100 Days to paint : Solid Ground


I figured I’d do a quick basing tutorial alongside a painting one I was working on. To me, bases are probably the biggest thing that sets my work above the work of people of similar painting skill. The base is really a frame for your work, and you owe it to the miniature that you labored over for several hours of painting to have it mounted right.

One thing I’ve noticed in real-life is that flat surfaces are never truly flat. Streets and sidewalks are broken up by stairs, curbs, drainage ditches, etc. Forest trails are broken up by roots, rocks, fallen trees, and deep grooves created through use. While my flat, treeless front yard may have the greenest grass, it’s boring, and people look towards the flower beds.

Here we have a pretty good example of basing; the downside is that even though cork was used, it still looks super flat. Keep this guy in mind, though. We’ll be coming back to him later once I rebuild this pose.


We’ll start by tapping up the slots in the bases.


From there we’ll move over to cutting out some cork. I use a circle cutter to cut the inner diameter of the base. I only cut halfway into the cork though.


Having cut only halfway into the cork, I use a scribe’s tool (you can use a sculpting tool, or hobby knife) to pick away at the edges of the ring, leaving a “tattered” edge.


The result: we have a nice, clear ring to mount inside of the rim of the base, as well as a little overhang to give your base a more natural look.We break the cork in half and mount it on the base, so that we only give it partial coverage. I painted it Murderous Magenta so that the image will be a bit clearer; the differences in color and texture of cork make it a bit harder to photograph and understand depth without this.

pink base

Using a scribe’s tool, we go back in and pick away, creating slopes.


This is an optional step, but I’ve been adding “jungle ruins” by adding a lot of bricks. here I just sculpted some out of greenstuff.


Next we’re going to make some roots. Just start by rolling out a snake of greenstuff; the Gatorman spear is for size reference.


Once done, we’re going to twist it up so that the root has some texture. Don’t worry about it looking like a spiral; after the root is pressed down and bent up, it will loose a bit of that texture.


We’ll start by tucking in the big end of our greenstuff snake. I like to press it in against or under rocks and ledges.Using a sculpting tool, I very carefully press the base into the rock to anchor it.


I know this is weird . . . but . . . use your tongue to press a little of the root down onto the base. [Editor’s Note: If you need to keep your tools from sticking, there are also water-soluble products to keep them lubed.]  If I could find anything else that didn’t leave marks or stick to the greenstuff, I would. God knows my wife has given me some funny looks for tonguing a base or two.

Now let’s add an offshoot to this root. Using another small snake, I just lay it over the existing root in a way that it lines up with its spiral texture. Using a sculpting tool, I clean up the joint a little and make sure that it’s anchored before repeating the process mentioned in the last step.


I like to use liquitex texture gel instead of sand for basing. This gives me a chance to smooth out some of the textures on the base.


Just using my finger I smear the paste all over the base.


Using an old, beat-up, big paintbrush (also known as the “tank brush” from my old 40k days) I clean off the stones and roots, or anything else protruding through the soil, with a little bit of water. I use my finger to clean off the ring around the edge of the base.


Here’s the base after priming. There’s still a couple of odd, super-flat spots on the base. A lot of the time these can be covered up by tufts of grass or leaves. In this case, it’ll be snow.


We’ve got some base colors on it now.


Once we get snow on, we’re done. The snow is a combination of matte medium and Woodland Scenic soft flake snow. It’s mixed 50/50 into a paste that’s actually sculpt-able. Finally, we add some static grass to break up any flat surfaces remaining on the base.


That finishes us up here. I should have a Wold painting tutorial up soon, as this guy was only half finished. Until next time.


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