Thursday, 1 August 2013

Quick Tips: Snowy bases

I recently bought some modelling snow from a UK based modelling supplier in order to add some "snow" to the bases of my models (I've always thought my basing to be "adequate but boring" so decided to add snow and static grass).

Upon receipt of the "snow" I fairly quickly came to the conclusion that what the substance actually was was good, old-fashioned "bicarbonate of soda". I'm no chemist and have done no testing but in appearance and texture I can discern no difference between the two products.

There's no huge difference in cost between the two though: the quantity of "snow" I got was similar in amount to the bicarbonate of soda tubs available in my local supermarket. It cost £2.70 for the snow as opposed to £0.99 for the baking product, but given that the quantity supplied was enough to base several hundred models I'm not feeling particularly ripped off.

I figured the best way to apply the snow (which I'm adding to bases which are already textured with sand, painted black and drybrushed grey) was to use white PVA glue. This didn't actually work out very well:
As you can see from the picture, the snow has a grey transparent look to it. Like dirty ice rather than snow.

I didn't like it.

I experimented with painting the area I wanted snow on in white, allowing the paint to dry and then applying the PVA and dipping into the snow. That worked but was a bit labour intensive.

I'm a lazy sod so I didn't like that either.

Then I came up with a solution: I realised that PVA and acrylic paint are both water-based so I got an empty paint-dropper-bottle and made a 60:40 mix of PVA and white paint in it. One application of the glue/paint mix and a dip in the snow powder and all is looking fine.

I will experiment with the ratio of the mix: I'd like more glue in it than I currently have as the paint is making it a bit runny. One of the things that seems to make the snow look best is if you can build it proud of the surface of the base in little "drifts" so it looks like it's settled thickly on the base.

I'm quite pleased with the result though:

Update: Since publishing this post I've picked up what sounds like a very interesting tip. Instead of spreading your paint/PVA mix on the base and dipping it in the snow, mix the snow powder into the glue/paint until it forms a thick paste. Then apply to the base - you can get much thicker "drfits" and add a lot more texture.

I've not had a chance to try this out myself yet but am very much looking forward to having a go. I'd also go a little further than I said earlier about having more glue in the glue/paint mix - I think for this you'd need at least an 80:20 mix of PVA:paint.