Almost ready… final step

As I write this post, I have one last step left to do: delicate shading and a potential wash on the base. Basically, the formalities. However, I wanted to show you the model at this stage to clearly indicate my intentionality of using two colors of mud at once. And quite varied ones at that. I also applied each paste in two states of concentration, that is, diluted and undiluted. This is due to the special property of this mud that creates cracks, which is, by the way, unnecessary because we can get the effect of ordinary, regular earth. However, about that in a moment. Let’s return to the idea because I think it’s interesting and move on to a package of reference photos.

A cross-section of the earth… Dioramas.

Maybe not everyone has pointed this out before, but the soil in its cross-section, and I’m talking about such layers up to 1.5 meters, is never uniform. At the top, we have a mixture of soil and dirt, but mostly decaying matter, forming humus deposits, so we have a dark cover. Deeper, at about half a meter height, this layer usually cuts off noticeably. It turns into a lighter, one would like to say, “clean” soil. It is no different in the trenches. Recent events have sprinkled in a rather rich source of reference photos of trenches perfectly matching our FT-17 tank, also serving in operations in Ukraine. Interestingly, and a bit of a shiver down the spine, an almost equal 100-year difference exists between the time the world’s first tanks rode on these lands, i.e., our model and today’s tanks…

However, without getting into political-war topics, because that’s not what I’m talking about, I decided to recreate this exact thing using two colors of mud – “Heavy European pigmentated” and “cultivated earth” – which, de facto, is the very shade of the dug-up, deep layer of European soil.

Wooden planks painted with a new set of paints

I would have forgotten. I painted the wooden boards enclosing the trench with a new set of paints, Nature Acrylics. And I did it two times. It turned out that the coarse-cut sculpture of these elements, yes, collects paint nicely, but the effect strongly resembles some game workshop creations or, at most, colorful fantasy. Although, at first, I liked the effect, it looked grotesque and caricatured after being applied to the diorama. Here is the effect;

painted wood on scale model

So I decided to wash off the paint. A short bath in isopropyl alcohol in an ultrasonic cleaner took care of the job, and I took out the pieces smooth and clean. I created the wood’s texture, laboriously incising each board’s ends with a scalpel to imitate the frayed ends. I also cut the boards themselves lengthwise and chaotically, creating cracks. Finally, it is also a classic of turning plastic into wood, scratching with a wire brush. It’s a simple trick, and the effect is trustworthy. A few punctures imitating nails, and that’s it. The whole operation of cutting, scraping, and preparing the texture took me all day. It would have been much faster if I had only the boards in one direction, but the crossbars made it very difficult to reach and scrape with the wire cutter.

I was tempted to do an experiment at the same time, but because I didn’t put primer again, it was a waste of time. I decided to test the new paints in battle extremely and washed the parts with our Degreaser. After which, I put the colors directly on the plastic, without primer. Surprisingly, it went quite smoothly, and the paint held without any problems.

The boards no longer look so cartoonish, but realistic.

Using a set of paints, I also decided to paint myself a birch bough carved from our clay (I rolled a roll and tore it in half, and so did the ends – tearing off creates a cool texture resembling a broken tree).

Looking at the reference photos, I decided that the obligatory addition would be the roots protruding from the soil profile…. only where from, and how?!

Of course, we could play around with tangled copper wires pulled from cables, but the most realistic option you could use is…. dried marine algae. Just tear off a piece, and you’re done. What our Polish sea throws on the shore is a great material for all kinds of roots, but also bushes, after treating them with sprinkles, so only if you have the opportunity to be at sea, look for such. They should be washed, dried decently, and seasoned before being suitable for models.

The sand texture shown in the photos is a mixed paint, “Weathering Paint: Heavy Standard Mud” with “Fine with Stones” sand. In principle, continuing with successive layers on a coat/dry/coat basis, I could build up a convincing and interesting earth texture just like this. But the plan was to use pastes and create a spectacular soil that cracked in places. Light-colored paste diluted half-and-half with just water was laid down from the bottom with a large brush and then taped with a sponge for better texture. The dark paste was diluted similarly and laid from the top. I blended these colors with a sponge to achieve a smooth transition at the contact point. Then, undiluted, I spread a larger lump of paste and blended it using a sponge into the areas where the cracks are seen, at the very top in the most protruding areas. Undiluted paste will create cracks, while diluted will not – simple, right?

How did it look? Take a peek at these pics… Meanwhile, I do the final shading with WP paints and wash, then sit down to edit the film!


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