Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Obligatory Painting Blog Post 2: Bases

By The Megapope   Posted at  21:31   tutorial 4 comments

Stubbed my damn toe... 
AKA: guide for doing pretty basic bases for total noobs.

Hi there! So this very simple tutorial isn't going to rock anyone's world. In fact it's really more of a note for prosperity since I assume all of you already have your own method for basing your miniatures and are pretty happy with it.

On the off chance that you see something here you like then I consider it a happy coincidence and expect to see your royalty cheques in the mail shortly.

Edit a few days later: I only JUST noticed the accidental rock pun in the opening line. Sometimes my cheesy writing is subconscious, it turns out.

Part 1: Stuff you need.

  1. A base! Well duh. 
  2. Sand! I use GW basing sand which, well, I'm actually not that happy with. I find it's a bit too fine for my liking and I'm currently looking around for something better. I kinda feel obligated to use it though since it's not cheap and a colossal waste of resources as it's made in China.
  3. Watered down PVA glue! I mix up a 1 to 10 ratio of glue to water, I guess? Enough so that it's very watery but also very white, like milk. 
  4. Normal PVA glue! I got this from the modelling shop.
  5. No this isn't my stash. It's a big bag of flock greenery. Also from the modelling shop.
  6. Superglue! Ahh the sweet memories of scraping it off my fingers with a scalpel. 
  7. Stones! I went outside, looked down on the pavement and there they were. Amazing. 
Part 2: Base all of the things!

Meet Private Enrico. Pulled up on charges of gross criminal nudity, Enrico was volunteered for an experimental recolouring procedure that went horrifically awry. He's therefore the perfect victim to demonstrate basing! Ahh Enrico, when will your wacky hijinks end?

We start out by painting Enrico's base Calthan Brown. I give it a couple of thin coats so it has a decent coverage. The usual guff. 

Once that's dried I brush some PVA glue onto the top of the base and then dip Enrico into the tub of sand, blowing the excess off. I cry for a while since I get sand all in my eyes and up my nose and it stings a bit.

Immediately afterwards, I dip my brush into the watered down PVA and drip it onto the sand so that the water soaks into it. This cements everything together once it dries and will help the sand stay in place. It only takes one or two big drips to spread out over the whole base. The sand will turn a watery white. 

At this stage put your model somewhere sunny or warm to dry and go read a book, catch up with long abandoned loved ones, etc.

Once the sand dries and goes back to looking like, well, sand, it's time to bust out the Calthan Brown once again! I water it down more than usual so that it doesn't destroy the detail of the sand, especially as I'm using fairly fine stuff. 

Additional steps not shown here: Once that dries, I run a good dose of Devlan Mud over to help bring some depth back to the texture. I then drybrush some Scorched Brown followed by a very light amount of Snakebite Leather just to add an interesting finish. 

I stick some rocks onto it! Superglue is your friend here if you're using actual rocks. Don't be shy with the stuff, you want them rocks to be well stuck. This isn't the best pic to demonstrate but I make sure I use rocks of various sizes so there's big and small ones visible. 

I then stick some flock greenery onto it! I make sure to leave a few dirt patches here and there since otherwise all that painting would be for nowt. Dabbing down some PVA glue, I then press the flock into it. Once it's all in place I drip watered down PVA on the top just like I did with the sand. This will make the greenery nice and stiff (phwoar!) and cement it in place.

Once again, go and do something else for a few hours while the flock dries. Read a book. Ride an emu. Declare war on Wales. 

This was originally where I left it, until Gravitas rightly pointed out that I needed to paint the stones in order for them to match the proper scale perspective as everything else. SO... the following steps would ideally (but not essentially) take place back up around the time you're painting the sand.

I undercoated all the rocks black, then drybrushed them in progressively lighter shades of grey. Starting out with Adeptus Battlegrey (fairly thorough drybrush), going to Codex Grey (less thorough and leaving out a bit around the bottom) and ending with a quick highlighting drybrush of Fortress Grey.

Finally I dry brush a wee bit of Calthan Brown along the bottom of the rocks to tie them in with the base and to make them look that little bit more rock like. Delicious! 

To tidy up I go around the side one more time and fix up any grey drybrushing overspill with Calthan Brown, and then give it a going over with gloss, followed by matt varnish.

ADDITIONAL BONUS ROUND. I superglue ten cent coins to the bottom of all my bases. Not only does this provide more stability and a very nice heft to the plastic models, but in times of hardship I have a hidden source of currency to buy bread with and thus stave off death while I go hunting for cats.

Here's two of my assault marines showing off their newly acquired upgraded bases. Hurrah! Death to the enemies of the Emperor! Tea and crumpets for all! 


  1. I've had a couple of people ask me why they should paint their bases, since sand and rock already look like the things they are. I had to explain that it was a question of scale, that when unpainted they look like normal scale sand/tiny stones, rather than the desired effect of a gritty surface and 28mm scale medium sized rocks.

  2. My local hobby store frowns upon tiny plastic figures as a pursuit of the friendless and deviant (at least from their attitude if you dare purchase anything there) but does have a fine range of scenery for Model Railways (which is guess is a hobby of Real Men in Real Attics) which is pretty handy for basing with, and far cheaper than the GW stuff.

  3. Gravitas: I didn't actually paint the pebbles that I stuck onto the bases, though now that you've said that I might have to paint a couple up and see if the difference is enough to do the rest...

    Matt: Good call, I should hobble back down to the hobby store and have a good rummage. Last time I was in a bit of a hurry and ran out with the flock and PVA due to the store owner giving me funny looks.

  4. *some time later*

    SIIIIIGH OKAY GRAVITAS YOU WIN. I test painted the rocks on Private Enrico, started out black and dry brushed three increasingly light shades of grey and they do look a LOT better. I guess I'll be editing the post to include those steps shortly.


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Hatching from his egg high in the glacier crowned majesty of the Himalayas, the Megapope quickly devoured his other siblings and later on his parents, for being damned cheeky. He ran a bloody campaign of terror across the wind swept steppes of the north, coming to be known as 'That Horrid Bastard' by the terrified tribes of the region. Many years later he came second in a beauty contest, won $10, didn't pass Go and didn't collect $200.

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