It probably hasn’t escaped the notice of any one who visits this blog regularly that I’ve been using baking soda (also referred to as bicarbonate of soda) on my minis recently. I first experimented with this material when I was looking to create snow effects for the Dark Eldar diorama and you can see the results here. Ultimately I rejected baking soda for use as snow due to its tendency to go yellow over time. The less said about yellow snow the better!
More recently I was looking for a material to simulate moss and algae on Squarg. I’d seen some examples done using ultra fine sawdust and liked the results but my own tests didn’t prove successful. Remembering my earlier experiments with snow, I wondered if baking soda could be used for moss and algae.
I was looking for a very fine grainy texture. In the (far distant) past I’d used fine sand for moss effects but the texture is on the course side and, in my opinion, the individual grains are a little too large to work in scale as moss. In contrast bicarbonate of soda has a fine gritty texture that works very nicely in scale.
To create my effects for Squarg’s base I mixed the baking soda with green paint and a little PVA glue. The PVA helps to bind the mix together and give it a little more strength once dried. Without the varnish the mix can be a bit crumbly. I’ve since adapted my recipe and now use Vallejo matt varnish as a medium.
I’ve found that a wetter more fluid mix works very nicely for moss and algae as it dries to a softer looking finish. Before it dries you can push it around a little and (using a clean wet brush) soften out the edges for a more natural and subtle look. It can also help to work on a surface that has been dampened with a little clean water.
Once dried you can add extra layers of baking soda to build up the effect and/or work over it with ink & paint to tweak the colour. I found washes worked especially well to blend the baking soda into the overall paint job, as it’s slightly absorbent.
To use baking soda for rust/corrosion and dirt, simply make a drier mix. This will result in a rougher texture that can be carefully built up (a few grains at a time) if you wish and pushed around with a clean damp brush.
The following examples show how I’ve used baking soda to add texture to my minis.
Squarg the frog rider:
I used a particularly wet mix of baking soda, paint and PVA glue to create the algae for Sguarg’s base. After adding the baking soda, I applied washes and glazes of green ink to blend everything together.
I used baking soda to add some algae to the handle on Gutrot’s trident. I also used a drier, more textured, mix to add some corrosion to the trident and chainmail.
And for the boat base I used baking soda extensively along with a little sand to add texture to Gutrot’s boat. I’ve applied thicker patches to the sides for algae and a thinner more dilute mix to add some texture to the rope. Notice the difference in the grain size when comparing the sand used on the anchor to the baking soda.