Saturday, December 7, 2013

Welcome to the Jungle

28mm Senegalese askaris creep through the jungle pieces I created
Since my 28mm Pulp games are set in Southeast Asia, there's bound to be a scenario or two set in a jungle. I decided I needed to make some dedicated-looking jungle pieces for my games, rather than just plop down my normal trees. I have some palm trees that I use for my 20mm modern Africa games, but I wanted something looking more overgrown and wild.

My thought was that -- rather than put one tree on a base -- I would make the bases larger and have them contain a variety of plants. Many years ago, I'd done this for terrain for my 15mm southeast Asian ancient armies. I dug them up and wasn't that impressed. The plastic plants I'd used were very glossy, and the flocking I'd put on the base was shedding off every time you touched them. Step one would be to touch these up.

My old jungle pieces touched up with a dark green wash and light green dry brush
 I also wasn't particularly impressed with the lurid greens of the plastic plants. So, I mixed up a 50/50 batch of water and Ceramcoat English Yew Green. This is a duller, darker green color that I thought would tone them down well. I didn't try to cover every inch of the plants, but splash it across the majority of the surface. It took less time than I thought it would. Originally, I'd intended that to be it (other than fixing the balding flocking). After they dried, though, I thought to myself: "These are just crying out for a light green dry brush." So, I did, and was a LOT more happy with how they looked. I applied a 50/50 batch of white glue and water to the flocking to fix it down. After it was dry (and warped -- can you believe I used balsa wood way back then?), I sprayed them and was happy. Not the greatest pieces, but they will look good in bulk.

Cheap plastic trees won in a raffle - no paint, no touch-up
 Now, for my new jungle pieces. Awhile back, I'd won a batch of cheap-looking, plastic trees in a raffle. I decided to make one of those the centerpiece of each jungle base. Next, I went to Michaels craft store and perused their plastic plant aisles. I found three likely looking types -- one a fern, another with round leaves, and a third that was very sparse and "stemmy" (technical term). I wanted a variety in looks.

Plastic plants from craft store ("rounded," "stemmy," and "fern")
I decided to use some 45mm across hexagonal plywood bases I'd bought from Litko for another project that was several back burners behind this one. I could always order more if I got around to it. I Tacky glued one of the plastic trees to each one, generally in the center or slightly off-center. The double-trunk tree pieces would be the largest plant on the base, so it made sense to have them in the middle. Then, I decided to fix the "cheap" look of it. I painted the trunk dark brown and let it dry. Then I dry brushed it a medium brown, followed by a khaki. Once this was done, I gave the same treatment to the palm-like fronds that I had to my previously-made jungle pieces. The dark yew green and water mixture was followed up by a light green dry brush when they were dry. I was impressed by how just a quick application of a few colors really made the trees look ten times better.
Cheap plastic tree painted with 3 colors on trunk and 2 on fronds
Next, I grabbed the plastic plants from Michaels and trimmed up a bunch of pieces to apply to the bases. I varied the heights -- making the ferns taller on some, the rounded leaf one on others, and the stemmy one on still others. I took a small bit of blue tack (sometimes called poster putty) and wrapped the bottom of each plant in it and used it to affix it to the base. I molded the blue tack into a roughly pyramidal shape so that it would blend into the base once the flocking was done. Next, I painted the blue tack with Tacky glue to seal it, making sure to slop some paint up onto the plant and also onto the base around it. I'd hoped this would lock it in, and it did a nice job.

The plant pieces attached to the hexagonal bases with blue tack, or "poster putty"
The Tacky glue seal would be aided by the multi-layer ground flock method I've been using for awhile now. The first step is to mix a bit of my reddish-brown ground color with white glue and paint the base completely (also covering the Tacky-glued plant bases). Then I dipped it in medium ballast, covering the surface thoroughly.
The jungle bases after the Tacky glue seal and the medium ballast layer has been put down
Once it dried, I remixed the white glue, base color, and added about 50% water. This was painted over the ballast. Then I poured sand across it, which adheres and gives a more ground-like appearance. Incidentally, this is how I flock my miniatures, too. Then I take straight white glue and paint it on the base, covering at least 3/4's of it. I sprinkled Woodland Scenics blended green turf across it. The final step is to add a few pieces of Woodland Scenics clump foliage of various colors. Darker colors were placed towards the shadowed center, and brighter ones towards the edges. A spray of Testors Dullcoate was next (the only clear coat I use anymore). Once dry, I put a final 50/50 mix of white glue and water on the flocking to seal it in. These multiple layers serve to seal the plants to the base fairly well, it seems. I really like how they turned out, too.

The jungle bases complete with flocking

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