There are many products available that are not originally meant for the aspiring model terrain maker, but nevertheless provide us with the right tools to recreate nature. One of these products is the Golden Crackle Paste. Being an acrylic effect paste that – as the name suggests – cracks during the curing process, it supplies us with the perfect means to depict dried out lakebeds, but also cracked ice or even cracked lava.
In this short review I document the curing process over several days and show two of the terrain pieces I made using the crackle paste, namely an almost dry lake with barren trees and a water hole as well as a frozen lake with cracked surface and a snow-covered tree.
Golden Crackle Paste – Properties
The paste has a very light, fluffy consistency that can be easily spread out on a surface with a spatula. The thicker the application, the deeper the cracks and fissures and the longer it will take for the paste to dry.
Golden does not recommend to add water, retarder or other additives, as this can ruin the effect. I applied the paste on a piece of sealed MDF and smoothed the surface out with a spatula. The thickness of application was 2mm.
The cured paste adheres well to the sealed MDF, but on other materials such as polystyrene it needs a topcoat to fix it in place. I used thinned down acrylic medium, but PVA will do a good job, too. The surface is hard, yet brittle, so top coating it is in general a good idea. Even though the paste is fluffy when first applied it does shrink a fair bit and will thus withstand normal gaming use without problems.
The surface can now be painted with acrylic paint and washes to achieve the effect you are after.
The cracking process produces rather big floes and might thus not be very suitable for very small scales or if you are after smaller floes to depict a dry lake bed. Here other products provide a better result. Check out the Terranscapes review of a product called Kroma Crackle which produces a more mosaic like texture. It is possible to control the cracking to an extend, as a thinner application does seem to produce smaller floes, however, too thin and no cracks show at all. It is a good idea to make some test pieces first and see how the paste behaves on different surfaces. I strongly advise against any unsealed or absorbent surface, as this seems to soak up the paste and results in a thin, flaky layer (check out the Terranscapes clip to see this effect).
What can we do with it?
While it has its limitations I still see a number of uses for the Golden Crackle Paste. My first two attempts were a dry lake bed with some barren trees, tufts and a water hole as well as a frozen lake with a cracked surface and some ice floes.
Both pieces are fairly simple.While it is obvious that the crackle paste was used to depict the dry lake bed, the frozen lake uses the formation of floes to depict exactly those: After the paste is dry some floes are removed where water is supposed to be visible later on.
The procedure to make the trees follows more or less the method outlined in my oak tutorial. However, this time the finer ramifications are made of copper wire, not sea moss. They are thus very flexible and withstand quite a bit of handling. However, if one overdoes it the coating can crack, but one will never be able to rip a branch off, the copper wire is too strong. This is an advantage in comparison to sea moss and one can shape the branches to a certain extend. All big trees are magnetised and can be easily removed should there be the need.
The water effect in the water hole is simply several layers of Liquitex gloss varnish mixed with a brown wash and a hint of grey acrylic paint. You really need to apply several thin layers and make sure to pop any airbubbles to get an even surface. The snake in the background is from the trusty Busch Kleintierset. I painted it up as a typical desert snake with just enough colour difference to spot it.
While there are quite some good products available to depict snow, for this first attempt at making snow terrain I used the old bicarbonate of soda method. It is of importance that you use a glue or medium that contains no acidic components, as this seems to cause the bicarbonate to yellow with time. If you are worried add some white paint and as a final step seal your work with matte varnish. With this piece I used Golden acrylic gel gloss. For the Ice floes I used acrylic gel matte, to give the appearance of thick ice, which does not have a strong lustre. After you applied the paste sprinkle some more bicarbonate of soda on top. A very good product for snow effects are so called microballoons, a filler product for resin casting. I sourced a local supplier and will in some later point give that product a try.
I hope you enjoyed this short review of the Golden Crackle Paste and it inspires you to give it a try yourself. My old friend Khael was not really impressed, but he is a grumpy old dwarf.