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Painting Tabled Forum > Episode Discussion

Episode 20

posted Jun 04, 2012 18:19:46 by ScottMorgan
Hey there Persons!

I completely agree with you on how much a little planning with your basing can really make an army stand out. I especially, with the advent of 8th ed and all the huge blocks of troops, have become somewhat enamored of unit fillers and grouping models. These days, combats are about sweeping handfuls of troops at a time and I've found that a little attention to fitting in fillers with interesting terrain not only makes for a better looking unit, it also cuts down on the costs of fielding stupid-large blocks of figs. This generally means for me that I spend a lot of time pre-planning my blocks on graph paper to see how they rank up before I start even assembling my figs.

What I tend to start with then is a formation of bases that are all fit together in the rank and file size I expect to use and then I get my texture and height put onto them. I usually use Black Lava or Grey Pumice (as it doubles nicely as an adhesive) as my base, then add in bits of stone, pine bark and shredded cork depending on the look I'm going for. Once I have the formation of textured bases, I then glue the models down - I've found that superglue adheres much better to the pumice texture than to plain plastic or stone, so it can be handy for anchoring your figs well.

Once the texture is on and the mini attached, THEN I prime and paint the whole piece. Once the fig is painted and sealed, I add any foliage / static grass to finish it up.

A few tips:
1. Texture is the key to depth of color and visual interest in base materials - be sure to really tear up the cork or put stone into a thick ziplock bag and take a hammer to it to get some nice pieces to work with; just be careful as some rocks can split into sharp shards (I recommend using freezer bags as they're nice and sturdy for this)

2. Found materials can keep you in basing for years - I buy the Vallejo pumice and lava as effectively a gritty glue. A massive bag of pine bark (if you don't have any around naturally) will run you about $5 at a garden store and will last forever - just always be sure to bake the bark in an oven on a sheet pan with aluminum foil under it at VERY low heat for a few minutes to make sure they're properly dried out and there are no bugs to deal with

3. Visual contrast between the base and the mini is important so all your hard paint-work doesn't get lost to the eye when viewing from a distance; try to pick a contrasting color or temperature for the basing when you can

4. Build up height when you can on some of the bases within a unit - it gives more visual appeal overall and will make those back rank figs stand out more. If you're going to spend hours painting them, it's nice to see more than just the tops of their heads!



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5 replies
Greg2thePerson said Jun 06, 2012 10:27:01
Hi Scott,

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback regarding basing. I really like the idea of building your bases before placing the minis on them, and varying the height of the models through the use of cork or pine bark. I've never used either of these materials on my bases, do you have a preference?

Also, do you have any thoughts on how to pick the color for the edge of the bases?
The slightly less beautiful host.
ScottMorgan said Jun 06, 2012 13:58:38
It's really about what sort of look you're trying to invoke, honestly - the nice thing about cork or pine is that they're light and have a lot of very easy texture to work with, though bark CAN occasionally be problematic in larger pieces as it might fracture along the grain and it doesn't take superglue as well as other materials. That said, it has great striations and breaks up into really nice bits. As full chunks, I tend to use it more for larger basing when I need real height like for my Female HE mounted BSB conversion:

I like cork because it grinds up really easy into very irregular shapes and you can get anything from large rocks to grit-sized results; mix it into the Vallejo texture pastes and you get great natural looking environments with very little effort. I tend to steal my wife's mini blender to spare myself doing it by hand, but don't tell her that...

I've just finished basing and arranging my ghoul foot unit for my new VC army this weekend, I'll try to get some snaps of it to show what I mean about the pre-build and base technique I use later today.

BTW, saw the video of your new Black Knights - they're looking great. I've got 10 of them sitting here staring at me that I need to start, but I think I'm going to try to finish my skeletons and ghouls first so they get to be a reward.

I really like the way your Vargiests are looking too. Something you might want to consider - there's a lot of great muscle definition on those figs and you've got some excellent shading going on; you might want to try to use a glaze / wash of another color in the shadows to lend a little more natural. Try watering down some deep brick-red until it's really thin and put a little into the deepest shadows. The warm tone in the shadow can give a really nice natural light effect. Let me know what you think - maybe try it on one you have in process so if it's not your cup of tea its easy to remove.

ScottMorgan said Jun 06, 2012 14:30:34
Sorry, missed the second bit - color on the edge of my bases: generally I like to use something that's close tonally to the overall base color, but I do like to make it stand out enough that it offsets the figure. For example, my daemon army has charcoal to pale-gray ash and lava, so I just did the edges black. With my VC, the bases are sort of a dead grass, swampy waste and I'm using a dark warm grey that's being used in the stonework to tie that in. With my Skaven, it's a brighter rust color because the tops are grass green. I think the key is having a little contrast but not making it distract from the fig - the goal is to always show off what's above it.

My first army (High Elves) I had grass green bases and green edges and it all just washed together; I never really was happy with the way they looked until I went back in and added a lot of tan/pale brown and gray stone to the tops to make the figs pop more. Now the green trim makes them stand out nicely as individual models but looks pretty seamless as a unit.

In general I always reflect the basing side color on the sides of my movement trays as well, but some people might not like that look. Here are some samples of a Daemon unit:


Black is sort of a cheat, so nothing amazing there - but you can see how I have sharp walls to my tray and they sides match the base sides while the top has the same texture. I make all my own trays out of basswood because it's easy and a lot cheaper than buying the plastic bits.

ScottMorgan said Jun 06, 2012 17:38:27
As promised, here's my new ghoul unit for my VC. The idea here is that my Vampires are all Lahmian and as such insist upon a certain level of decorum so they keep their ghouls hidden as man-servants at their estate and force them to dress to maintain their decency. Mostly shown here to demonstrate how I put together the bases and unit fillers to fit in with one another and make for a dynamic group.


Greg2thePerson said Jun 10, 2012 14:41:50
Thanks for the advice on the Vargheists, Scott. I will definitely give that technique a try and post some pictures of the results.

And DAMN, that High Elf BSB is amazing. There's a lot to love about the model, but the banner steals the show for me. Great job!
The slightly less beautiful host.
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