Friday, 27 March 2015

Waterloo farm tutorial - painting and basing

Following on from my post on the finished farm I have done a tutorial as I had a request after previous farms I have done. It is mainly a tutorial on how I base buildings but with a bit about my general approach to painting whitewashed buildings.

Painting Belgian farm buildings

This is an overview of how I paint whitewashed buildings for Belgium farms. First a bit of a look at J&R buildings. Most of what I use are resin from different makes but J&R are in some sort of plaster, this has a number of difference to resin:

  • the models come with a lot more damage. Partly bubble holes from the casting but also as they come in packs they can have knocked together and big chunks of detail can be knocked off, particularly gable ends;
  • whether this is the material or by design but the building can be a lot more wonky - far less regular and square than most resin makes. This is actually something I like as period buildings are likely to be a bit wonky!
  • Being plaster it paints differently even on top of the under coats.

A couple of pictures of a barn before I repair it - this one is not too bad, the ones with the gable ends heavily damaged I had already repaired and started painting before I thought to do the tutorial! But being plaster it is easy to repair as you would your own home with a ready mixed filler. I use Polycell Polyfilla Woodflex as it sets very hard and you can get good texture for basing etc. so a great all round filler for the wargamer.

I then spray black and brush on Vellejo Dark grey as the base. This one actually had the gable ends (i.e. the ridges above the rood at the ends) virtually destroyed so you can see it is easy to get it back to what it should look like.

Here are the paints I use:

I guess any decent dark grey would do but the white is important for the effect. Previously I had to use a new pot before the paint thickened at all or put some in an old lid and water slightly but the new Games Workshop paint types are really helpful; the layer colours are not designed to cover large areas with a good cover and so work just as I want using White Scar from the pot.

This is the first stage of the white. For the plaster buildings this needs to be dabbed on with a big old brush, the one I am using is size 6 (needs to be pretty wrecked and it soon will be using this technique!). The brush can be loaded more or less normally as the dabbing technique needs to spread the paint around to avoid patches with too dense a white. There should be grey showing through and patches that a more or less white. It then takes two or three more coats of white - need to let dry in between but if you do buildings as a production line you can go back to the front of the queue and it will be ready for the next coat (by the way, after initially painting buildings on the base I found it is massively easier to paint first then glue on. Sometimes with walls you need to use the filler, paint grey and add white back on to cover gaps but it is still the best way to get things done quickly and more accurately painted). This actually means you can stop when you are happy and have more of a freshly whitewashed effect or an old whitewash effect as you desire.

After the white is done the grey needs repainting for the roof and dry brushed with Vallejo Neutral Grey (70992) then Light Grey (70990). Or for a red tile effect I use Vallejo Red Leather (70818), a wash of Games Workshop Agrax Earthshade then dry brush Vallejo Light Brown (70929). The doors I paint first with Vallejo German Camouflage Black Brown (70822), then the wood panels (if cast or paint wide stripes as if they were present if the model detail is not there) using Games Workshop Mournfang Brown, then using a detail brush (5 or 10 zero) some thin lines of Vallejo US Field Drab (70873) down the panels.

The finished bits to make Gemioncourt. The long barns are resin bits from a La Haye Saint model I got from Germany. These are done in a brick effect finish so painting the white is a slightly different approach; instead of dabbing they can be heavily dry brushed initially but finished off with a dabbing type approach because I don't want to leave it looking like individual bricks and want some white in the gaps between bricks but some of the gaps still showing grey.

A short aside with another model finish. These are Leven Mont Saint Jean buildings and it is part way between a rendered and a brick effect so a further slight modification to the painting of the white. First a dry brush but with a lot of the paint removed to get an initial coating of white - still looks very grey but this is the base you need to go back to dabbing on paint to finish off in another 2 or 3 coats. First stage, finished white and then a finished building below (all different ones as they are handily at different point on my production line).

Basing the buildings

I use 1,5mm or 2.0mm plasticard to base my buildings. The thicker 2.0mm when the base is larger or the buildings more numerous or heavy, but 1.5mm if it will been enough as that is the base thickness for my bases for figures. In this case white plasticard but I actually have moved over to using black now as it helps with gluing on sand and painting it - white is a bit bright if any plastic visible. Just still have some pre-cut white bases to use up.

For Gemioncourt I have used a 6 inch square base. The ground scale/ size is based on two things. Mostly it is the standard sizes for built up areas from In The Grand Manner rules – don't use them now but all my Napoleonic basing is a scaled down version as that is the rules I started on. So for a 48man village it is 6 inches square and for 36 man  it is 4.5 inches square. But it is also partly down to looking at what buildings are needed to match the actual thing, what is available and then what size it would sit on. So for Gemioncourt it is as much that I need a 6 inch square base to fit on the buildings I need as a decision on whether it is really a 36 man or 48 man built up area.

As noted above I have found it much better to paint the building and then glue them on a base as it is really awkward to do a good job if you have to manhandle a large base to get the paint brush where it needs to go.

I use superglue to glue the buildings down. In this case I have added a couple of haystacks as it is a large courtyard for this farm and I wanted to fill it with some farm like clutter to add to a realistic look. Again these are painted first. Other things are added later.

For farms I use a different sand and paint job for the courtyard and paths to the entrance and then for more general ground. The sand for the courtyard is a finer sand without small stones in it while more normal ground I use a sharp sand (I got a huge bag from the DIY shop and sifted out all the big stones until it just had the mix I need for my 10mm figures and scenery bases. Cost me about £1 at the time and can be used for years). You will be able to see some of the differences in the painted versions later on but below is the sand for courtyards followed by the more general use one.

First I do the courtyard and paths with a white glue brushed on with a large brush with a good point (about size 4). Sprinkle the sand on and leave for a bit - if you tip the sand off straight away then glue will seep through depending on how thick you ended up brushing it on. Because it is a white base and the finer sand is more likely to leave gaps I actually painted the courtyard first with the brown I will eventually paint the sand, but I don't do this when using black plasticard.

Next do the same thing with white glue and the sand for the general ground areas on the outside edges.

A close up that helps a bit to show the different effects with the two types of sand.

Next comes painting and I use the following:
  • For the courtyard Vallejo 70873 US Field Drab, watered down heavily and brushed on with a large brush (mostly it is directing the flow of the watery paint and not loading the brush too much at once as it just soaks in more and loosens the glue rather than spreading further);
  • when dry courtyard dry brushed with Vallejo 70988 Khaki, but then gradually adding white to lighten up the dry brush and have the bits that stick up most with the lightest dry brush;
  • general ground is painted with a heavily watered Asphaltum acrylic - I use this for figures too and so have an old Games Workshop pot with ready made thinned paint (you can see the stages on my figure basing tutorial and it is essentially the same process);
  • I then dry brush the general ground with Vallejo 70824 German Camouflage Orange Ochre - this is a heavy dry brush and other than making sure it does not go all over the buildings you don't need to be particularly careful;
  • finally for the general ground a dry brush of Games Workshop Ushabti Bone (used to be Bleached Bone). More care needed on this and I do 3 or 4 dry brushes with most of the paint removed to gradually build up the right effect and not get it on too much particularity below the most prominent stones.

So stage one with the sand painted - then left to dry and the white glue underneath to harden again in case it was softened from the watery paint.

Stage two dry brushing both areas in their different colours as explained above.

A close up of the courtyard.

A close up of the two different areas which hopefully helps with both the different textures but also the colours used.

Next to add the static grass. This is in two stages, first with a mix then a lighter green. I used a very watery white glue to apply in patches to the ground areas and then sprinkle over the static grass, then repeat. Again this is just the same as I use for figures and you can see more of a step by step in my basing tutorial. A few small patches add in the courtyard, particularly in corners and along edges of buildings as part of this process.

Lastly it is the the finishing touches to make it more 'real':

  • a couple of 6mm trees, these are from Timecast;
  • some tufts and underbrush added - I use Woodland Scenics Underbrush (light green FC135) and a variety of tufts from different makes;
  • a few barrels dotted around (these are from Perfect Six);
  • a wheel against one wall which is an Adler cannon wheel;
  • a couple of sacks which are Pendraken 10mm WW2 items (listed in their German range I think - crates and sacks).

All the above are added at the end and glued onto the finished basing - the trees are stuck into a drilled hole.

The Waterloo buildings I have done so far are:

Quatre Bras
La Belle Alliance
La Haie (La Haye)
La Haye Sainte
Hougoumont (version 1)

Also, for an easy way to see all my Napoleonic posts check out the Napoleonic summary page.


  1. That's a great teach in Steve. I am with you on the wrecked brushes ...sometimes you still just need them.

  2. Wow, very impressive, a nice post with a splendid result!