the slippery plastic.

After cutting the circles out carefully with my hobby knife, I glued my brass rings down to the plasticard circles. 

As you can see, because the circle cutter slipped a bit, the circles were uneven. After a bit of trimming, I was ready to move on:

I wanted to make sure the ring wouldn't be noticeable in the final product, and also wanted to add some varying height and texture to the templates. So I used some wood filler to create a smooth transition from the base to the brass ring. I also added some random texture here and there on the base.

Unfortunately here is where I took a break for the night, and forgot to start taking pictures the next day. But what I did was to glue a very thin layer of sand over the whole template using white glue, after using superglue to secure some twigs to the largest base. I also glued a bit of sand to the top of the twigs. I had to resist adding more 'stuff' since playability was an important consideration here. Too much decoration on the templates would make them hard to balance models on, etc.

I then basecoated the whole template in GW Castellan Green, as can be seen below.

I then did some drybrushing of GW Knarloc Green followed by a very light drybrush of GW Scorpion Green. (These are older paints but have equivalents in the new range, I believe.) To represent deeper areas, I painted GW Dark Angels Green, then blended Castellan around the edges. I then did the same blend procedure with black.

Ultimately I didn't like the Dark Angels Green. I went back and covered it with GW Orkhide Shade.

I painted the twigs with GW Graveyard Earth, and the ends of the twigs with P3 Menoth White Base. The sand on the twigs was painted the same way I painted the swampy areas, only a bit brighter. This represents moss growing on the wood. I then washed everything with GW Agrax Earthshade.

After this, it was a matter of painting the rims of the template and a final light drybrush of the swamp with Scorpion Green. I sealed the rims with gloss varnish. At the last minute, I decided to try putting down some underbrush here and there. Finally, I poured the water effects and waited 24 hours.

The final results:

The underbrush came out a little different than I expected, but not too bad. I learned the hard way that dried PVA glue will frost up when you hit it with water effects. So, I had to add even more underbrush than I had intended, to cover it up. Luckily the water effects alone held the additional pieces tightly. I may go back and add another layer to the 5" template, not sure on that. Otherwise I'm happy with these and look forward to breaking them in!

This technique can be used for basing or other terrain purposes as well. A shell crater with muddy water inside would be a cool piece for 40k, for example. If you try it out, I recommend splurging on a bottle of Woodland Scenics Realistic Water effects. I've used Secret Weapon Miniatures effects (which are identical judging from the look and smell), but the SWM stuff is about 4x more expensive per ounce. There are other effects out there, such as some that come in pellets that you heat up. Those might be good for people with more experience, but I found them to be a huge pain. There are also two part resins that you mix. I stick with the Woodland Scenics style stuff that just needs to be poured and allowed to cure overnight.

Anyways, thanks for checking this tutorial out. Hope you find it helpful!


  1. Nicely done and really complement the water effects on your bases.

  2. Awesome stuff! Super inspiring. Now I'm going to have to start making hobby markers auuugh

  3. Thanks guys. Always glad to inspire people to step up their hobbying.