6 February 2021

Another brick in the wall

This showed up in the mail a few days ago, and I blasted through it in between doing Pulse's base. It was fun to paint and came out pretty well. I can't believe I completed a scenery piece in a couple of hours when last year I couldn't complete one in two months.

Since binning the printed images I used for backgrounds when photographing my minis, I've had an issue with taking pictures. When we were staying at the rented house I took the pics outside, but since moving to our house this little thing called "over a foot of snow" happened — and is still happening — so photos al fresco are out. I used the new wood frame in our living room for the first minis I painted here, and it's not good. Those photos need to be redone.

As our printer is in a box in the garage, and even if we found it we couldn't use it (THANKS, CHROMEBOOKS) I looked around for something I could use that had a bit more life than just a pic. As usual, Amazon came to the rescue with this 3D printed brick wall. I ordered it and it showed up pretty fast.

Ah, shit. I recognise that crappy printing. It's EnderToys. You can kind of see the thin vertical and horizontal ridges on every brick, which will look like crap once the drybrushing begins. Early last year I bought some ammo boxes from them, and I was really unhappy at the roughness of the plastic. I'm assuming the printing is low-res or something? My knowledge of 3D printing is akin to my knowledge of atomic physics, or childminding. The ammo boxes haven't been used thanks to this roughness and I don't even know where they are. Crap, I was really hoping this wall would work out.

But wait! I own sandpaper!

I've actually owned it since summer 2018 and I think this is the first time I've used it. I gave the wall a damn good thrashing with the rough paper, then another once over with a smoother grade.

OK, that's better. There's enough detail left to be picked up by drybrushing without it looking like it's badly printed 3D plastic. But the real test would come when painting it.

It looks better after a coat of black primer. I gave it two thin coats to help preserve the detail. There's enough left to give the bricks some necessary roughness.

I found a tutorial on YouTube that recommends a coat of tan or khaki over the black. I whipped out my Vallejo Khaki, thinned it down and slapped it on, making sure to cover the grout lines.

I have to admit, I wasn't too sold on the Khaki look. After watching the tutorial all the way through I started to think the technique wouldn't work too well for me as it was more to do with grey castle walls rather than red brick walls. So I decided to go my own way, and after seeing how Terracotta looked painted over the Khaki on a few of the bricks, I gave the wall a couple of coats.

The problem with painting the wall terracotta is that I filled in all the grout lines. Not that you'd know that because I forgot to take a photo of it. But then inspiration struck: I gave the whole thing a wash with thinned-down Neutral Grey and wiped most of it off with a paper towel. This removed most of the grey from the front of the bricks but left it in between them.

I'm a genius. You can see the lines on the bricks, but they're not as bad as they were and it's not like bricks are smooth. I forgot the top of the wall so gave it its own coat of thin Neutral Grey and wiped it off.

One thing the tutorial emphasized was not having the bricks a uniform colour. I repainted some with Terracotta and some with a mix of Terracotta and Gold Brown. It's surprising how many colours are on an old brick wall; it's never just red. For example:

This is the brick chimney in our living room which I LITERALLY FORGOT EXISTED until I sat on the sofa to write this post after painting the wall. In other words, I scoured YouTube and Google Images for inspiration when I could have just walked 20 feet from the spare room.

Anyway, with the random bricks painted in, I gave it another thin wash of grey and then a light drybrush with Off-White. So far, so good.

I think I might have forgotten to photograph a step. I hit some bricks with watered-down Smoke and some with Black Wash. I wanted to add some more colour so I used Green Tone and Green Wash along the bottom of the wall to simulate mould/moss or some type of plant life. I also dabbed some on the top of the bricks. I didn't think the green along the bottom was doing the job, so I used a bit of sponge to dab on some Goblin Green. I also darkened random bits of grout.

A final touch was to stipple some Light Sea Grey randomly over the bricks to simulate wear and tear. I don't know if it would suit fantasy or sci-fi figures, but it'll definitely work for modern or zombie ones.

In the interests of full disclosure, I didn't really bother with the side or back of the wall as they're not going to be seen. I also thought about putting some bullet holes, graffiti or bloodstains on the bricks but chickened out. I have three more walls so I'll try it on them, whenever I get around to them.


  1. Your paintwork is stunning, really top notch, if I had a complaint it would be that the bricks are too "perfect" a problem with 3D printed models. But I really can't fault you painting on this.I did se a page on the net somewhere (god knows where) and someone was painting PVA woodglue over scenic pieces to hide the lines, don't know how well this works as I haven't tried it myself. Might be an idea though.

    I'd almost be tempted to push the face of the wall into some plasticine of "bluestuff" and cast up a section in plaster of paris, then attack it with a scalpel to roughen it up. But that's just me being over picky!

    Cheers Roger.

    1. Thanks, Roger, I'm happy with how it came out, and it looks better than I thought it would. You are right about the bricks not being damaged in any way, and I should have added some wear and tear to them. I've found out that using tea leaves mixed with green paint and some PVA glue works for moss, so I'm going to have a go at adding some to the top of the wall.

      Using the other wall as a mould to cast my own is a good idea!

  2. Great result Matt, the varying brick colours works for older properties, as they would use whatever they could get hold of, more modern buildings tend to be built out of the same batch and brick code so is less common ( watched it being done on the ground floor of our house).
    As to the problem with 3d printed pieces, it's mostly down to the grade of wire and the grade of printer, but a solution is to spray a coat of high build car primer and then wet and dry the piece, fills in nasty ridges, if you want a smooth effect.

    1. Thanks, Dave!

      Yeah, I've noticed that newer buildings have a more uniform look; our old house in Herefordshire (built in 1980) was like that, although with the yellow/brown bricks rather than red.

      I've been watching some YouTube tutorials on painting 3D printed scenery and a couple mention using car primer that's designed for filling imperfections, so I might pick some up for the next time.