Tide Pools, a modified paint scheme to create a new biome in Dwarven Forge terrain

Miniature terrain pieces form a seaside landscape in a color scheme of tan, rust, and green with water indicated by gloss on the pieces and a "negative build" using  mats with water images below the pieces. The exposed ground ends in a cliff face. Small animals appear in the landscape, with two people at the top right corner working near a boat.
Low tide at the coast. Time to unload a small boat and sail out again before the tide comes in. Turtles, crabs, rays and other creatures of the coastline forage for food amongst the sprawling bits of kelp.

One of the peoples of Kabalor, the Shafori, are coastline dwellers and I’d been really puzzling about how I was going to illustrate their towns with a build. Dwarven Forge, makers of the excellent miniature terrain I use, has dungeons, caverns, cities, castles, hellscapes, forests, mountains, and swamps, but no beachside biomes.

I realized, looking at the pieces, that the cavern sculpts could be adapted for a low tide look, converting slow drips of limestone to draped kelp and anemones. It took me a while to go from idea to implementation, though, as this is a very big paint scheme. Many steps and lots and lots of detail work. But I love the result! This will work for tide pools, riverbanks, and even somewhat muddy caves.

A detail of the low tide landscape showing the pieces more closely. It reveals the gloss added to indicate wet areas and a tiny crab placed beside one of the pieces.
Odd light reflection in this one caused the cliffs to look much more white than they actually are, but the other colors are accurate. The mats underneath the build are from Mats By Mars. The tiny crabs and turtles are metal jewelry charms.

The big lesson from this project is that doing test pieces works. I worked out the scheme on four varied pieces and kept those around a while to confirm I really liked them (and a couple color adjustments I wanted to make) before I tackled the full project, assembly line style. It got fairly dull at points; it’s about 50 or 60 individual pieces to do each step on, but the end result is really fabulous. Along the way, I completely caught up with all the channels I subscribe to on YouTube and made progress in a couple audio books. 😆

The reaction to the paint scheme in the Dwarven Forge community on Discord was really nice. Lovely folks. Great to get cheered after crossing the finish line of something that has been gracing my craft table for a couple months!

Another detail of the low tide landscape, in which animal miniatures are tucked in a few places. In the "deeper water" indicated by the mat protruding below the pieces a little black rubber manta ray swims into the bottom frame of the picture.
Always check the tiny plastic animals bins in toy stores and kids museum’s shops; never know when you’ll find a game-scale manta ray!

Here are the painting instructions:

  • Start from unpainted or from cavern paint scheme.
  • This uses all Pokorny paints, plus Golden Gel Gloss Medium for the water areas.
  • Heavy dry brush / base Earth Stone avoiding pools of water, allow to dry.
  • Dry brush 3:1:1 Stucco & Earth Stone & Olive Dry Brush avoiding pools of water, allow to dry.
  • Some Stones for Erinthor mountains paint scheme accent and compatibility, Base Grey, allow to dry
  • – Some Stones: dry brush 1:1 Earth Stone & Olive Dry Brush, allow to dry
  • – Some Stones: feather light dry brush Cavern Stone Dry Brush
  • Kelp: heavy dry brush Base Wood, allow to dry
  • – Kelp: light dry brush Terra Cotta Dry Brush, also on any area that should look more sandy and on the sides of pieces
  • Pools, low spots, and anemone centers: detail brush 5:1 Sludge and Shallow Water Seaweed Green, allow to dry
  • Pools, low spots,  and anemone centers: very light dry brush 1:1 Moss Green and a fairly light blue like Water Bubbles Blue
  • “thoughtful touches”: paint various critters in appropriate colors e.g. mushrooms -> alternate anemone color like pale pink; bat -> brown crab;  side of piece buried coins/eggs? -> light gray clams.
  • Anything wet: clear gloss, filling puddles thoroughly since the gel gloss medium will shrink. (Also it will dry very slowly over several days. It starts out white and then finally becomes clear.)

Author: Dinah from Kabalor

Author. Discardian. GM. Current project: creating an inclusive indie fantasy ttrpg https://www.patreon.com/kabalor

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