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!

Terrain for the new table: Urban Buildings

I firmly believe that complexity can be mitigated by efficient production in hobby projects.  The assembly line is your best friend.

A while ago I started tinkering with a system to create a series of urban buildings for Flames of War for city, or more dense sub-urban areas of Europe (perhaps including smallish cities such as Carentan, ect. ).  The premise of this terrain building methodology was to use foam-core to create the general form of the buildings (think a box with door, and window holes in it) and then add layers of applique detail as needed to achieve the results I wanted.

Today I stumbled across this article on TTGN.  I need to look into these buildings to see if they would fill the role that the foam-core would as described above.  They certainly would be more expensive, but would also be more sturdy, and would take a laborious step out of the process.

I am very interested in the laser-cut trend that is happening right now in gaming accessories.  These buildings may be a must have for my future terrain collection, or they may simply be the motivator for me to get off my ass and make my own buildings.


Table update

This is not the proper next phase of the game table project as I don’t have any update pictures.  I did, however get the panels spray painted.  After coating the boards with brown spray, I pulled out some patches, and highlighted the hills with a light tan color.  It’s been a while since I had done any large area spray painting, and while I made sure there was a good flow of air, the basement reeked of acetone & aerosol.  This quickly dissipated (into my apartment where it lingered for an hour or so), such is the way of the hobby life.

I hit up John for some advice on the next stage: flocking.  I have tone of static grass, but I think I will try to hunt down some light green flock as well to change up the texture a bit.  I’d love to add some grass tufts here and there as well, but I am not sure I can find a cost effective way to do so.  The next stage prior to laying down flock and grass will to do some highlighting.  The way I applied the tan spray brought up some of the detail in the sandy texture, but some proper drybrushing should help.

I will try to get some shots up in the next day or two (its depending on the weather at this point due to a lack of substantial light in the basement).

Gaming table phase 2

I’ve used some lightweight spackling compound to patch up the gaps between layers of the hills, and have added some small stones to create a region of rough terrain on a steep area. This will need some sanding to clean up the spackle, and perhaps shape the hillside some more.

Next step will be to get a coat of primer on the board. I am going to use some leftover interior house-paint from when the girlfriend and I painted our living room.

Gaming table phase 1

Here is the gaming table that I am working on. Its a 2 part modular table with several built in hills. I may add some more variation to the surface in the form of the topographic hills, but I want to make sure that adding items like rivers, roads, and woods isn’t too difficult. This sucker is pretty big at 8’x4′. It will be set on the dining room table for games, as opposed to a dedicated gaming table frame. Next step is to model some rocky patches peaking out of the hills, and to patch the layers of pink foam hills with spackle wall filler.

Terrain Table Ideas

Here are two table concepts that I have been pondering. This would be a pretty simple, temperate style environment to suite lots of different game types. The idea is that additional terrain can be used to create a more specific sense of place.

gaming table concept image
This table would be two parts, with each half containing part of a large hill for king on the hill games, or representing something of a valley.

gaming table concept image
This is the river table. Large terrain pieces set over part of the river could help the river from dominating the entire board.

Each of these tables is designed to have other sections added to them to increase size, and to flip around to create different layouts.

The hills would be stepped and would cover a large area of the table, but not all of it generally. The river would be a lot of fun, but I think the key to making it playable without being a giant pain in the ass is to create several fords in addition to bridge terrain that can be used to cross the river.