Friday Quick Tip: Paper Tarps

With the talk of objectives over on FTW, I've decided to feature a major part of how I go about making my own. Using paper for tarps and cloth has been around for a long time, and a lot of people use this method extensively for both tanks and terrain alike. Such an important technique cannot slip through the cracks here on The Painting Corps!

I use Tamiya's 1/35 Jerry Can Set and a 40mm base for my objectives. They are just the right size and are perfect for just about any army to fight over. And the 40mm base is the apparent standard around the web for Tournament style objectives.

Once assembled I glue them all in place in a manner that gives me a good amount of vertical variation and just a little bit of story. Here the 'story' is conveyed by the broken bucket on it's side, inferring the stockpile has been here for a while unkempt.

You'll need some watered down PVA glue, and just a bit of paper. I've taken to using a certain fast food restaurants take out bags, the texture is great and the paper is heavy enough to not just tear and rip apart when trying to press and push it into place.

When sizing your tear of paper, make sure you leave a little bit more than you think you'll need. you can always crumple it up along the base later and give it a more natural look. Too little and you'll have a towel instead of a tarp!

Dip the tear of paper into the watered down glue mix. A pair of tweezers will make things a lot easier as well. Between using them to dip the paper in the glue, hanging it to drip dry and using the slightly dulled edges to help push the paper into place later, they're an invaluable help with the entire process!

Drape the paper over your model and use your tweezers to get it roughly into place. Once it's over the spot you want it to be, use a wet paint brush (larger brushes work well for this) to help adhere and form the paper to the surfaces. Use downward brush strokes to get a more natural look over the objects (gravity and all!).

Be sure you let the paper dry thoroughly before even THINKING of priming and painting! But luckily all that time you wait for it to dry will be paid back ten fold by the ease of painting it. Use drybrushing and washes to paint your tarp and the natural texture of the paper will show through nicely.

Like I've said, this technique has wide ranging possibilities, and it's a great addition to any repitiore of modeling tricks. Best of all, it's nearly free.

What kind of projects can you think to use this on or have used something similar on?


  1. This is an awesome tip! I've always wondered how people make the tarps. Thanks for posting!

  2. BRilliant tutorial, thanks for posting it :)

  3. Great tip! Thanks for sharing - I think I'm going to have to try it out.

  4. That's spooky ........ lol

    I was looking at the same kit in my bits box last night and was thinking of doing the same with using baby wipes.

    Well, that blows that idea for originality, back to the drawing board - lol

    Cracking blog mate, picked up loads.

  5. This ia a great tutorial. Simple and very effective. Thank you.

  6. nice tutorial...

    my mind is ticking over now, this has so many uses....

    even just a quick simple way to make military style, wire frame canvass tents....

    excellent post!