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5.A. What's the best stuff to cover bases with? (Miniatures Painting)


This article is from the Miniatures Painting FAQ, by Brenda Klein tierna@agora.rdrop.com with numerous contributions by others.

5.A. What's the best stuff to cover bases with? (Miniatures Painting)

Again, a matter of how natural-looking and/or durable you want
the base to be. For foilage, the hands-down favourite material
is the model railroader's groundcovering. Woodland Scenics has
an excellent selection and it's inexpensive (particularly when
you figure that the small bags of the stuff can do 100 miniature
bases or more). Bill Gilliland (skaven@u.washington.edu) uses
something called GRASS (es, all caps) from Life-Like Scenery,
which is ultra-fine sawdust which has been coloured.
Verlinden is another recommended brand, available in Europe. A
product called Basetex, from Colour Party Paints, comes in various
colours and is available in the UK.
Other materials that can be used are sand, sifted clay cat litter
(not the scoopable stuff), aquarium bottom material, or sawdust.

First, paint the base a neutral-type or natural colour. When it
dries, take an old brush (or a cheap watercolour brush) and paint
a 50/50 mix of white glue and water over the surface you want to
cover. Painting the glue on gives more precise coverage than
simply squirting it on. The base covering material may be applied
either by having it in a tray about 1/4" deep and dipping the
glue-covered bases into it or by shaking a spoonful over the wet
glue. Give it an hour or so to dry and shake the miniature over
the container holding the rest of the base covering. If needed,
just dab the bare spots with a little more glue and reapply the
covering. Mix different colours or drybrush for an irregular
look, if wanted.
Apply details, like rocks and the like (also available from model
railroad suppliers) by dipping into the glue and setting in place
with tweezers.
Here are some specific methods used by gamers:
Bill Gilliland (skaven@u.washington.edu) contributes:
"It is handy is to keep a dry brush handy while you're doing this,
and if you get flock on wrong areas, flick it off with the second
brush. Old red-sable brushes will work for painting the glue on,
but they're kind of soft and they can be hard to get the glue right
where you want it. I use nylon brushes, they're stiffer. And
painting the base before flocking is important. I use Citadel
Goblin Green which is the same color as the WD photos, but I've used
black before and that works fine as well."
Joshua Buergel (jbbb+@andrew.cmu.edu) adds:
"As for the sand method, I've used it on a couple of titans I
painted, as the bigger area you cover with this particular variety
of flock, the sillier it starts to look. I use aquarium sand from
a pet store and do the above process, only dipping the miniature in
sand. After waiting a couple of hours or more for the glue to dry
(if you don't, when you do the next process the sand starts coming
off), I use a heavily watered down woodland green and paint all of
the sand. After again waiting a long time for this to dry
completely, I dry brush sunburst yellow on top. "Dry brushing"
isn't entirely accurate, though, as I do not wipe the paint off the
brush completely. Rather, I take one swipe on a piece of paper to
rid the brush of a little paint, and then use a dry brushing sort of
motion. This makes the top of the sand yellow but leaves the
bottom bits clearly green."
Then back to Bill:
"I use this method on all my 28mm models and titan-bases. The stuff
was white sand (I forget if it was coral or dune sand) and 3$ got
me about 4 kilograms. I've also used sand from playgrounds, but
this is more irregular than aquarium sand. Again, flick off sand
then let dry.
"Painting 28 mm bases can be done any number of ways. For fantasy
I paint Goblin Green all over the sand and sides, then `damp brush'
(as Josh described, pretty much) `bilious green' on the top of the
sand. This provides a neutral texture to accentuate the model
yet not detract from it.
"For 40K-types I do the same, but when I'm done I go over the side
with black paint. This is because I started painting for space
hulk, and this looks better in the corridors, but on the table both
black and green edges look fine.
"Also, the best looking 28mm bases I've ever done were painted all
black to begin with, then drybrushed dark green-mid green-yellow
green-yellow, and the edges were kept black, but this took FOREVER
to do.
"You can also just paint the base black and have unpainted sand on
the top (sandbox sand looks better than white sand -- it's speckled)
I did this on all my Blood Bowl miniatures and it looks fine.
"But whatever specific method you choose, try to do the same thing
to all the models in an army, and at least the same thing to all
the models in a unit. A simple unit with neatly done bases often
looks better than a well-painted unit with sloppy or completely
unpainted bases."


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