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Monday, September 12, 2016

Revisiting basing

Hi All,

  I couldn't remember if I'd done a post on basing before. Apparently I've had several talking about it but none giving the step by step. A couple of years ago I talked about my method here.

  On to today's version. Mostly the same with a few refinements.


So this is how I base almost everything except for my Sci Fi (40K) stuff. The only thing I didn't picture is the Air Dry clay (Amaco, 10Lbs for $10 at a craft store.) You also need glue (PVA), texture gel, some kind of grit and, for 2.0, varnish. I then use a couple of sculpting tools and a cheap Testors brush that I abuse the hell out of.


Since the air dry clay comes in a gigantic block that you can never use quickly enough I chip off chunks that I need and keep them in a smaller container. The good, and bad, thing about this clay is that you can make it workable by getting it wet. So I wet a paper towel and seal it in a plastic bag with the main brick and do the same in the plastic container with the chunks I'm using. Sort of like a humidor.


After you've cleaned up your figure and glued it to the base, spread diluted pva over the surface you intend to cover with your clay. If you're using greenstuff you probably don't need the pva.


Use your sculpting tool of choice to push around your putty (clay). I like to put as thin a layer as i can get away with. Be careful about the gaps in slotta bases. You don't want to waste product by filling the  gap, just try to skim over it as best you can. Some clay will accumulate inside. When using clay the thinner the layer, the more susceptible it is to cracking. Thus the next step.


Slather on some texture gel. I use Liquitex Natural Sand. It  has the dual benefit of sealing the clay and giving a fine grit texture to the surface. I tend to wet my brush to help it spread, one could probably use a sculpting tool or palette knife, but it's hard to work around the model and not get gel on it.


Then scatter a pinch of grit on top of the wet gel. Mine is just some green aquarium sand that i bought 20 years ago that I'll probably never use up. Now you could just prime it here, but the grit may flake off during painting or even priming, especially if you use a brush. I tried spreading more dilute pva on top to seal it, but wet paint can reliquify pva. So you're back to square one.

In 2.0 I'm trying a spot of varnish to seal down the grit. I use a dropper bottle, put a drop on a couple of corners and daub around with a brush.


Getting some lads ready for Oldhammer weekend.

Have a tried and true method for basing you want to share? Have any questions about how I do it? Comments and critiques welcome.

See you later.

14 comments:

  1. looks great. I've never seen clay used on bases like this. I'm always amazed at how far a little extra time spent on basing will go to make a good model look great

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    1. Thanks Anthony B. I'm not sure it's the best way, but it works for me. I do think it's important to have a base that doesn't call attention to itself for negative reasons.

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  2. Interesting... why do you use clay and texture gel? I would have thought one would be enough.

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    1. Hi Leif, I found that the texture gel shrank and left me with the shape of things I was trying to hide. It doesn't fill gaps well and integral bases show through. The clay is a leveling agent. It's possible that wall patch plaster (variously called filler or spackle) would work to that effect as well.

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    2. Ah, that makes sense. Thank's for explaining!

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    3. No problem. Glad I cleared that up. I had the same idea when I first used it and it didn't work. Also I should add that the gel adds that fine rough texture. The clay itself is not very granular.

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  3. I use plaster for basing to cover up the figure stand and also provide some texture. It can be a bit fiddly and best to leave for a day to dry (although packets says one hour). It's just the kind of premix ready use plaster for filling holes in the wall. It can be seen in this post: http://onesidedminiaturewargamingdiscourse.blogspot.com.au/2016/07/roman-cavalry-plus-how-i-base-my-figures.html

    I need to get some grit so next time I'm near a pet shop...

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    1. Just read your post SoY and your basing system looks good. As I mentioned to Leif in the previous comment, I think filler is a pretty good alternative to clay. I just had some issues with a dried out batch of Light Spackle that wouldn't stick worth a damn, so I stopped using it. I commented on your post that any type of sand will do. When I lived in NYC in the early 90's I didn't know if there even was a Home Depot (DYI store) so I went with what I knew. Pet Store. Probably not as overpriced as a model railroad supply store but if you have access to a free pile of sand, just take a small container with you. Cheers.

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  4. I tend to use premix plaster for smoothing out with figures that have integral non-slotta bases, and then just pva and fine sand. I like the look of yours, though, and might give it a try.

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    1. Hi Rab, reminds me I was supposed to try out magic for Knight's Quest. Oops. Anyway, your method sounds good as is. You might just try adding some of the texture gel for different size rock. Some of the guys in the states use the artistic stuff (Liquitex, Golden) and some use the GW or Vallejo texture products.

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  5. For slotta bases, I cover any large gaps in the slots with glued-on little pieces of paper. Then I coat the base in PVA (Elmer's) glue, sprinkle on a few clumps of coarse grit, dunk it all in fine sand and leave to dry. No clay involved :-) .

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    1. Genius! Consider that idea appropriated. Funny how a simple solution to a common problem can elude one. I may still use clay on top, but paper over the gaps is a top tip.

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  6. I used to just pva+sand'n'[tiny]gravel my bases, but have since moved on to a textured artist's pummice stuff by Liquitex that works okay.

    Any lumps from integral bases will just get grasses or whatever on them to lessen their obviousness.

    Like your method though - rather subtle, tho effective.

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    1. Thanks Dai, yeah that's what I did until I stumbled upon this method. I do sometimes wonder if it's gilding the lily a tad.

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