Desert Tower Tutorial by Adam Carey
Introduction - Here I'll provide a step-by-step process on how to make your terrain really pop on the battlefield. We're going to use the tower as our example, but these steps can be applied to any of the desert buildings provided by Imperial Terrain.
1st Prime - First thing's first - Priming. With 3D printed models, often there will be "ridges" that appear from the process of layering that these printers use. With 3D printed terrain it's often a good idea to start with an aerosol automotive primer. These are made to fill in tiny scratches, so it helps to smooth out these ridges. I like to prime with black, as I feel it helps colors pop a little better. Let it sit for a few hours in a well ventilated space, as automotive primers are especially odorous.
Texture and 2nd Priming - Next we want to add some texturing! Vallejo's Thick Mud is perfect for these buildings. The easiest way to apply this is to use a popsicle stick to grab a glob from the jar and then slather it around the model with your finger. I like to texturize select spots to give a worn feel, but go ahead and coat the entire model if you want more of an "adobe hut" feel. Let the mud set and dry for 24 hours before you do anything else.
It's time to prime again! I prefer Army Painter's line of primers, Matt Black is my go-to for almost all primers. It dries quickly, usually within 15-20 minutes and you should be good. This second coat of priming is for the mud. It will help smooth it out a bit.
Base Coat - Now we apply the base coat. Personally, I prefer using Reaper's line of paints as they are fairly thin paints to start (if this is your first time hobby painting - Rule #1 is always thin your paints!). You want a darker tan color for the base coat, Reaper's Terran Khaki is great for this. For these models, grab the biggest brush you've got (again, Army Painter's "Vehicle/Terrain" brush is great for this job). You're probably going to want to apply two to three layers and you don't want to be at this for hours. Don't worry about perfection here, you'll be doing the detail work later so if you catch some of the bits you didn't want to paint yet, it's no big deal.
Shading - Next is shading. Citadel does a great line of washes, and Agrax Earthshade is a wonderful catch all shader. These models are supposed to look a little dirty, so all you need to do with this is dip your huge brush into the jar and slather away on the model. Don't worry if some areas end up a little darker than others - it's all going to end up looking fine. The only thing I would keep an eye on with this process is pooling at the bottom of the model. When the wash starts to pool (and it will), grab a smaller brush and soak it up then apply it back to a spot you haven't hit yet (or just wipe it off). Let dry for an hour or so.
Drybrushing - Here's where the model is really going to pop! Vallejo makes a paint that is perfect for desert terrain, Dark Sand (I use it for all my desert models' bases as well). Take your large brush (f you're not using Army Painter's brush, make sure your brush has a flat end, not round, as it will be easier to control) and dip it in your paint. Now, wipe the brush on a paper towel over and over until there is very little paint coming off on the towel. Now take your brush and start wiping it on the model. This will apply the remainder of paint on the brush to the edges of the texturing, making it really pop. At this point - the hard work is mostly done, and all you've got left is detailing!
Doors - The doors of Mos Eisley are fairly uniform, so I wanted to capture that effect. For this model, I used Reaper's Chestnut Brown for the base, coated in trusty Agrax Earthshade for shading, then drybrushed with Citadel's Hashut Copper to give it a metallic look.
Details - Everything else is detailing to taste. For the panels, I wanted to have some bright colors to emphasize these are lights. The boxes around the base I wanted to make different colors to make it feel real. There's a kind of moisture vaporator-looking deal on the roof, so I figured I'd paint it as such (Reaper's Leather White for base, wash with Citadel's Seraphim Sepia, then drybrush with the Leather White again). The grey piping and vents I used Reaper's Shadowed Stone as the base and Citadel's Nuln Oil for wash. After everything is done, some spot applications of drybrushing with the Dark Sand paint will give it that "lived-in" look.
And that's it! These models are really fun to paint, and a decent paint job will really make your battlefield an exciting place.