How I base my figures (2021 version)

A few people have seen pictures of my models on social media and have aske me how I do my bases. Well I do it as outlined below.

For my 28mm infantry figures I’ve standardised on circular bases, usually 20mm for historical models and 25mm for fantasy. I’ve found this gives me a huge amount of flexibility in how I can use them. Individually on their circles for skirmish games, or on sabots when using them for games using groups of figures. I’ve also got a number of adapters which enable me to turn circles into squares or cavalry pill bases into rectangles. Some of these I’ve 3D printed myself, others come from some of the mdf base makers.

The size and shape you use for your bases is important, it’s possible to make a small base bigger, using sabots or adapters, but making a big base smaller requires cutting or rebasing. In my opinion circles look much better than squares in skirmish games and circles make it easy to rank figures up on multi-bases as you can turn them to different angles, unlike figures on square bases which can only face in one four directions.

I’ve discussed why I prefer using mdf bases rather than ferrous coins or washers in a previous post here on Derek’s Wee Toys.

How I paint and texture my bases

Here’s the basic steps I use

  1. Glue the figures on to their bases.
  2. Use filler to level things out (if necessary)
  3. Paint the whole base
  4. Texture the base
  5. Add static grass and tufts to decorate the base.

1 – Figure glued on base

This owlbear skeleton was previously on a 40mm square base. I want to use him for skirmishes so I decided to put him on a 40mm circular mdf base, But I also want to use him for Oathmark, which uses 50mm square bases for monsters, so I’ve printed a 50mm square adapter that will fit round his base.

2 – Level with filler

The first thing I do is to put some filler on the base to hide the join between the figures integral base and the mdf one. I’m told that what we call “filler” in the UK is called “spackle” or “spackling paste” in the US and Canada.

3 – Paint the base

Base and sabot are painted a light brown colour The paint I use Dulux Caramel Sand 1

4 – Texture the base

I use two types of texture on my bases, both of which I bought at pet shops. I know you can get sand etc for free but the materials I’ve bought from pets shops wass not exactly expensive and it’s all washed and sterilised.

For my main texture I use budgie grit.

Budgie Grit

To add a bit more texture I use this a few pieces of this gravel that’s sold for use in fish tanks (or perhaps lizard tanks I can’t remember). I like the effect that comes from the various colours.

I stick the budgie grit on the base with PVA glue.
I always get some of the grit protruding over the well of a sabot, if it’s not removed the base might not fit in properly. I wait until the glue has set a bit, but is not not fully hardened, before scraping it off with my favourite sculpting tool.
A few pieces of gravel added in patches.
Just to make sure everything is really solid I apply a wash of waterered down PVA glue. Then I leave things for at least six hours to harden fully.
The glue has now set.
Now I dry brush the base using some cream coloured paint.
Apply some static grass
Some tufts and it’s finished I will use this owlbear for skirmish games on his circular base.
Or I can put him in the sabot for rank and flank games
Here’s my Oathmark Human force. They’re all based as shown above and the sabots I’m using are treated in exactly the same way.

I use this basing procedure for the vast majority of my models, the main exception being the science fiction models I’m using for Stargrave which I have put on grey bases, a lot of the games are set inside space-ships. I prefer grey bases for them. The procedure I use for them is similar, but I use just the the budgie grit to get my texture (no added gravel) and set it onto the base using a grey paint/PVA/water mix. When thats dried I paint over the textured base with the same grey if necessary. This gives the results seen in the picture below.

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