I would have liked to have some WIP photos to provide, but unfortunately I'm not the quickest painter so was worried I'd not finish in time if I stopped to take pictures. Frankly, I'm slow to put paint to a finished miniature, and might not have finished this one were it not for the contest inspiring me on. So, many thanks to Ron Saikowski for this contest.
I hope to give you a good run down of what I did, and follow-up with a similar effort a companion piece waiting in the wings. I had created some ruined city bases for some IG Heavy Weapon teams, and wanted to continue the theme for this sniper. The upper body is the Forge World tank commander sniper I had picked up on ebay, and the lower body is standard Cadian sprue. While the based figure and wall had been assembled a while back, I wanted to add something to it before I entered it in a contest. So, I went tutorial hunting on the various blogs in the FtW Blogger Group and found some really helpful stuff.
Other than painting ideas, what added the "something different" was the Tree Making Tutorial at jabberjabber's Warpstone Flux site. This was a great run-down of the old railroad modeler's wire technique to make trees. I altered the idea a little to make vines climbing the building face. It worked extremely well, giving me the exact look I was trying to achieve.
I wanted to keep some of the look of the twisted wire, so took another tip from Ron, which was a reprint of an article about Priming With Acrylic Gesso. I found unthinned white Gesso worked well as a very thin filler, especially if used in multiple coats. So, I "primed" the vine prior to installation, using two coats. For the first coat, I mixed three big drops of white Gesso and one small drop of brown ink and applied liberally. For the second coat, I added another drop of brown ink to the remainder and applied not so liberally. It was a great viney color. Unfortunately, this experiment showed me Gesso is not very sturdy when handled a lot, which I had to do to install the vine, and I lost much of that great color and had to retouch.
To secure it to the building, I had twisted extensions (like a very short branch) from the wire in key locations (most done prior to priming) which I inserted into corresponding drilled holes on the building face. A little bit of glue in the hole to secure it, and added foliage hid the point very well. This securing method also provided the flexibility to add more wire "branches" so I could keep the main vine thin, but still have as many off-shoots as I wanted.
For my work, I strayed from clump foliage and went for a leafy effect. I found a decorative paper punch with small leaves and actually punched a bunch out of tracing paper. Before punching, I painted the paper with a thin coat of Dark Angels Green on both sides. After individually applying the leaves, I touched them up with a Dark Angels Green / Yellow mix. This was very time consuming, mostly due to painting and punching the paper.
I also added in some wood effect, using real wood. It wasn't ready for the original entry, but you can see it in the new picture here. The burned wood effect was achieved by, well, burning the wood!
I'd probably look for something easier for a future project. Still, the added effort made something unique, and it was fun, so all is well in the end. Everything's worth a try, at least once...