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Embracing Basing

4 Minute Read
Jun 28 2011

Today’s Terrible Tuesday offering isn’t glamorous, nor is it controversial.  Here’s hoping you enjoy it, but its not likely to run up the comment-count, is it?  No, today we’re embracing the oft overlooked art of basing!

Don’t all get excited at once.

Greetings from Strictly Average; visit, and here’s hoping you choose to hit ‘follow’ – all the cool kids are doing it these days!

(We are cool, right?  Right?)

As a hobbyist, I spend the most time on painting armies… meaning you aren’t reading an article by some badass brush jock who dribbles talent all over Cool Mini Or Not.  Fairly sure you knew that though.

No, my time is spent finishing projects, and – with a few exceptions – the vast majority of painting articles penned by my uber-masculine hand have discussed the virtues of speed painting, or batch painting.  Still, I enjoy my work, so it’s inevitable it ends up on Strictly Average; with a bit of luck, it’ll attract a comment or three.

Recently, a seemingly random post on a 15-Minute Miniature sparked a wave of comments:

The 1st: “Now if I could just convince you to ditch the Fruity Pebbles mix you use for basing, I think it’d be even better.”

And: “I’d say my basing *does* look better though…”

And: “I agree about the base…he looks like he’s standing on the bowl edge of a cauldron of vegi soup.”


And so on.  It was like one of those Tosh.0 segments, “Let’s see how many jokes I can fit into 20 seconds!”  Fun.

It was a wake up call!  A call to action!  A call to arms!  And whatever other inspiring ‘calls‘ there are out there.

It was time to give some thought to the foundation a model stands on.

The Past
As a speed painter, I was happy with the simplest, fastest possible method: spread Elmer’s Glue, dip in flock, tap off the excess and voila!  Bob’s your uncle.

Over time, I added contrast.  I liked the results… at first… but as you can see, over time it got out of control.  There’s the past – let’s leave it there and review the present.

Finally, He Gets to the Point

First things first: run to the local hobby store – where you, as a discerning supporter of local business, spend all your hobby money, eschewing 20% off to keep your FLGS running – and make a purchase.

Doh!  There weren’t enough bases for my Wargames Con army…

Wargames Con, coming soon to an Austin Doubletree near you, in say… oh, a bit less than two weeks!  Join us – I happen to know they have Shiner Bock on tap!


…so a little ingenuity was in order.

The Process
I had a model to go by – the precast resin bases – so it was time to try and recreate the general look.

The key was different textures and varying structure – nothing too regular.

Here’s where my speed painting roots feed my practical nature: there’s no point in using traditional brushwork on bases when spray paint does the work in minutes.

Basecoat in black then dust with the brownish red, varying the angles and amounts.  While the paint is wet, do a lighter dusting with the lighter colors, in this case tan and camo green, trying again to vary the angles and amounts.

When it was dry, I used a tan Foundation paint to do a very quick drybrush of the smaller rocks, just going for a bit of contrast.

The last step was moderate use of flocking, static grass, and larger pebbles, just for contrast and to break up the shapes.

Here’s the finished product, my first attempt at building a better base across an entire army.  I’m pretty happy with the result…

…not bad for a first attempt, right?  The only thing I have to decide is whether to paint the edge black or leave it as is.


Okay folks, your turn!  I showed you mine, and all that.  Feel free to drop any advice or techniques in the comments, and help out your fellow hobbyists.

If you have links to existing posts on the subject, please post that, too.  A picture is worth… you get the idea.

So as always, thoughts?  Comments?  Hugs and gropings?

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