Monday, June 27, 2011

Tiles, colour, and the heart of darkness

Ok. I'm finding quarter scale fascinating in its little way. Let me tell you about the kitchen floor so far.

This floor is going to have typical medieval tiles - square ones in a red oxide colour. Finding card and scoring it at 1/8th" intervals is easy (once you learn not to use card that's too shiny because it won't take the paint, or too rough because the scoring gets torn . . . or a tool that's not too sharp or too blunt . . .).
After a couple of tests painting it, I learned to start with a 1:1 wash of red oxide (acrylic paint) to water, so that this first colour seeps right down into the score-lines. Full strength paint just won't get in there without rubbing too hard with the brush, which messes the lines.

Then the full strength paint, and the tiles are the perfect colour . . . you think . . . *evil laughter from the crypt*
Here's the thing about quarter scale - it's dark in there. Those tiny rooms have a lot less light entering and reflecting than in larger scales, so the colours are shaded and detail is lost, never to be seen again.
It makes me think that this would be a truly accurate representation of ancient houses, but I want my minis visible!

LED lighting in the house would maybe overcome this in some ways (or complicate it further!), but I'd rather get it looking right without electricity at present.
Here's a photo of some of the tests. I tried pencil and pen lines to accentuate the scored lines - pencil looks too shiny, and the .3mm pen was too thick.
Sealing with a mix of 1:1 PVA glue to water will darken the tiles slightly.
The final result - the end of my rambling story is that the tiles have only two light washes of 1:1 paint/water. (This photo makes the tiles look darker than they are.)
And I have to say that the Darkness Within also made me decide to re-paint my lovely off-white walls with a titanium white paint wash (usually I really don't like bright white) - and it now looks just as I wanted it to . . . :)

The interplay of colour, light and texture are intriguing and 'never the same twice'. This is fun.

Thanks for your patience with my ramblings, and if you're not a miniaturist and stumbled here by mistake, please be assured that miniatures is not a Dark Art, and we aren't really all this obsessed about odd stuff. Well, not much, anyway.

Some conclusions - light and bright shabby chic, large-windowed modern, or pale Shaker, etc would suit quarter scale nicely. Single roomboxes, not too deep, would maybe be a wiser choice if you want a dark setting.

Next - the kitchen cooktop and chimney. I'm currently working on Version Number Five . . . :)



  1. Oh dear Glenda, you do make life difficult for yourself don't you! However given how you relish challenges (well at least in your crazier moments!) you won't give in and you'll end up with the most wonderful tiny medieval house. Of course you may lose your sanity in the process ... ;)

  2. Norma - I think you have to lose a bit of sanity to even start!!

  3. I really like to read about your work on 1:48, you share so many tips in such an interesting way, dear Glenda:)Can't wait to see and read more about your project:)

  4. Those tiles look really good. So easy too :). Maybe 1:48 is not such a crazy idea after long as you can buy what you can't make.

    And Glenda, of course making dollhouses is a dark art! It makes us obsessive, gives us nightmares and drives us mad. We also swear a lot and sometimes feel like murdering the cat or wasps for disturbing your house!

    By the way, the lighting in my tribal house is very dark. ok for 1: 12 but you will probably got blind (on top of being crazy) if it is 1:48 trying to figure out what is what.

  5. Charming, your statement of facts ... In fact all your qualms about the dark colors are the ABC of architecture and furnishings: the rooms are small, more and more must be clear.
    But this does not apply to the Middle Ages, also known as "dark period" ...
    So: go down heavy with soot, soot, dirt and dark colors!
    The stone floor is beautiful :-)
    Mini hugs, Flora

  6. Es un placer visitarte, siempre me voy aprendiendo cosas.
    Es un proyecto muy interesante, te volvere a visitar para ver tus progresos.
    besitos ascension

  7. The tiles look really good....yep - 1/48th scale is addictive!

  8. You really struggle for perfection... those tiles are incredible. Thank you for taking us along with you... and the way of doing this surely spreads a lot of joy and broad smiles to me... Can't wait to see version No. 5 now... ;O)


  9. Your tiles look great Glenda. Sans is right heehee.


  10. The tiles are great! You took on a very special project.

  11. Another informative blog… Thank you for sharing it… Best of luck for further endeavor too.
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