View Full Version : Painting Bases - 1

12-28-2005, 12:55 AM
A lot of modellers tend to have trouble with making their bases look as good as their vehicles and so steer away from creating a small base for their latest work. A base can be as much fun to create as the model and if done properly, will allow the model to come to life without overpowering it.
The next stage up is the vignette diorama which then expands the scene to a small story. The diffrerence being, a display is just that and does not try to do anything but place the model in a setting and enhance it.
The following is a step by step guide that can be used as a ref. for anyone frustrated with their display bases and wish's to set their model in an urban setting. The principles are the same for any setting.
No paint, no nothing. plaster ,glue and bricks etc. The base is ready to go. The creation stage can make or break the look to the whole piece so get into it and get a feel for the scene, this is the only way you will be successful with this part. You know what you want from the display and this is where you get to portray as much detail as is fitting. Forget about everything else and just think about texture. Once the base color is put down it will all pop out. The hard part here is balance and an eye for natural chaos - experience will bring you this part.
The buildings here have been cast up or scrounged from bits. The inner wall has had a run with Mr Surfacer to give it a nice plaster texture. Don't be afraid to bust up a VP building. I have a lot of these and I hardly ever use them as a whole piece. There are always small parts or even walls that can be shortened or reshaped quite easily and used in a different way. Other bits used are crushed brick[real], small stones, accessory bricks [I find VP the best]and some plastic slate Tile scribed sheet from a railway shop. All this is glued down with a mix of white glue and water .
Tip - add a touch of Detergent to break up the water tension over the rubble [most important] this will allow the mixture to flow easily. Also make sure the base you chose is a hard wood or has been made water resistent with a sealent otherwise when this all dries the base will warp!



Acrylic base coat, I use Tamiya and for this scene it was Dark Earth [xf - 52] plus a touch of Black. Make sure that you mask off your wooden edge and spray the base from every angle. Airbrush's are a must for base painting but one of the traps is sides of rubble that do not get paint. The base is multi-faceted and can easily leave you with unpainted sides. It is very important that the base is totally covered at this stage so that it will allow you to miss areas at the later stages.
Tip- try picking one side of the square and paint out everything, then move in a clockwise direction around the base until you get back where you started.
Also, I do not put the finishing touches on the wood until the end, I find it better to leave this as the final touch in case of accidents - you might need to do some sanding.



At this point you will be able to see any areas of your base that do not look right, much like you would after the base coat on your model.On the picture I have fixed the areas where the edges of the slate sheet were still showing as sharp, as well as some areas that I felt needed to be a bit more ' built -up'. Add the desired amount of rubble to cover the sunken area/ sharp edge and apply the W.Glue mix as above.
Tip - I use a eye dropper, it gives the most control.


Now we go about adding the various shades to the base with the airbrush. The colors you choose depend on what you wish to depict . This relies on experience so I can't tell you that much here. This is were the whole color theme is won or lost so think about your tank/ vehicle and its setting , go to your ref's and decide on your ultimate colors.
The main thing to do here, once you have chosen colors, is to lay down darker shades of what the end colors will be. Just like a good paint job on a tank you need to build from this point. These will be the last solid colors you will need to spray. Pick out the base color subjects and carefully spray them, trying to get as little overspray as possible.



There is still a bit to go at this point and I don't wish to bore everyone to death so I will stop here and take a poll. Please let me know if there is some interest and if so I will add Part 2 as soon as I am able. :)
Thanks for reading.

12-28-2005, 06:45 AM

Would love to see the pictures. Could you fix your links.


12-28-2005, 07:34 AM
thanks for the note otherwise I would not have Known. From my end I could still see all the photos. I had been fiddling around with the folders in my photobucket and must have moved these. Sorry! Should be OK now.
Please let me know if the article is all showing and any feedback would be more than welcome so that I can guage whether it is worth doing the second half [and maybe some others].
Thank you again

12-28-2005, 07:39 AM
Nice looking base. I am just gettting back to modeling after 20+ years away. I must say I have never been one to do bases for my work, but I think that was always due to the few I tried never wooked out. I will keep a eye on you work and might give it a try. Can't wait to see it finished and something setting on it.


12-28-2005, 07:45 AM
Mike thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.

12-28-2005, 08:10 AM
Originally posted by brokeneagle@Dec 28 2005, 01:55 AM
There is still a bit to go at this point and I don't wish to bore everyone to death so I will stop here and take a poll. Please let me know if there is some interest and if so I will add Part 2 as soon as I am able.

Hi Brokeneagle! Thank you for the wonderful post - it is most informative! Like mnickolson, I am trying to return to the hobby after a 15+ year break :)

I love reading guides like the one you have posted, and I think that everyone - from beginners to veteran modellers - can learn something and pick up tips from things like this!

I would love to see part 2 of this guide, and look forward to seeing your other guides as you make them! Keep up the good work!! :lol:

Cheers! ;)


12-28-2005, 08:23 AM
Thanks Bryan,
great feedback and welcome once again. I hope I answered some of your airbrush fan questions as well.

Stuke Sowle
12-28-2005, 02:13 PM
I found it very imformative Ian. Especially for someone like me who has an extreme phobia of painting bases but would love to add them to some vehicles!!

Thanks for sharing!

12-28-2005, 10:56 PM
Thanks Stuke.
It seems that there is a fair bit of interest so I will get part 2 together.
Thanks for the feedback and the welcome response as well. I have got lots of models done and photographed so I will post these as I go along. I have construction shots for my most recent only [only just got the digital] so a lot will be just finished shots. I hope you guys will enjoy them and get something from them.

12-29-2005, 03:45 AM
At this stage we are interested in airbrushing the colors on the base that are not considered BASE colors but detail colors. The color and tones come down to choice so I will just explain what I did....... firstly the Grey cobbles were given depth with a lighter shade of (Pale ;) ) Grey acrylic.This involves a technique called ghosting that is done with the airbrush. Some of you probably already use this method. It follows a similar process to filters but is sprayed on rather than washed on. The lighter color is ghosted over the top to allow the dark aspect of the base color to 'peer through and give depth. This is usually only done once but can be done with a second coat in very light patch's. A second coat can also be used in dirt and mud colors to achieve a dirty shade. Just be careful with either and do not give an even coat - it must be light, patchy and inconsistent.
Next was the Teracotta colors for the tiles, I picked these out carefully with the airbrush set to a very low apeture. I did the same with the rubble, picking out the large pieces and spraying them in a lighter shade of the wall color.I also added a second, much lighter shade to the cobbles [very patchy though] and some patchs were added to selected parts of the rubble but only a few, as this color can easly get overpowering.
TIP - Be very careful with the lightest colors because they are the highlights and can easily wash everything out to one color - you WANT contrast and varied color, it's what makes it look real and interesting.
You can also add the darker streaks to the inner wall at this stage though I did add them at the last one - it doesn't really matter as long as they are done by this point.



This stage is the one that will piss you-off if you are not a painter. It is quite painstaking but if you are into painting you will love it!
Firstly airbrush a light shade of plaster color for the inner wall. Now get out your best fine brush, or what I call my chipping brush and pick out at random, details around the scene. I started with the Cobblestones in Greys, then the Teracotta in red brown, rubble stones in all different colors [and I'm talking the really small ones especially] and finally grey chips on the plaster wall. How much you need to do comes down to experience, however, with this effect, becuase you are picking out very small bits, it is very hard to overdo and very easy to under do. I spent 5 hours on this base just doing this effect.
TIP - If you airbrush a base color and then ghost a lighter color over the top, you can then brush paint the ghost color over the airbrush coat in patches to achive a worn look. The colors are very close but not the same and the human 'modeller' eye picks it out immediately and likes it very much ;) .
Also paint selected bricks in different colors [on the wall and on the ground] but also do some with the effect described in the above tip. Always remember, like with brass, no pain, no gain. Both are at opposite ends of the process but are adding extreme detail, so each is very hardcore in its application.


STEP 7 :STAGE 2 HIGHLIGHTING -yes there's more!Drybrushing- I think everybody knows what that is , the revolution the 80's [care of Mr V] brought to armour modelling and then to the rest of the hobby[as it should be!]Be gentle on your base with the dry brush. Go out and buy a really good set of brushes for this - 'soft and Sable' in varying sizes. I have a brush for my groundwork just for drybrushing, but I never scrub with it and I only drybrush oils with it. I tend to drybrush the large features with enamel model paints and the course rubble with oil mix's. The Oil's allow you to be much gentler and much more subtle, hence the softer brush - much better for your fine groundwork. At this point it is also good to give the base a look over and see if it might need some very light dusty dirt patchs airbrushed. If you do, add them and repeat last stage. Just wait for the oils to dry first. I also added the fallen picture here as well so that I would catch it with the pastels.


You will also need to let the oils dry for at least a day so gather up your excessories and get them ready to go on.
Once they are dry add your accessories that you decided to use when you planned out the base. These are the accessories associated with the base that could not be added earlier due to painting reasons, such as too difficult to mask or the piece might be blocking some other detail that needs painting first etc. Also, sometimes ideas come along during the process due to 'color and feel'as you progress. By adding these here you will capture them in the final weathering step, where they will be 'blended in'. I added a brick and some fine dust to make my 'fallen' picture fit in, then gave this rubble a quick paint [as you can see in the next phase].
STEP 8 : FINISHING - chips, stains, pigments, pastels and wash's
This part is probably the most enjoyable as this is where you get to really play weatherman. Add your final chips to edges of bricks and walls and any other color enhancement you wish, using the tip from stage 6 again. Add pigments in corners, wet or dry, to simulate built up dirt and dust but be careful as pigments are very strong and will come up heavier and brighter than you think. Once this is done add some chalks for dust [as I think they still beat Pigments for simulating very subtle dust effects]. Now add your wash. I use an oil paint mix of Black, Burnt sienna and Burnt Umber. Only run this wash in cracks to highlight, never apply to the whole model base. You can be heavier if you like on some bits of the rubble but what you are trying to get is a highlight effect with the drybrushing as well as an interaction with the pastels and pigments to form darker and lighter dusty shades as you can see if you carefully look at the tiles in the photo's below.
Ok, your done. now add your model and blend as required and enjoy the display you have created, it will add so much more to your displayed model.
My model was the new PAK 40 from Dragon and what a great kit.I built it straight from the box as it had a 'turned' barrell, real rubber tyres, both damaged and new, as well as brass shells and nicely done figures. The detail was superb and it went together like a Tamiya kit, especially the shield area where on other pak 40 models, this has not been done so well.








12-29-2005, 01:42 PM
Thanks. If you do another type of base can you do a tutorial on it also? Even if the basics are the same there are differences and I'd like to see how you arrive at them. Now all I have to do is pull out my verlinden house and give it a try.

12-29-2005, 09:46 PM
Sure James,
I have another one for a large building and a tank but the photos are not nearly as good. It was with my first digital which was only a family snapper, without the Macro function.
I will look into this as well. Future stuff for sure as I am thinking of doing something on bases/dio's and weathering for a book. We will see what time and opportunity allows.

Evan August
12-29-2005, 10:31 PM
Great SBS on doing bases. Thanks for posting it. I've got it saved to my bookmarks so I can use it in the future. Great job on the PAK and figures too!

12-29-2005, 11:18 PM
Thanks Evan, hope it helps. Good luck with it. :)

Larry Bates
12-31-2005, 06:35 PM

Great tutorial on painting bases, keep it coming.


01-08-2006, 10:59 PM
Thanks for the feedback Larry, I'll do my best.

06-14-2006, 08:47 AM
very helpfull

Bravo Tango
06-16-2006, 02:09 AM
Excellent guide!
A question if I may.. was the base designed to be generic or was it specifically made with the AT gun in mind and the masonry placed around the model during the build phase?

I have a tendancy to "reuse" my rather pathetic bases on different models so they tend to be more open to fit almost anything on, within reason of course, so a short spiel on ore generic bases would be very useful.

Brian T

06-16-2006, 05:45 AM
Originally posted by Bravo Tango@Jun 16 2006, 06:09 PM
Excellent guide!
A question if I may.. was the base designed to be generic or was it specifically made with the AT gun in mind and the masonry placed around the model during the build phase?

Brian T
the base was made specifically for the AT gun. I did the step by step as I went along to show the rendering method mainly. I will try and get another done with my next kind of base.
I am glad you enjoyed the info. ;)