In the final post of this series we’ll wrap up the cavern tiles with some finishing touches.
The walls and floors are now visually tied together. The last couple steps are what really make the tiles look good. The first is simple drybrushing. This will be a full tile drybrush, using the lightest tone so far. I found straight white to be too stark, but I still wanted a highlight on the calcium formations. I settled on a 1:1 mix of White (Blick Matte Acrylic) and Vanilla Ice Cream (Apple Barrel). Use the standard drybrushing technique – get a small amount of paint on the tip of the brush, then wipe most of it off on a paper towel – and lightly brush over the whole tile.
You want to drag your brush across the high spots, not along them. As an example, when drybrushing the columns, drag up and down, not side to side (relative to the normal orientation of the tile).
Finally, we’re going to use a little special paint for a pretty cool effect. In real life, calcium deposits are kind of glossy. This is a combination of the deposit itself, along with water and moisture on the surface. To simulate the effect, we’re going to lightly apply a pearlescent finish. I’ve found the Blick Acrylics Pearl White to be great for this. In a single layer, it has a bit of translucence. With a small, flat brush, apply small amounts of the Pearl White pain over all the calcium deposits.
The final effect is hard to see in the photo (look for the glossy areas), but it really ‘pops’ in reality. This finish has produced more that one, “Wow!” from my players.
I hope you enjoyed this series. This is just one way to paint cavern tiles of course. Experiment and see what you like! I have some interesting ideas for a frozen cave using transparent plastic for the printing material, as well as a rocky “forest cave” that is more grey with pops of green and static grass. Maybe those will get a future series…