Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Terraining Tutorial

RSM Austrian Artillery battery rebased: 3 x 12pdrs on the left and 2 x 6pds on the right.

I did a little bit of figure basing this evening and since several people asked me how I finish off my bases, I decided to take a few pictures of the process and post them on my blog to help you use this easy-to-do-method. I call it the "Frank Hammond Method" of terrain basing, since Frank taught me how to do this on his blog.

Step One: Spackle Compound

I start with a container of Red Devil Pre-mixed Spackle Compound as my basing material. It comes in gallon, quart or pint containers. I usually buy the quart size for small jobs and mix in a couple jars of Howard Hues "Rifle Butt" brown paint. You could also purchase some cheap latex interior house paint at the hardware store and use that as well.

Mix in the brown paint and stir it until the white spackle turns to the color of a light chocolate pudding. You can make the "goop" darker by adding more paint. Now, trowel the spackle onto your figure bases (I didn't take a picture of the troweling process, but you can figure out how to do it easily enough). I use an artists' mini-spatula for stirring the goop and troweling it onto the figure bases.

Step Two: trowel the spackle onto your bases.

After troweling on the goop, dip the whole stand into a box of railroad ballast from Woodlands Scenics, Gale Force 9 or Games Workshop. Let the stand dry about 8 hours.

Step Three: ink the bases.

Now get a bottle of dark ink - I use Reaper Paints "Flesh", which oddly enough, is very dark brown in color, or "Brown" ink. Dab on splotches of the ink onto your base in a random fashion. Typically, I will leave some of the raised parts of the base in the basic grit/gravel color to depict the ground after some of the dirt has eroded away. You don't want to ink the entire base, but rather leave some natural grit color for contrast.

Step Four: dry brush a light tan color onto the bases.

I use a light tan from the Howard Hues range of paints to dry brush some highlight color over the dark ink on the base.

Use a nice and cheap flat brush for your dry brushing.

Step Five: apply white glue to the base before adding static grass.

I use Elmer's Glue (white glue) to apply the static grass to the base. Use an old nylon brush to dab the glue onto your base. Allow some of the brown and the natural grit to show through. You don't want to cover the whole base with static grass.

Step Six: sprinkle static grass onto the glue on your base, shake off the excess grass.

Here you see the base after I have sprinkled static grass over the splotches of glue. Now I shake off the excess grass into a separate tub and save it for future use. Don't shake the excess grass back into the original container, as the excess will have some grit mixed in with it.

You are now finished terraining your base(s). Let the glue dry for about 30 minutes and give the stand a spritz of Dull Cote spray to enhance the adherence of the static grass to your base. See the picture at the top of this page to see how the finished product looks.

Again, this is rather an easy method of basing your figures. It does take at least two evenings worth of work as you need to let the spackle dry before applying the ink and the glue and the grass (this can be done on the second day).




    See this, is look good.

  2. Always helpful to see other people's techniques. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Nice use of ink. Will have to try it. So you don't glue your cannons onto the base?

  4. Herr Fritz,

    Its an additional step, but one that saves the texture. A real miniatures artist, David Smith, encouraged me to coat the textured base in watered down white glue before the inking, dry brushing and static grass. When it dries it makes the ground quite hard and does a really nice job of keeping all the ballast on the stand and from chipping off.
    Another collector, Matt Pavone also taught me to drybrush after putting the static grass on (being sure the glue holding it on is quite dry) with the same color highlights, both on the exposed balast and the grass. It acts as an addition adhesive for the grass, helps it standup better and makes the grass look less football pitch like.

    Just a couple of things I do that I thought you might give a try.



  5. Lovely bases, and not too difficult. The steps help to make it understandable

  6. Fritz,

    Thank you for this article, its going to help me out big time!

    Question: who makes your static grass?