Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Classic Warhammer Dwarf Mine ready to be fought over (SITCBH - part 3)

My Dwarf Mine, inspired by the classic one in White Dwarf 132, is finished. That makes me a rather early finisher in the SITCBH I entered with The Periodic Painting Table and The War Crow blogs. With still about five weeks on the clock #humblebrag ;). Perhaps I should make something else as well, I must say its quite a treat to build non-human stuff. Well before I get into that, let's start out with a picture of the finished piece accompanied by a bunch of gloriously happy Dwarves.

Why would we build a mine soundly lad, no member of the engineer's guild will show up in these parts...

After a lot of agonizing, I decided to go for the same colors I used in my old badlands terrain set. I like the classic western movie vibe of the red rocks. Since building that set I noticed, every time I saw terrain like that in video's and movies, how much green is in the reddish brown. No reason not to add pretty shrubbery then (hold the Monty Python quotes).

Pulling an iron wire brush over polystyrene gives an unholy mess, but the results are worth it.

I was dubious during the built, but using an iron wire brush on polystyrene is the way to go to get your rocks looking believable. It is the one big regret I have about the rest of the badlands built. Without the rough patterns left by the brush the rocks just look slightly too flat to be believable. 

I used this picture to finally post the ancient dwarf above. I'm still not happy with the photo of the paint job on him (some models look ok in real life and awful no matter how you shoot them, he's one of those). Also I can't unsee the overspray I missed on the roof there, I should fix that.

Painting the rocks in the old mine cart was another challenge. My first instinct was to go for neon green. It stands out and I like warpstone (in my novels, not on my desk). But a cart full of it would be odd. A cart full of gold nuggets would pose a similar (albeit different) problem. No miner would go back down after digging up a cart full of gold (they'd be in the casino gambling it away before going back down into the mine). In the end I decided to paint the rocks the same color as the hill and then drybrush them with a bit of gold, just to give a hint of gold vein in them.

I was right, this mine did need a Skaven presence. 

Another conundrum was the Skaven question. Should I dab a big Skaven triangle on the front of the mine or shouldn't I? In the end I decided Skaven would not bother decorating this old mine. Instead of 'Skavening the place up' I decided to just include some wonderful classic models in some of the pictures. Hey any excuse to show of bits of my collection ;). On a sidenote: why did GW discontinue Mordheim Tufts, if only I had a few more boxes in my inventory...sniff, sniff...

Alright lads: one, two, three, smile for the iconograph!

The two shacks were a real pleasure to paint. Painting the clay roof was esepcially nice and it looks quite convincing if you ask me. Clay turns out to be easier to paint, sturdier to handle and it is actually much easier to apply then PVA soaked napkins too. I'm quite sure it'll be air dry clay for canvas in my future projects. 

Quick, quick, check out that cabin and bring the riches to me, me, me...

For those of you painting along (and for me in a few years if I forgot this recipe) I painted the wood with a basecoat of Steel Legion Drab over black primer (two thinned layers blasted through an airbrush). I followed this up with VMC US Dark Green on the lower halves of the planks (to 'rot' the wood a bit). I then drybrushed it all with Tyrant Skull using a big mascara brush. After this had properly dried I used washes, Agrax Earthshade, Athonian Camoshade even a bit of Nuln Oil on select planks and nooks and crannies to vary the color of the wood and enhance shadows. 

Now bash that door in and loot, loot, loot...

The tarp over the shack on the left above was painted Ushabti Bone and then washed with thinned down Agrax Earthshade followed up by spots of Athonian Camoshade (applied to the wet Agrax layer).  After this dried I stippled fresh Ushabti Bone over the roof, followed up with Pallid Wych Flesh and finally VGC Dead White on the corners. The stippling gives a real nice canvas effect. I followed my standard method for applying rust to the other roof (and on the chimneys). Most of my time with the rusty bits was spent applying Agrax and Nuln washes to select parts to make the individual panels pop. A reasonable highlight of silver brought all the metal to life. 

I admit that a picture of primed and still wet terrain is not the most inspiring thing to post. But there it is anyway...

All in all it was quite a satisfying built to be working on. Here's a few more WIP pictures for those of you interested. Above a picture of all the models primed with Vallejo Black Primer through an airbrush. Using an airbrush primer is always a good idea when working with polystyrene as spray cans melt the stuff (and you always miss a crucial spot when you try to seal it with PVA).

Painting the wood was easy, rusting the old Dwarf icon on top of the mine (with precision airbrushing) was another story entirely.

I started applying color to the wood on the buildings first. No clue why, I just felt like it. On the right you can see how flat and boring rust looks if you don't bother to pop the details with washes (and a semi-careful stippling and select drybrushing with Ryza Rust as a final step).

Without drybrushing this paint is so very, very orange. 

I bought a mix with the minimum amount of latex wall paint back when I made the badlands set. I think it's a three liter bucket. At the back of the mountain you can see the small tub I took out of said bucket to paint this hill. That tub is still two thirds full. I think I can spent the rest of my life painting badlands terrain without putting a dent in my paint for that purpose.

With base color of the sand also in place the orange look got even worse. 

I started applying Tallarn Sand to the sandy area's when I remembered that I still had a bottle of Tallarn Sand paint for scenery in my possession. That saved me a lot of trouble (my actual Tallarn Sand pot was empty and the scenery stuff is a bit richer in pigment (I suspect)). I also painted the rails and the railway ties before painting the stones between them which earned me a stern 'what where you thinking' conversation with myself. 

Drybrushing to the rescue. I actually used both Sylvaneth Bark and Tyrant Skull Dry paints to drybrush the rocks. These usually rather bad paints are quite nice for large surface drybrush work. 

While painting the rock I realized I should've hardened the polystyrene first. Bits of it came off while painting (the downside of the iron wire brush technique). As a punishment, with most of the model finished, I forced myself to apply textile hardener to the practically finished paint job. 

If you forget to seal and harden your polystyrene the punishment is applying a layer like this over finished work. 

At this point I spent a day and a half worried that the hardener would not dry clear. Especially as I applied it very thickly. Luckily it did (after two days). The entire hill feels like hardened plastic now. Very usable for playing games with. For those of you scratching your heads. Textile hardener (supposedly used to immortalize your favorite t-shirt) is a substance a bit like PVA (slightly more gel-like). It dries very clear even when applied thickly and hardens out to a plastic matte and reasonably thin finish. It is one of the best things to apply to anything you make out of polystyrene, preferably in a thinner layer before painting (it doesn't take away detail when applied thinly), and in a thicker layer when you're done. Or, if you forgot to apply it, you can slap on a fat layer at the end and spend a lot of time worrying if it'll be okay. It usually is...

Fresh models, flash removed, washed in water with dishwashing liquid, glued and now in their second degreasing wash. Next step: priming and painting. I can't wait. 

I had a lot of fun with this built and I'm contemplating some other non-human stuff to build in the coming weeks (or maybe dip my toes back into some sci-fi scenery). If anyone has suggestions or requests, feel free to leave them in the comments. Then again I still have a lot of models at halfway stages of painting to finish AND a fresh batch of Die Hard miniatures models just arrived. Those I'll paint with priority because I think they're awesome. As you can see at the picture above they're resting nicely in their second bath before priming as I write this. 


  1. Brilliant job on the mine settlement, nicely faded and weathered in the sun, these dwarves have been toiling away for some time. Favourite bits are the clan seal over the mine entrance and the missing plank thats fallen out.

    What more could you add to this set? A well, outhouse, dog kennel, perhaps a rail to tie your ponies to and a drinking trough?

    Those Ral Partha dwarves fit really well with that classic citadel dwarf, the skaven captions made me chuckle. Die Hard robot looks a bit like an ABC Warrior from 2000AD, cool.

    1. Cheers, I actually have the outhouse and dog kennel from the Townhouse finished and ready for Dwarven use as well ;)

      Yeah that one robot has a face just like the ABC warrior and there's an overtly armed Imperial Scout Bot on legs in between the collection as well. And lets give a special mention to the Chaos Abomination I really hope I'll do justice (its a crazy (in an awesome way) model).

  2. Fantastic build, looks amazing. Can I ask how you store all your buildings?

    1. Thanks. As to storing the buildings, honest answer: I wish I had a way. Currently a lot still fits in my display cases. A number of other buildings are stacked on top of the cases (some on top of each other). I have some terrains in crates over at my gaming club and I have a few shelves where there are parts of the Townscaped literally stacked into the Might Fortress. I guess I should make a selection, throw some stuff out and store more in boxes, but it feels like such a pity...

  3. Absolutely fantastic. Many pats on the back deserved here.
    I'm not sure which impresses me most, the build or the painting.
    Now I need to get on with my dwarf stuff.

    1. Cheers, its the extra pats on the back that truly drive me ;) Can't wait to see the end result of your built.

  4. Those turned out great! The weathered wood turned out well, and yes, that canvas effect is perfect!

    You have some dwarf terrain that may have been taken over by Skaven, maybe make some Skaven huts to go with it? If you made a few of them three sided, they could be used as a lean-to on the existing dwarf terrain.

    And if you get to Scifi terrain for non-humans... maybe some Eldar outpost sort of thing?

    1. Thanks. Skaven lean-to buildings is an interesting idea, I'll think on that. Eldar terrain is difficult, I always wonder why they don't just toss everything they need from the Craftworld onto the planet via the Webway (I'm a very practical Farseer ;). Then again maybe I should look at the old Dawn of War games for inspiration. Interesting, I'll think on that too.

  5. Very nice! Love the red stone look, it came out great.

    1. Thanks, quite happy the red stone worked out in the end. The pre-drybrush stage is always a bit frightening.

  6. Absolutely love these posts. I've been trying to comment, but blogger has been eating my replies. I'm looking to make some terrain this winter, so I'm going to be mining these posts for ideas. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Oh and I'd like to see some sci-fi terrain, because that's my jam :)

    1. Cheers! Good luck on the terrain projects over the winter.