Lets Make Bases

My favorite basing technique over the last year or so has been to sculpt a surface directly onto a base prior to attaching the model.  This is similar to other basing techniques that I have written about, but rather than gluing a tall bit of material onto the base, I add details to a thin layer of greenstuff or other 2-part putty.  This technique is a bit (only a bit) more time consuming than gluing on layers of rock, cork, or super-sculpy, but allows for much greater control in the design of the base.  This is also a great way to get a handle on the properties of greenstuff if you are just starting out as a sculptor.

One of the excellent things about putting the time in to really craft your miniature’s bases is that it gives you another way to tell their story to the viewers.  The Eldar that I have been working on are scouring a rusted wasteland of a planet in a region littered by centuries of wreckage and scrap.  Having a distinct idea about the environment that your minis are in can add a lot to the miniature itself.

Here are some of the tools and materials needed for this project. Note that the primary sculpting tool will be a dulled and polished hobby knife blade. This thing is not sharp at all. Its great for creating deep divots or lines in putty.
When I do these bases I like to mix greenstuff, but add some super sculpy to the putty as I mix it. This changes it’s sculpting properties slightly. I only add about 10-20% to the full volume of the putty. So long as the sculpy is less than either the blue or yellow component of the putty, it should set just fine. The resulting mixed putty is slightly softer and stickier. Great for adding the rough type of detail we will need later.
Smooth the putty out across the base. Don’t worry too much about overlap. That will get cut off later. Start breaking up the surface of the putty with some bold lines. The position of these lines will only be determined by experience. Play around with it, find what you like the best. Keep in mind you can always press out the lines and start again if they don’t look the way you like.
Join the lines here and there to create a broken surface, not unlike a dry creek-bed. You could stop here and add some fine sand to get an interesting looking base. With these I kept going…
Using the handle of a clay shaper or paint brush (or whatever you have laying around) press in some indents to break up the smooth surface of the putty. I would alternate the angle that I was using to make a natural and random pattern.
Using the tip of the same handle I created pits in the surface of the putty. This finalized the dry rocky ground look I was going for.
One of the things I like about this form of basing is that you can integrate as much detail as you like. In this case I am trying to capture the feeling of a wreckage strewn wasteland. Here I pressed a bit of a model into the putty to give the impression of some steel emerging from the dusty ground.
Once the putty has fully set, carefully do any edge trimming with a sharp hobby knife blade. This step is optional and I didn’t do it on every base, depending on how much putty was spread around.
Here is an example of a base that has been painted and slightly weathered. The next steps are to paint the base edges and to add weathering powder once the mini is attached. When attaching the mini I do a shallow pin past the plastic of the base. This gives just enough strength to keep the two parts together. I don’t trust the paint to be a good surface to attach the mini to alone.
Here is a finished base with the mini attached.
Here are all the bases for the unit. These took a few hours to do including painting and set time.

 

I like making bases this way, especially if I am working on some other sculpting.  This gives me a way to use spare putty that would otherwise set up and go to waste.  Its also relaxing to work on these as the level of detail needed for them is not very fine.  Of course you could simply purchase some resin bases from one of the many manufactures out there.  If you want your own design or style, this is a great way to go about it.  Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section!

Author: xenite

I am an avid gamer, sculptor, and artist. The creative aspect of this hobby is what really draws me to it. :)

4 thoughts on “Lets Make Bases”

  1. Awesome basing walthrough. It was completely NOT what I was searching for, but it was well done enough that I stayed to read it. If only everyone got as involved with their minis, gaming fun would be exponentially better!

    Kudos
    -Zack
    ZackCart.com

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