Thursday, May 13, 2010

Basing part 2- a how to guide.

I got asked how I do my bases.  It surprises me cause I think mine are pretty much functional and crappy.  However, your wish is my command.

I went for a classic 1980's finish for my figures based between Phil Lewis and Kevin Adams style.  I wanted robust bases that could withstand gaming, and be dustable.  That ruled soft flock out- which always looks shitty several years down the track as it flakes off and greys with dust.  My color inspiration comes from the sales poster for the Citadel Monster Paint Starter Set- which showed very yellow green grass on Skragg the Slaughterer and his goblin pals.  Nice.


First, prime the tab.  Yes the bonds weaker, as your glueing paint not directly to the model, but I am told it will protect the figure from lead rot- especially if the PVA glue or basing material is acidic.  When gluing a figure together you want the contact points raw for maximum bonding, but when your holding the figure on the base, it does not matter so much.  Leaving a relatively weak bond to the base gives you the option to crack off the old base and refresh it in years to come.  This is why I use more expensive, rubbery putties such as green stuff and procreate to build up bases around the feet and tab, rather than millput- which I often use for sculpting stone and rubble.  Flexable putties are much easier to remove and flex when dropped.  Polyfiller wont- unless you use the wood version- which I suspect is acidic.  Now that stuff is GREAT for doing dungeon tiles with!

I use regular superglue to base the figures.  Once glued on, flip the figure over and either fill the slot with epoxy putty or paint a thick layer of paint over any exposed metal.  Again, this protects the figure from exposure.  Just like a Jedi going after a shape shifter in a bar, you must be extra careful.  Superglue in the eye is a hospital trip you dont want.  When popping the cherry of a new superglue, always turn your head away or wear protective glasses.  If your worried about looking like a wanker, well- sorry to break it to you, YOU COLLECT MINIATURES!  May as well be a safe one.


I use a mix of Bondi Beach, grit from the streets, flock and brushings from my workbench- which often contain metal filings and bits of Bederken Dwerg figures.  This is mixed with PVA glue to make a gloopy concrete.  You can use this mix to make scenery, I refer to it as modellers cement.
Anyway, use a cheap brush to paint the cement onto the base, and then sprinkle fine sand to dry off the surface.  Wipe your brush clean, then use it to dust off any spillage on feet.  An old scalpel blade can be handy to push the goop under the feet.

The grade of sand you use makes a massive difference to the drybrushed- so experiment.

If the slotta holes are really wide, like you get on some precut horse bases nowadays, a little stickytape is all you need to block the hole.  The small gaps dont need to be filled if you use PVA.

Finally I run my thumb around the edge of the base to cut a small ledge around the lip of the surface.  I think it looks nice.


Mushrooms are a MUST for a retro citdadel figure- the old world was FULL of mushrooms and venus flytraps.  I suggest making them in bulk, rather than doing them for every figure directly on the base.  Grab a cork, stab it with wire- bend the ends over to stop the shroom falling off, then whack on your putty.  Leave the stalk long enough so you can drill and glue it in your bases later on.  Check out Kevin Adams wonderful bases from the eighties- he used stippled putty for grass and sculpted plants, skulls, shrooms and flytraps galore.

For painting, I use a thinned wash of black acrylic, overbrush with GW Catcachan green, then finish up with a drybrush of Camo Green.  Washes of brown, red, purple and Dark Angels Green add Frank Frazetta-esque touches of color.

For science fiction I use VMC green-grey washed with 50-50 GW badab black and blue washes.  Gives the thing a 1980s scifi video feel I kinda like.


  1. Grit from the streets? I guess I'm not the only one who thought that was a good idea ;) For me, it was truly a geek moment - I was standing at the corner where my kids catch the school bus, and I happen to notice the accumulation of sediment next to a storm drain and thought "Hey, that looks like it would make great basing material!"

    Now I have three small containers of sand, small rocks, and large rocks for bigger bases. And hey, it was free, which is always a good thing. Nice article; thanks for sharing!

  2. Living in a coast city gives me a great reserve of sand and little rocks and shells to use in my bases.

    I will use these mushrooms and flytraps to recreate the old skool atmosphere.