Mini Cooper

Sorry to disappoint the diminutive car enthusiast (enthusiast of diminutive cars?) but this post is not about the automobiles. Instead, I thought I'd write a little about:

Making Miniature Barrels

While I can't claim to be an expert in this, I've now made two barrels for miniatures, one on my Steampunk Ariel and another for my Minstrel (not yet, but soon to be added to the gallery). So if you've made more than 2, you may skip this post without need of a doctor's note. However, if you've never made a barrel before, perhaps there's something of interest below...

Building the Barrel

As you might expect with a rough, largely "blobby" item, construction is pretty simple. The images below are from the barrel I built for my Steampunk Ariel base at 28mm scale.

  1. I started here with a a blob of Milliput and formed it into a rough barrel shape.
  2. At the end of step one I had a rather nice blob, but I couldn't say that it looked exactly like a barrel yet. So, after drying overnight I attacked it with some sandpaper to refine it into something that more closely resembled what I was going for.
  3. With this done, I put away the sandpaper and used a pin to scratch in the seams of where the wooden planks would be. I wasn't too concerned about it being very crisp and clean as for this barrel as I wanted a slightly rougher look.
  4. Finally, to help ensure that the fake wooden planks stayed in place, I used greenstuff to form the metal bands that would wrap around the top, bottom, and middle of the barrel.

Steps 1-3 are very easy. Step 4 should also be if you have good experience using greenstuff. In my case, I don't have a lot of experience with it so it took several tries for me to get this right. Figuring out just how much to let the green stuff cure before slicing it is key and something that only comes with practice (of which I can always use more). Congratulations, you've now built your first barrel!

Painting the Barrel, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Painting Wood Grain

(or, How I Learned to Be Lazy and Over-Use Clichéd Title Gimmicks)

If you don't love painting wood grain, this next step will either make you a wood grain painting convert, or solidify your resolve to only ever paint scifi minis in ceramite armor standing in metal corridors evermore. In my case, I've found this step strangely enjoyable. Painting wood grain is repetitive, but fairly hard to screw up. No one's going to notice if you're whorl looks too much like a swirl, or your burl looks too much like a wave (although mistaking your crotch for a knot could be potentially embarrassing).Unfortunately, I don't have any real work in progress shots of my barrel painting, but I paint wood grain with the following rough steps:

  1. Paint the base brown (or grey, or blue or pink... I'm not one to judge what crazy fantasy location you source your planks from... or more likely what kind of lighting situation you're going for). I start with a mid-brown so that I can go both lighter and darker.
  2. Using a lighter brown color, start painting in your grain lines. Be sure to vary it up once in a while and add a whorl or a knot. As you paint the grain lines, try to follow keep them close to one another.
  3. Now, go back in with a darker brown and trace next to each grain line. A careful hand here is key to try and follow next to all the lines form step 2, but it's not worth worrying about messing up, you should have plenty more grain lines to practice on!
  4. You can then repeat step 3 as many times as you need with various colors, but at 28mm, if you got your lines close enough together in step 2, there's probably not much room left to fit another round.
  5. At this point, you should have some fairly even grain lines. So the next step is to go back in to add shading with an dark brown ink or wash. Try to get the wood planks nice and dark where they butt up to the metal bands to enhance contrast.
  6. Oh, don't forget to also paint in very dark brown/black in the seams between each plank.

There you go! You should either be halfway towards achieving a blissful, nirvana-like state of wood-grain-painting-enlightenment, or you've torn out half of your hair and decided that this piece doesn't require a barrel after all, maybe a large rock would fit that space nicely, or perhaps a larger grass tuft? (I personally hope it's the enlightenment option... but if not, you've still made steps on the road to self discovery as a painter, right?).

The final step is to paint up the metal bands using your favorite metal-painting treatment: NMM, TMM, SENMM, CNN or ESPN. I've yet to venture into trying non-metallic metals, so sticking with the "true metallic metals" my barrel bands are painted with a black undercoat followed by some Citadel Chainmail (most of my Citadel paints are a bit older, so this is the previous naming scheme), healthy coats of Badab Black wash to dull it down and then highlights in more Chainmail and Mithril Silver on the edges.

And there you have it: you are now officially a mini cooper.