Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tutorial - Making fresh snow bases

This is a tutorial on how I made these bases

Materials are simple;

Cork Bases
PVA glue
White acrylic paint
Bicarbonate of soda

To make the cork bases you just need cork and a plastic base, you can see more detail on how I make mine here.
The first step was simple - drybrushing in the colours of my choice. I went from a base of two coats fenris grey 1:1 water, up to skull white through shadow grey and space wolves grey. The last drybrush was a very sparse one around the very edges.

Originally I'd planned to have quite a bit of the base showing through the snow, and so spent quite awhile painting them. However they ended up mostly covered. Plan how you want them to show through the snow before you end up spending ages on something that will be hidden.

If you want them completely covered just leave the cork bare - I have a set I'll be finishing tomorrow that I did not paint the cork with anything at all.

Then I made my snow! This is pretty much done by eye. The way it sits in your mixing container is how it will sit on your base, so it'll be easy to see if you're mixture is too runny.

Splurge in some pva and paint first, then bircarbonate. I added too much bicarbonate and thinned it with a water: glue mix. This is what my gloop looked like before I started adding it to my based. The more glue/paint/water there is the smoother and newer the snow will be. The more bicarbonate you add the more of a churned, trodden, used look you can give the snow.

This was enough to do well over 15 bases

I used one of my sculpting tools to apply the snow. I apply it in small blobs at a time working from the bare based up. Just scrape it on then gently push it to where you want with the end of the tool. Depending on how thick your snow is it will 'settle' down to a degree. This make it easy to get a smooth coverage. If you dont want a smooth even coverage either wait for it to dry a bit then poke it around, or add a bit more pva glue before you throw it on. It will hold bigger shapes better that way.

Add more snow everywhere else it would pile up
 When it comes to the rough slopes that would be completely covered it is actually possible to drybrush the snow mixture on. Just stamp an old brush into the snow and brush it gently over the ridges. Wash it off before it dries!

To get the powdery finish of new snow drop the base into the bicarbonate and shake it gently. If you want the snow to be flat you can press it down but if you have shaped it slightly you only need to let it touch lightly.

For a more frosty ice finish sprinkle the top layer with scenic snow.

Enjoy the snowy bases!

The hills are alive - with the sound of snoooowwwdrifts!

So we're back at uni now and finally have all our stuff sorted and in one space. Hopefully I should be able to to get more stuff done more consistently now! I've already chugged on and made a new set of bases, and fixed the ones I was frustrated with in my last post. Discovered the wonders of TUFTS! And using more than just one shade of brown. Here's how they are now;

I coloured the rocks a beigy-green colours and then drybrushed it up with bleached bone to unify it, but add more to the colour palette. I bought a set of tuftsfrom army painter and used some of the dead and winter ones. I think it's a really nice touch and is much simpler than fighting with field grass. Field grass is still worth it, because there's more control and variation you can get but for a quick fix this stuff is great.

I also made... snow hamburgers!

I will be writing a post on how I made these later today - I took lots of information pictures!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Today was just depressing. I didn't know you could paint a sand base wrong, but I managed it. I want to design a set that would look good with the new tomb kings models. They are awesome, I produced crap. First swing and a miss!

I don't know what went wrong really. I really like their designs before I started painting them. I'm tempting to spray them white and start again. The alternative is flying them like tiny rocky frisbees to the wind.

Soooo dull. And this thin has occured where the stones and sand no longer look any good. They've kindof... become a shapeless clump and lost the individual elements of character they had when first assembled. 

I decided to cheer myself up by putting socks on the dog.

You have not lived until you have seen a dog try and stomp with socks on. He tries to walk without putting his paws on the floor. I will procure video footage and post it. 

Corking it up when I'm going down

I finally bought cork! For twice as much as I could get it online! They always say impatience is a virtue. Found out modelzone have also started selling plasticard, but at £2 an A4 sheet which is ridiculously expensive! You can get the same stuff 20p per sheet off ebay!

Anyway. I also purchased some talus and fine buff, finally giving in to my desire to make sand/egyptian/desert bases. I had a peer at all the tomb kings stuff today as well and I really love it. I see some of those models appearing in my room at some point soon.

Had great fun making a set of bases today and actually got alot more done in a much shorter time than I have done for a couple of weeks. They are currently drying on the floor after their first layer of ink wash. Here's what I've done and how I did it so far;

 The cork I bought is quite a finely milled grain. I'm looking to pick up a variety of different grains and thicknesses to make adding character to my bases easier. It's easy to rip off the main roll and pull pieces off to work with.
Getting ideas for final compositions
I played about with the various chunks I pulled off. These are terminator bases. It's always best to have a little play before you glue anything down.
I splodge glue everywhere when making these. Because I'm going to be throwing on sand and rocks soon after, there's no need to be careful about whether the glue is going to squish out the edges of the cork - I'm going to be surrounding it with glue anyway! For some pieces it's easier to put the glue on the cork pieces.

Ready to get my tallus on

And here's the point where I don't appear to have any more photos! I added the larger tallus stones first. Only a few here and there, mostly around the edges of the pieces of cork to make it look like stone that had broken away or crumbled down abit. The larger it is the more sparingly you should use it; it's difficult to use too much sand but easy to throw too many giant rocks on something! Then I glued some of the even smaller rocks around those to look like further breakage and scattering. Finally all the base left showing was covered with pva and had the fine ballast poured over.

The ballast I used was actually cheaper, smaller grained, and generally nicer than most sands I've seen.

Mmm sandy
Here's the bases all stoned up! I threw a random square base on there because I was having fun but ran out of terminator ones. I actually also built a set of the little normal space man bases but didn't photo them.

To help ensure all of the sand was firmly bonded, and to begin the basecoating, I made up an ink wash of 4:2:1 burnt umber: raw sienna: sepia inks thinned with a little bit of matt medium and a splodge of 10% flow. I dolloped it over everything.

The sand and cork are both quite absorbant, so it's important you put something on them before you begin painting properly. Most people use a wash of thinned pva glue, some use ink washes. Some don't and end up with crappy spongey bases - it is completely up to you.

I'm looking forward to painting them tomorrow and making some more! I've even got the golden grass to go in and look all dead and dry.

Cutest curious puppy ever

Monday, 19 September 2011

Back on track (Maybe...)

Trying to get my butt in gear and start posting regularly. I've just bought a bunch of sculpting supplies;

Milliput Black

Milliput Superfine White

Das modelling clay

Sculpey Modelling clay

Set of basic tools

Halloween skull mould

I've used the milliput black and das so far. I was trying to make some bases with it. Milliput doesn't suit what I was trying so well but the Das worked perfectly. I was going for an ancient style ruins set of bases. Slabs of rock paving the floor, cracked and worn by time. My ye olde stone weathering looks rubbish but the actual floor looks excellent.

One thing I found with the Das is that - unlike everything else - when I made the indentations between the stones there was no visible puffing up of the surrounding clay. It seems to be much less dense than the others so when I finished the divisions in the floor I didn't then have to work on smoothing the flagstones back out. Made the processmuch less fiddly and annoying.

Very smooth and pleasant to handle as well. Inexpensive too. This is the first lot I have produced;

Temple-y floor-y basey
Boyfriend wants some snowy temple bases for his chaos army so I've been doing preliminary designs for that. If I got the lines neater and did rubble and destroyed stones in a realistic way these will turn out really nicely.

Tree stumps - that glow!
 I wanted to try making some tree type bases. I can't get a picture of them at the moment that isn't so bright. The bottom left is supposed to be a trunk cross section - I used a sculpting tool to gently draw in the pattern of rings and a couple of knots. The outside is textured like bark. The bottom right is more of the tree stump with some of the roots showing. The top one was supposed to be some ground framed by branches but I lost my idea halfway through and produced a 'lump'.

Temple columns and base.
These are for a set of terminator bases I'm designing. I want them to all contain part of a single collapsed structure - a set of columns for the temple - so that they are unified. The bases itself will be sand. The little circle on the right is going to be the base for the column next to it, which as you can see is broken part way up. This piece matches the one on the far right - which is going to have collapsed at an angle onto the next base!

In the future I'll be looking to inscribe the pillars themselves to add more detail and depth to the piece but for now I'm happy being able to make straight lines and circles. 

Brick-paved or wooden floor
I wanted to try making neater, straighter lines on this one. See if it would look any good as a brick or wooden base. I like it - I'll be picking up some sandpaper to make wood grain with. I read a great tutorial today that produced some amazing wooden planks using sculpting stuff.

Finally got myself a daylight bulp lamp today. It's very nice - currently on sale in Hobbycraft if you don't have one. Feels very different at first but definitely makes it easy to be colour- accurate at night compared to during the day.

I might actually get some more article stuff written tonight. Caio for now!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Tutorial - Basing using Bark - Snow

There are many reasons to use bits of wood and bark on your bases. It's free - I just pick my bark from branches that have come of trees, twigs that have fallen down. The pieces of bark have a lot of character to them; interesting shapes, amazing texture. You can use bark to make stone bases, wood bases, cracked earth bases. And it's very easy and quick to use.

For the most simple of bases all you need is the base itself, some pva glue, and some bits of dead tree!

Don't forget to check both sides of the bark. For this piece I actually preferred the bottom texture of the bark (on the right)

Just put a blog of glue down where you want to have your bark and drop it on. If you want the bark to be slightly raised just drop it gently on. The bark is so light that the pva glue will hold it up while it dries solid. Otherwise squish it down so it's flat against the base.

For pieces of wood taken off of twigs it's better to apply the glue down the edges rather than on the base, because of the curve.

One of the other benefits of using bark is it's very easy to trim to size and shape. But, when the base is finished it will be very strong and withstand lots of handling.

So here's my set of bases as they are at the moment! When they are dry I will go onto basecoating and what to do with the bits of the base you can still see!

When the glue was dry it's time to basecoat! I wanted to do a snow themed base so I started used Charadon Granite thinned 1:2 paint to water. Just slopped it all over and made sure it filled in all the little crevices in the bark. When that was dry I gave it a thick wash of badab black.

Basecoated left, washed right.
I left that to dry while I ran round doing something else. It's going to take a while before you can paint on it next because the wash layer should be nice and dense. Don't get impatient like I do and start trying to drybrush too early. If your wash is still even a little wet you'll just smoosh paint everywhere. Don't worry if the excess wash makes things dry shiney, either. That will be covered.  I used GW paints for this but you can use any range you like, just use greys with a tinge of blue if you want a cold type base like I do.

Shadow Grey
1:1 Shadow Grey: Space Wolves Grey

1:2 Shadow Grey: Space Wolves Grey
1:1 Space Wolves Grey: Skull White
Skull White
 Just plop your paint in the same place each time - don't mix everything up seperately. Wastes paint and time!

Good old PVA glue blobs then a sprinkle of my tiny snow flakes. If you want to build up a drift off snow all you need to do is make your layer of pva glue bigger. Once coated with the snow flakes it will look like a normal drift, rather than trying to layer the fine snow.

I started by snowing all round what was snowing of the base, then once that was all dry adding snow selectively to parts of the upper layers.

Tiny sprig of plain lichen to add a bit of character

Let your glue fully dry before you shakes off excess snow. It will look better this way and waste less.

Update! After a day my bases ended up looking fairly different. As the glue dried it turned out that the snow wasn't opaque enough to maintain the crisp white colour. It turns out more like very frosted snow, where it has been too cold or sparse to turn into a proper drift. The bases still look good - just very different from the above picture. I will upload one tomorrow of how it looks now (maybe...)

This is easily rectified by adding in some white paint or ink (I prefer ink) to your glue, or if you find some of it dries and looks like snowy than you want, simply brush some over what you've already got and add another light dusting of snow.

There is a way to make your own snow that I will be trying out this week and doing a post on. A tutorial to if it works!

You can use your imagination to refine this process to jungle bases, wood bases, wasteland bases and all sorts. If you want to see more of how I did them however, click one of the following links.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

I'm alive!

I am actually forcing myself to not be lazy this evening and do a proper update. Boy have I gotten and done sooo much new stuff since I last posted properly. I'll start with a rundown of the new goodies first with a brief description of how good I've found them.

Warning: I have yet again failed to take pictures with any form of lightsource. Taking photos during the day seems to be... difficult, for me.

First up - loads of paints! I bought all the Vallejo liquid gold paints (I think all of them). That is, from left to right, Rich Gold, Gold, Old Gold, Green Gold, Red Gold, White Gold, Copper. Oh, I lied, I didn't buy the silver one. All 35ml bottles for £3.50. The standard 17ml bottles are £2.30 and GW 12ml bottles are £2.30, so I'm very chuffed with the price.

I haven't actually been able to use them yet. They are metallic flasks in alcoholic solution. Due to it's weight most has sunk to the bottom and I haven't found anything yet I can drop in their to agitate the material. It has been suggested to remove some with a little toothpick into a palette and to make it up in there to use it. This sounds like a plan, but I want to be able to mix it up to use it in the pot as well, as I have seen other people do.

The colours are gorgeous, and the best golds I've seen. To see them actually being used, since I don't have an example, here is a link to Czechoslovakian Tom Hanks using them to paint some Sepulchural Stalkers.

Sepulchural Stalkers

I also wanted to get more variety in my browns and greens without having to mix them up all the time because I use them so much; orks, bases, clothes, dirt and so on. I picked up a box of Flames of War paints that were on sale in hobby craft - ~£8 for 6 paints. For those of you who don't know, Flames of War paints are made by Vallejo, and fall into their Model Colour range. 6 17ml Vallejo paints for £8 is quite a nice deal!

I think I picked up the soviet box set... Some nice darker greens and a couple of browns and khakis. Very nice addition to my other paints!

Finally - bought my first P3 paints! Menoth white base (they didn't have white highlight or I would've bought that too) along with meridius blue, arcane blue, and under belly blue. They were just all too pretty and well matched not to pick up.

Soo... away from paints, and onto mediums! And inks!

I have a nice selection of Daler-Rowney inks to use now, straight or to make washes. Burnt umber, sepia, raw sienna, dark green, black and white. I've made a couple of washes using them and they are perfect - just as good as games workshops' but much cheaper and you can alter them to your preferred consistency. I very much recommend learning to make your own washes. There is a little initial investment, but it far outweighs the cost of replacing devlan mud all the time!

I will do a little update on that sometime soon.

Hobby craft were having a sale on their Galeria mediums. I bought sand texture past, black lava texture gel and medium grain gel. Going to be using them in making my scenery as well as basing and painting models. Lots of ideas on how to use those.

Speaking of scenery - I have start building and basing things like crazy. As shown in a previous update I found loads of basing and scenery materials back at uni. I couldn't fit it in my bag coming back home so I went out and grabbed some different stuff today. Giant tub of snow, couple of packs of long grass/reeds, and some ballast. Looking forward to playing with fake snow.

As a note - Modelzone is cheaper for scenery stuff that hobbycraft. Up to half price for some things, actually.

I bought hundreds of microart bases. They are all fricking awesome and I thoroughly recommend them. Boyfriend bought a dragon from mantic to stick in his Chaos army. It's a surprisingly nice model and we got it 20% off.

Couple of giant foamcore boards on sale in hobby craft too!

Hmm... I'm sure I bought some models... My friend gave me a few of her grotesques to paint up and they are coming swimmingly. Found at the moment that painting a few things at once helps me keep going. Got some space ork nobz on the go too from the black reach set and a couple of terminators.

I have actually managed wet blending on my grotesques! I'm working up from warlock purple to liche purple or whatever stupid names they've been given. Purple to pink! Annoyingly the matt medium seems to make the paints a tiny bit shinier than usual, oddly enough. I don't think it shows up too well in photos, especially since I had to take this one with flash because it was dark.

Progression from basecoated to... slimey?

This awesome photo makes the painting look shit!
It doesn't look this bad in real life... macro function is a harsh mistress :(

But formy first attempt I'm pretty pleased. I'll be getting some proper photos tomorrow taken under the sun (unlikely). Only the first layer of blending too so hopefully it will look super snazzy by the time they are done!

I will write something productive tomorrow, I promise.