... Van's Super Secret Scenic Dope
For those who don't know it's my favorite concoction for treating scenic elements that need a bit of texture. If you're low on budget and can't afford "Sculpt or Coat" this is a really good alternative.
about 1 quart of latex paint (this can be pre-tinted, neutral base, or a "waste" paint, as long as it's latex).
About 4 tubes of Latex caulk. Do not use Silicone caulk. Some Latex caulk are called 'siliconized' and those are ok to use as they are still latex based.
About 2 cups of drywall mud/joint compound. Adds thickness and aids in setup time and helps leave a harder finish when dope is cured.
This is all you really need. Throw it in a 5 gallon bucket, and mix it all up with a drill motor paint mixer. Add more drywall mud to thicken it up, but not too much or it will get "cracky" when it dries, although the cracks can be very useful for some texture treatments.
For Rock. I like to carve polystyrene, then coat it with VSSSD that has been tinted to a grey or whatever base color rock I'm using. After the Dope has dried <usually 4 or so hours depending on how thick you laid it on> you can re-coat or drybrush / spatter / airbrush details on to the rock.
Cement. Mix some sand ("playsand" available at most hardware stores works great; white "ashtray" sand works well for finer finishes like sandstone, etc.) Leave the dope a whitish, beige color, keep mixing as you are brushing it on the surface as the sand will tend to settle. You can brush or roll on the cement texture. Let it dry then treat with a clear coat, Flat or Semi-gloss are best for cement. There are many brands available. Here in the Northwest, Miller Paint sells a product called Acri-clear. It's perfect.
Wood. This is a new one for me I just got worked out. Start the dope according the recipe then grab a trashed blender or food processor pour in a cup of water turn it on and start feeding strips of newspaper in. No "slicks" like the adverts or magazine sections just good old news paper. when the blender starts to bog down or it's full pour the pulp into a nylon stocking or paint strainer. Continue making pulp 'till you have enough to cover the surface you're treating. Ok Really Important Squeeze the heck out of the nylon and get as much water as possible out of the pulp. If you don't get the water out it will thin down the dope and make it hard to work with. Ok add the pulp to the dope, SLOWLY, while your running the mixer. Make sure you get the lumps out. Play with amounts 'til you get the thickness you're looking for. For Bark: I like to use latex gloves and put it on by hand, dragging your fingertips through the mix as you slop it on will give a really realistic bark look to the finish. You can put on an even coat then use a stylus to "draw" bark chunks on for a pine tree look.
There are a ton of uses. Play with these recipes and post your discoveries here. Be sure to e-mail me any really good thing you come up with . I think of VSSSD as an Open-Source operating system--it'll only get better if every shares their own unique recipes.