I had in mind to try to reproduce Yamadera (山寺) which is a temple complex sited in Yamagata prefecture. I was there in Spring this year, and for me is the most beautiful and charming place in Japan despite there are many other places also with a magnificent atmosphere like Osore-Zan.
Here you can see a review of my visit to Yamadera in my last trip to Japan:
First of all I took some photos I did myself as inspiration:
And some more I found on internet to see also the color of the rocks from the other side of the temple. Shape will be different due to the place I have in the layout, but I want to keep the essence of the place so anyone who has been there can recognize it in my layout.
Temple buildings will be also different, as I'm using the Tomytec temple set and not scratch building them.
First of all I placed two terrace made in wood at the height where I want the temple and main gate. Continued making the stairs using PVC Foam of 2mm thickness, cutting step by step and gluing it:
The 2mm steps are a little bit out of scale, but using 1mm PVC foam was too much work and I would have needed 1000 steps as the real temple!!
I'm using the technique of glued cardboard strips to shape the basic forms of the rocks. It's quite simple, just cut strips from a cardboard box and glue them with a hot glue gun and a stapler to fix crossing strips:
Once you are happy with the results, cover it with plaster cloth and add some rock castings in place:
Now fill with plaster the spaces between castings and add plaster in places where you want more thickness. You can model the plaster, but work really fast because plaster dries in few minutes. Don't prepare too much plaster, is better to do work small zones individually. If you don't want a smooth finish, just hit plaster gently with your fingertip and surface will turn in a more coarse aspect. While plaster is still wet, carve some holes or cracks with any sharpened tool or model it with a spatula:
Now wait until it's completely dry and do not try to paint it until next day. For painting I used a mix of different techniques. Some airbrush painting I already know from my plastic models experience, and others taken from Woodlan Scenics or some friends who have experience with scenery.
This is step-by-step of painting my rocks:
1) I wanted some carved zones in an ocher and clear color as it is in reality, so directly airbrushed this zones:
2) There is a zone made with concrete, not natural. This has been also airbrushed in a concrete color. Using some variants of ocher also all the rocks have been slightly airbrushed.
3) Now I changed of technique, using the "Leopard Spot" and the Earth Colors from Woodlan Scenics. You can find very instructional videos in their web site, but basically you tint with diluted colors (proportion 1/16 or a little more) 1/4 of the rock for each color. This is in case you are using 3 colors for this first step (white, concrete and ocher) like me, and leave 1/4 with no paint. If you are using 2 colors, then paint 1/3 of the rock with each.
4) Second step of the "Leopard Spot" technique is to wash the entire surface of the rock with a predominant color, in my case Raw Umber as I feel this is the most similar color of Yamadera rocks in general. In this case the paint has to be diluted in double proportion than the previous, 1/32.
5) I still wanted some more contrast, so I decided to make another wash with Slate Gray. Black is too much strong for the rocks I'm modelling. I had to dilute strongly this color, a proportion like 1/50 or maybe more. At the same time I was applying the was I was removing the excess with a kitchen towel paper, turning the edges of the rock in a much more clear color. I liked the final effect, so no dry brush technique was used.
After this step I used again the airbrush to paint stairs and water. Stairs needed some dry brushing in a light gray color. There's still work to do, like putting water effect resin and all covering, bushes and trees. But I'm really happy with the results at this point, taking into account this was my first scenery:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!