Painting Miniatures Figures Made Quick And Easy
Basing Your Miniatures
Basing is usually the last step before sealing. Unfortunately, some people get lazy at this point. Don't. The base is as much a part of the miniature as everything else you've done. Think of it as the frame to a painting. The choice of frames can really enhance a piece of art or, in the worst case, really detract from it. I used to ignore basing and now, as I look back on some older figures, I really wished I had spent those extra minutes to do a better job.
This is my basing tool kit. I have a pan for my coarse sand, white glue, Liquitex Raw Umber, snow from Woodland Scenics, a brush I use specifically for basing, and two plastic tubs, one for the fine sand and another for the static grass. I base almost all of my figures using these materials in varying quantities and combinations. Not shown here is basic railroad flocking, which I still use, but not as much anymore. I also use kitty litter, also not shown here, for small rocks.
For basing material, I prefer Woodland Scenics railroad flocking. I keep mine stored in a small Tupperware container. Woodland Scenics also has another material for bases called static grass. When finished, it looks like the figure is really standing in tall grass but the stuff is a little more difficult to work with. However, there are a number of manufacturers for basing and scenic products and you should be able to find a nice selection at your local game store.
This is my basic process for basing a figure, which results in the impression of patchy areas of grass growing out of the ground. I'll use a flying base for the example because it's what I was working on, it's large, and relatively unobstructed.
- Spray prime the base black. You don't have to do this, but I find that glue has an easier time sticking to paint vs. the raw plastic. Also, if you filled any slottabase gaps or added any green stuff to the base, you'll want to cover this up.
- Mix up a batch of white glue and water. I use a little bit of water to thin the glue, which extends the drying time and makes it easier to work with. However, if you add too much water, then it'll bead on the plastic of the base, especially if you didn't prime it first..
- Dip the entire base in your container of sand and let it sit in there for a couple of minutes while the glue dries. I like to make sure the glue and sand is completely dry before I go to the next step, otherwise you run the risk of washing your sand off.
- Thin some Liquitex Raw Umber and water. Using an old brush, simply flood wash the base. I pick up paint, and simply touch the sand, which sucks up the liquid. This is a much faster why of painting than actually painting the sand. The picture below shows the base after (left) and before (right) the wash. This will also help lock in the sand. Let this dry thoroughly.
- Highlight the top of the sand with a quick drybrush if desired. I use a mix of Liquitex White and Liquitex Raw Sienna. However, if you use a thin enough wash, the natural lightness of the sand should show through.
- Now add some spots of white glue and sprinkle static grass onto the base. When the figures are ready to come out of the flocking box, pick them up, hold them sideways, and give the base a couple of taps. This will knock most of the excess flocking back into the box. Any remaining flocking can be removed by blowing onto the base. There are a number of static grass manufacturers and the product comes in a variety of colors. Play around a little bit and see what you like. Here are two examples. By varying your mix of White: Raw Sienna, you can change the overall look of your base.
- Embellish your base with a couple of rocks here and there. I like to use kitty litter. It's the perfect size and the light grey color contrasts nicely with the dark ground color.
- Give the glue some time to set. Just before you seal your miniature, you may want to take a large sized brush and give each miniature a quick dusting just to make sure there isn't anything on the figure. Some people will also recommend sealing your figures first and then apply static grass. Either works, so use whatever is most comfortable for you.