Thursday, December 12, 2013

Deadzone Terrain - Even Speedier Painting Guide

A few days ago I put up a tutorial/report on how to quickly paint Deadzone terrain using a couple of spray cans and a salt masking. While a lot of people seemed to like the guide, a lot were perhaps also put off by the use of an airbrush and even the salt.

So, let me present an even easier way to paint your terrain, using no airbrush and no salt. The effects you get aren't quite as great looking, in my opinion, and take a little practice to master, but are fast and simple to produce.

Start off with the first few steps as shown in the previous guide:
  1.  separate your tiles into vertical and horizontal piles (that is, walls in one pile, floors in the other).
  2. blu-tack your tiles to a strong sheet of carboard or other firm, flat, and portable surface.
  3. prime them - this time it doesn't really matter what colour, but I still recommend black.
Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide
It still looks like this.
Now, the first departure from the first guide's technique - go straight to painting on your main colour layer. In my case I am still using Vallejo's Model Air Pale Grey Blue and airbrushing it on, but you can use whatever colour you want. Use a lightish colour though like Army Painter's Wolf Grey (in theory you could just go straight to this step and skip the black primer!). Slightly patchy or uneven paint is still ok but you're still going to want to try to spray your wall sections from the 'top' to try to keep some of the black primer on the undersides of raised edges.

You will need a dark grey paint for the next bit. I made mine using pure black with just a hint of grey to break it up a bit, but you could just use something like Games Workshop's Mechanicus Standard Grey.

Now you take a piece of clampack foam - thats the dark grey sponge that comes in many 28mm miniatures, such as Dreadball MVP's - and use it to dab the dark grey paint onto your tiles.

  • Don't load the sponge with lots of paint. Think of it as being a bit like drybrushing - too much paint will spoil the effect.
  • Concentrate on hitting edges and corners. 
  • Don't smear the paint on, you will just get a sooty look. Dab it on. 
  • Mix up the angles you do it at to avoid getting repetitive patterns.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide
et voila
It might take a few goes to get the hang of it and understand how your sponge puts paint down. But thats the same with any technique. The good thing is a little experimentation here cannot hurt - the more worn, and messed around with your tiles are, the better they will look on the table.

In my previous guide I used salt masking twice; once for the paint chipping effect, and once for applying an accent colour. You can also sponge on the accent. I highly recommend you do this on at least some of your panels or you might end up with a slightly monochrome board.

 To do this, I masked off the area I want to colour. Then I dabbed on my accent, Golden Yellow, before reapplying my dark grey around the edges to bring back that chipped look.Dabbing on a little bit of the Pale Blue Grey would also help with that worn look.

Compared side by side, you can see how the two techniques come out. The dabbed on chips tend to make the tiles look more smoky while the chipped paint seems cleaner. Both are fine to put out on the table though.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

One area the sponge technique is probably better for is small parts. Crystallized salt can come in large chunks that are difficult to apply accurately to little things like handrails and ladders. From now on I plan to sponge those parts. The trick there will be making sure the paint I dab is the same shade as on the salted tiles.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

So there you have it - a fast, easy, and cheap way to quickly paint worn looking tiles that does not use an airbrush or any kind of advanced technique.

Later on I plan to play around with adding more weathering effects like rust and blood to some of my tiles so let me know if there's anything in particular you would like to see or know how to do.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below and, if you like the guide, please click on the ad as it helps keep me in spraycans :) And check out my guide to weathering your tiles here.


  1. This is great - thank you very much for taking the time to put it together. I will try to give it a go soon!

  2. I appreciate this guide. It's good information. Thank you. :)

  3. Great work; however, did I miss something? You separated out the horizontal and vertical tiles, but I didn't notice you treating them any differently.

  4. Ah, thats something that was in the first guide I did which is linked at the beginning of this one. Basically you spray the vertical tiles from the their top edge after you have primed them with black paint. This gives you a 'drop-shadow' effect, where less of the primary colour, grey in this case, is on the bottom surfaces of raised details. It saves you having to worry too much about shading. Not that there's anything wrong with adding shading later if you wish. Its just both the guides I did are about painting lots of tiles quickly and with a simple level of detail.

  5. Thanks for the guide!!! Nice work! I linked up to it at the Studio Mcvey forum: http://studiomcvey.com/forums/index.php?/topic/1592-terrain-painting/page__p__25770#entry25770

  6. Did you wet the sponges before dabbing the tiles?

  7. No. Just straight into the lip of the paint pot. I wipe the heaviest bits of on the edge - you don't want to blob it on the model you're treating. Thats me being a bit lazy, you can also put your paint out on the palette and mix it up with a bit of water like you would normally to paint.