How to Create Simple Earth Basing for Miniatures

So Thor has been after me about my basing, and by after me like 3 months ago he said I should do a tutorial. I have had this Riptide for I think 2 years now as part of a diorama I did for the Standish Standoff. I have had it the cabinet collecting dust for that long so I figured I might dust it off put it on a gaming base and see if I can get my money back on it.

This was a good opportunity for me show some of the techniques I use for my bases. This is a simple base, for lack of a better word an earth base.

Starting on Your Earth Basing

Earth Basing Creation #1

In the original diorama I had the Riptide scaling a some what large rock. So I brought that rock over to this base so I could keep the same pose. The rock is made from pink insulation board. The base then had cork added to it to give it a little more depth. After that I took my normal step of using Spackle to smooth out the transitions between the flat base and the rocks. Alternatively you could use green stuff, miliput, the list goes on. The idea is to show a more natural transition between raised elements on the base. At this point I also stuck a piece of something that looked like a downed tree/wood surface into the base just to add a little more interest to the overall scene. It was simply pushed into the spackle.

Earth Basing Creation #2

After the spackle dried overnight it was time to add texture to the earth basing. I covered the whole thing in a light coating of Elmers glue then sprinkled different size sands, loose rocks etc. There is no real right way to do it, I just try to vary it up to get interesting and varied textures across the base, natural is the name of the game. Then time for paint I typically start with a black undercoat for earth basing, usually I would apply it with an airbrush, but since I had to work around the foot stuck in the rock I just applied it with a brush. I use normal paint for this, you could certainly use primer but I have found that for a base such as this it is not necessary, if you were doing a resin base or something of that nature you would definitely want to go primer. Be as liberal with it as you can without losing detail, the paint is acting as another layer of glue for the base.

Adding Pigments to the Earth Basing

Pigments for Earth Basing #1Now the fun starts. Time to get some color for the earth basing. For most of my bases I use pigments, they give a really nice texture and a unique feel. I start by figuring out what I want my base color to me, then with a big brush I mix a little water with the pigment and cover the base. The mix flows like a wash but has really really good coverage. It also dries very flat which results in a nice finish.

Pigments for Earth Basing #2This next image is really a combination of two steps. After the pigment wash dries I move to the color I want to see in the recesses of the earth basing, in this case it is a violet pigment. I apply this dry working it into all of the low spots of the base. I just use a big generally beat up from for this. You don’t have to be terribly precise with dry pigments they are fairly easy to remove if you get them in the wrong place. After the pigment is on I see the need to add some variations in the earth basing and particularly the rock. I accomplish this by dropping washes straight out of a dropper bottle. Start with the highest spots just put a few drops and watch gravity do the rest. You can go to town on this dropping different color washes on top of each other to get interesting gradients, color mixes, you can use different colors in different areas of your base to show different type of rock and so on.

Pigments for Earth Basing #3

Highlights for the Earth Basing

After all that dries I come back with what is a dry brushing of my base pigment. This helps raise the edges and bring out any detail muddled by the washes. Then I choose my lightest pigment and hit raised areas with a dry brush to pick out different colors of ground. You can go heavier in some spots to create more interest in your base it is all up to you. Once you are satisfied seal your base off, I used pigment fixer for the base then after that dried hit it with a coat of satin varnish with an airbrush. Finally add grass and other ground cover to taste, realistic water if you want, Sky is the limit. Just keep in the back of your mind what you want to accomplish, for me with this particular base it is to stay natural.

Highlighting the Earth Basing

Earth Basing Finished Product

Here is a completed shot of the earth basing. And some more of the completed project. This guy is up for sale on ebay for 85.00 bucks (the cost of a riptide). Alternatively if you are interested comment here and I will be happy to cut a deal.

I hope this tutorial was some what helpful, pigments give some awesome results and are very simple to work with.

  • Great job.

    It’s the realism that makes your bases great. The varied textures and elevations really make it stand out. The pigments really work great for it. I definitely have to pick some up at some point. It’s something I haven’t put into my arsenal yet.

    How long, minus dry time on stuff like spackle, does it take for you to do a base this size?

    • Thor,
      If you get the pigments, I’d recommend…
      1) Get them all.
      2) Wait for the 10-20% off coupon.

      You have to use a TINY TINY amount each time, so a full set of pigments will last forever…and any pigment you don’t buy, you’ll just want later…as I sit here ordering some blues and greens….

      • Yeah, I’d definitely get them all. I’m the same way with washes and glazes. You just never know when you’ll need that color you didn’t pick up because you never thought you’d need it ;)

      • khorneinquisitor

        You can get 10% off from secret weapon from the independent characters podcast (or at least you used to). Just listen to one of their shows and they will say it some time during it.

        • Good to know. Thanks.

  • Warren Falconer

    Maybe an hour, but you definitely want another project to work on since you will be using pretty heavy washes.

    • That’s not bad. I usually have a few projects going on at any given time anyway.

  • Looking really realistic. The weathering powder wash is lovely. I’m going to have to loot that as well. I’m just looting everything online today. Such a beautiful base.

    • His White Scars basing is impressive as well. His basing in general is impressive.

      • Warren Falconer

        I’m just an impressive kind of guy.
        Thanks for the compliments all. My next project should be interesting it is a table from secret weapon miniatures much of the same techniques will be used

        • A table?

          • Warren Falconer

            Yeah a 6×4 table from the tablescapes line. It’s my next project when I get back to maine

            • Sounds like fun. I’ve always enjoyed working on tables and terrain. It’s a nice break from the fine detail work of 28mm miniatures.

  • That’s awesome work. There’s a temptation to go mad with the base on bigger models, but this one is pretty amazing and doesn’t take away from the model that’s standing on it.

    • Agreed. I always struggle with basing. Your important models you want to have impressive bases but at the same time you don’t want the base to draw all the attention either. It’s definitely a delicate balance.

  • Great base, and nice tutorial too! The pigments add a very nice, realistic tone and texture. I’m definitely going to have to pick some up one of these days.

    • I’m in no rush for them, sounds like you aren’t either, but when you’re thinking about it let me know and we can go in together and save on shipping.

      • Will do. If you get the inclination before I do let me know and I’ll jump in then.

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