In this series so far we’ve created tiles from plaster using molds, assembled and glued them into place, and applied the base layer of paint. Now we’re ready to add layers of paint that will bring out the texture of the tiles.

1. Wash (then rinse)

Here’s a spot where a small detail brush comes in handy. We’re going to do a wash, that is add a lot of water to a dollop of paint to make is extremely thin. We’re using black to fill in all the cracks on the mold.

Wash technique adds black accent.

Don’t fret if the paint gets on the surface of the tiles. The wash will fill the low areas (thank you, gravity) even if you don’t paint directly over the cracks.

2. Dry brush

Now we’ll use a dry-brush technique to bring out the texture on the molds. Dry brushing means putting some paint dry on the brush, swiping the brush on some other surface until it seems the paint is almost gone, then lightly brushing the desired area with what little paint is left on the brush.

Use paint gingerly when dry brushing.

Be sure the surface you are dry brushing is completely dry. Otherwise, the paints will mix, and you won’t get the effect you are hoping for.

Dry brushing brings out the highlights.

For the water, mix some white with the original light blue. This is to create the effect of foam or ripples on the surface of the water.

What about ‘fake’ water?

If you have done any railroad modeling, for instance, you might be familiar with the technique of using a clear resins to simulate water. These are usually poured into a low area and allowed to dry to the level of the surrounding area, essentially filling in with a clear plastic. I consider this an advanced technique that is beyond the scope of this series. But if you wish to explore how to add this effect to your pool, you can start by following the instructions at the Hirst Arts site.

For the stonework, this will be in two stages. First, we’ll use a light brown to put a thin later over the surface stones. Note the immediate contrast with the cracks filled with the black wash. Don’t cover the dark brown completely, that’s part of the layering. Next, mix the light brown with a white or cream, for an even lighter dry brush.

Frosting for the tiles. We’re almost finished.

I think of this last bit like adding frosting to our chocolate bar tiles.

3. What’s next?

Now you have a tile set you can use to make modular dungeons with. Adding a clear coat to the tiles will give them extra life, but they can be used as is.

I hope this series will prove useful and encourage you to make your own set of tiles. And if you’ve stuck with me this far, I’ve included a short mini dungeon adventure I created using the same tiles. You can download it here: PILLARS_OF_ABBAI_01.pdf