Friday, September 25, 2015

Tablescapes Urban Streets Part 3: Finishing Up

Having finished the street tiles, the next step was to paint the foundation tiles to provide locations for God-Emperor-faring business and citizen-dwelling units (?). This was simply applying the same method used on the sidewalks to entire tiles. There were only two places where the method differed.

First, I wanted to show a little earth inside the deep cleavages in two of the tiles. For that, I sprayed on two layers of brown (I forget the specific colors used, but it doesn't matter much.

Adding Some Earth 

Following applying the browns, I then highlighted the tile with Minitaire Concrete Slab, as per the sidewalk portions of the street tiles detailed earlier. I think I actually over sprayed the earth too much. It doesn't really show through in the final tile, but, well, whatever.

Developing an Industrial Theme 

The second additional step was that I wanted to create something that could work for an industrial zone for placing chemical tanks, barrels, waste, or what have you. Hazard stripes are an easy way to do this that matches with the stripes I placed on one of the street tiles. The choice also helps to break up the otherwise perhaps-too-consistent feel of an urban city board and adds some interest. As you'll see in a moment, this -- combined with other mechanical elements in the tiles -- creates an industrial thematic to the tiles.

I chose one of the tiles that has once big concrete block rather than those that are made up of smaller concrete sections. I used the hairspray method to chip the paint off afterwards to give the area a well-worn vibe (industrial stuff is heavy and bangs against other stuff such as the ground, after all).

Finishing the Rest of the Tiles

With that, it was time to apply varnish to the tiles and get to oil washing. Because I was only working with the lighter concrete sections, I only had to apply burnt umber washes. It was a bit tricky to try to keep the wash concentrated in the cracks while leaving the "right" amount on the surface of the tiles to blot off with paper towels. The wash ended up being a bit heavier than I wanted, but -- again -- what are you gonna do, you know? I was able to remove most of what I thought was excessive staining with adding some paint thinner to the paper towels and wiping vigorously. I also found myself having to apply multiple thin washes to the big long cracks on the tiles with one big slab in the center and wiping off the bleed-over. But the results were worth it, I think.

Putting it Together 
and with that, the Tablescapes were complete!

Concluding Thoughts 
With that, the project is finished -- well almost. I want to add some heavy-duty GW Purity Seal (matte varnish) because the matte varnish was using (an artist's brand) seems a bit too delicate for gaming purposes (but does take the shine off just fine).

But with things being nearly done, few things jump out at me:
  • Overall, I think the paint scheme works really well and the results are definitely table-top worthy. I'm glad I simplified the Secret Weapons Miniatures tutorial a bit. I could have spent more time painting to a better quality, but I would have gotten into diminishing returns pretty quickly.
  • This is the first time I've used an airbrush for terrain or large, flat projects. It turns out it's a very easy, intuitive process - and really fast. Definitely going this route in the future.
  • Painting with oil paints is a lot of fun. You just need to mess around with oil washes to get comfortable with them and to understand their properties -- but once you do, it's a potent tool (I think I'll be integrating oil washing into my miniatures painting from here on as well).
  • With a consistent paint scheme, getting the tiles to match just kind of...happens. I was pretty nervous about this, but found managing consistency tile-to-tile wasn't too big of a deal. Some tiles don't match perfectly (too much or too little wash, different levels of airbrush opacity) but it doesn't seem to cause any aesthetic problems. Being a big-ass city, some variation makes sense.
  • I am considering a few extra details but am going to sit on it for the moment. I think I'll probably add grass tufts here and there (why not?) and may add some weather pigments once I re-seal the tiles -- but I'm leaning towards no because I don't want to ruin a good thing and I'm suspicious pigments can withstand the use and abuse of gaming.
  • Overall, I really have to hand it to Mr. Justin at Secret Weapon Miniatures. These tiles are a great product. I prefer them over the GW city tiles because in typical GW fashion, those seem to have a bit too-much-over-the-top details and, being that there are only two different kinds of 2ft x 2 ft tiles, they are also less flexible for gaming purposes. While the Forgeworld tiles are gorgeous and take advantage of vertical dimensions in a way the Secret Weapon tiles do not, they, too, are less flexible because of their size (and because they have built-in raised foundations, which forces building dimensions and placement). Besides, as I hope to show in the follow-up terrain to this project, one can can add interesting detail to a cityscape -- beyond vertical features --  beyond just buildings. I do have one criticism of the Secret Weapon Miniatures tablescapes: some of the streets have a textured surface, while others do not. This means that you are inevitably going to get slightly different appearances once they're painted, especially if you're using washes (or dry brushing). But I didn't find the difference between the textured-tiles and untextured-tiles to big enough to set off my nerd-OCD. Nonetheless, I cast a half-hearted fist-shake in your general direction, SWM and award you a mere 4.5 out of 5 stars for this product.

    And with that, I now have a gaming table. Actually, this is my first gaming table! Sweet. Double-sweet, actually, because I was a backer on the SWM Tablescapes project which means I waited a long time for these bad boys to paint. But it was worth it. Definitely. 


  1. You've really done these tiles justice. I am utterly in awe of the detail you pulled out of them. Gorgeous work!

  2. Really appreciate all the work you did on these and sharing your steps. I think they turned out great. Am totally going to follow your steps as I don't want to invest the time into how the "pros" did it. Nicely done!

  3. These have been three great blog posts and I'll be drawing from them for painting my set of urban tiles. The tile with the security barrier looks particularly good. Would you please be bale to elaborate on the method you used to paint the barrier and the grates in the road?

  4. Hey thanks - I actually don't remember exactly. It was something like

    Primed black
    Matalliic base
    Black wash
    Brighter metallic dry brush
    Oil wash (burnt umber )
    When dry, combination of rust pigments in a light wash (if you over do it, you can remove with alcohol and a qtip)

    1. -- niw that I think about it I think I used the sponging technique die the second metallic, not a dry brush :-)