Painting Pro Tip: BASE YOUR DAMN MODELS

Pro Tip: BASE YOUR MINIS
 
These are older pics of models I finished up much earlier this year, but I wanted to share some thoughts on this topic, and these models demonstrate what I’m talking about.

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BLANK BASES:
The goblins are repaints of older D&D plastic minis, I didn’t add any basing to the models, just painted them black like they would have been previously released . It’s fine, I guess, but it’s obvious you’re playing with some sort of throw away toy. I’ll come back to them later…

 

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SCULPTED BASES:
The cobblestone basing on this woman with the flaming sword is a sculpted part of the original model, I’ve done no modelling whatsoever on this piece, just painting. I just gave the base a once over with a medium grey tone, then an ink wash (probably black ink) and then hit the edges with a lighter grey dry brush. So many of the dungeon tiles I use often have a stone or cobblestone pattern so keeping the paint scheme on the base of the model neutral helps it blend into what ever else is on the table. I like minis that have sculpted bases, because I get to be lazy but the model will still look nice once finished.
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BASING SAND TECHNIQUE:
This interesting looking cultist gentleman was based using fine grain modelling sand. I’ve had the same tub of sand for like almost 10 years now, a little goes a long way. The base plate on this model was actually recessed, which makes it a little easier to get the sand in there. I use CA (Cyanoacrylate) Glue (Super Glue/Crazy Glue) I use a medium thickness glue most of the time, liquidy, but not runny. I gingerly coat the base plate, then set the model on a plate or in a bowl, then pour on the sand.

There is a bit of a disconnect on the basing sand in the modelling world. Some folks thinks it’s fine to just glue the sand down at the end, they see no point in painting sand to be sand colored. I’m on the other side of this battle however. I’m my experience, you get the best results if you base at the beginning of the building/modelling phase, before primer coat even, here’s why: when you base and then prime the model, it A) adds an extra level of adhesion to the basing and B) ties the odd size of the sand grains into the model. The reason to consider painting the sand on your bases is that the grain of the sand is not to scale with the rest of your model. Painting the sand starting with the primer coat will change the look of the texture and after a series of dry brushing, the sand will look less out of place that if you’d just glued sand down and called it good. I usually end up painting mine in a grey to tan transition instead of just sand colors, because again, I find the neutral color helps ground the model into whatever environment you throw down on the table.

My steps for coloring the sanded bases are as follows: Primer, Dark basecoat (80-90% grey), ink wash (brown or black), medium brown dry brushing, medium grey dry brushing, light grey dry brushing, tan/off-white dry brushing. I’ll sometimes add one of those little tufts of static grass or foliage of some type to tie it together. I have some tufts that look like dead grass/weeds that look really good.

**I’ve also seen people use baking soda instead of sand for an even finer texture, I’ve not yet tried it myself, but am curious to once I remember to buy some.**
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BASING CORK TECHNIQUE:

This one is really, REALLY easy and gives your model a broken slab look. Get some of those cork tiles that you mount on your wall or in your locker or whatever. Tear it by hand into a shape just about the size of the baseplate, glue it down, glue your model down. BAM! I pretty much follow the same painting steps as I do for sand, minus the ink wash. Make sure you dry brush those broken edges, they look so damn good when you do it. For sci-fi you can paint it to look like a broken street, for fantasy I again just keep in the neutral grey realm.

 

THE POINT I’m getting to is this… You should always base your models with something. Sand, baking soda, cork, something. base it when you’re building, prime it all together, and paint it up. It helps your model looked like a finished piece of art, instead of just some throw away toy. If you’re going to spend the time learning to to paint these intricate, tiny models; you owe it to yourself to make sure the end result is as stellar as possible. A model with a blank base really takes you out of the fantasy of the game, while having even the simplest of basing scenery will make the model itself look complete, set a tone for the figure/character, tie a series of models together, and sometimes (when you really go all out) tell a story in a single miniature. And, really, how fucking cool it that?!

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