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July 27, 2013

My Journey to the Spring of Darga One Eye

by PeterG

Some of the most fun I have ever had wargaming involved a multiple year Warhammer campaign.  As I had chosen to run a Dwarf host and had a fair number of units already painted I wanted to work on some themed terrain pieces.  One of my favorite units is my “old school” Ironbreakers that look like knights and decided the first piece I would attempt would be the Sacred Spring of Darga One Eye (the legendary Slayer but more on Dwarf history another time) which these doughty templars seek.  Following is the tale of my own quest to find the spring, foibles and successes both as it really is all about the journey after all.

Guardians of the Spring
“When at first you don’t succeed…” is cliche’ because it is true.  How very frustrating setbacks can be so this is part of my attempt to focus on lessons learned rather than time and materials lost.  Taking a preformed, plastic play set (in this case a Trilobite habitat) and converting it to a water feature suitable for a war-games table seemed a simple matter of “Paint (see above) and Pour”.  Ah how naive and far away that view seems now.  The first lesson learned was that Games Workshop Water Effects ages on the shelf, badly.  The bottle I used was two years old, previously opened and partially used all of which added to the complications that beset me.  Following the directions it took over twice as long for the material to reach solidity and transparency.  That should have been a warning but I am ever so good at hoping for the best.

Ah, such potential...

Ah, such potential…

The next lesson to be gleaned from the chaff was that different brands of synthetic water effects DO NOT mix well.  Heck, you can’t even layer them.  Running low on Games Workshop Water Effects and patience I decided to use Woodland Scenics Water Effects for the remainder of the project as I had always had good results with it.  True to experience the WS’s material cured quickly and clearly with the luxury that it can be poured in deeper layers than the GW.  Unfortunately it also softened the original GW layer turning it white.  This would have been great for a chemical plant or murky swamp (make a note for later experiments) but undermined much of what I hoped to achieve.  I had hoped it would turn clear again but once the changed density of the under layer caused cracks in the upper it was time to pull it all out and try again.  Not surprising, it ripped up the layers of texture and paint requiring me to reseal, re-prime and repaint.  Sigh

First Fish(c)

Hmm, something not working right...

Hmm, something not working right…

After they were glued in and half submerged in Water Effects I liked the Sculpy fish I had created then painted less and less.  Initially force of habit had me using the standard beige clay and adding the silver body and blue details in paint after baking.  The more I looked at them the more they looked like balloons of cartoon fish, like something from a Japanese festival.  Since they had become permanent parts of the water material I dug out I was forced to redo them from scratch anyway.


I have discovered that using silver clay and focusing on the shape rather than details of a fish produces a much better result.  The lack of detail actually lends a sense of motion, which in turn adds to the illusion that these are real fish.


Ready to try pouring water effects, again.

I glued in a mix of grasses along the shallows but wanted to keep the plant life to a minimum as it would be an underground spring in many battles.  I also added more fish than the first run and an eel mostly because I was enjoying sculpting them so much

First pour for the second time.

First pour for the second time.

These close ups nicely show the depth of the water, plant life and even the submerged skeleton of the long deceased dragon slain by Darga.



When the water had reached proper depth it was time to add the spring and ripples.  After experimenting with numerous materials in the end the Liquitex Gloss Heavy Gel seemed the best suited for my bubbling water flow.   It sculpts nicely, holds a shape fairly well and dries completely clear plus being transparent, thick paint, it is easy to move around with a brush.  I am now tempted to get my old fountains and watering troughs out to add a little water using the gel medium but that direction lies madness.

Freshly applied ripples

Freshly applied ripples

An unfortunate and annoying air bubble near the base of the spring (at least I assume that’s what it is) was most distracting until I applied the ripples of gel over it thus rendering it invisible.  I used a putty knife to apply the gel to the surface of the “cone” and a well watered brush to shape it into flowing water.  I tried to keep the layers thin to guarantee quick drying as well as transparency.

The waterfall "dry"

The waterfall “dry”

As I am so very fond of the final deepwater effect I have kept the surface ripples to a minimum.  Despite setbacks and frustration I am actually looking toward stream and river sections with eddies and depth as my next water features.  Perhaps there is a masochistic streak in me after all.  Might be best to get to the Dwarven Brewery next.  It is, after all, why they were looking for the spring in the first place and it is half finished. Here are another couple shots of the proud dwarfs.

Guardians of the Spring

Thane Mingolshade and his command squad.

Thane Mingolshade and his command squad.

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