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Newbie's Guide to DBA

Modelling Snow

If you are modelling troops or terrain features from northern Europe (especially for armies from Scandinavia, the Baltics and Russia), you may be tempted to use winter effects to make them destinctive. The real challenge, however, is how to paint or model realistic looking snow, especially on element bases. You can try commercial products such as a silicate-based "snow" flock by Woodland Scenics designed to winterize model railroad layouts. Or here are some tips and techniques collected from various sources:

Matt Pavone: The white won't look like snow unless you have uncovered earth showing through. So, what I would do, is cover the bases in a mix of dark brown paint, wood glue and various size ballast. Then put your white on (I used textured wall paint from home depot) in spots, but leaving the dirt showing through. Then drybrush the dirt mix in a light brown, than lightly in cream. This will give you snow with dirt showing through, which makes the snow look more realistic. If you really wanted to go all out you could do the snow in a light gray and heavy dry brush it white to make it multi-toned as well.

Mark Levine: If a completely snow covered base is okay you can use white Celluclay. If you want a dusting of snow you can use your usual ground cover methods and then, after a soaking of dilluted white glue or acrylic modeling medium, sprinkle on some "marble dust." It's exactly what the name implies and, IMHO, is the best small scale representation of snow. You can usually get it at a good model railroading shop.

Paul T.: I've just started using snow on some of my bases. What I do is paint the base white. then cover in a grey flock, and drybrush white. This is simple but crude. It does look better though if you go to the effort of having mud showing through as someone else mentioned.

Matt Davidson: What I have done is use Durhams water putty. Powder mixes with water and dries rock hard. Mix and apply to base. Sculpt snow drifts etc.. at this time. After dry, paint white. Then dry brush dirty white (off white). Then wash w/dark blue(very thin). The blue gives it the look of snow, but don't use too much. Then dull coat.

Unknown: I have seen some GW employees use the Diet sugar from those pink packets (i.e. Equal sweetener) to cover the bases of Valhallans, looks like snow too and covers well. They use Elmers glue to hold it in place. Simple.

Mike Siggins -- The absolute best stuff is fine ground marble dust and it can be bought in bags from model railway suppliers. It even sparkles. I got mine from Builders in Scale.

Unknown -- Try pre-mixed tile grout. In the US, you can buy it in hardware stores. A quart is about $5.00. It dries snow white in no time, and looks like snow. I use a craft stick to spread it on figure bases.

Bob Bowling -- I use white vinyl spackling powder, sold at most home improvement or hardware stores. Inexpensive, mixes w/water, dries looking like real snow.

Unknown -- I have used Sweet and Low sugar substitute as snow on my bases fixing it with Elmers glue (PVA/white glue).


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Last Updated: Nov. 24, 2000

Comments, questions and additions welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.