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Author Topic: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene  (Read 871 times)

Offline Humakt

  • mad scientist
  • Posts: 746
Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« on: March 31, 2018, 10:57:10 AM »
Right then.
For a one-off game I need to provide a 4'x4' area of cobbles for a medieval town.
I've toyed with various ideas and the favourite so far, thanks to suggestions on LAF, is to print out some cobble textures on A3 paper and then stick them to the boards using copydex.

But I've had another idea.

The boards are made from expanded polystyrene. I was wondering if the surface texture of that might not provide and adequate 'cobble/stone' type texture when painted and drybrushed.

And keep in mind that buildings are going to cover a large portion of the gaming surface as well.
This would certainly be a cheap and easy option, especially for a one-off game. But I don't just want to be cost-effective about this, I still want it to look good, but without haemorrhaging money on what is only going to be used once.

Has anyone ever done this?
If so, what did you think of the effect?

I'm reaching that stage when I've got to make a final decision on how I'm going to do this part of the build, so thoughts and reflections would be appreciated.

Online Cubs

  • scatterbrained genius
  • Posts: 2969
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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2018, 11:13:57 AM »
I've used cheap kiddies poster paint with a drop of pva in before and it's okay .. not great, but okay.

In the past, when painting over polystyrene I've given it a quick spray with Plasticote spray paint (nice coverage, doesn't melt the surface) first as a basecoat.
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Offline robh

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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2018, 11:28:03 AM »
Painted polystyrene looks just like...........painted polystyrene.

You cannot disguise it and it may ruin the look of your display purely from its recognisability. Simplest option would be embossed wallpaper, lots of textures and shapes. Can be painted then pinned or taped to the polystyrene rather than glued so the base can be re-used.

Offline Munindk

  • scientist
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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2018, 06:02:01 PM »
You could buy textured wallpaper. This thread shows some and theres links to suppliers on page 2: http://leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=105240.msg1319720#msg1319720
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 06:04:25 PM by Munindk »

Offline Eric the Shed

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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2018, 06:43:19 PM »
defo wall paper or


..... find Oshiromodels link when he used lentils as cobblestones its somewhere here on the LAF - it looked fantastic

Offline nic-e

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    • Mystarikum
Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2018, 08:58:18 PM »
I'd go with the textured wallpaper if i were you.
Polystyrene has lots of the shapes of cobblestones but it lacks the actual height and texture. Where the material is cut the small balls are often concave , so your drybrush would most likely catch the edges and highlight the polystyreney-ness of your board.
It's one of those things that so ubiquitous that it's very hard to properly disguise without considerable work.
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Offline FifteensAway

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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2018, 12:04:02 AM »
Well, you CAN carve the polystyrene and then cover it with a thin coat of plaster and then paint that (better to tint the plaster if you can).  That might work.  Is it Bibbles (?)(jimbibbly?) who uses foam squares by the gazillions for some of his impressive work.  I also like how he used lentil beans, very innovative and effective - but a ton of work.  I'd say the end result justified the effort.  Forget which thread it was on.

Offline Codsticker

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    • Kodsticklerburg: A Mordheim project
Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2018, 01:22:35 AM »
This what I would do: buy 16 Firedragon Games cobblestone foam sheets (32GBP before shipping). Basecoat with a tinted (grey) primer, wash and drybrush. Simples :).

Offline roadskare63

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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2018, 07:06:25 AM »
Dollar Tree foam core sheets are carvable and work well, and are "cheap" and easy to carve on...I use it a lot...acrylic paints do very well on it, and you can seal it with pva...THEN hit it with a dull coat...

Offline SotF

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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2018, 03:54:25 PM »
Dollar Tree foam core sheets are carvable and work well, and are "cheap" and easy to carve on...I use it a lot...acrylic paints do very well on it, and you can seal it with pva...THEN hit it with a dull coat...
A better option than a pva seal is to have a "primer" coat that's about a 50/50 mix of cheaper craft paints and Mod Podge

Offline Mako

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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2018, 04:35:55 AM »
Options above will work.

Extruded polystyrene is best, but then you have to carve all the little stones by hand, which is rather time-consuming.  You could always apply paper cobbles, etc., over some sort of base material too, and then seal that (on foam core, styrene sheeting, MDF, etc.).

The more realistic results I've seen were on the Extruded Poly, and then hand carved.  The finishes obtained by doing that are stunning.

Offline roadskare63

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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2018, 11:25:01 AM »
A better option than a pva seal is to have a "primer" coat that's about a 50/50 mix of cheaper craft paints and Mod Podge

nice idea!!...will HAVE to try that!!

Offline Golgotha

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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2018, 10:17:03 PM »
What about printed paper by the likes of Dave Graffam Models? See:

http://www.wargamevault.com/product/119351/Cobblestones-Tile-Kit-1?manufacturers_id=2985


Offline agentbalzac

  • bookworm
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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2018, 08:19:04 AM »
For longer term use, I bought and painted a yard of this stuff, cut into strips for roads and various squares:

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Vinyl-Basketball-ORANGE-Upholstery-Fabric/191948482874

When painted and drybrushed, it looks like this (with 28mm figures):



It's rugged and flexible- I keep it rolled up.

Online SteveBurt

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Re: Painting Straight on Expanded Polystyrene
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2018, 10:56:20 AM »
I find household emulsion paint is a good primer for expanded polystyrene. Comes in nice big cans, too. A sandy brown is a good neutral shade.