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Basing Miniature Figures

Article by Paul Nortness

Basing your miniatures is a great way to add realism and extra detail. A base will make a superb paint job really stand out during a game.

You can use a multitude of material for your base, whether it is official miniature bases or scratch made. Bases also come in a myriad shapes and sizes. If you are basing a miniature to be used for game play, refer to that game system for specific size and shape of the base. For example, Battletech miniatures use a one and a half inch hexagon, while Dungeons and Dragons bases are one inch squares. Some game systems use circles. Again, use what is appropriate for your game system.

To follow along with this tutorial, you will need one base and one painted miniature, PVA (fancy name for White Elmer's) glue, CA glue, some form of ground cover (flock, static grass, etc), various terrain bits (bits of twigs, rocks, etc) and some "green stuff". Green Stuff, or Kneadatite, is a two part modeling putty. It is known by the name of Green Stuff because the two parts are yellow and blue, and when combined make green.

miniature figurine basing

Before I begin the basing tutorial, I want to talk about making your own bases. If you have a large number of miniatures to base, making your own bases is a very cost effective way to ensure all your miniatures get bases. I use two different solutions for custom bases, they are both excellent solutions; it just depends on what mood I am in. The first method uses a 1/8 inch thick sheet of styrene plastic. I will then trace the pattern of the base onto the sheet with a fine tip Sharpie and cut out the bases with a razor saw. This produces the most aesthetic base with sharp crisp lines; however it can be a little time consuming. Another option I use regularly is Sculpey. Sculpey is an oven baked clay that can be found at just about any store that sells craft supplies. You can get a small package for about $1.50 and can usually get about 10-15 bases out of one package. All you need to do is roll it out until it is about 1/8 inch and then cut out the hexes with a hobby knife. I find it easier to break off pieces of the clay and make 2 or 3 bases at once. Since the clay only hardens with heat, you can leave it uncovered and it will never dry out.

I will be basing our old friend Harstov the Irongrave Knight Lord. To catch up on the past adventures of Harstov, check out the Painting Miniatures article also on ModelKits.com! As Harstov will be used in a Dungeons and Dragons setting, I will be using a one inch square for the base. For this, I have created a base using Sculpey clay. Take some CA glue and apply it to the bottom of the miniature and then attach the miniature to your base.

Once the CA sets, we can proceed to the next step. Get out the Green Stuff and cut off equal parts yellow and blue. This stuff is not only green; it's also expensive so use it sparingly. Once activated it gets very sticky, so it's not a bad idea to have something to keep your fingers moist so they won't stick to the putty. I just use a little jar of Vaseline and apply a very small amount on my finger tips.

green stuff green stuff combined

Apply the green stuff around the miniature's base so there is no "step" between the surface of your new base and where the miniature's feet are. This is a simple, yet important part of the process. Without it, it will not look natural and will defeat the purpose. Green stuff takes about 90 minutes to dry (Tip - if you are impatient, you can add more blue than yellow. This will make the putty dry much faster).

apply to base

Once the Green Stuff has dried, it's time to apply our ground cover. I like Woodland Scenic's line of flock. You can find it at any good hobby shop that carries model railroad accessories. Apply PVA glue to the base all around the miniature. Now, apply your ground cover material generously over the still wet glue.

apply glue to base

I used static grass for the base here. Leave the miniature sit for an hour or so to let the PVA dry and grab as much of the ground cover as possible. After an hour, pick up the miniature and shake the excess material off. Use a small brush to dust off any parts of the miniature that might have gotten covered. Now, why don't we add some decoration to the base? A stone will do the trick.

completed miniature