Saturday, March 2, 2013

Do's and Dont's of basing with CVinton

In this post I want to go over something often not considered in painting and often dreaded; painting your bases. In my experience as both a traditional artist and hobby painter I've found myself innately doing certain things people have recently been commenting about with my painting.

Often basing is a secondary though and viewed as a task. However, I encourage people to take time to think about their basing. It takes only little bit of addition time and can really help make or break that glance inspection of your army.

When basing you need to consider material used. I have a multi pocket plastic box full of random stuff I use for basing. This has everything from clipped up extra sprue to plasticard bits to little plastic bits from medical supplies I get from work. All of this has the goal of giving the model a battlefield rubble or terrain effect appropriate for the army.

First thing one should do is consider theme. Is it a clean army? Is it imperial? Is it an alien race that has alien rubble? It's easy to make chopped up bits of one army work on anything but its nice to have a little theme.

Eldar bits on necron stuff, imp guard with dead orks. Consider your back ground. Put some theme into it. Does your space marine chapter specialize in space hulk boarding? Make your bases appropriate. There are tons of third party companies now that make bases and if you can pony up the cash you can have awesome bases that match your army. But it will suck if down the road you've spent over 100$ on custom bases then find out it really doesn't fit.

If you don't want to pony up that much for bases, and not many do, it's easy to make nice bases that are more than mowed fields of green with just some sand mixes from Michaels, chunks if cork board in multiple thicknesses, or textured plasticard. It adds a depth to your army that can even pull attention from the models if you're not that great of a painter.


And to expand on your color choice you need to consider what it does for your model. When I look at the above terminator, the basing color is too close to the base model's color. This causes the base and model to blend in instead of the base highlighting the fig.

Don't. T

The above set Really highlights a personal preference. I prefer the black edge. I have in the past experimented with scorched earth instead if black and really didn't care for it. To me, the black pushes the figs off the table top as a dark outline. Sort of how comic book artists do bold dark outlines when inking the sketches. Dark eye liner around eyes. All designed to draw the eye to the model.

So that vs....

Now this guy shows some dynamic center piece level basing. It's a dull neutral color that doesn't take from the bright red. It allows the model to have action and emphasizes that action. Imagine this guy just jumping on the ground.

These little touches are really nice and break up the dull colors of both the model and the base. This looks like a grey knight (or other silver chapter). With the model bringing a neutral-ish clot I would have like a more contrasting base. I painted some grey knight terminators for a commission and went with a black washed blood red cork tile base. The colors went well because the red base really brought out the small red flare items on the grey Knight scheme.

Here is an example of how basing can distract. The paint job isn't that great relative to some of the other models in this post, but the extra effort on the base almost forgives it. Imagine this guy standing on just a green flocked base.

Secondly, this points out a theme, albeit an easy one. Sure Catachans and jungle go together like peanut butter and ladies but this is an example of a guy that actually did it. We all know it and hardly ever see it. And looking at it that way gives a little extra in the mental score you'd give the model.

This is another small touch combined with contrasting colors. The barb wire comes up off the base to interact with the elevation if the model. Also, the red helps break up the black of the model. This looks like its either GW/army builder barb wire or the burnt pipe cleaner technique. Either way its a nice touch on what might be considered an otherwise plain base.

A super dynamic base here. I wish I had a pick of it painted. It's a shame when you have a massive base like these oval bases and they're just plain. The base size really allows you to practically do a diorama like this person has done for this ground bursting Mawloc.

This also ties in the units ability as a theme instead of just fluff as a theme. Big fan of this; I'll have to try and find a finished pic and add it to this.

And here's a don't. I'm not sure if these bases are done but by looking at the 'finished product' type photograph for them I think it's safe to assume yes. Very full base for a very dull figure. The only thing saving is the nice airbrushed multiple toned pinks and blues.

Again this hits on painting your base edge a different color than black. If you don't want a black edge, at least paint it a different color than your whole base. Or where the edge of rock is, break it up with some static grass clumps.

It's too bad, but this company SkullCraft used to make bomb-ass basing kits with multiple colors of static grass like orange, blue, purple, ect. They also has sweet steam punk kits and Autumn lead foliage made from some seed casting died Autumn colors. They were perfect 25mm scale for fallen maple leaf like leaves. Things like that would be great to put on the edge lip of these models given it an alien terrain color and matching the bright, odd colors of the model.

These necrons are a do because of a few reasons. Contrasting colors in the same muted tones. Bone and grey. Secondly the are flying stands that are based; a rare occasion there. Lastly they have little scarabs on them which I imagine any necron battlefield is.

This Do is a beautiful use of space marine/ chaos rivalry. World eater with a nice single slashed up helm on the ground. One important thing to think of for realism is that that helmet was batted off with a chain sword or blasted off with a bolter round. The damage of these traumas that might remove a space marines helmet in mid battle needs to be reflected on damage to the helmet.

And lastly, a very simple very easy basing example. If your basic basing is this level then you're doing really well. This is so easy to make work that your entire army should be this level at minimum.

Alright, so I the is enough buzz generated ill come back and go over piece by piece, big by bit what I use for basing.

In the mean time, chime in with your technique and process!!


  1. Great post, CVinton! I am very happy that one of my pieces seems to have made it into the "Do" column ;-)

    We often forget how important bases are to the overall look of a model, but in the end, even the best model can be brought down by shoddy basing, while doing nice bases doesn't have to be all that hard or expensive.

    That said, some of my earlier bases are pretty horrible as well, and your post has reminded me that I'll need to touch them up one of these days...

  2. The Tyranid conversion here for the Mawloc is easily one of the greatest Tyranid conversions of all time. That is so cool and really goes from Above Average to Excellent due to the basing.

  3. A painted shot of the tyranid is on here: