Texturing and painting the Desert Cooling Tower terrain piece

The majority of the time it’s perfectly fine to use your 3D printed terrain as is, and just prime it and paint it like any other miniature or terrain piece. Sometimes though, adding some that extra little bit of texture to the printed surface can really enhance the look of the model and make your tabletop experience more immersive.
The Desert Cooling Tower for Star Wars Legion, and also Warhammer 40K, is a great example of where using extra texturing can make a model even better. It’s also a really simple process and takes a very short time to achieve.


3D printed wargaming terrain for Star Wars Legion

Things you’ll need:

  • Filler compound / Spackle from the DIY hardware store
  • Rattle Can in a stone colour
  • Sponges
  • Craft Paints

There really aren't a lot of steps to take with this. It’s just a matter of applying the wall filler in small amounts and working it into the layer lines. I’ve added a little bit of coarse sand to the filler, just to give some extra texture near the base. You can add a few drops of craft paint directly to the filler if you want to colour it. But this will dry to a much lighter, faded looking colour.

Adding texture to your 3D printed wargaming terrain for Star Wars Legion

Once the filler / spackle is applied, go over the whole model with a sponge using a stippling action. This will even out any finger marks, and give the finish a more natural looking appearance.
Let the model dry overnight at the very least.

Shake, rattle and roll!

Now we’re ready painting. For this I like to use a cheap rattle can spray paint from a discount store. It gives a great solid colour all over and only takes about a minute to do. Please do this outside if possible! Let dry for about 20 minutes. I went back over this colour with a few blasts from a primer can from Army Painter (Skeleton Bone).

Paint your 3D printed wargaming terrain using a cheap rattle can spray

Once your base coat is dry, you can start adding washes to give some depth. I’d definitely go with ‘homemade’ type paint washes here. Of course feel free to use your prized GW Nuln Oil, but be warned, you’ll need approximately 128 pots, or roughly a barrel worth! It’s far cheaper to use well watered down craft paint, with some dish detergent to act as a flow improver. Brush this on all over using a large, preferably old, brush. Once dry, we can move on to dry brushing.

Add washes to your 3D printed wargaming terrain to bring odd the texture

I’ve used a tan/desert colour as my base coat, so for the first layer of dry brushing it’s best to use a similar tone to bring the colour back up. Cover the entire model in downward strokes, simulating where the light would hit. Then start adding progressively lighter shades to your base colour and repeat the dry brushing until you’re satisfied with the stone / desert look.

Next it’s time to pick out any details on the 3D printed model. The fans on the side, the vents, and the door will need a little contrast to help them stand out from the overall stone look. I’ve gone with a rusty orangey red colour on the door. A simple base coat in dark brown, then dry brushed with red, followed by a stipple of orange and yellow. A lighter edge stipple of metallics will help give the door a solid used metal look.

Star Wars Legion 3D printed terrain

Adding final touches to the Star Wars Legion Cooling Tower wargaming terrain piece

The vents are painted in a similar way, but with a black base coat and just metallic drybrusing over the top. A little bit of Army Painter ‘Soft Tone’ dulls down the metallics and adds some rust like effects.

And that’s it. Your finished Star Wars Legion desert cooling tower is ready for the tabletop. Check out more of our 3D printed terrain.

 The finished 3D printed Star Wars Legion terrain piece