Not a long ago, I created some bases for German Fallschirmjäger, some IDF forces and Elysian Drop Troops that where critically acclaimed by audiences in two German miniatures forums, so I decided to create a little – more or less little – tutorial to show, how I do those bases.
The method is simple, easy to convert to almost every kind of miniature base and delivers a lot of possibilities to customize the ground the miniature stands on.
Desert and steppes have some things in common: Sand, Stones and sometimes blasted gras. This is a good base not just for creating an easy steppe base for your miniature, but also to convert it into an earth base how it is set in more temperate zones. You just have to change colours.
As always, when you start a project, you need material. For this, we need the following materials:
1x paint brush – it depends on the figure you want to base and the size of the base you want to create. As I am basing 28 mm miniatures at the moment, I take a big brush to be able to work on the base as quick and entire as possible.
1x tube of wood glue or another glue or paste - Since I am doing tabletop I have used wood glue as it is the most effective glue for creating a base as I am doing it – for example “Ponal” would be suitable.
1x cup of water – you need it to wet the brush and to clean it after working on the base. Why, that will be more clear after we started. Wasser. Wood glue has a very bady attribute: it glues … that could be a problem when you want to use your brush later on …
1x cup or bowl of sand – what kind of sand does not matter. For example I have taken some sand from a nearby playground. You can also collect some little stones or gravel in order to give your base a proper shape. Important: let the sand and stones dry of for at least 24 hours before you use it. It must have a very dry and wispy consistence – like beach sand has. The problem with playground sand for example is that it is somehow wet, which makes it lump when you try to glue it on a base. To prevent that from happening you must give it the time to get really dry.
And – I can tell that by experience – don’t take a cup or bowl that esily melts away when you put it on a heater or radiator.
And then, of course, you need an miniature and its base. As I am working on different miniatures at the moment, I will use those to show how I base different figures for different scenes.
Let’s go, Joe!
After we have all our materials together, we can start. Our wood glue will be applied to the base like I did on the picture.
After that, we take the brush into the water and make it wet – just wet, not soaked! Otherwise we will have a soaked glue and that could prevent the glue from keeping the sand together.
Then, we use the brush to cover the base with the applied glue. Bespread the whole base with the glue. It really looks weird when your miniature later has "holes" around its boots.
After that you can put the figure into the sand. There are some possibilities to do this:
1. You put the miniature into the sand and then sprinkle the sand over it. That is a good way to cover the base with sand, but it also covers the miniature in dust.
2. You pull it through the sand. That makes a little wave effect on the base, great for when you want to give your base a little fault.
3. You press the miniature into the sand or joggle it into the sand.
Let me tell a few words concerning the base materials. It does not matter if you put all your base material (stones, little plastic parts or cast rests) into the bowl or if you apply it to the base separately.
If you put it into the bowl, it finds a natural way on the base, if not, you should apply stones and cast at first before putting the sand on the base.
Then let the miniature rest in the sand bowl for at least a few seconds so the glue gets the time to glue some sand to the base.
After that you can take the figure out of the bowl and shake off the remaining sand. Note: if your base falls off the miniature, you have shaken too hard.
For sure it can happen that some sand is glued to the boots or the trousers of your figures. Just use the brush to take away the sand (of course after you have washed to glue from the brush - trying this without cleaning the brush would be a bit idiotic ...)
When you are finished, it should look like this:
As you can see, some cast has been glued to the base and will be part of it in the future. We will see how it looks in the future.
Now give your miniature enough time to dry. I recommend over night (12 hours), but 24 hours would be great.
After that you can apply a primer to it. An alternative would be to prime the figure first and apply the base material after that. How that works and look like will be part of another tutorial and be told another time.
This tutorial will continue after the miniatures are dry enough to work on.
To be continued ...