Its at this point that the terrain project is really starting to take shape. Adding color is a little like bringing primed miniatures to life, but on a larger scale. I've used Games Workshop's How to Make Wargames Terrain for inspiration and techniques. In between waiting for things to dry, I'd thought about the sort of color scheme I wanted. For the Great War period of course, color photographs are hard to come by. An interesting selection are found at this website. My recreation is based on reviewing other websites that have done similar projects, color illustrations, contemporary photography, museum dioramas, as well as film elements from both documentaries and dramas.
Above and below: color images like these show life in a well-ordered training trench and the devastation wrought by artillery bombardments
Above: The highly-detailed and animated dioramas conserved at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra provide both inspiration for the modeler, and a reflection on the savagery of the conflict that claimed so many lives
The challenge here is to create something that is not too far from reality, but nevertheless engaging and inviting to play on. "Inviting" probably isn't the right word for trench warfare. Other websites have talked about this as well, in terms of modeling the First World War. I decided on a two stage approach, by initially focusing on producing a ruined landscape, and then experimenting with the addition of color to bring it to life.
I took my How to Make Wargames Terrain book down to the local hardware (Home Depot to be precise), and used the back page and some of the illustrations to match with color chips on display there. This is something the publishers actually suggest doing if you have a lot of surface to color. I was aiming for a combination found in some of the terrain projects in the book: a base coat of Bestial Brown, followed by highlighting with Vomit Brown and Bleached Bone. I got a quart of each and took them home. Now on to the painting.
I picked up each terrain piece and gently shook the loose sand and gravel off. You can also tap on the backs of the boards. Once I was satisfied that most of the loose stuff was off, I laid the boards down and got to work painting the base color. The first thing I noticed was just how porous the sand mix was. I'm going to need a lot more Bestial Brown substitute.
I let things dry and then proceeded with the highlighting steps, allowing four hours of so between the second and third coats. I have to say the result was even better than what I had hoped for.
But next comes the moment of decision - how far should I go to make the board a little more attractive with some grass texture? More about that step in my next blog.