Monday, November 29, 2010

All of us are belong to our basing - thoughts and history

Bases - for some they're an afterthought, for some they're as important as the model itself.  There are a number of different ways to approach them.

Do you leave them bare?
Do you paint them a solid color?
Do you flock?
Do you add bits?
Do you buy resin bases?
Do you sculpt your own?

Aside from the hows, there's the what, as in what do you want the base to reflect or represent?  I think that good basing helps establish the scene, either in a relatively minimalist way, blending in with the table, or in a more expansive way, creating a mini-scene on the base itself, like with large monsters or dreadnoughts having foes crushed underfoot.

Do you consider the type of terrain you may play on?  If you're just going to tournaments and such with a variety of tables, it probably doesn't matter - just match to your display board.  But if you play frequently at home or on a limited number of tables, it might be good to go for that type of terrain. 

Do you consider a particular theme?  If you're building a force of Eldar Exodites defending their Maiden World, heavy foliage and lush scenery is probably more called for than urban rubble, whereas a force from the Siege of Vraks would probably call for the opposite.

Do you consider color combinations and contrasts?  Do you pick base colors because they would look good with your models, or avoid those that are too similar?

Do you just have a set way you do all of them, regardless of the army?

Back when I first returned to 40K I decided to flock the bases of my first armies, the Sons of Horus and the Silver Skulls.

I figured green would be a fairly neutral color based on a lot of the pictures I'd seen of tables and terrain - lots of green fields with hills and some woods.
As a bonus it was different from the black and metals on the figures.

When I started painting some of the hills a fellow group member made, I went ahead and flocked them to match.

With my Imperial Guard I went with an urban rubble type of basing, again pretty basic.

When I built my city table I again built the terrain to match the army, with mostly gray buildings and black rubble.  Here the figures, bases, and terrain all sort of blends together.

My Word Bearers were based in a similar way to tie into the table, and I enjoy city fighting tables so wanted these guys to look at home overrunning an Imperial hive.  There's a little painting and drybrushing going on here, so they aren't as closely tied into the table as the IG were.  Instead of blending in like the IG, here's another example of standing out from the base and implied terrain.

Kommissar Krumpa's Blood Axes were envisioned as a desert wasteland type force, a green-skinned Rat Patrol or Road Warrior crew coming to put a boot up someone's oasis.  Their paint scheme was (mostly) appropriate for that environment, and I wanted the basing to match.  Again very basic, sand with some ballast mixed in as rocks.

 My Tau were built as a woodland/jungle ambush force, so they should tie in to the expected terrain.  The armor was done in green to blend in, and I went a little further on the bases this time, trying out static grass and adding some small real rocks too.

 When I repainted my Imperial Guard, I made the basing fit the table even more closely.  Now though instead of blending into a single mass of black and gray the figures stand out a bit more from the bases.

With the Scythiak, I conceived them as a mix of local cultist insurgents and off-world allies, so again urban basing is planned.  Here on Killgore you can see an example, similar to the Word Bearer brushed rubble, and with a larger base you can more easily add some extra pieces on the base for flavor, here some scrap metal and a barrel.

For my WHFB armies, I again went with a basic green field approach, figuring that's what most fantasy tables would be like.

For the figures I paint up for use in role playing games, I'm pretty inconsistent.  A lot of times I'll just paint the base green or brown.

If there's already stuff on the attached base I may paint that in an appropriate manner, and occasionally I may even flock.

Lately I've started painting a number of them white, since we use a whiteboard for our game maps, hopefully helping the figure to look like it's just standing on the table.

Recently b.smoove at A Gentleman's Ones also explained his way of doing bases.  Brent at Strictly Average also just put up a simple flocking example.  Do you have any particular way you tend to do yours, and why?

Edit: Also check out kennedy's basing history, which includes an interesting "snow" recipe.


  1. I've just started a new method of basing myself. I'll have to put something together and share it too.

    From the Warp

  2. When I first started, I used to go all out on the bases, which got so complicated that I hated it. Glue on gravel, paint it, ink it, drybrush, add grass...

    Now, other than some random bits of debris, helms of fallen opponents, etc., all I do is glue on a mixture of flock, sandbox sand, train set ballast & the resin chips from the GW basing kit. Elmers glue it on, let it dry, and clear coat, done (and I still hate doing bases). I use the same setup regardless of army (barring the O&G which just have green flock).

    I think really over-the-top bases are often a distraction. I want people to look at my minis, not the little disc that they're standing on.

  3. I do my bases to reflect whatever the home world of the army is. I, like Da Masta Cheef, keep it simple too, as you seem to as well, Taurus. I might add a rock to a base here and there, or some bits, but generally it's a one step process.

  4. It depends on the army - my LotR Galadhrim have woodland bases from Iron Halo, painted up in an autumn pallet. My imperial forces are 'generic flock' for the most part, while my Dark Eldar are going to get a dark gravel. My RPG minis gt plain black bases or very dark grey.

    If it were possible I'd give everyone clear bases - I hate having a base that doesn't go with the board (grass in a cityfight, urban in snow etc)! And it'd show off the minis better IMO.

  5. @Ron - look forward to seeing it!

    @DMC - It is supposed to be a hobby, isn't it? Doing something you hate certainly takes away from that!

    @Thor - Yep. Partly it's due to by the time I'm done painting them, I want to get basing done as quickly as possible so I can call the army done. ;-)

    @Gotthammer - Sounds like a good range of basing methods! I agree clear bases would be great. Just finding a good way to attach them subtly would be tricky I would think...

  6. I stick to two usual styles. I start with either sand on historical/pulp model bases or medium ballast for 40k and warhammer fantasy models. I flock them before I prime the model now, although I didn't use to. My usual paint scheme is burnt umber base coat, An autumn gold wash and then a bleached bone drybrush. If the base has an edge I usually paint it leaf green/goblin green.
    I like to double duty my models when I can, so I try to base them all the same so they are similar across all my armies.
    Some times I use a little static grass or some other foliage.
    I have cast my own resin bases but only 60mm round bases. I did this when I realised how many bases I would need and how much it would cost to put all my imperial guard heavy weapon teams on a single large base. My plan is to keep the models on their 25mm round base and add a magnet them. Then put magnets on the large base so I can take them off if they change the large base requirement in the next edition of 40k.

  7. Originally, going way far back in time, I'd leave my bases unadorned and either just paint them green or black depending on...hmm, I don't know what. Whim I guess.

    After a couple years of that I became more bold so that all my 40k bases were done with a simple layer of flock, while my Fantasy bases featured the studio classic Goblin Green with a drybrush of Sunburst Yellow over the sand. You can see some old Empire guys sporting that style in my post about the Citadel Woods I finished recently.

    Since then I've tried out other ways but still tend to stick to fairly simple methods. I never seem to find enough room for adding extra bits or stones to the base. For my recent bases I chop up leftover sprue into tiny slivers and glue them into little piles before adding sand to create a more uneven surface with little areas of rubble poking though. Once everything's done I may add some static grass but even that isn't a given.

    The colors I choose are usually generic dirt/mud/sand or grassy though I just started going for a more urban feel now that I'm slowly putting together a collection of city terrain (Sector 7G). I've bought some resin bases this past year but still haven't gotten around to trying them out. Apparently my pin vices are all cursed as I can't get one to hold a drill bit long enough for me to do any pinning so until I get that figured out my resin bases just sit around mocking me.

    I'm learning that in almost all cases, for me at least, the simpler approaches work best.

  8. Sand + Vallejo Earth (matches the emulsion I used on the battlefield) + a bit of static grass to cover any holes or boring bits = done. And that's consistent across all my armies, or at least it will be if I can be bothered to rebase the old Cryx who were painted to match a different table.

    I've always stuck something on bases, even if it's just flock. Plain bases bore me and they tend to mean paint jobs are lost, drowned out by the blackness beneath their feet.

  9. @ColKillgore - Magnetizing the HW teams is a good idea. I have a number on 25mm that I just plop onto 60mm discs, but having a way to keep them there better would be smart. Would also be good for my Scythiak HB guys, as I could then just take one to use as Harker if desired.

    @PapaJJ - I'm going to have to remember to try that method of getting some irregularities.

    @Von - I'm impressed that you can keep the bases consistent across multiple armies! I can do it for some, but not all!

    Thanks for sharing so far folks!

  10. Interesting discussion topic - it seems like we all share comon thoughts on basing. Like PapaJJ I used to just paint the base green. When I stripped and repainted my Marines I moved to basing with sand, drybrushed with varying shades of brown and bone and clumping some green static grass on as this was how I was taught it should be done by my local GW.

    All of my 'good guy' forces follow this method, and my board also has been done this way (sans the grass), where as my Chaos army is done in greys (and then flocked in dead grass and snow effect completely covering the paint - when I wrote that out it made me think 'why do I bother painting these if they are covered in snow?'). My Orks are done in sandy colours which is a throw back to Gorka Morka.

    I feel the 20-25mm bases are too small to put much effort on with respect to add on bits, although I do have some nice resin bases, but they do feel a little crowded. On my 40mm+ bases I do put the odd battlefield relic on them.

    My random RPG minis tend to be a bit of everything, depending on what the mini is saying to me when i paint it. The colours of the mini really dictate the final colour of the base.


  11. @Rouge Pom - hah! I'm sure we all have wasted steps somewhere in our processes. And if the paint sticks to the base better than the snow would, it may not be wasted after all.


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