Guants Work Bench: Fake Rocks and Aspens
I most likely didn’t spell Aspens right but you get the picture. After seeing another tutorial here on making real rocks look like modeled rocks done by Slash, I figured minds well share my ways of making fake rocks look like real rocks. And while we’re at well learn how to make some cool winter Aspen trees.
The final product Or something like that.
Pink or Blue insulation foam
A dull steak knife
Dark and light brown paints
Floral pieces(Ill get specifics later)
1) The pink brick
What you really want to do is go to home depot and buy a slab of pink foam. This stuff is about 15 for a 2′*8′ piece and believe me that goes a long way and can be used for everything. Then cut out roughly the shape and size you want for your rocky outcropping. Making several small irregular shaped ones can really add alot of depth and strategy to a gaming board or just your kitchen table. For the demo Ill start out with a small square block.
2) Stabby, Stabby
Next find a knife what you suspect you or your mom wont be using any time soon. Try and keep this knife by your side from now on as your modeling knife. Start by shaving off the sharp edges on top to give the block a less harsh look. Then comes the fun part. Randomly gouge out and stab the block to rip out odd shaped chunks. It helps if most of these are in the same direction but hey its your rock. Then just slice the block repeatedly horizontally, varying the placement and angle of the slices. *Here’s why you want a not so sharp knife, its easy to slice yourself while doing this so BE VERY CAREFULL. Put the rock down and put some figures around it, change anything you don’t like about the rock now. If it helps look at some real rocks for reference. This can be rather messy so just be prepared to clean everything up later. For the demo rock I didn’t do anything that crazy just your simple rock face.
3) Bust’n out the Paints
Now for the fun and even dirtier part. Your best bet is to go to your local arts store like Michael’s and buy some crappy quality paints for this. I suggest one big bottle of Americana Maple Brown for your base and a smaller bottle of Bittersweet Chocolate. Watering down the maple paint will help with coverage and effects on the rocks but don’t over do it, just a little water added in every so often will work wonders. Using a big brush just paint up the rock with the maple color or any other medium brown. Then with out rinsing your brush use he bittersweet chocolate and really ram it into the slashes and grudges you made earlier. You always want the recessed area to be a darker color. And while your at it mix some dark brown around on the surface to give it some natural variation. By now the brick looks like crap but that just how its supposed to look, later steps make it look awesome.
*Optional Step- The top of the rock formation can at this point in time either be painted like the rest of the foam or you can use white glue and glue down some dirt. Dirt is easy to get from your backyard but I suggest a small bag of medium grade concrete crushed stone. This will provide you with all shapes and sizes of rocks from dust to slate and miniature boulders. Take a good sized cup of what ever dirt you want and then put it on a cookie sheet and bake it in the oven fro 20 minutes. This will kill anything that was living in the dirt and your good to go. After the glue holding the dirt down on-top of the rock dries, just paint it up like the rest of the rock. This picture of the demo rock was taken before I used the optional step, but I did use dirt to add texture to the top of the demo as seen in later pictures.
And that concludes the first part of the tutorial on how to make rocks and Aspens. This is cause I’m still waiting for certain parts of the next part to dry. Stay tuned for next time when we finish painting our fake rocks and make some trees.
4) Make’in Mother Nature Proud
Anyhow back the scenery!! Now we’ll work on making some Aspens and then finish up the rocks. Youll want to go down to your craft store and buy some dried floral pieces that look like scale tree branches. Get a color that you feel will look good as the flowers or leaves on the trees. I picked a deep red but yellow or maroon would work also. Then separate a few pieces that have alot of foliage on top of them and grab a piece that has a thick central branch. You’ll want about 5 good sized pieces with foliage for one tree. Prune the extra twigs of off the thick piece so you have a big trunk to tape the rest of the pieces on to. You want the trunch to be big enough so you have something to grab onto with your fingers and still have enough room for the width of the tape.
Take some quality masking tape and rip of a good sized piece, extra can always be taken off later. Wrap the tape around the trunk piece once and then add one branch with foliage per time you wrap the tape around the trunk. When you have no pieces left or your tree is big enough just rip off the extra tape and smooth out the joints. It should look something like this
Now for painting! Start with a base of some sort of neutral grey. I use Neutral Grey by Americana. Paint as much as you want of the branches and all of the trunk. This will provide for a good base. Then use white to highlight the rest of the branches and dry-brush the trunk. This should give you a good looking contrast and really bring out the tree. If you want to add more detail to the trunk then go back with a darker grey and black to make slash marks and areas where the outer bark has ripped away. Use real pictures for reference. Here’s my demo tree with some highlighting. This tree should have taken you about 15 minutes to make from start to painted and ready to be planted. Making them in an assembly line fashion you could make alot in a short period of time.
Now that you have a single tree or a whole forest, its time to put the finishing details on your rocky outcroppings. Take a big brush and grab a lighter color of brown then you used earlier. Anything as light as sand will work. Get some paint on your brush and then wipe some off. After you have done so, stroke from the top to the rocks down, highlighting any ridges and rough spots. Keep doing this until you as happy with the effects. Any areas that didn’t get the right high lights can always be painted on with the lighter brown manually. You will also want to drag some lighter paint across the top of the model to give the dirt there a good highlight also. As seen below:
At this point in time you can do what ever you want. Drop on more high lights with a lighter color or you can use black washes to bring out more details or you can just leave them they way they are. Game ready and kick-ass. I personally like to add snow to contrast the dark rocky colors but that’s only because I have a snow themed playing board. For my dessert one I use another highlight of the base color that all the dessert rocks are painted in, all depends on what type of board you are making.
*Planting TreesI suggest that you plant your trees as followed. Take a nail or something else that’s solid and press it into the foam. This will make a good sized hole for you to start off in. Then press the trees exposed base into the foam until you are happy with the way it looks. The tree can always be taken back out and put somewhere else or stored for when the scenery is traveling.
And here’s the demo rock and tree ready for some war-gaming.(Pushed the tree in deeper to hide the curled up masking take at the bottom of the tree int he picture) Bring in the heavy bolters and flamers!!!
I hope that you enjoyed the first of hopefully many “From Guants Workbench” tutorials on how to make scenery. I wanted to keep this simple enough where any newbie to the hobby could grab some paint and a knife and with a little practice make some good stuff for his friend and himself to play on. As a veteran model railroader, there is plenty more where this came from.