Sunday, June 24, 2018

Project Log: Wild West Exodus Harbor, Part 5

This project log focuses on a game table that I am building for Warcradle Studios– A Wild West Exodus themed harbor that will be on display in their booth at Gencon. This week, we'll take a look at another building and I'll show you how I make my water effects...


This refinery was probably the most complicated of the buildings. It has a lot of different construction materials– Brick, wood, stone, and metal. Like the other buildings, I made a foam core structure and covered it with the different surfacing material, in this caseprick-patterned styrene card and basswood "clapboard" panels for the wooden siding. The roof is also covered with shingle-textured styrene card, and then I added a ton of plastic strips for the metal framework.



The chimney was made from insulation foam that I textured with a stone pattern, and the chimney tops were constructed from plastic flutes that I picked up at the dollar store. They had a great shape and taper that was just perfect for this project.


The storage tanks on the side were made from various PVC pipe fittings, embellished with plastic strips and 'bolts" cut from styrene hex rod.


All of the building's components were kept separate so I can paint it more quickly. When it comes to the metal frame and the bricks, both will involve a lot of drybrushing and washing. Rather than finishing one and then meticulously working around it to pick out the other element, I will be able to paint each in one quick swath, and then glue the framework in place. Similarly, the porch and tanks can be painted as separate elements and then glued in place, ensuring that I can fit my brush in every recess.


The board itself was drybrushed with different greys and browns to create the appearance of weathered concrete. The metal was painted with a mix of Formula P3 Bloodstone and Pig Iron to replicate the color of rusted iron. More washes and streaks of Bloodstone and orange were added to weather the parts.


I washed Formula P3 Gnarls Green around the bottom of the bulkhead to bring up a mossy hue, and then drybrushed a little P3 Menoth White Base over the barnacles. I'm going to save the final shots of the painted board for after it debutes at Gencon.


For the water, I first coated the board with black latex paint. Next, I mixed some fine and coarse ballast into a cup of black latex paint and dabbed this near the edges to create clumps of 'foam."


The water was then painted with blues and greens (Formula P3 Gnarls Green, P3 Cygnar Blue Base, Meridius Blue), and finished off with white drybrushing on the foam.


For my water effects, I use Envirotex Lite Pour-On finish. It's a 2-part epoxy that dries clear and super shiny in about 24 hours. I always see people ask online what to use for water effects, and this is the stuff, right here. Accept no substitutes. It uses a 50/50 mix ratio, so you can "eyeball" it in two clear plastic cups. You can also add a drop of paint to tint the color if you wish. Make sure the surface is sealed with glue or paint, because this stuff will seep into foam, and down into any recesses.


For deep pours, I normally build a retaining wall wherever the foam goes to the edge of the board, but for this table, I'm using it as more of a surface coating. After mixing the Envirotex, I poured it in the center of the board and then spread it around with a paintbrush. (This kills the brush, so don't use a good one!) Because the Envirotex is spread so thin, there was no need to protect the edges, and I didn't have any drips. The trick to getting rid of bubbles in the epoxy is to blow over it with a heat gun set on low. This pops all the bubbles, ensuring a nice, clean surface. It's the sort of thing you need to keep an eye on, because more bubbles might develop after the initial pass, so you'll need to hit it with the heat gun again.


Here's a before and after shot of the water around the dock. I used the Envirotex to secure the dock in place– I simply set the dock into the wet epoxy and weighted it down until cured. Make sure the board is perfectly level and can sit undisturbed for at least 24 hours. Don't be tempted to touch it until it's completely cured; it will be tacky in the final hours of curing, and will leave fingerprints that will never go away. I like to paint a little swatch on a piece of scrap wood that I can check to see if the resin is cured. When that isn't tacky anymore, I know the Envirotex is done.



'Til next time!


  1. Fascinating, similar to a model railroad project that I was following a couple of years ago.

  2. This is brilliant stuff and thanks for the detail and tips so we can try to recreate in our own stuff.

  3. That water effect is great!

    and keeping your building in segments to paint separately is a good tip... even if hard to do for those that work slowly.


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