Some friends and I decided to start playing Dungeons & Dragons. Since I probably have the most experience (which isn't saying much) I volunteered to be the Dungeon Master. I'm running the Lost Mines of Phandelver campaign that comes with the D&D Starter Set, and we're having a lot of fun figuring out the rules as we go along.

In advance of our previous session, which would take the party through a cave system, I decided to enhance the map I printed with some miniature stalagmites. I figured it would both improve the game experience and would give me an excuse to practice my painting skills before I have to paint the Tommyknocker that I'm working on.

I started by wadding up some aluminum foil into a cone and gluing it onto a cardstock base.

I then wrapped the cone in a snake I rolled out of Green Stuff, and then used the little spatula tip on this tool to mash it down into something that looks like a dripping mass of calcification and hardened minerals.

Once the Green Stuff cured, I applied a layer of untinted gesso as a primer. It seemed to work out pretty good, and I was able to do it indoors without dealing with spray fumes.

After the gesso dried, I applied a thin wash of black Chinese calligraphy ink (because a friend gave me two huge bottles of it a while back). When the wash dried, I then dry-brushed a mixture of white heavy-body acrylic paint that was tinted with a touch of umber.

They don't look like much in the preceding photo (Zugnut the pinhead Orc for scale), but I did a bit more work in refining the dry-brushing and the paint eventually looked good enough.

My final step was to coat each of them with glossy Modge Podge to seal them. This was both a problem and a solution. The Modge Podge caused the ink wash to open up, and it began smearing around and blending with the paint--I thought I would have to re-paint them all. In the end though, I got both the wet, glossy finish that I wanted, and the definition between the ink wash and the dry-brushed highlights re-established themselves once the Modge Podge cured.

I'm about to sculpt a bit more on the Tommyknocker now, and when it comes time to paint the resin casts, I'll have a better idea of what will and will not work.

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