Wednesday, 29 August 2012

De-baser (Blog Week post3)

When I saw that the minions book was coming out, I was very keen on picking up the Blindwater congregation, and was very inspired by the work some people had done on the forums with "hollow" bases used to create a water effect in a swamp environment.

My first attempt at creating my own version of this base went pretty well;
(water effects haven't set yet in below pic don't worry :))

But with the tools/materials I had at that time, I really couldn't foresee my self recreating this base for all the Gators I would be using in the force.

A few google/ebay searches later I found a british webstore selling hollowed out resin bases in privateer press size/style bases, happy days.

Skip forward a year or so, and I've used a fair few of these new resin bases to make my gators look rather spiffy.

(yes I know the water effects is still missing, it's on it's way I promise).

What's the point of all this you may ask? Why am I even telling you this seemingly anectodatal tale? Well dear readers, all is not as it seems. As you are aware I recently purchased myself some tourney trays, which was something I've been wanting a while after a few tournaments involving table hopping etc. As I begin to put models in the trays to test & photograph, it became glaringly apparent that the resin bases are larger (by a reasonable margin) than standard privateer bases.

Besides being pretty miffed that my Blindwater guys won't fit into the tourny trays, I was also miffed that the bases sold to me as 40mm/50mm bases were actually more like 42mm/52mm. This made me feel ridiculously guilty before realising that I'd never used the Gators in a tournament, but nonetheless, the bases are wrong.

I'm not going to name the webstore I got the bases from, but I will just leave you guys with this cautionary tale, and a piece of advice: if you are ordering resin bases as replacements for standards, it might be worth checking them 'back to back' with an official base, as they may need sending back to where you bought them :)

Finally we come to the point of this post, which is basically that I'll be re-basing a few of my minion models onto Privateer bases which I have modded to allow for depth & water effects.

It just so happens that I photographed the last two bases I made for my newly purchased Destors, so without anymore rambling, I humbly present;

Lofty's Water Base Tutorial 

There are two types of bases that I usually make, the fully sunken base, and the sunken ledge. This tutorial will cover the sunken ledge, but it is more than simple to apply this methodology to the entire base.

The tools I use are shown below, and consist of;
Hobby Knife
Circle Cutter
Green Stuff
Pin vice drill (I use a 2mm bit for this process)

Step 1:
Use the circle cutters to cut a circle of plasticard with a diameter which will allow it to fit inside the underneath of the base.  This should be as snug a fit as possible, but if it isn't exact, it wont matter as you will see in later steps

Step 2:
Begin by taking your base of choice (I've only made these bases from medium and large bases, but I'm sure it would work with a small base, albeit with more fiddling) and drill holes around the edge, keep them as close together as possible.

Step 3:
Using either clippers or a hoby knife, connect these holes together and remove the resultant area of plastic.  This will give you a rough hole in the base.  This could look good in some circumstances withj a water effect, perhaps as some kind of pothole or some such, but I prefer to have a clean edge to the base in order to pad out later with cork/gravel.
Depending on what you would prefer, you will need to run your hobby knife around the edge to remove the excess plastic, and maybe even a file to get a smooth edge.

Step 4:
For a sunken ledge base, cut the plasticard so that the curved edge is flush with the inside front of the base underneath, and the cut edge is flush with the centre tab underneath the base. For a fully sunken base, simply ensure that the circle of plasticard is flush inside the base underneath.

I don't use any glue to secure the plasticard, as I find this to be more fiddle than it is worth, and I have to use 
greenstuff to seal the join anyway, so I use greenstuff as the adhesive as well.

Roll a length of GS and push this into the areas where the base joins the plasticard, and using a sculpting tool, pad this in, and smooth it of as best as possible.

Step 4:
This stage is essentially dressing the base to look how you want it to look. I add slabs of cork on the raised part of the base, and gravel/sand in the lower part. I occasionally leave the gravel off to create the illusion of deeper water, and with the fully sunken bases, I use thinner slabs of cork, if only to give the model something to be glued/pinned onto.
Something I usually try to do though is to mask the join between raised area and the sunken area.  I do this my using small pieces of cork up against the join area to simulate the effect of a river bank or simillar instead of a just the sheer drop which would be there otherwise.

Here's an example of one base I've made towards my Destors unit using the sunken ledge method

Hopefully this has been useful, there are a number of YouTube videos covering this type of base, with a few variations on my methodology.  This has worked great for me in the past though and I'm pleased with the look it gives in the end.
I've a fair few bases ahead of me to make to replace the ones I've used on my Blindwater congregation, but once hey're all made, I can get to painting them, which is the part I'm looking forward to with all the new airbrush paints I've got coming :)
Let me know what you think, or if there are any parts which need clarification etc. I'd love to see the results of anyone trying this method for themselves

Thanks for stopping by


  1. I tried an almost identical technique last year when I based my Gnarlhorne Satyr (RIP). I don't think I acheived as good a result as you but it was an interesting experiment.

    My water effect was vallejo and I dont think I did the best job in applying it. I have used it to create shallow water fine but when I tried to do it deeper I tried to do it in one go and it wasn't such a great effect.

    I tried to paint ripples with faint white to try and create the effect of moving water as a way to rescue it - with mixed results.

    There is a picture of it here:

    Or you can read a blog on the model here:

  2. I've been through water effects by three different companies so far and noe have made anything look like I'd be happy. I like the sculpting ability on your Vallejo attempt though.

    Next to try is woodland scenics water, and mix Vallejo inks into it which I've seen produce some nice results :)