Wednesday 6 July 2011

Scatter Terrain – Pitcher Plants (part 2)

Where we got to last time
Last time, we cut up drinking straws and chopped up DVDs. Gluing the straws to the DVDs with PVA, we coated the rest of the DVDs with a water/PVA mix and sprinkled on some sand for texture. Our goal is to create alien Pitcher plants for use as scatter terrain. Once everything was positioned and glued, some quality drying time was in order.

Drop da Bomb
Undercoated pipes
The PVA was dry by the next morning, but I only had time during the following week to undercoat the terrain pieces. I use a small cardboard box as a spray box when spray-painting as otherwise the spray seems to go everywhere. Placing my terrain bases in the paint box, I spray painted them black with a cheap black paint I had bought at the hardware store. Done and dusted in seconds – I have become a real convert to spray painting undercoat. Once blacked out, I again left the terrain pieces to dry.

Bom da Base
Red sands take shape
Chris’ Red Planet terrain board article inspired my choice of colours when I finally came to paint up my scatter terrain. Using my old Military Miniatures Red (similar to Games Workshop Blood Red, though not as thick), I filled the brush and dipped it in water before painting, essentially creating a red wash that I then applied to the black undercoated base. As you can see, the overall effect is a seemingly random bright and dull red base, depending upon how much water is mixed with the paint at any one point of the painting. If the colour you get is too bright, just add some more water to thin the paint. If it looks too anaemic, then add more paint.

Stone Cold
Stone fields of MarsBy the time I had worked my way around all the bases, the first ones I had painted were starting to dry. Breaking out the Tamiya Dark Grey (any dark or stone grey will do), I then dry-brushed the larger sand particles. This creates the illusion of a stone field scattered over the finer red dust. Of course, I could have just PVAed on a scattering of grit, but PVA often leaves a glossy residue when it dries. This way, I could decide exactly how much stone I wanted and how much I could leave as red dust.

Pitchin’ Plants
Pitcher plants
I then had to decide what colour to paint the plants, themselves. My first versions of Pitcher Plants were painted Dark Angel Green with Catachan Green lips. Green on green looked alright close up, but was fairly dull at ‘standard wargames viewing distances’ – about 3’ away. For my second attempt, when I built my Chaos portals, I again went for Dark Angel Green (I like the colour) but with Gore Red lips. These really stood out and I was quite pleased with them. As I was painting plants for a dry-world, this time around, I decided to go for a khaki trunk with Wine Red lips (both these colours are from the Gunze Sangyo Hobby Colour range of model aeroplane paints which makes them perfect for weird plants and pants for anything else). Plants and pods
In the photo, the Wine Red looks more like Shocking Pink lipstick so, I guess, that’s pretty alien. Most desert plants are dull greens and browns, and if the Pitcher plants are carnivorous, they need to attract prey; so bright colours will at least make the local fauna curious.

I sealed the open ends of the two glass beads I had added to one of the bases with a blob of paint. I then painted the beads in the same colour scheme as the Pitcher plants themselves. The beads are now either pods, or Pitcher plants on the digest part of their cycle.

Finishing Off
Finished plants With the plants pretty much finished, I decided to add a little flock to the bases. If we assume that the Pitcher plants tend to grow where there’s a little ground water on our dry world, and supplement their diets with little animals also looking for the ground water, then it’s likely that other, ground hugging plants might also be present. Using my manky glue brush, I dabbed some PVA and water mix in spots on the bases and sprinkled the sticky areas with some of my green flock.
I had intended to do this part of the process with my ‘dry grass’ flock but that, unfortunately, ran out a couple of weeks ago. When flocking with the darker green flock, less is definitely more.

And that’s about it. Plastic responds to heat in interesting ways. The ultra-thin drinking straws literally melt before your eyes, while the plastic of, say, drink bottles is a lot more robust and requires a lot more working. Experiment. Be careful. And let us know how you get on.

- David


  1. The compacted pitchers are a great idea.

  2. Love it- definitely gonna try this for terrain for my sci-fi project.


  3. When i get around to making some weird alien fauna for the games table ill give something like these a go, im a big fan of scratch building stuff for wargames table i feel its a very satisfying and rewarding aspect of our hobby in its own right. zac

  4. Yep... my Red Planet board definitely needs some of these!

  5. I love alien looking plant life it really helps bring a sci fi wargame to life! A pet hate of mine is sci fi terrain that makes it looks like the battle is taking place in rural England!