Monday, August 15, 2011

Home-Made Snow Effect for Bases

 by Gareson
There are many options for gamers when it comes to simulating snow effects on miniature bases;  personally, I like taking the homemade route. With a few minutes and a few inexpensive supplies, you can create effects such as these...
(click on any images below for larger pictures)
The materials you'll need for this project are few(and cheap!):
~Baking Soda
~White Glue(such as Elmer's)
~White Paint(preferably inexpensive craft paint)
~Container for Mixing(old blister or dixie cup, etc.)
~stick(or paint brush) for mixing
~old paint brush
Before going on, I must warn: do not leave out the paint!  It might seem excessive as the baking soda and glue are white(the color of snow to the eye!), and, your mix would even be white without the paint.  However, after a couple of weeks the snow will yellow as it oxidizes...and of course yellow snow is something different entirely(maybe appropriate for Khadoran War Dog basing).   Including the paint prevent this
Creating the Snow:  Well this is a little more art than science, but I like a mixture of 2 parts baking soda to 1 part glue and 1 part paint.  Now you may have to experiment a little bit to get the snow you way YOU want it...but that's part of the beauty of this approach(you can customize the look).  Generally if you use too much of the liquids(glue and paint), your snow will be a little runny.  If you use too much baking soda, it will be dry and flaky. The happy middle is a mixture which is somewhat moist(like a paste) but still has the visible grain of the baking soda(to simulate tiny flakes).  If you are on the "wet" side, just mix in more baking soda until you have a consistency you like.  Don't be afraid to apply your mix to cardboard or other scrap to judge the effect to make sure you are happy with the snow. For this tutorial, my batch looked like this....
This small batch would easily accommodate over 30 bases...a little goes a long way!
For applying the snow I prefer a paint brush.  No need to use a fine miniature brush...although everything here cleans up with water so it will clean up nicely afterwards.  Dip the end of your small brush into the mix and, for lack of a better term, "dab" the snow onto the base where desired.  Now you could cover the base in snow, or, as I prefer, leave some of the dirt texture below.  Also, you can add as much snow to the base as you wish to create depth, or stroke the brush lightly across the surface of the mini base for a "dusting" of snow. 
In the end my demo mini came out looking like this...
(I went for a shallow, dusting of snow)
For a brief video walk though where I mix up and apply some snow effect, you can watch the video below(double click on it to enlarge it)...
Here's the entire Kossite unit done with this effect...

Also, this same snow mix is a great way to accessorize terrain pieces for a winter themed board as you can see on some pieces that I've done below...
Are there "fancier" ways to do snow with retail products that achieve nice results? Sure.  But if you have some of the above materials on hand(or just a few dollars)'ve got yourself some snow...and you can never have too much(wait, I'm a New Yorker...yes, YOU CAN have too much!).  

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