Earth Basing Tutorial

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.

Building the Base

Earth Basing Creation #1

In the original diorama I had the Riptide scaling a somewhat 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, milliput, 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 Elmer’s 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 #1
Now 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 #2
This 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 as 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, and 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 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, I 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’s 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

The Finished Product

Here is a completed shot of the earth basing. And some more of the completed project.

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

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