is a list of some of the tricks developed by our members
for making figure bases, trees, rocks, huts, etc.
In time we
hope to include instructions on how to 'accidentally' make
cement rocks, and 'Forced Perspective' Himalayan mountains. (Once
we actually get that idea to work properly.)
we'll have to make do with some pretty standard info. on
"Basing, Trees, and Buildings."
If you think
about it there are really three reasons for basing wargames figures;
1.) because it's
required by the rules you're using to make the game work properly,
2.) to save your treasured
little pieces of artwork from horrific destruction when you apply
the brakes in your automobile,
and 3.) to make them look better. OK, so after a (very) brief discussion
of #2 we'll move on to
making the figures look better, with an emphasis on achieving that
goal with as little work as
ago somebody came up with the idea of putting magnets on the bottom
figures. That way if a 'magnetized' figure was carried in a metal
tool box it wouldn't fly to
destruction every time the driver stopped the car. There are lots
of offers on the Internet to cut
custom magnetized bases for gamers, but you can do it yourself simply
magnetic strip from a local hardware store, gluing it to the bottom
of your figure's base, and
then cutting away the excess magnet. Whether you "make"
or "buy" depends upon how much
time you want to devote to the manufacture of bases. Because most
'hardware store' magnetic
strip may not be quite wide enough for your needs, you may have
to do a bit of extra cutting
and pasting. However, an alternative magnetic material can be found
at office/drugstores in the
guise of business card or photo magnets. These rubberized magnets
are approximately the
right size to turn business cards or family photos into refrigerator
magnets and are thus much
closer in size to those ubiquitous DBA/DBM/DBR bases.
to magnetizing the figures is to magnetize the carrying case and
put the figures
on steel bases. (I like this approach for individually based figures
because it's less work for
me.) If you're using individually based figures I suggest another
trip to the hardware store to
pick up some steel washers. You may have to make do with a size
that isn't quite what you
wanted, say a diameter of 7/8th inch instead of a full one inch,
but again it's so much easier this
"Chick Lewis Method:"
One of our members has what can only be described as a 'crafty'
approach to basing his
figures. He glues magnetic strip directly to the figures' base.
Then he transports them in plastic
cases with metal sheeting glued to the bottom of the case. Thus
the figures are safe in
transport, but the don't really have a standard sized base for gaming
purposes. When Chick
wants to use the figures he takes them out of the traveling case
and sets them onto steel
washers of a size appropriate to the rules system he's using at
that point in time. If necessary,
he could make up DBA/DBM/DBR sized bases with steel in them somewhere
and set the
figures down on that. It's a cunning scheme that I would immediately
imitate if only I hadn't
already based so many of my figures on washers or purchased pre-cut
Decorative Terrain for Bases:
In the past I have used various types of putty, plaster, and vinyl
spackle to decorate my bases
- and conceal the edges of a figure's base - but compared to plain
old, water based white glue
everything else is much more work. White glue might take more drying
time than other
methods, but it will still be less work for you. The technique I
use is to paint away at the
figures, which I have already glued onto their washers/bases, until
I reach a point at which I
want to take a break, or have to quit painting an go do some actual
work somewhere. Then I
squirt white glue around the edge of the figures base (and by this
I mean the edge of the
figure's base where it's glued onto the washer or DBA base) and
then leave to let it dry. It
might take three applications for the white glue to obscure the
edge of the base, but that's OK,
because it's less work for me.
in the Glue:
The next trick I would recommend is available only if you're painting
with acrylics. (And yes,
one of our members is still using oils.) When you've decided that
the coats of white glue have
successfully 'softened' the delineation between the flat top of
the washer/base and the edge of
the figure's base, it's time to stick on something to make the base
look like open terrain. I squirt
some glue into a paper 'Dixie Cup,' pour in an equal amount of water
to thin the glue, then
squirt in a little bit of appropriately colored acrylic paint. I
use a dull green if I'm gluing on
grass, and a light tan if I'm gluing on sand. I have a VERY cheap
brush that I use only for
painting my glue mixture onto bases, and then I toss on the ground
A word about
'ground cover.' I prefer small size 'spongey-bits' for 15mm figures
recently restricted that exciting static grass to figures 25mm or
larger. I have two 15mm DBR
armies based with static grass and they look a bit like the figures
are wading through fields of
green wheat. However, the static grass looks just fine with larger
And now, an
endorsement for 'sand.' A few years ago I was doing some concrete
work out in
the back garden and I had a few bags of sand left over. I'd started
work on some Wargames
Foundry Egyptians and thought that 'sand' might work well for decorating
a desert base. It
turned out so well that I began experimenting on how I could use
it to make 'North European'
bases. Here's what I ended up with.
white glue on the base until you've obscured the edge of the figure's
the base with "FolkArt 939 Butter Pecan" - it's a CHEAP
acrylic doll paint.
a batch of thinned white glue and add some of the 'Butter Pecan.'
the base with the 'colored glue mixture' and cover the base with
sand. If you're really
industrious, pick through the sand to get some larger grains and
place them in 'artistic spots'
on the base before covering it with smaller grains.
the sand is dry, tip the base upside down and tap it to remove excess
the sand a wash of "Americana DA180 Asphaltum" - again,
it's a CHEAP acrylic doll paint.
How dark you make the wash depends upon how 'dark' the soil is that
you're trying to imitate
the wash is dry, paint a few spots on the base with your colored
glue mixture. Then
toss on some static grass.
the glued grass is dry, I paint it so that more closely matches
the shading of the sand.
I use a 'thick wash' of "Americana DA113 Plantation Pine"
- yes I know, it's yet another
CHEAP acrylic doll paint.
the painted grass is dry, and give it at least 24 hours, I dry brush
both it and some of
the sand with "Aleene's OC129 Dusty Khaki" - I'm telling
you, visit your local crafts/doll store.
These 'doll acrylics' go sometimes go on sale for $0.50 a 2 oz.
8.) Finally, decide how you're going to paint the base edge. You
could try to blend it in with
the terrain, or develop a color coding system to differentiate units.
However, I prefer black
because it seems to make the base look more like a presentation
We've employed several ways to produce believable rocks in 25mm.
One of our
members actually sculpted up a very nice bolder, then made a mold
of it, and now we
can mass produce some absolutely lovely large chunks of granite
whose only drawback is that they all look the exactly same. Things
are a bit better if you purchase one of those 'Rock Molds' from
a model train store. The manufacturers seem to have put quite a
lot of time into designing rocks that really do look different when
you twist and turn them to face in different directions. On top
of which, if you caste up your rocks in plaster, and pull them out
while they're still just a little bit damp, you can carve away at
them to make each one unique. The example at the right was 'sort
of' made in this fashion. The actual rock is a fairly low affair
representing only the flat top of the rock. After pulling it out
of the mold I had some damp plaster left over, which I slapped on
the bottom, squeezed into shape, and then carved away at until it
looked something like the 'Vasquez Rocks' formation just North of
Always be willing to cruise through the local arts and crafts store.
Not only do they
have CHEAP acrylic paints, but sometimes I stumble across things
like the Papier
Mache Bird House from the Philippines. They're far too small for
a real bird house and
were clearly designed for use with those decorative little 'stuffed
birds' made out of
brightly colored feathers. Here's how we made the hut.