Friday, December 9, 2011

Tutorial: Brick basing with press molds

This tutorial will show you how to quickly and easily create brick bases for an army using greenstuff or any other sculpting putty. I'll show the steps for building a simple press mold to quickly make nice bases.
The final product.
-greenstuff or milliput (or any other air drying putty, I use milliput as it is cheaper)
-a base (recessed like warmachine or malifaux or flat top like GW bases)
-chapstick or vaseline (a lubricant, many others would also work, I used chapstick)
-plasticard or cardboard (only a few square inches)
-paint and flock
-miniature bricks

I recently saw this tutorial on building brick bases and casting to create bases. I don't currently have a casting kit or materials so I decided to try it with a press mold. I was also inspired by these cool brick Mordheim bases at Massive Voodoo (a great website, lots of incredible stuff). This tutorial will show you how I made a simple press mold to make lots of brick or flagstone bases for a Mordheim warband, Malifaux crew, Warhammer Fantasy army, or even Warhammer 40k urban army. I tried two different techniques that I will show you here.

Part 1: Build a press mold
First we need to build the press mold. I have a small bag of little bricks I bought online. They are pretty useful for basing. Our first step is to cut a piece of plasticard or cardstock out to the size of our finished mold. I built mine about 50mm x 50mm, slightly larger than a 40mm square base. The plasticard will make the final mold a little more durable. I then made a thin layer of milliput of a uniform thickness around 5mm on top of the plasticard. Cover the top of the milliput in vaseline or chapstick (to stop the bricks from sticking as much).
Plasticard and milliput
The next step is to make the design we will want for our brick pattern. I decided to stick with a simple pattern as I think it will show up best on a small base. You could use more complex patterns. I pushed the bricks a few millimetres into the milliput in a fairly uniform pattern. I left a few spaces where bricks have fallen out. Once this is done, leave it to set overnight.
Small bricks pushed into the milliput at a uniform depth. You want it deep enough to create a good indent.
Alternative methods
The first mold I built I first glued the bricks to a 40mm base and then pressed the greenstuff on top of the dried bricks and base. This worked alright, but it was harder to control the depth of the mold.
Bricks are glued onto the 40mm square base.
Master is pressed firmly into the greenstuff.
If you do not have the tiny bricks, you could still follow this tutorial by creating a master by carving bricks individually onto a 40mm base using sculpting tools, milliput and an exacto knife. Once it has set you can follow the procedure above.

Part 2: Make a base
After setting overnight, our press mold should be ready. Carefully pop out each of the bricks. You can use a sanding block or some sandpaper to clean up the master (I tried to get mine to uniform height using a sanding block).
A blurry picture of the two press molds. The mold on the left was made by pushing in bricks, the mold on the right was made by pushing the putty onto the master (method two). You can see the difference in depth with the two methods.
Get the base you want for your final model. Create a thin layer of milliput or greenstuff on top of it (you could go really thin and just have the top of a brick layer of you could go thicker and have the full bricks). Put some chapstick or vaseline on top of the milliput once it is smoothed.

Take your press mold and push it down on top of the milliput. Push firmly so the indentations go in a few millimetres, but not so firmly that it all squishes out over the base.
After molding.
After pushing the mold down, carefully remove it. You should have something like what you see above. Some of the lines might not be deep enough. Using your sculpting tools or an exacto knife, carefully clean up the lines between the bricks. You can also remove damaged bricks and draw in cracks and indentations if desired. Let the milliput cure for a few hours and then add some sand and ballast in some cracks and larger damaged areas. Add any other details you want on the base.
You can see here that I have cleaned up the cracks between bricks, removed some bricks, and added a little bit of sand. I would recommend using your tools to make sure the lines between bricks are on the outside edges too (I didn't do that here). You can see where I sanded the outside edge as well.
Part 3: Painting and flocking
After curing, your base is now ready. You can clean up the edges using sandpaper or a sanding block to create a smooth outside edge. You can then drill the base to pin a miniature onto.

Prime the base and paint it as you would for any other model. I quickly painted mine by painting it with Americana Raw Umber and then drybrushing Codex Grey, Bleached Bone, and Skull White overtop and the dulling it down with a thinned wash of Devlan Mud. I glued on a little bit of flock with PVA glue to create some moss between the cracks. To improve the look you could paint the bricks different colours. Additional details like rubble, wood, scrap metal, etc. on top of the base will also improve the illusion.

Here is the final painted base.

Next time I would spend a bit more time on the painting. I think the painting is a bit bland. You can see that we have created a decent stone brick effect though. You can really enhance this by adding some static grass for moss.
Milliput or greenstuff?
I used milliput for most of this tutorial. I generally dislike using straight milliput for sculpting as it tends to flake and stick a bit for me. I usually mix greenstuff and milliput. For bases like this though, milliput is much cheaper. It is also possible to sand milliput to clean up the bricks and the edge of the base. I would recommend using milliput (or something similar) over the more expensive greenstuff. Greenstuff would definitely still work though if that is all you have.

Here are some more examples using this technique for some pirate orks: Cobblestone bases.
Looking for something different? Here is a tutoring on building futuristic industrial bases.


  1. That came out pretty nice. Where did you get those little bricks from?

  2. I got the bricks from Hoard o bitz on ebay. I think they come from pegasus though.

  3. Great post, very useful!

    I plan to steal this know how, thanks!! :D

  4. Zerloon-that's why I wrote it! Send me some pictures or a link to some when you finish and I can add them as examples in the tutorial.

  5. Cameron this is gold! Grateful to have taken a dig through your archive. If I use this and you want to update the article with additional photos I'd be happy to send them your way.

    1. Thanks. That would be awesome. Hope you get the chance to use it!


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