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Author Topic: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?  (Read 2854 times)

Offline Munindk

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Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« on: March 20, 2023, 03:54:11 PM »
I'm getting ready to make some jungle terrain for Vietnam, Africa and Star Wars, so I've bought a lot of aquarium plants.

But do I paint them, or use the as they are?
If I paint them, should I prime them, or just drybrush a bit of green and yellow on them?

I think I've seen all three approaches used on these forums, so I'm asking what the merits of each method?

Offline Major_Gilbear

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2023, 04:27:24 PM »
It depends on what they look like, and what effect you're going for. I personally leave them as-is, as many tropical plants have shiny or waxy-looking leaves:



One thing to consider though... A good few years back, I read that many people used scale-suitable die-cast toy cars in their modern-setting games. To avoid them them looking different to painted models, but to also avoid needing to re-paint the cars, a good solution was apparently to mask out the windows and spray the cars with matte varnish. This then gave them the same finish as all the other painted stuff on the table, and they "fit in" better as a result with almost no effort.

You may want to try the matte varnish trick if you don't like the shine on your plants. Additionally, it you want to paint them (or at least apply some washes or drybrushing as enhancements), then you'll want to matte spray-varnish lightly first, so that the paint sticks. If you do, keep the varnish spray very light! The plasticisers in the plants' plastic are like those in bendy boardgame plastics, and they can cause the varnish to remain sticky for ever afterwards if the varnish creates a barrier for them. A quick light/patchy dusting though should be fine.

Offline modelwarrior

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2023, 11:13:36 AM »
For me it depends on the quality of the plastic plants. The cheap nasty stuff I have bought tends to need a bit of work but the more expensive stuff if fine to go straight on the table. Regards to painting all I do is add a wash and varnish them.

Offline sir_shvantselot

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2023, 12:54:38 PM »
Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

Offline tomrommel1

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2023, 02:26:26 PM »
I just give them a wash with an umber shade like the umber wash from Vallejo. Blends them in with my other terrain.
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Offline BeneathALeadMountain

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2023, 03:12:39 PM »
 I’m not sure it was the right move but I cleaned, primed and painted all my plastic palm trees for Tunisia. It was a massive hassle (especially the clean up) but worth it as I personally hate looking at beautiful miniatures on amazing scenery spoilt by shiny plastic plants with obvious mould lines and flash - damn you all seeing photography. The process would have been easier and quicker if I’d remembered I have an airbrush. I then Matt varnished the lot in an attempt to preserve them. If I thought they should have a natural shine I would consider hand applying a varnish.

 So far (2yrs old?) they’re still looking great but I’ve only used them a handful of times (so I can’t really state that they’re robust) but I am happy with how they look. It’s also helped put off my inevitable expansion into the Pacific, as it’ll take me ages to do all that jungle! lol

Good luck my friend, interested to know what you’re planning…

Balm
« Last Edit: March 21, 2023, 10:16:22 PM by BeneathALeadMountain »
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Offline eilif

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2023, 06:25:06 PM »
I don't paint any of the aquarium or craft store (often much cheaper than aquarium for the same thing) plants I've used. Neither the terrestrial, or Alien varieties.

The ones I use for my desert scenes are pretty matte, but if I bought some that were too shiny I'd matte spray them.   I like the gloss and wild colors of the alien ones as-is though.

Offline marianas_gamer

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2023, 07:53:32 PM »
I think that it all depends on your personal aesthetic. To me the obvious artificial quality of aquarium plants clashes with well painted minis. I have spent a lot of time in the jungles of the Marianas and there are only a few plants (and no trees that I can think of) that are shiny or waxy. On the other hand it takes a long time to paint these up. Here are some examples from my table of painted plastic plants.



Personally, I think that it is worth it. But you have to make your own decision if you have the time and whether it will make a difference on your table.
Got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.

Offline Khusru2

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2023, 10:58:02 AM »
I painted my bamboo for Ronin. I think it is better than plain green. General green foliage for bushes and exotic coloured plants, for sci-fi, are left as is.

Offline Aethelwulf

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2023, 12:10:05 PM »
I never paint them.
''Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed''-Jack Churchill

Offline snitcythedog

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2023, 03:37:50 PM »
One of the guys at my last local club had a whole plastic bamboo forest that was painted.  He used spray paint designed to be used on plastic (solvent in the paint) then just highlighted them up.  It looked pretty impressive so it might be an option. 
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Offline Digits

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2023, 04:05:51 PM »
Like the others….a quick spray on the bottoms of the trunks does the bamboo ok for me…then a slight wash in brown ink usually…..but I tend to leave the leaves as it….too many flaky plants leaving chipped off paint on the table for my liking.   Same with palm trees, I will paint the trunks but leave the fonds.



Offline Commander Roj

  • Mad Scientist
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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2023, 09:09:37 PM »
Like the others….a quick spray on the bottoms of the trunks does the bamboo ok for me…then a slight wash in brown ink usually…..but I tend to leave the leaves as it….too many flaky plants leaving chipped off paint on the table for my liking.   Same with palm trees, I will paint the trunks but leave the fonds.



I’ve never seen that approach before. I like it. Thanks.

Offline Ash

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2023, 09:15:30 AM »
I tend to paint mine, as it's something else to chuck paint at.
Give it a spray with Vallejo NATO green primer, then for things like bamboo any mustard yellow (Japan uniform), use the same for a light dry brush of the leaves and then a wash of Umber.



That said if I was starting from scratch I'd use Digits method on large patches of bamboo, as I think it looks the part.

On other plants I pretty much use the same recipe, just vary where the mustard yellow ends up.





Bear in mind there's no escaping the mold line/flash on most of the plastic bamboo; short of cutting all the leaves off, running a flame over the stems and regluing the leaves back on.
Which is both frustrating. futile and only guaranteed to set off your smoke alarm...
« Last Edit: July 15, 2023, 09:42:18 AM by Ash »

Offline Belgian

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Re: Aquarium plants - do you paint them?
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2023, 11:17:54 AM »
I don´t paint the aquarium plants, quite like the look as they are. Note they are a bit brighter than in the pictures. More pictures here https://leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=109587.0
« Last Edit: July 14, 2023, 11:20:11 AM by Belgian »
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