Base Tutorial Part 1
by John "Scarab" Salmond

This all started with some request from local gamers. Most of these ideas have been around since the beginning of painting figs in one form or another. I like to figure things out on my own because I believe that is half the fun so this is my spin on basing figs. I have decided to use plain bases because of the volume of bases and examples I will be doing. I will be breaking this tutorial up in stages. For example, I will be starting with how how I do dirt because that is the foundation of most bases. When I move to water I won't be repeating the dirt stage of the basing. I don't want to repeat a previous method so I will only mention it. I am also going to change up the material portion of my tutorial. I will mention material as I use it. So let's get started.

Materials Needed:
Static grass
Tall grass
Baking soda

When working with a base you can change things up a bit by carving some of the base away for depth and character (A). In the example below you will notice one base has been chopped up in preparation for adding water (B). I cut a piece of sheet styrene to glue on the bottom of the base so I don't have a problem with the water leaking. You can also cut part of the base away for rocks or other objects. I use Bondini Gel for all of my superglue needs including figs.

1. Dirt

The majority of my bases have the same foundation. Dirt. I use sifted sand and small rocks for almost all of my dirt (1A).

Apply some whiteglue to your base and spread the glue around with a toothpick (1B & 1C).

Before applying the sifted sand throw on some small rocks to break things up a bit. You want to put the rocks in first so they appear to be in the ground and not resting on top of the soil (1D).

Then comes the sifted sand. Make sure you are generous when covering the bases with the sand (1E & 1F).

Make sure you let it dry completely. You don't want to start paining with wet glue. When it is all said and done you have the making of some dirt (1G & 1H).

For the base color of dirt I like to start with a dark brown (1I).

I dabble some on a piece of tin foil with a smaller dab of black (1J). I throw in some water so it has a thick wash consistency (1K). Mix it up with your brush (1L).

When applying the paint you can be a little generous. The reason for thinning the paint is because it seeps into all of the small cracks and also allows for some of the original rock color to show through (1M).

After it is all dry I begin the dry brush process. For this example I will use four different colors. Dry brushing is when you apply paint to your brush and them remove most of the paint with a cloth (1N). This allows you to brush the object and apply a minimal amount of paint on the leading edges of the object.

I start with a dark medium brown (1O).

A raw sienna next (1P).

Next is a tan, which will be the lightest brown that is used (1Q).

The last color is going to be very light so remove almost all of your paint from the brush. Apply the light gray very sparingly on the leading edges of the rocks for this example (1R).

You now have the foundation for several different types of basing (1S).

2. Vegetation

Once you have the dirt down you can do a variety of vegetation depending on what your theme is. Let's start with the basics—grass. I buy my static grass in bulk and mix it up myself. This allows me to control my colors (2A).

I first decide what my overall goal is with the theme I am trying to achieve. I then place some dapples of whiteglue on my bases (2B).

I then begin to spread the glue around with a toothpick. When I apply grass I want to give the illusion that the grass extends beyond the base so I try not to bunch it up in small globs. You'll see after I spread it around (2C).

I use tweezers to apply the grass. I smash the grass into the glue and then flip the base upside down and tap the bottom. This makes the grass stand up more. You can also vary you colors depending on the theme. Green grass for summer woodland and light brown for snowy dead grass (2D & 2E).

Sometimes I will throw some variety on the base and apply sponge turf. I like to apply it next to the static grass. I apply the glue and then spread it around (2F, 2G & 2H).

You can now add fallen trees which I find roots are ideal for this (2I & 2J).

You can even use dried wood ships, which I use more on my water pieces (2K).

I like to add some tall grass to add depth and variety from time to time. I also buy this in several different colors and mix them together. Grasses are usually never the same color even in the same clump. Note the four colors in a row and the one that is a mixture of all the grass (2L).

After I mix them I make one end of the grass stalk uneven, I cut the other end with scissor and apply whiteglue to the end. i then apply is to the base. Let it dry just a bit and then spread it out some so it is not all standing straight and stiff (2M & 2N).

You can also add foliage clumps for small bushes. I also mix that up so it is not all the same color (2O).

You can also pick from sheet moss to get debris and different looking plants (2P).

You will notice that the base on the left is using some clump foliage. The base in front has a slant on the right I took form the sheet moss. You may also notice that the whiteglue is not dry yet on my grass and fallen trees. I am impatient that way. The static grasses are also different colors.

I could go on for a long time on vegetation because of the wide variety. you can make little mushrooms like I do on most of my figs with pinheads.You can also sculpt mushrooms to add. There are companies that sell small leaves for an autumn look. This list goes on.

3. Snow

Making snow can be done in a variety of methods and materials. this method I will be using whiteglue and basking soda. you can also us a purchased snow mixture (3A).

I mix some whiteglue with some baking soda. I may add some water at times to thin it up a bit (3B).

Go ahead and apply the mixture to your base. Remember to keep the illusion that the terrain goes beyond your base to have some of the snow touch the base edge (3C & 3D).

Once you have applied the glue and baking soda mixture. Sprinkle dry baking soda over the bases and let it dry completely before you brush it off. Sometimes you may want to apply the snow before your static grass is dry so some of the dry mix gets into the static grass. This gives a cool effect (3E).

After is is dry use a brush and gently remove the excess dry baking soda. You can be vigorous in removing the dry baking soda if you want the wind swept look (3F).

4. Water

You can do water in several different ways. You can cut part of your base away or you can apply the water without removing any of your base. You will need to complete the dirt phase of your basing. Wherever you apply the water you will need t paint it first. I like to go with a dark green (4A).

For a swampy look and to obscure the depth of the water I like to throw in some sponge turf (4B & 4C).

You can use two-part Envirote or acrylic Medium for water. I usually like to go with Envirotex. For this example I chose to go with Acrylic medium. I have other tutorials that cover the other products (4D & 4E).

Fill the areas where you want the water located. If you use Acrylic Medium it shrinks when it dries so you will have to apply several layers. Envirotex does not shrink.

After the water is all dry you can use other methods to apply vegetation that I have already covered (4F & 4G).

5. Completion

Now you have some bases that blow mine away. All you ave left is to paint the edge black and you are ready to crush your enemy. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.If you have any questions feel free to contact me at