Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Basing Techniques

I have had several people ask me how I created the bases for the Carthaginian unit that I posted recently. Here is a step-by-step guide of what I do to create my bases:

  1. Apply the ground texture. I am currently using the new Citadel Texture paint Armageddon Dust. I converted to this texture paint only recently and I am very happy with the results. It allows me to create a very uneven and realistic looking earth. Scoop the texture paint out of the pot using something other than your paintbrush - I use the long wooden stir-sticks from Starbucks. Once you have a glob out and ready, use an old and stiff brush to "push" the texture around the base. Be sure to cover the base unevenly and in a realistic manner. Have some fun with this step - it is almost like finger painting!
  2. After the texture has had plenty of time to dry, wash the entire base using a brown shade (I use Games Workshop's Agrax Earthshade). Again, the earth is not uniform, so you can vary the water-to-wash ratio on the same base, leaving some areas darker than others. This is a good thing.
  3. Wash the base again using Games Workshop's Seraphim Sepia or something similar. This is an orange/gold wash and it should not be used cover the entire base. Use it as a highlight and in patches and swaths to add visual interest and additional color differentiation to the base.
  4. Dry brush the entire base using a medium brown color. I used Vallejo Tan-Earth.
  5. Dry  brush the base a second time, this time be a little more light-handed and use a very light color to catch the highlights of your texture. I use Games Workshop Ushabti Bone for this final highlight.
  6. Apply rocks and tufts of grass. This is the final touch that really brings the base to life. I use tiny rocks that I pick up while out hiking and apply them to the base using superglue. The tufts of grass are made by Army Painter. A couple of important tips on this step:
    1. Use rocks of varying sizes and group them together in places to add visual interest.
    2. Do not use a single color of grass. Again, the earth does not work this way (unless you are on a golf course). Use several colors of grass and group them together in bunches.
    3. Placing a rock immediately next to a tuft of grass is always great.
That is it. I know some people dread the process of basing their painted models, but I find it a very enjoyable and creative process.

Step 1: Apply the texture unevenly.

Step 2: Wash the base using a brown shade.

Step 3: Wash portions of the base using a sepia shade.

Steps 4 & 5: Drybrush twice. 

Step 6: Apply different sizes and colors of rocks and grass.


  1. This method is very pleasing on the eye, I think I'll get me some of those tufts, they do give the bases that little bit extra. Nice one Jonathan, thanks for the how to!!

  2. Looks good. I wonder what paint color the armageddon dust matches.

    1. That is a good question. It is a very light tan color - so in the Citadel paint range I would say that Karak Stone would be pretty close.

  3. Very nice bases, simple and effective, and looks very realistic! Thanks for the post!

  4. Nice blog, with lots of goos how-tos. Will be following you from now on.


  5. As a fellow blogger, I wonder how a great post like this slipped across my radar screen. Great tutorial!

    Your basing is top notch. There is always something growing and something fading in my garden so like you, I mix tufts of different colors.