I mentioned in a previous blog how I was going to try a couple tests to get some decent looking sand basing for my heavy gear minis. I've gotten a few results since then and figured I'd go ahead and post a quick report out.
My first attempt was to use GW's Dheneb Stone mixed with Woodland Scenics brown ballast. After a couple attempts I finally got a pretty decent balance between paint and ballast, however I will warn you now though. It takes a lot of sand and paint combo to get everything to really come together, expect to scrap a full bottle of this paint if you go this route. I would have chosen another paint, but Dheneb Stone is one of those colors I simply don't use that often so figured it would make a good sacrifice. Once dried, and depending on the mix I had of paint to stone, the results were fairly good looking. I honestly liked my first test then my second, but that's the joy of testing right?
The next test was using a chocolate cloth paint (don't recall brand) and the same ballast from the first test. Almost right off the bat the mix was different. The smell of the paint was far worse for me, much more chemical smelling then the foundation paint was. The paint also seemed to need far more ballast mixed into it for the same general results that the foundation paint gave to me. While spread the mixture it seemed to have a hard time sticking to the base surface and continually tried to clump up. Took more effort to spread then the first test combination.
I let both dry over night and went back to see how the final product turned out, even though I had a pretty good feeling anyways. The foundation paint/ballast mix turned out to look more or less what I wanted, and looked like sandy earth and not mud. The foundation paint/ballast mix also stuck to the miniature base better and the ballast didn't seem to have any give or flaking issues.
On the flip side of that though was the cloth paint/ballast mix which I was very underwhelmed with. The paint seemed bouncy and flexible even after the night drying, which I kind of expected anyways since this is paint that is supposed to go on clothes, and clothes are supposed to remain flexible after the paint is applied. On top of that, I also found that the ballast seemed to fall out much easier, the stick of the clothing paint just didn't seem as high as the foundation paint gave.
My final results are simply this: It is always going to be easier to get the sand/ballast/whatever glued to the base prior to primering then post primer. Post primer however, you are better off sticking with paints whose purpose is far the miniatures at hand and not cut corners with such things as clothing paint. Better option yet however, if you have the money and don't want to fiddle with mixing your own sand/paint combo, is to purpose one of the premade options available on the market.