Friday, September 13, 2013

Tutorial: How I base my Flames of War infantry

I've gotten a lot of comments about the bases of my Flames of War infantry. Although there is nothing overly original about what I have done, I thought I would show a quick step by step process for how I have based my models. The infantry and support platoons for my 11th. Armoured Division company have been based for some of the open fields in Holland in September during Operation Market Garden. Looking at the area on google maps I saw lots of open fields and tried to recreate the look of the company attacking in some of the open fields in the area. For some of the models I created small emplacements to represent teams that had dug in or were slightly further back in hastily prepared positions.

Making the base
Basing the models begins when I am preparing the models for basing. I try to think about how the models fit together on the base. I try to ensure that bits like small guns are not sticking out (so they don't bend or break). I also try to position the models in a way that makes sense.

The recessed bases Battlefront is now making make basing easier. Once I have arranged the models I stick them in place with sticky tack. I then build up the base around them using Golden Coarse Pumice gel, a resin material with bits of resin in it. It is really useful for adding volume. Before this sets I also sprinkle a little bit of sand of different sizes to add some variation. If the bases are not recessed then I build up the base so that I can later put the model in place without having the metal base showing (I prefer to paint models not attached to the bases). Before the resin has set I added some pieces of balsa wood to represent planks in the bottom of little trenches. I then glue a bit of sand to the base of the model before I prime and paint them.
You can see how I have removed the models to create spaces for them when I glue them on. I would recommend using a tool to enlarge them a little to make it easier to fit them afterwards.
Next, I add more detail to the bases. On a few of the paratrooper stands I added some barbed wire made from twisted wire. I added sandbags to a lot of the bases (see picture below). To make them I roll out a sausage of greenstuff, cut it into small pieces, flatten them in place, add texture with some cloth, and then build up the layers. I try to size them beside an infantry model to get the scale correct. I use various tools to create a few ripped bags and add some lines along the side for where they are stitched together.

How I make sandbags. You can click on it to see it bigger.
Painting the base
As I am painting the models I paint the bases while waiting for things to dry or when I am feeling unfocussed. For these models I based them with Vallejo Game Colour Charred Brown (Although a darker brown might look better with the brown British uniforms...). I then very lightly drybrush a mix of Charred Brown and a cream colour (old Bleached Bone) and then another highlight drybrush of just bleached bone. Be careful not to overdo the drybrushing, it is just to accent the texture (I usually do the wood with pretty much the same colours). I paint the sandbags with Vallejo Model Colour Khaki, wash it brown, and then drybrush it up to a creamy colour. I then paint any other details like tarps, shells, wire, etc.

Attach the models
I like to attach the painted models at this step. I can then use the base to hide where they attach. If a model is not fitting perfectly you could always add some more brown paint or sand or pumice to fill it. Or you could just use static grass.

This just might be my favourite part of painting a miniature. I really enjoy basing. First, I plan out where I am going to put some of the larger items like tufts and clump foliage. I am currently using Army Painter winter tufts (I think) and Army Painter flowers (which are excellent). I try to include 2-4 of these on each base. Try not to add too many and clutter them. Think about where they fit most logically.
Now, glue the clumps onto the base. I like to use PVA glue as I find superglue can sometimes cloud the base of the tuft. I do use it for stubborn pieces like the clump foliage though. After you have added the clumps (or before!), spread thinned PVA glue over where you want grass on the base. I think the PVA glue with water so it doesn't dry as quickly and so the grass sticks better. I try to arrange the glue naturally. I see a lot of bases where the grass is in solid shapes. Grass seems to be pretty random and so I try not to have hard edges where grass is or isn't (except when planned like craters and ruts).

Next, I add some flock that will not be my dominant flock colour. Here is used some yellowish static grass and some green flock. This breaks up the golf course look and adds some interesting variation. I also mix a little of these two into my static grass mix. I then pile static grass all over it. The main green colour is from Gale Force 9. I put it all over the base. I then use a tool to push it down a little so it sticks to the glue.
Dump it all over.
Finally, I turn the base upside down and firmly tap it with a tool or my finger. This gets the excess grass to fall off and makes some of the grass stand up the right way. Apparently you can get static tools that do a nice job of this for you. I don't bother. If the grass is too thin you can always add a little more glue and some more static grass. Then you need to put it away and let it dry overnight.
I try to base on a piece of paper so I can reuse the excess static grass and flock.
Once the glue has totally dried I then varnish the whole model with Testors Dullcote. Make sure the PVA glue is totally dry so it doesn't frost from the moisture in the glue. Some people use matte medium to add extra protection to the static grass. I have found it is pretty durable after a coat or two of the varnish. I am planning to go back and add a little water effects to the craters on some of the bases. I'll do that once I have a whole bunch that area ready for it.

This looks like a lot of steps. Building the base can be slow if you add a lot of detail. The actual basing goes very fast. Adding the extra details and flock colours only takes a few seconds and creates some nice variety on your bases. Adding the grass and flock to an entire platoon would take me about 30-60 minutes (but I get excited after painting each stand and base it right away).

I hope this is of use to some people. Thanks for visiting.


  1. This is the most comprehensive basing how-to for basing I have ever read - it's brilliant, and your minis really do have the quality of being like little dioramas!

    ...unfortunately, it has also officially made me feel utterly, utterly ashamed of the lacklustre nature of my bases. Not least how clearly defined the areas of grass look on mine.

    I reckon I get a little over-zealous in my drybrushing too. Damn damn damn damn damn.


    1. Thanks for your comments Admiral Drax. I like your bases, especially the 25 pounder bases with the similar diorama. I think your lighter grey bases provide a better contrast to the models than my brown bases. I am too far in to change now!

      As to the static grass, if you so decide you can always go back and add more grass to different parts. Easy to do. I wouldn't worry about it though. It is just a choice. More uniform grass matches most tabletop gaming surfaces better anyways.

  2. Loving the sandbag section a lot, thanks for that Cameron.
    As usual your post has been inspirational.


    1. Thanks. The sandbags are pretty easy to do. Just a question of getting the scale right and being patient with them.

  3. Really nice!! thanks for sharing :)

    1. Glad you like it. I'm a huge fan of your painting!

  4. First : congratulations for your work : it's great.
    But, its a long time I dont see this post (and the others) and... can't see anything ! Impossible to see your tutorial.

    can you help me or say to me why ?
    thank you very much


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