Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Well Takes Shape

Now, we want to start adding filler to shape the well and create a mood that fits its potential environments.  I want it fairly weathered and asymmetrical; I am thinking abandoned towns, ancient cities, and dank dungeons.   So, I am only going to add enough spackle to fill in the gaps and make it appear the mortar has either eroded away or only a small amount was used in the original project.  This is what we are starting with:


You can see quite a bit of gaps allowing light to shine through - that's ok; I think of these gaps as room for the model to develop personality.  Let's get those gaps filled and see what becomes of our mysterious well.
Normally, I always add a bit of water and a bit of paint to prepare the spackle for application.  When the spackle is wet, it is easier to work.  Adding a little bit of water, the spackle still holds it shape and has some spring to it; good for vertical fills and connecting two points.  Adding more water creates a slurry, good for when you want gravity to work for you and have the spackle settle into low areas.  I advise starting with a bit of water, as I almost always do, because you will be wetting your tools and fingers as you go, so the spackle will get wetter as you need it o without turning to soup.

I also recommend acrylic paint being mixed into the spackle.  The paint will make the spackle crack less when it dries, gives it some springiness once dry (resists chipping….a bit), as well as helps in the later painting stages if your spackle is supposed to be some other color than bright white.

I wanted to use up some spackle I was using for my desert terrain before it dries, so this spackle in the photos will be reddish in color because I had used a burnt sienna acrylic paint to tint it.  I would recommend using two drops of black and four drops of brown paint because it makes a nice “dirty” base.  The reddish color needed a lot more work than I had thought.  It was not as bad as  if i left it bright white, but it still required an extra few steps of inking after the spackle dried before the painting began.   I carved a popsicle stick and toothpick so I could get the spackle into every single gap, no matter how small or inaccessible.

Next step is adding the spackle.  I start with the inside gaps.  Any place light shines through (hold the well up to a lamp or shine a flashlight onto it) gets spackle pushed in.  I use my hands, but you can use a popsicle stick, too.  Either way, remember to dip your finger/tool in water periodically so the spackle releases easily.  You want the spackle to fill all the holes.  Below is a snapshot of the inside filled.  You do not need to worry too much if it cover your stones.  The next step is when you determine how much of the stone ends up exposed.  The amount of coverage depends upon the look you want to achieve. 


Now, get a sponge or some foam.  I use the foam that I pulled out of my miniatures carriers.  You can also use the foam that is packed in most miniatures when they ship.  Grab a cup of water.   Wear some clothes you don’t mind getting splashed (just in case) and put down some plastic or paper.  With the wet sponge, wipe across the spackle-covered stones with medium pressure.  This will smooth the spackle, push it into the lower crevices, and remove it from the upper part of the stone, leaving it exposed.  Again, you will wash as much or as little to get your desired look.  Keep the sponge wet and continuously clean it out with fresh water so you are not just smearing spackle everywhere.   I used medium pressure and I did the entire inside well once, let it dry, went back to that night and wiped it again to get my final look that I liked. 

 I wanted a look where the mortar has worn away and the only remaining mortar holds the stones, for only a few more years.  If I didn't remove enough spackle, I would wash it again for a third time.  If I remove too much, I have to add some spackle and then wash again.  I like the inside so I repeat the same steps for the outside.  This is what it looks like after the outside is done:


I then let the well dry for the night.  In the morning, I will begin the staining of the spackle and then the painting of my well.  Until then, make your miniature world in your image!

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