Building False Rocks for your Enclosure

Written by Stuart McDougall on December 10, 2006
Page 3 of 3

PART 3 - Colour and Seal

Once it was dry, I then proceeded to spray the base colour using acrylic paints. I choose burnt umber to spray the whole project as a base colour. This made a great base colour.


Once the base colour had been applied, I then continued to spray the different colours, allowing them to overlap. I had mixing tones and shades as I went along. If I made a mistake or put to much of one tone to an area, I left it for a while and resprayed that area using the base tone to lighten the effect.

The paints I used are all Acrylic children's liquid paints (non-toxic) thinned with water.

Burnt Umber had been used the most and I have gone through 250ml of a 500ml bottle.

The following are all 59ml bottles:
Brilliant orange, Leaf green, Christmas red, Brilliant blue, Yellow, Black, and White.

Mixing the orange with a small amount of green makes a great mustard colour. The burnt umber was mixed with small amounts of either blue, black, red, white, and/or yellow to alter the colour cast base umber tone, making the resulting colours more suited what I was looking for. Black and white were mixed to make grey tones for added shade. The grey was mixed with the burnt umber to make sort of a dirty brown tone. I started with a base colour of burnt umber all over then changed the tones as I went along.


The Rule of Thumb that I used

Work from darkest to lightest tones. I laid the background down flat on a table. I then sprayed the "undersides" at roughly a 30 degree angle with the dark tones. Then I turned the background around 180 degrees to then spray the lighter tones over the "top" surfaces. The sand tones and subsequently the mustard tone were then sprayed with the background stood upright. The result was that the dark tones added a shadow effect on the undersides of the features, while the lighter tones highlighted the top surfaces.

In retrospect, I think I would of liked more brown tones rather than having to mix colours. Some extra tones I would have included would have been a dark brown, brown, or light brown sandy sort of colour, and a light green or olive colour.

Once the spraying was done, I added a small amounts of extra tones using a sponge.

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Lastly, I sealed it using a heavy mix of PVA (again a child's one). Be aware there are 2 types of children's PVA. One will disolve if it gets wet after having dried (much like the more common Elmer's Glue). The other is water resistant when dried. A good example would be Elmer's Carpenter's Exterior Wood Glue. You require the water resistant glue. You can find more information about PVA at this UK DIY site.

I thinned the PVA slightly with water and sprayed on an initial coat to be sure to get it into all the crevices. I then brushed on two heavy coats. In the end, I used up an entire 500ml bottle.

Once finished, I used hot glue to affix 2 large plastic plants in place, as well as to fit the back and sides in place inside the viv, to give the final effect. I have not really mentioned too much about the sides I kept them plain and simple, cutting the poly in arches to make it stepped, then continued the process as above. Again, like the shelves, I cut a matching groove into one side so that the shelves had support into the side panel.


The Finished Product

Once fitted with its sides this is what mine looked like...

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Stuart McDougall
AKA The-Piranha
Written for
Original posting