Hobby How To Tuesday: Basing Models

This Tuesday I will be talking about the fun topic of how to base your models!  Again, this article will hopefully illuminate a way to go about the project that is both easy and presents a good looking finished product.  Before settling on my current technique I had tried a few other methods that did not work out as well, so I am hoping with this tutorial I can help steer you away from the issues I have already dealt with prior to finding this technique that I am showing you how to do today.  I have talked with a lot of people that don’t bother doing basing because they feel it may be too hard or that it takes a lot more  effort than they want to put in; I can tell you it’s not as trying as you may think.

Below is a picture of the supplies I use for doing my basing: Elmer’s Glue All, super glue (not shown), model railroad ballast dirt, a thick haired brush, a collection of small rocks, and two kinds of static grass.

The first step in my basing process that I start with when basing  most of my models is to glue the model to the base and fill in the holes  left in the base with “green stuff modeling putty”.  Once the model is secured onto the base I then start to put debris onto it that I want, like small rocks and such.  In the case of my Stormwall below, I used rocks and a Khador heavy wreck marker.  For debris I will use super glue to hold them well in place. For reference: the rare case in which I don’t glue the model to the base first is if I need to keep it separate so that I can paint the underside of the model.

In the next step I apply a layer of pure Elmer’s Glue and dip the model into the ballast material.  Any type of fake dirt, or small chunks of rock works well for this step.  The idea is that you are making a layer of textured earth for you model to be standing on.  After dipping the model I will immediately scrape off any excess rocks that ended up on the model or outside of the inner ring of the model’s base, just so they don’t stick n weird places.  This happens inevitably so it is worth cleaning it up while the glue is still wet.

This next step is what I feel to be the most important.  Once the glue has had about an hour to dry I will prime the  models.  This acts as a second form of sealant for the ballast and rocks, making it less prone to falling off of your model.  This step is one that I used to skip over, needless to say most of the older models that had the ballast applied after painting the model have now since lost the ballast because it wasn’t coated.  Priming also allows you to put a little paint onto the ballast to make the texture of the dirt match the texture of the model you are making.

Once the model has had its paint job finished I will add the finishing touches by painting the ballast at the model’s feet.  I wait to do this step last because it is far too common that I will end up painting some of the basing material while painting the model.  For the dirt I use a series of earth tone colors that I apply from dark to light with (typically) three shades and each being lighter by volume as well.  The third layer is usually just a light dry-brush with my lightest color (see the last tutorial I posted for more info on dry-brushing: Painting Silver).  It is also a decent idea to mix in other colors like greys or dark greens to add some more earth tones to the mix if you are craving some variety.  I usually prime my models black, but if you choose a different color I suggest first coating the ballast black before applying your earth tones. By applying the black first you get more of a dimensional effect that gives the basing and ballast more of a texture look to the feel. After this is complete I typically clean up the outer ring of my model and if it is also a Warmachine or Hordes model then paint a arc onto it as well.  From here the model is ready for its finish coat.

The final step comes after the finish coat has had ample time to dry (give it an hour just to be safe);  the static grass is a nice final touch.  The first thing I do is glue any of the large clumps of grass to the base with super glue.  For this I use The Army Painter: Battlefields Jungle Tuft, which gives the grass a appearance of volume and height.  For small models I will usually only use zero to one clump.  Next, I then glue static grass to the base in small patches so that some of the painted earth texture is still visible, I did spend time on it, may as well let it show through.  For this part I will again use Elmer’s glue and sprinkle the grass onto the spots of glue and then blow off the excess with a nice puff of air being sure not to spit on the freshly glued model.  Once this is complete so too is my model!  I hope you have enjoyed this week’s modeling tips and I will leave you with a few finished photo’s of Vlad Prime that I painted for a buddy of mine.

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