Monday, 21 February 2011

Tutorial: Base texture for 15mm models

Ok folks, here it is.. A long awaited basing tutorial. Honestly this is nothing special and this method is quite old as far as I know, but a lot of readers want to know how I do my bases so here it all is in detail.

Step 1
Glue the mini to the base with superglue. I use 20mm plastic round bases.
Allow to dry. (You don't want to get any superglue on your brushes.. Even your crummy ones.)
Step 2
Using a largish (but crummy) brush, paint on UNDILUTED PVA glue all over the top of the base. I glob it on quite thick as a lazy way to try to blend the cast base with the plastic one.
Step 3
Stick the whole base into some fine sand. When I was a kid in Sydney, this could usually be found lying around for free.. In the UK I had to pay for a small bucket. Oh well.

Allow to dry. I usually leave the base submerged in the actual sand tub.
Step 4
Once the base is completely dry, shake off the excess sand and paint on a thin layer of DILUTED PVA (That is, PVA mixed with water in a roughly 2 parts PVA to 1 part water mix) to seal the sand down and make it easier to paint.
If you don't do this,  sometimes the sand will come off when you are drybrushing.

Step 5
Paint a mid brown colour onto the base. You can be fairly sloppy just make sure you get solid coverage on the sand. Try not to paint it on too thick though.
I use Citadel Calthan Brown Foundation paint. I think it's tops.

Step 6
WASH the whole base with Citadel Devlan Mud wash, or alternatively some other kind of very dark brown or black wash. I didn't take a picture of this, sorry. Allow to dry.
Step 7
Once dry, drybrush the sand with the base colour again a little, then with 2 lighter shades.
I use: Vallejo- Light Brown and then Citadel Iyanden Darksun as my final highlight. (Sometimes I can't find the bottle and just add some lighter paint to the Vallejo Light brown.)
Step 8
Now that the sand is finished, tidy up the edge of the base with black paint. I think it looks classy.

Step 9
Using your crummy brush, dab on some thick blobs of UNDILUTED PVA where you think some grass would look good. Personally I do it where I've made mistakes or there are obvious gaps I should have filled but was too lazy. Sprinkle on static grass.. Preferably in big lumps. Leave the model with a thick clump of the stuff on it until it dries. Make sure you leave it a good long while otherwise too much will fall off.

This model was a hooded cultist from It's not a very good one.. Look at the size of it's hand compared to it's head! I got around this by painting it sickly green and calling it a hybrid.. Although for the others I did some converting as seen last week on this blog.


  1. Nice tutorial! I use a similar technique but use modelling putty to smooth the 'lip' of the metal base the figure is sculpted on and use diluted PVA in step 2. I'd love to see more step by step tutorials!

  2. Thanks guys!

    Matt- I would do more as I quite like writing them.. However taking photos while I paint really slows me down and distracts me so I rarely remember. I'll make an effort to do some more though.

    Gyro- You are welcome! This was basically for you haha!

  3. Well done and thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  4. You must have some sort of magic touch!
    My bases made using sand look like a big mess when they are done. It seems like I have no control over where the sand goes and what part of the base it sticks to.