HOW TO BASE MINIATURES FAST
Hi! In this tutorial we are doing something slightly different. We are having a short look at basing miniatures. Basing is often an afterthought for wargamers and modellers. But equally, we want something quick, effective, and unifying. Well, basing can be quick and effective across an army! We have 4 themes for this guide, so hopefully one will suit you!
Table of Contents
1. HOW TO BASE MINIATURES FAST: GETTING STARTED
Assemble your possible basing materials. I have been miniature painting a while, so I have accumulated quite a few materials in my time! But variety is key. And you can have natural basing, or specially formulated, or a mix. Basing items do not have to be complicated or expensive, either. So make some key decisions before you start, like how complex the base should be.
Once you have decided on what theme and materials you want, it’s time to glue! PVA or superglue will stick most materials you will be using on your bases. Thinking about where the model will be. Try to place the materials sloping, but away from the model. You don’t want them to detract or ‘drown out’ the model in the foreground. But getting them to ‘stack’ will also suggest height and depth. This is good for suggesting your model is situated in a wider environment. Once things are glued make sure the base is fully dry before continuing. For PVA this may be 24hrs.
After this I spray primed them to help seal everything. Some basing materials don’t need to be painted but I like to, nonetheless. I feel this makes it look less ‘uncanny’. Real life unpainted gravel can look strange when surrounded by painted objects, for instance.
WHAT DO I WANT TO ACHIEVE HERE?
On any painting project, it is good to think about end goals. Here we want quick and easy bases for themed armies. It has to be effective but applicable across many bases without burnout. Nice ideas and complex techniques have their place, but not here! There is no point getting burnout and painting fatigue from 50 desert bases, for instance! Work smarter, not harder.
HOW TO BASE MINIATURES FAST: Urban Bases
I rolled some “green stuff” epoxy on my RGG glass palette so it was flat and smooth. Next I cut it to fit my base- sort of like trimming the icing on a cake! Using a sculpting tool wet with water, I cut parallel lines into the epoxy. Next I added vertical lines at irregular intervals. Easy paving done! I also distressed these paving stones a little, by stabbing them with a drybrush and picking at the edges. Once the greenstuff cured I added some old sprue bits (and actual sprue!) to ‘ruin’ the base with rubble.
After I painted everything in a dark blue-gray, I applied a generous wash of red-brown over everything. This would simulate rust and oxidation. And this is a warm contrast to the cool gray, and simulates an urban warfare environment quickly. The flagstones were drybrushed with pale gray for a highlight, and the ‘metal’ rubble was chipped with orange and silver on a piece of packing foam. Finally, I added a little oxide weathering pigment to the base and barrel. After it was dry from the pigment setter, it looked suitably dry and dusty.
How to base miniatures fast: Desert Bases
Arid desert bases couldn’t be easier! Bicarbonate of Soda and superglue is super quick, and is scale appropriate for sand. If you use red instead of tan, too, it makes a good martian base! I covered the base in superglue and then sprinkled old bicarbonate of soda onto it. It sets instantly and is perfect for a scaled graininess. I also added a little cork and gravel near the back for a small outcrop. And I wanted some vegetation, so included a piece of lichen and static grass to look like dried ‘brush’.
I basecoated everything in a tan paint. Some areas I also gave a sepia wash for modulation. Afterwards I drybrushed the sand and rock with a pale yellow, and added a light dust pigment for that dusty finish.
HOW TO BASE MINIATURES FAST: Icy Bases
Another good use for bicarbonate of soda and superglue is to make icy bases. And it is no harder than making desert bases! I made the rocky outcrop with rough, irregular chunks of cork. In the centre of the base I added the pool of superglue, and sprinkled the bicarb over the top. And I did this about 3 times to build it up to an appropriate thickness.
I painted the rocks with a dark blue-gray, and then drybrushed these with a pale blue-gray. Then I added a snow mix in patches to the rocks. For the ice I applied patches of very thinned sky blue wash. But I would also recommend a gloss varnish if you want the ice to look slick.
Basing doesn’t have to be difficult. Or expensive. For a forest base you can use coffee grinds for earth, tea leaves or dried herbs for leaves. And for twigs and trees, you can use twigs and trees! From your garden or your next walk. Do make sure you clean such materials first, however. Disinfecting or baking is the best option. Failing that, there are several hobby companies that will sell premixes of cleaned organic materials for you.
Here I sprinkled some leaves and ‘earthen scatter’ mix into a texture paste. I also added foam for a small bush, and a twig from my garden for a fallen tree! After priming, everything was basecoated in brown and then drybrushed with a tan color. To the tree and ‘mulch’ I also added tints of green in patches to suggest mould growth and decay. And I used a leaf stamp to add a dash of color. These are freshly fallen leaves in autumn, and are cut from actual leaves!
HOW TO BASE MINIATURES FAST: COMPLETED BASES!
So there you have it! Basing can be quick, easy, and inexpensive. Just by using ‘free’ items from your house and garden you can create effective thematic bases quickly across an army. There is no one right way to base, and multiple discrete paths to success. You can use store-bought materials or DIY homemade ones. Or like me, you can use a mix of both! It is your hobby, do it your way. – James.